YOU ASKED ME.. what’s the best way to cope with kids on a long flight? AND I ANSWERED…
1. First off, recognise your children’s needs and interests as your own. Let your children know about your holiday plans. Let them know where you want to go, how you are going to get there and how long it will take. Trace it out on a large map (for younger children you can show them the distance between home and away using a toy car and plane) It will offer them an added sense of security and a better idea of what to expect from the journey.
3. As for ‘Are we there yet?’ syndrome, you can be sure flying isn’t as easy as it used to be – seats are much closer together and planes are much fuller. While being able to cope with kids on a long flight is more of a challenge with little ones there are things you can do to make your time in the air go more smoothly. In-flight comfort is key, so select your seats wisely, and early. For younger children and babies I swear by the bulkhead seats. Being in the front row provides extra leg room, and no passengers in front of you to kick. Almost every international carrier provides a bassinet (or sky-cot) that attach to the bulkhead for babies under 10kg. You can normally pre-book these cots. if you don’t need a cot you’ll need to arrive at check-in early to snag a bulk-head. Among airlines that do pre-assign bulkhead seats, many reserve them only for frequent fliers. Still, it never hurts to ask. At check-in it is often worth asking for a place with an empty seat between you and your children so as to allow for maximum stretching-out space.
4. Smart packing is important. First off, prepare for spills. I’ve learned to bring an extra set of clothes for both parent and child and a plastic bag for dirty garments.
5. A child’s biggest complaint is usually ear pain during take-off and landing. Ease the pressure and bring something to suck or chew on (bottles and pacifiers for little ones)
6. Order special meals. Ask about special kids’ meals – some flights have them, some don’t. Order at least 24-hours ahead, but be prepared with sandwiches and some non-mulchy snacks anyway (raisins, carrot sticks, cereal, fruit bars etc..); kids’ airline food can be as bad as the grownups’.
7. Create diversions. Crayons, colouring books, paper, pens, pencils, and children’s scissors are invaluable treasures. You can pretty much count on one toy for every hour of the flight. Try pre-wrapping a few trinkets to hand out at melt-down moments. The gifts don’t have to be elaborate: the act of unwrapping is usually enough. Another -if desperate – favourite is to fashion an impromptu glove puppet from the sick bag (unused !)
For our slightly older child aged 3, a kid’s personal media player always goes down well as does a disposable camera.
8. For most kids the anticipation of getting to their holiday destination is more than they can bear. Children have little appreciation of either time or distance. The question mums ask me most is just how to keep them amused, especially during long flights, train rides and car drives.
The reality is how your kids behave on the journey largely depends on their boredom threshold and how well prepared you are to tackle the situation. If you end up getting agitated and bored, the chances are they will too. These tips might just help save the day.
1. A disposable, automatic camera for a kid’s eye view of the trip.
2. A portable media player with individual headsets so they can play their own blend of tracks without driving you insane.
3. Reusable vinyl sticker scene-books – when they get bored the stickers also stick on the windows. Also try post-it notes (try neon colours)
4. Every ship has a log book. Why shouldn’t your car/plane/train have one too? Get the kids to note down details of your journey including. each stop you make, the weather, what your crew ate for lunch, your times of departure and arrival etc.…
5. There is no escaping it. Over the age of 4, a hand-held electronic game has to be top of the diversion list.
ALL Time Parent’s Favourites
• Any large, snap together plastic construction bricks, such as stickle bricks, Duplo or Lego (losing one or two won’t be a great loss)
• Hand puppets for their versatility. They are always a mood lifter.
• Bottle of bubbles
• Non-stain, washable colouring pens. Enough said.
ALL Time Toys Best Avoided
• Any irreplaceable favourite which might get left behind (if teddy has to come too, sew a loop of elastic to him that fits snugly around your child’s wrist)
• Toys with a seriously heavy battery consumption.
• Wax crayons (they melt in the heat)
• Play dough which smears, squelches, stains, dries up and cracks.
(a lump of beeswax is better. It doesn’t crack or stick to anything else)
• Talking toys with a mind-numbingly repetitive tone and limited vocabulary.
London Heathrow www.heathrow-airport-guide.co.uk/childrens-facilities.html
Changi Airport, Singapore www.changiairport.com/at-changi/facilities-and-services
Orlando International Airport www.orlandoairports.net
San Francisco International Airport www.flysfo.com
McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas www.mccarran.com
O’Hare International Airport www.airportterminalmaps.com/chicago-o-hare-airport-terminal-map.html
Denver International Airport www.flydenver.com/
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport www.dfwairport.com
Seattle/Tacoma International Airport www.portseattle.org/seatac/services/kids.shtml
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport www.atlanta-airport.com
Pittsburgh International airport www.pitairport.com
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport www.metroairport.com
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