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Traveling with Small Children

Child-AirplaneLast year I traveled to India with my 7-month-old daughter to attend my brother’s wedding. I was excited, but at the same time worried about traveling with an infant. As a new mom, I needed to make sure that I had everything planned and ready for the trip, so that my little one could experience her first flight as comfortably as possible. I talked to my friends who had also traveled with infants and made notes. I made a list of all the things required for the trip. I bought some items and borrowed the rest from my friends.

Traveling with small children is fun as they keep you engaged with their antics. However, it can become a nightmare if you don’t plan ahead and get things ready before your long flight. Proper planning is essential whether you are traveling alone or with a travel companion. It takes several months to plan a long trip, starting from choosing an airline, getting the tickets booked and then packing. Here are some tips to help you travel smartly with kids. I am glad that the list here helped my daughter experience her first international flight quite comfortably.

Pack the essential items in your carry-on luggage since there are weight restrictions. Besides packing basic things like a first-aid kit, tickets, and passports, you can also add some things that can help you traveling with kids:

  • Carry ear plugs or cotton balls to help your little ones cope with the drop/change in air pressure during take-off and landing. Or you can start feeding a bottle 10 minutes before take-off or landing.
  • Small children from age 2 to 8 get hungry easily so make sure you pack some nutritious snacks. Dry fruits, nuts, cheese or crackers are easy to pack and carry. For more ideas, check out this healthy travel snack board. Check with your airline for any restrictions about carrying food. If you need a special diet for your child order it at the time you book your tickets. Alert the airline to any allergies that your child might have.
  • If you are traveling with an infant and your infant drinks only formula, carry some empty bottles. Pack a small tin of formula (enough to last the flight) that your infant loves or is comfortable with. After you pass through security, you can fill your water bottles up just before you board the flight.
  • If you breastfeed your infant, you will not have any problems on most flights. However, it is useful to know the airline’s breastfeeding policy.
  • You need to keep them entertained during the flight. Even though you have the on-flight TV and games, you should carry a couple of comic books, story books, battery-operated video games or small toys/dolls. Every kids as his/her favorite toys, so don’t forget to pack your kids favorite books/toys.
  • Sleep is the best activity for you and your kids. If you kid is younger than 12 months old, you can ask for a bassinet. You can request the bassinet while booking the tickets or while boarding the flight. The bassinets are removable and can be stowed during take-off and landing. If you are traveling with a toddler, carry their favorite bedtime story books, and a travel pillow to make them comfortable so that they can sleep.
  • To help your little ones with the long flights you can pack extra clothes so that you can freshen them up. You can also give them a bath or a massage to help with the blood circulation.
  • The transit airports are great hubs for entertaining small children. You can use the entertainment centers, internet hubs, or children play area to keep your little ones busy while you can stretch out a little and relax.
  • You can also check in to the transit hotels or lounges and relax for few hours. Every major airport has lounges and hotels. For example the Changi Airport in Singapore has convenient transit hotels. Usually these hotels charge a decent fee, but it can be good break point for your long journey.

Last but not least, make friends with your co-passengers, as this will help you and your little ones to spend some time. If you are traveling alone with children, you can also get some extra help by hiring a trip companion on your next long flight. Trip companions provide the extra helping hands you need so that you can use the restroom, rest, eat a meal or just take a break. Doesn’t that sound nice?

Fly Confident!