Apprehensive about the approaching family vacation? Traveling can be a trying time for families with young children, especially for new parents flying with kids for the first time. The early mornings, long queues, long flights, and often long days – not a good mix. Add a ball or two of energy that is not capable of reasoning, and things have the potential to go sideways well before take-off! The keys to stress-free travel with kids and surviving that major airport with your toddler are all in planning and organizing. We have compiled a list of five top tips for a seamless travel experience for the whole family.
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1. Choose the right flight for your child
When booking flights, choose one that suits your child's sleep cycle and personality. If your child is a happy, contented child early in the morning, then by all means book that 5 am flight. Chances are they will nap during the flight and arrive well-rested, with enough time to settle in at the destination before bedtime. If your child is not as delightful in the morning, then consider sacrificing an earlier arrival for a more pleasant journey. Longer haul flights are usually best taken at night to coincide with their sleep cycle, and direct flights are much easier on the traveling toddler. Try to implement a similar bedtime routine (as much as possible) and sit down to a meal at the airport before takeoff. This way, pajamas can go on, and after take-off, the bedtime routine can commence. If you do have a layover, make it long enough to take advantage of a hotel close to the airport. Everybody will thank you for it.
2. Do some research
Read up and make a checklist of what needs to be packed. Completing this step will minimize stress and disorganization when the packing commences, and reduce the chances of any over-packing. The key is to pack smartly, particularly with carry-on luggage. Juggling a toddler in the confined space of a plane is challenging enough without adding numerous carry-on items. Consider freeing your arms from the need to use a stroller to and from the gate by using the TernX Carry On instead, a real travel problem solver. Versatility with style, this innovative design is the latest and smartest suitcase stroller for everyday use, on a holiday, or a simple outing to the park. The TernX Carry on allows your child to remain seated past the boarding gate all the way onto the plane! Designed to make your life that little bit easier.
3. Make peace with the screen
We all have an opinion about kids and technology, and the amount of screen time appropriate for young children. However, being confined to a small space with many other passengers drastically reduces the options available for toddlers to create and play. There is no outdoors, and there is no floor-sized play mat; just a seat and an aisle shared with everyone else.
Handheld electronic devices can be incredibly handy for long flights when other activities have been exhausted. These can be loaded prior to departure with favorite movies, shows, apps, and anything else that will engage your child while keeping them calm and content.
If you are concerned about the amount of screen time your toddler might be exposed to on a long haul flight, follow the World Health Organization's (WHO) recommendation for 3-4-year-olds and allow a maximum of one hour at a time, breaking it up with snack time, books or another engaging activity. Below is a list of recommended electronic devices to pack in your carry on:
- tablet (iPad, Samsung Galaxy, or similar);
- children's earphones;
- educational gadgets (Leapfrog or similar);
- a power bank.
If you plan on taking any electrical devices, even if it is just your phone, we strongly recommend bringing along a power bank which enables you to stay fully charged during the journey. Don't be caught out with an iPad with no charge and a tired child. For more tips on carry-ons please visit our blog including The Ultimate Guide to Fun and Practical Kids Luggage and a Guide to Flying with a Stroller. The motto is - Plan ahead and be prepared!
4. Arrive early
Plan on arriving at the airport with enough time to calmly check-in, make your way through security, and find the kids a proper meal before locating your gate well before the boarding call. There may be some challenges with traveling with young children, but there are also a couple of perks. If you are traveling with a child under the age of 2, take advantage of pre-boarding offered by most airlines. This allows families to board before the crowds, find their seats, and get comfortable before the remaining passengers start to board. If your little one is above 2 and your airline does not have a family pre-boarding policy, consider purchasing priority boarding if this is within your budget. This simple move makes boarding with young children a breeze.
5. Be flexible
Try to be mindful that this is not an everyday experience for a young child, and may also be their first time traveling. Release all expectations on when or if they will sleep and how they will behave. If there is a tantrum ensuing because they want to eat muesli bars for dinner, let them eat the muesli bars. Don't be too hard on them or yourself, and just take a few deep breaths. It will mean a much more peaceful journey, and not just for you. Your fellow travelers have probably all had a loved one in your position, or been in it themselves, so don't feel embarrassed or worry they are being disturbed. It pays for the flexibility to continue after you land. If there are adventures planned the first day after arrival and the kids are exhausted, don't push it. Re-organize and enjoy a quiet day, and everyone will benefit. Similarly, if you had planned to use the budget-friendly public transport and everyone is tired and on edge, consider opting instead for a rental car if this is available to you. These will offer your toddler or infant a quiet space to relax and nap. Creature comforts are of very high value when traveling with young children. With knowledge and careful planning, traveling with a toddler can be a stress-free experience, as eyes open wide in wonder and worlds are expanded. Let TernX solve all of your carry on problems, allowing you to relax and enjoy the adventure.
We hope you have found these tips helpful. There are so many benefits and reasons why you should travel with kids. Go out there and unleash your wanderlust.