Parents’ Guide to Traveling by Air With Young Children (Without Losing Your Cool)

Research has proven time and time again the extraordinary benefits children receive when they experience new sights and sounds from a young age. That seems to be why so many parents take their children along for any type of long-distance excursion. Approximately 43.3 million foreign-born people live in the United States, and even if it seems like your child will be ‘too young to remember’ when they get older, the developmental capabilities that come with experiencing so many domestic and international sights are absolutely priceless.

Unfortunately, the act of traveling in and of itself isn’t quite as simple as it seems, especially if you’re traveling by air. Aviation data company FlightAware estimates that there is an average of 9,728 planes carrying 1.27 million people in the air at any given moment, but if you’re traveling with young children, you need to be thoroughly prepared to play co-pilot. Here are just a few quick tips for keeping your cool while traveling by air with young children.

Bring Distractions (And Lots of Them)

As is the case with any form of travel, your children will need something to distract them — from the long airport lines to the flight itself, try to have a bag of small trinkets, toys, and activities available at the ready. Books, stuffed animals, and puzzles are all great options. In fact, research shows that puzzles activate our brains while relaxing us psychologically, putting our brains into a meditative state, making puzzles particularly ideal for times when your children may be getting uncomfortable from the changes in air pressure. Keep them as occupied as possible at all costs, and the flight will be over before you know it.

Dress Appropriately

When determining what your children should wear during the flight, layers are both comfortable and versatile in case your child becomes warm or chilly on board. And depending on the length of the flight, certain accessories may be warranted as well. For example, people have worn sun-blocking eyewear for about 2,000 years, and while your child may be a bit too young for a pair of sunglasses of their own, consider bringing along a brimmed hat or even an eye mask to not only protect their eyes from the sun, but to help them get to sleep if they need to take a mid-flight snooze. If you aren’t prepared with the proper attire, it could really add unnecessary stress, and your child may have difficulty staying comfortable.

Don’t Neglect Your Own Wellbeing

Finally, once your children seem to be settled in, don’t hesitate to take up the opportunity with other travelers who brought along their kids as well. You’ll have something to bond over between the long waiting pre-board waiting periods.

“Let’s face it, you’re probably going to need allies on this aircraft. So while you’re in the waiting area, be sure to strike up conversations with any other parents who are getting on your flight. Ask the standard questions like, “How old is your little guy?” and “Do you happen to have any children’s Gravol?” You may not become lifelong friends with these people, but at least you’ll have someone to exchange frustrated glances with when your toddler is having a meltdown at 30,000 feet,” writes Ian Mendes on Today’s Parent.

Ultimately, these are just a few of the many tricks parents have up their sleeve when it comes to traveling on an airplane with young children. Every family is different, of course, so don’t hesitate to do what works for you and gets you safely from point A to point B. Safe travels!

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