Tips for Stress-Free flying with babies and kids on a plane.
1. Allow A LOT of extra time before your flight
Allow for a LOT more time than you would, if you were travelling without the kids.
We allow extra time for parking in long term parking and waiting for the bus. You need time to check in car seats and prams into oversized luggage.
Your kids may need numerous toilet breaks too. Get to the airport AT LEAST 3 hours before your scheduled flight departure for international, 2 hours for domestic.
Speaking from experience, we missed a cheap JetStar flight because we forgot about the extra time to check in our car seat. We had to pay several hundred dollars to get on the next flight.
If you are trying to get a bassinet seat you may want to arrive even earlier. You will want to be there when check in opens, as often airlines assign bassinet seats on first in basis. You can read my tips here about how to get a bassinet seat on the plane.
2. TAKE YOUR OWN CAR TO THE AIRPORT.
Drive to the airport and park in long term parking. This is much easier than getting a ride, as you will have your car with car seats waiting for you.
Book at least 36 hours in advance online to reduce the cost of long term parking.
3. Bring UHT Milk Packs for Infants
If travelling with a baby, bring small (200ml) UHT packs of milk on the flight. We have found they are fine to drink at room temperature. We always carry some 200ml packs with us especially in countries when we are unsure of the safety of tap water etc.
4. Get on the plane first
Airlines call family groups first and when travelling alone I like to leave getting on the flight till the last minute. With kids, it’s much easier to get on the plane first. You can unpack supplies you may need, settle the kids, luggage etc. without the plane being full of people.
5. Get off the plane last
You will likely have several bags for children. It's best to wait until most others are off the plane. You'll have time to check that you haven’t dropped anything important (e.g. your child’s favourite stuffed toy). You can carry your child, nappy bag, and travel documents without whacking anyone on your way off the plane.
If you have given your pram/stroller at the door to the plane you will usually need to wait till everyone is off the plane until you receive it.
6. Bring LOTS of snacks
Snacks will keep kids busy when they are not sleeping or doing some activities. Snack boxes of sultanas are good, kids tend to take quite a while getting them out of the box. Crackers, dried fruit, cereal, mini muffins, celery and carrot sticks are healthy. Keep in mind that snacks won't be refrigerated. If you don't want a mess in the bottom of your bag, don't pack anything “smooshable”.
7. Ask cabin crew for ice cubes in a cup
To keep kids busy for a while ask the cabin crew for a cup of ice cubes, kids will love picking them up in their fingers and sucking on them.
8. Take a travel pram
Take a travel pram that will fold up and can either be put in the overhead compartment or can be left with at the door to the plane. Most airlines will let you get the pram at the door of the plane. Airlines are becoming more familiar with the very compact travel prams that can be placed in a bag in the overhead compartment. I personally recommend the ZOE https://www.zoestrollers.com/p/zoe-xlc it’s a lot cheaper and just as good as the the Baby Zen or Mountain Buggy.
9. Take a kids travel activity kit
Take a kids travel activity kit such as the Travel Karma “art we there yet?” Pack which has individually packaged kits to keep the kids busy for hours. Your kids will enjoy the travel journey and you can have some stress-free time. Create and play with the kids or take a break and watch a movie!
10. Take lollies for kids to suck on to avoid Ear Pain
For take-off and landing to avoid painful ears, bring something for the kids to suck on, like gummy lollies or lollipops. With younger babies’ breastfeed, them, give them a bottle or their drink bottle. Make sure you hide some for landing, my daughter would love to get her hands on all the lollies and her Daddy would cave! I have given milk or lollies above on many flights with 0-3-year old’s and have managed to avoid painful ears on each flight (crossing my fingers, so far!).
Watch this video for more on how to Avoid Crying and Ear Pain.