What not to do when flying with children

We’ve all witnessed it – the parent on a plane, frantically juggling snacks, toys, and the occasional air-sickness bag, all while attempting to maintain sanity.

Travelling with children can be a challenging task, but with a little planning and a lot of patience, it can become manageable. Google Trend Data shows that searches for ‘flying with children’ have risen by 270% in recent weeks. Wizz Air have put together some tips on what not to do when flying with children, as well as ways to make your journey less turbulent.

Whatever the length of your flight, here are six things you should avoid when flying with children.

1) Don’t forget to plan ahead

Nothing adds to the stress of travel like a last-minute rush. Be prepared with everything your child might need: snacks, clothing, medication, and entertainment. Avoid overpacking by selecting versatile items and keeping it to the essentials.

2) Don’t give out permanent markers

While colouring and drawing can be a great way to keep kids entertained on a flight, opt for washable markers or crayons. Giving children permanent markers on a flight is a definite “no-no”. This decision could lead to an array of unwanted outcomes, including damage to airline property and stained clothes.

3) Don’t ignore the power of snacks

A hungry child can quickly become a cranky one. But don’t rely on airline food alone. Bring a variety of your child’s favourite healthy snacks to keep them happy and distracted.

Side Note: If possible, avoid sugary snacks. Giving children sugary snacks and drinks to keep them quiet may seem like a good idea initially. However, the inevitable sugar rush can lead to hyperactivity when they’re supposed to be sitting still.

4) Don’t disregard seat selection

Here’s what to bear in mind when picking seats:

  • Front seats: Seats near the front of the plane often provide quicker access to the bathroom, which can be critical when travelling with young children. Also, being closer to flight attendants can be beneficial if you need extra assistance during the flight.
  • Back seats:  The back of the plane tends to be noisier due to the proximity to the engines, which may interfere with a child’s sleep. Some parents find that the additional noise can help soothe a fussy baby, so depending on your child’s needs, seat selection can be important.

5) Don’t forget to pack a change of clothes

Accidents happen, especially with little ones. From spills to sickness, there are many potential mishaps. Don’t be caught unprepared. Pack at least one change of clothes for your child (and maybe even for yourself) in your carry-on bag.

6) Don’t plan a late night flight

Late night flights can significantly disrupt your child’s sleep schedule. This could lead to crankiness, irritability, and general discomfort during the trip. The lack of sleep could also negatively affect your child’s functioning the next day, making them less able to enjoy the trip or more difficult to manage.

How to keep children entertained on a flight

Knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do. Below are a few tips to keep your children entertained during the flight:

  • Creative engagement: From colouring books to portable puzzles, these simple tools can keep a child engaged for hours. You could also leverage technology by downloading educational (yet fun!) apps on your phone or tablet.
  • In-flight show and tell: Use the objects and surroundings inside the cabin as learning aids. Flight magazines, safety brochures, or even the various noises a plane makes can turn into a discovery journey.
  • Storytelling: Bring along some of their favourite books or create your own stories. This not only entertains but also enhances their listening skills and sparks creativity.
  • Surprise packs: Pack small surprises to be revealed at different intervals. These could include new toys, stickers, or their favourite snacks. The anticipation of something new can keep a child engaged longer.
  • Interactive games: Games like ‘I spy’, ’20 questions’, or ‘Tic Tac Toe’ can be fun and do not require any additional items.

Remember, each child is unique. Being patient, understanding their fears, and engaging them effectively can transform the experience from stressful to enjoyable. 

The golden rule is always to anticipate, prepare, and maintain a positive attitude. It won’t just make your flight easier but also pave the way for your children to become confident, happy travellers.

Photo by Octav Cado