You’re taking your kids on a vacation because you’re a good parent who works hard so they can afford a couple of nice things. The kids, being young and excited, have no patience for the minutiae of travel, and just, “want to be there now!” At this point you feel more like a herder than a parent. There has to be a way to make everyone stop giving you judgemental stares.
The good news is that the answer is yes. It’s possible to keep your children entertained and save the stress on your wallet all at the same time. Even though people will still pray they don’t get stuck next to you on a plane, you can pleasantly surprise them with how well behaved they are. And you don’t even have to use an iPad.
Airline and Car Travel
Since they are neither flying the plane nor driving the car, they’ll need to be kept occupied for the duration of the trip. You can accomplish this in the same fashion no matter your mode of transportation. One standby that doesn’t get enough attention is to let your young children walk and/or run around in the airport, so long as they aren’t getting in the way.
The default setting for parents is to usually try to get their kids to sit quietly and not disturb anything. Anyone with kids would tell you this is impossible. Airports recognize this, so too should everyone else. A child exhausting their energy in the terminal likely means a quiet child on the plane. Once in the plane or the car, there are a plethora of things you can do to keep the little ones entertained.
The Ultimate Secret in keeping children entertained? Mobile entertainment and the Amazon Kindle kids edition is likely the best and safest bet for that.
- Snacks. However passive or active you are in your kid’s eating habits, having something for them to munch on will keep them happy and quiet.
- Have small crayon boxes for each individual child. Markers might be a bad idea, as the caps get lost easily.
- Try to make sure they get the window seat. It’s amazing how enraptured a child can be by land that’s 30,000 feet below them.
- Don’t board early. As contradictory as this may sound, the family pre-boarding that airlines offer just means that your kid(s) has to sit in an airplane seat a lot longer. This is especially true if it’s assigned seating.
- Bring things to make them comfortable, especially if it’s a long flight. A favorite blanket, toys or book from home will help keep them calm.
- Don’t just heap all their things on them at once. If they get tired of coloring, give them a book. If they get tired of reading, play cards with them. Dole out the entertainment gradually.
- Airlines still let you tour the cockpit. Ask if it can be done after the flight, as beforehand the pilots are often too busy for visitors.
Other Helpful Tips for Parents
Airlines understand that the struggle of traveling with children is sometimes too real. That’s why many alleviate or adjust the normal rules of travel to help out the parents.
- If your child is under two years of age, you can hold them in your seat and they do not require a ticket. Some airlines require proof of age in this regard, so know what you can get away with before you try.
- TSA allows you to bring liquid containers with more than 3.4 ounces through security if it’s related to formula or breast milk for your kid.
- Adding to this, a child under 12 does not have to take off their shoes, hat or jacket when going through the screening.
- Hey, we get it. If you’re taking your kid to a crowded place, you’ll do anything to make sure they don’t get lost. But leashes are for dogs. There are locator apps that don’t cost very much and are GPS-powered so it’s easy to keep track of them.
- It’s amazing what a deck of cards can do if there’s a long delay.
- If one child gets on the other’s nerves all the time, try to have them sit separately. For your’s and everyone else around you’s sanity.
- Kids are a walking petri dish and airports are full of germs. Pack a first aid kit with antiseptic ointment and hand sanitizer.
Above all else, stay positive. Kids can feed off your vibes. If they see you smiling and relaxed, they’ll emulate those feelings – most of the time.