Source: Unsplash | Julian Larcher
Ah, yes: who doesn’t enjoy those delightful vacation company commercials to glorious places like Sicily, featuring blissful families frolicking on the beach, exploring the great outdoors — and so on? Everyone is having the time of their life.
But there’s something these vacation companies don’t put in their commercials: they don’t show what flying with kids is really like. And why would they expose this cruel truth? If they did, nobody would want to go on a family vacation. They’d want to go to family therapy.
The bad news is that we aren’t yet living in a Star Trek-like world, in which going from point A to point B is a simple matter of telling the computer to “beam us” over. But the good news is that families with young kids don’t have to turn their non-stop flight into a non-stop fight. Here are 7 tips to keep in mind:
- Check your seats before boarding. And then check them again. If there’s a mistake, you definitely want to sort it out in the airport — not in the plane.
- Speaking of seats: try and sit as close as possible to the front of the plane, where the ride is usually less bumpy.
- Booking early morning flights may seem like the worst suggestion imaginable, but it’s actually a wise idea. Why? Because early morning flights tend to take off on time vs. those later in the day. Less time the air (or on the runway) is a good thing.
- Bring activities such as coloring books that will keep your little ones busy, but won’t make noise to disturb the other passengers. And speaking of books: don’t forget to bring some yourself to make the time go faster. If you’re tired of the standard Stephen King and John Grisham fare, consider picking up a book that features full-color classic car restoration photos so that you and kids can enjoy it together.
- Bring healthy snacks, especially since airlines are notorious for running out of kid-friendly foods early and often. Trail mix, granola, cereal, and fruit are all good ideas.
- If you need to take connecting flights, then consider longer vs shorter layovers. Yes, this means the journey will take more time than it could. But it also means that your kids will have the opportunity to stretch their legs, get rid of some energy, and have fun looking around the airport (yes, as adults airports are a drag, but kids still find them pretty fascinating). As a bonus, your willingness to tolerate longer layovers might result in a lower ticket price.
- Pack plenty of patience. True, this is much easier said than done! And one day when your kids have kids of their own, they will understand — and be very, very apologetic for what they did to you. But until then, you need to stay calm, stay focused, and recruit as many allies on the flight as possible (you’ve struck gold if there are other kids flying and they all become instant friends).