A lot of having a good experience traveling with kids is luck. Luck that they’ll fall asleep easily, that they won’t get sick, that there is an extra empty seat next to them. To prepare well for traveling you want to be prepared and take out as many variables as you can. There is lots of information on how to do this well but here are my tips and the bag of tricks we are using for our international flight.
-Consider when you schedule your flight. If your child has a hard time sleeping in strange places maybe you should fly during the day. (We chose to do a direct flight mostly during the night.) If you have a flexible schedule try to fly on midweek flight that will be less packed.
-Pay Taxes on the seat for your Lap Child. This isn’t well known but on international flights you are required to pay taxes on your infants’ “free seat.” If you wait until the day-of you will be charged the tax rate on a last minute ticket which could be around $700 instead of $150. I’ve heard horror stories of having to run to different gates to pay the fees during a connection. Don’t let this happen to you. We paid the taxes on Roman and then the airline mailed us the ticket.
-Set up a bed at your feet. Kids are small, set up a cozy bed at your feet and then you can stretch out over the extra seat.
-Ask if the airplane has a bassinet (some do, some don’t). Request it as soon as you book your flight. Then show up as early as they’ll let you so that the gate agent can assign you those seats. (The bassinet is a small bed for infants that folds down from the wall.)
-At all costs make sure they get a good night sleep the night before and a good nap the day of. Usually the screaming happens when they are over exhausted.
-New Toys and Books! You’ll need things that don’t use a battery to entertain during take off and landing. We have an entire bag of (cheap) new toys and books that are individually wrapped up in crepe paper so it takes time to unwrap each toy in addition to how long their attention lasts playing with each toy.
-New Movies and App’s! We’ve got the ipad stocked up several new apps and movies. (Also don’t forget these.)
-Extra Battery. Some airplanes now have plugs but just in case get one of these batteries that make your iphone batteries last two or three times as long.
-Fun Snacks! Besides meals, have fun snacks that your child thinks are special treats. (Expensive organic chocolate milk anyone?)
-Thermos. If you have a baby bring a thermos for warm water or milk. Fill it up before your flight. A stewardess can get you hot water but its nice to have it at your side instead of on their timetable.
-If you fly at night bring the things for your bedtime routine so they know its time to sleep. Think: spongebath, pajamas, toothbrush, and favorite books.
-Tylenol. Bring a tiny version of your medicine cabinet with you for emergency colds or earaches
In addition I wrote about three products we found indispensable for traveling with kids over at Babble.
–These are the secret to keeping your kid entertained at the airport. (Plus they are so cute)
-We got one of these and it changed our travel experience completely.
-That’s so weird, the people in the next row don’t like the noises all those iphone apps make. You need some of these.
Got any good secrets? What are your favorite tips for traveling with kids?
(This is a picture of some of the toys we are taking all wrapped up in crepe paper.)