Now that Narayan is three and a half, traveling with him is much more stressful than it was when he was younger because he can get up and run around! Getting him to stay in his seat and keep him entertained is a real task, to say the least. But over the past few years of flying with him, I’ve come up with a few strategies to help keep my own stress level down and keep him happy in flight. So, if you’ve ever wrangled an active child during travel, this one’s for you.
In partnership with Audible.
1. Fly as early in the day as possible.
Avoid takeoff delays and crowded flights – two major toddler aggravators – by choosing a morning flight. You might have to pull your kiddo out of bed a little earlier than usual to get to the airport in time, but that just means he or she is more likely to conk out for nap time once you do get into the air.
2. Use Pull-Ups, whether your child is potty trained or not.
You never know how long you’ll have to wait to get into the bathroom while traveling, so dressing your child in absorbent undies helps prevent accidents if there’s a long walk to the nearest restroom or, more commonly, a long line. Trust me, it’s a lot easier to deal with a little complaining about an bunched up pull-up than it is to do a full body, post-accident clean-up on an airplane or in the middle of an airport.
3. Layer their clothing.
I like to wear layers when I travel because the temperature changes in flight and sometimes varies between my take off and landing destinations (for example, when I’m going between California and NYC during the winter). I do the same for Narayan whenever we fly, especially since his body temperature tends to change frequently depending on his level of activity. Our go-to is a lightweight under-layer like a t-shirt and lightweight sweats, followed by a hoodie and a lightweight jacket like a windbreaker rolled up in his backpack in case he ends up needing it. And skip the lace-up shoes – Velcro straps or slip-ons will relieve you of having to stop constantly to re-tie them.
4. Seat kids away from the aisle.
Not only is the aisle unsafe for kids because the beverage cart comes by and little hands can get squished, but it also leaves them free to unbuckle their seat belts and wander if you happen to doze off. The window seat keeps them safer – and more entertained with the view during the flight.
5. Pack a special bag with snacks, toys, and entertainment.
A backpack filled with treats of their own is every kid’s dream, and a wrapped surprise is even better! What kid doesn’t love a shiny new toy to keep him or her busy? Downloading favorite shows and movies on an iPad is also a good way to keep kids entertained when they aren’t napping. Our favorite way to keep Narayan entertained on planes (and back and forth to the airport) is with audiobooks. The kids section on Audible has tons of popular audiobooks for all ages, so not only does Narayan get to listen to his favorite stories, but listening to audiobooks enhances his vocabulary in the process. Click here to try Audible free for 30 days – your sanity (and your happy little one!) will thank you on your next flight.
6. Keep your composure.
There’s nothing worse than an upset child and an upset parent. Your child often models your behavior, so do your best to stay calm in the face of meltdowns so everyone around you does the same. Remember, kids are kids and meltdowns sometimes happen, but life goes on. And if your little one does have an episode, remember that planes are often loud and people are either asleep or watching TV, so they probably aren’t paying attention anyway.