“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Flying with Children

(We first posted these hacks some years ago, but with the upcoming season of holiday travel, it seemed that a reminder is timely.)

Humorist Robert Benchley quipped: “In America there are two classes of travel – first class, and with children.”

 

Few of us are flying first class anymore, but planning ahead and expecting the unexpected can make traveling with kids more palatable than Mr. Benchley might have imagined

 

Start by remembering all the problems that made past flights less than pleasurable for you and your child and think of remedies for those issues this time. You can’t control delays and annoyances, but you can put sufficient toys, snacks, and money in your carry-on to turn an unscheduled layover into tolerable together time.

 

Here are some hints to make plane travel easier on the wee ones.

 

Book Early for Best Selection

Airports are booooring. And if waiting around in them makes you cranky, it’s going to be worse for your child. Although they’re more expensive, nonstops are less stressful and time-consuming. And re4member, connecting flights require getting off a plane and spending time in another airport before boarding the next flight. Any delays can mean a mad dash to the next gate at best and missed connections with long layovers at worst.

 

Talk about Things

Explain things ahead of time. Even if your child has flown before, explaining each stage of the process and flight will allay any anxieties. Make sure young children realize that there will be bumpiness and engine noises so they don’t get scared. If practical, visit the airport ahead of time so that part of the trip is familiar at least.

 

Comfort Is the Goal

Let your kids wear comfortable play clothes and don’t forget to pack extra clothes in the carry-on, especially when traveling with toddlers. Airplanes tend to be cold and airline blankets are fast disappearing. Make sure all children have a sweater or jacket at their seat.

 

Stick Together

If your airline offers reserved seating, it will be worth an extra fee to keep your kids with you tfor reassurance or refereeing. Cutting costs by skipping sear reservation can be disastrous for parents traveling with small children.

 

Safety and Security

Children who require car seats will be safest (and probably more comfortable) using their seats on the plane. But remember, the car seat or harness must contain a label indicating it is approved by the FAA for air travel.

Children and all children’s items — including strollers, diaper bags and toys — must go through TSA screening. Equipment such as folded strollers small enough to pass through the X-ray machine must be placed on the belt.

Babies and children must be removed from strollers or infant carriers before passing through the walk-through metal detector at the security checkpoint. Toddlers old enough to walk unassisted should walk through detectors on their own.

Breast milk, juice, formula and medications are allowed on flights in reasonable qualities, even if they exceed the usual 3.4 ounce limit for liquids. These items must be declared at the security checkpoint.

Air pressure changes during takeoff and landing can cause ear pain in babies and young children. Bottle or breastfeeding babies or providing a pacifier to encourage swallowing may help the ears adjust to air pressure changes. Sucking on lollipops or eating crackers encourages toddlers to swallow, while older children may find relief by chewing gum.

 

Your forethought and planning can help your kids have the last laugh on Mr. Benchley.