Heading off on holiday with a young child who can’t sit still? Take a look at these handy tips for killing time on the plane...
Let’s be honest. Most of us approach the idea of a flight with a toddler with a high level sense of anxiety. And we have fallen into full blown anxiety many times, with our 2, ever since they were little enough to be into the age bracket where they could sit on my lap for the flight. Those are hard times to be flying with children. But don't let that put you off, that's why we've written this blog!
To keep our children occupied during the flight and other times, I began by finding advice from parents and through my own research then testing which bits would work. Back then, we hadn't launched KeepEmQuiet.com so we didn’t know all the tips and tricks for traveling with kids. Here are some of the tricks I found and discovered along the way and some of which are still useful today:
We often find ourselves searching for the red, blue crayons from under our feet. Luckily though, a mother told me about an an ingenious product which made things falling on the floor a thing of the past, so much so that we launched our own iteration of it many years later. A Travel Tray. Instead of relying on the table tray on the airplane (which has no bunkered sides, so everything slips off), a Travel Tray is a unique tray which folds out and had sides (like walls) which prevent things from dropping on the floor. We then redesigned some of the boring ones we found online, adding a wipe clean surface, that is transparent so drawing and colouring can be continually erased and redrawn over and over again. We also added a tablet holder, sturdy enough to stand the iPad upright. Our Travel Tray comes with reusable sheets that go underneath the transparent wipe clean surface, as well as a pack of wipe clean pens. There's also pockets to keep toys and snacks contained within the tray!
There's a lot of hype for younger children to be entertained for hours with a 'buckle toy', and they are good but we found that after lots of trial and error, a book that’s soft and has multiple pages of interactive things to do (such as unbuttoning something or zipping up something), was a far more entertaining piece of kit. So we decided to stock Oskar & Ellen Soft Fabric Interactive Books, especially for the younger travelers. These are also really good for older children with learning difficulties and autistic children.
You can find loads of competition in the market for sticker books, some wildly priced at £5-10 for a single sticker book, we have sourced thousands of sticker books in our time operating KeepEmQuiet, and have in stock at any one time maybe 50 different types for all different ages. The ones which we find the most popular for our busy bags are the ones which come with a little album that they can reuses, unpeel and stick again. Also vinyl stickers are great, they can sticker to airplane windows, back into their album, rinse/repeat! Some of the sticker books we include in our busybags are sold individually in shops for £5+ - especially in airport shops where they can be seen for up to £10 for a single sticker book, crazy stuff!
Snacks are a godsend for traveling with kids. From babies to near teenagers (and even us adults), snacks pass the time. Mistakes we have made before include, rushing to the airport store and bought sugary and unhealthy snacks for last-minute bribes for the kids. I didn’t take into account their rush of sugar, so mistakes learnt when our toddler was not content sitting still for an entire flight to the USA. Think fruits, crackers, food pouches, or anything that does not have a lot of sugar. Disposable bibs for messy eaters is also helpful. We include a small bag of healthy snacks in our KeepEmQuiet packs, because we know how important snacks are, we just had to include them. These are a bag if vegan friendly, fruit and oat based snacks, such as Fruit Bowl Peelers, Raisins, Get Fruity Oat Bars and dried fruit snacks from Bear Yo-Yo.
Put your toddler's seatbelt on before they fall asleep. Don’t leave it until they are already snoozing. No amount of pleading will get you out of waking them up to put it on. And if they do wake up, that's it. You're done for. Once they are content playing with their toys or watching something on their tablet, put their seatbelt on or try to not unbuckle them after take off. Also if you are planning on using Plane Pal to make them more comfortable (the inflatable seat extender), then make sure their seatbelt is fastened before they lay down to sleep!
The swallowing action from drinking and chewing from food help keep pressure pain at bay during take-off and landing. Also the sucking motion from a lollipop can protect their ears from the changes in pressure which cause ears to inflame and become sensitive. If you're travelling with a baby and planning to breastfeed, make sure you keep the milk bottle or breastfeeding for take off and landing, if possible, to stop their ears from popping and alleviate pressure.
If you're traveling with a baby, and have hold luggage to pick up from the carousel, it’s worth packing something that will free up your hands. It also saves you when rummaging around for passports. Ergobaby is a good choice as it can fit into your hand luggage.
Because, unlike your toddler, the other passengers probably don’t want to listen to Baby Shark on repeat. We stock a wide range of 'kids safe' (low decibel) headphones in a range of characters such as Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, Frozen, Avengers – they’re adjustable so they should last a good few years.
Toys, books, snacks, magazines and nappies, there probably won’t be any room for anything that’s actually yours in your hand luggage. And considering you’ll be reaching for things out of your bag every minute, you are better off getting them their own hand luggage and keeping yours, to yourself! We stock a wide range of character travel backpacks for children, as well as the ingenious Zinc Flyte scooter cases, which are hand luggage and a scooter in one, no tired legs and no carrying their hand luggage. Double win!
Most people are actually good humans, have children of their own or understand the stress you’re under. You will also never see them again, so focus on your own children's happiness and ignore anyone that tuts and gives you the evil looks. Just pack enough for them to do, enough for them to eat, and you might even get a G&T down your neck whilst they doze off to sleep. Hopefully.
There's loads of blog posts on this topic everywhere online, because every parent dreads flying with their children, one of our favourites is this in depth blog post from Travel Mad Mum
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