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How to Survive while Traveling with Young Children

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Although traveling with young children presents a laundry list of challenges which can become a very stressful affair, it doesn’t have to be an experience you merely struggle through.  Countless parents (and their fellow passengers) have suffered through miserable flights with kids who can’t seem to behave, so to ensure you don’t fall victim to this scenario, prepare yourself with these tips for a more pleasant trip.

Invest in Ride-on Luggage

Although the upfront cost may seem silly for a child’s carry-on, this purchase will pay dividends in sanity.  These ingeniously designed wheeled carry-ons by brands including Skoot Kids, Trunki and Kiddee Cases allow kids to scoot around on top of them which will keep them entertained at the airport, plus an attached strap means you can also pull them if they claim to be too tired to walk. Traveling with young children could actually be quite fun with these items in tow.

Activity Variety is Huge

Every parent knows that traveling with young children and keeping your child entertained can be tricky considering their short attention spans, so plan ahead with a bevy of activities you can offer whenever they have grown bored with something.  Take more options than you think will be necessary including stickers, notepads, small puzzles, coloring books, snacks, favorite stories, etc.

Take a Tablet or DVD Player

Possibly the most essential item on this list, a portable device can provide hours (hours!) of blissful tranquility for you and your neighboring passengers while your child watches movies or cartoons. Long flights are not the time to panic over your parenting skills and how many hours of TV your child is exposed to. Make life easy on yourself during vacation times when traveling with young children; you can return to your routine when you get home. Of course, be sure to pack headphones, charge your device and download or pack any essential videos.  

Download Kids’ Games or Apps

Along the same lines, download some educational apps or games onto your smartphone or tablet that will keep young minds occupied.

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Turn Activities into Gifts

Everyone appreciates presents and no one more than children, so use them as an opportunity to keep behavior in check when traveling with young children, dispensing them as you see fit.  Small toys or activities (which you were already planning to take along) such as coloring books, small stuffed animals or stickers can be wrapped to encourage angelic behavior.

Keep Them Comfortable

A pillow and blanket from home will help kids relax and feel more comfortable in-flight and may even lull them to sleep.

Distract with Candy

The changes in pressure during takeoff and landing can cause ear pain, so help keep children distracted by offering a lollipop (sugar-free if possible), stimulating them to swallow which can ease painful pressure.

Take Snacks that Last

Healthy snacks such as vegetables, fruits, cheese sticks and crackers are great choices to take along for the flight, since they will keep blood sugars stable and keep them busy while eating.

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Warn About ‘Airplane Police’

Although scaring kids outright isn’t what we’re aiming for, a little healthy fear is often motivation enough to keep them in line.  At the first sign of bad behavior, you might tell them the ‘Airplane Police’ are constantly inspecting the plane for children who aren’t behaving (who are not allowed to fly).  Don’t go into too much detail about the consequences, but let the warning sink in, especially for those who might like to climb on their seats, etc. Asking one of the stewards to add a few stern words might help too.