Travelling with children can be both amazing and scary, which is why parents should be prepared.
Children are generally excited about flying and unless they’re very small, may see it all as an adventure. The trick is to not allow that excitement to dwindle or to become overwhelming.
Here are some of tips:
Get through security easily: If you’re travelling internationally, familiarise yourself with any requirements around documentation around birth-certificates and visa requirements, with the Department of Home Affairs. Airlines have no control over visa requirements, so it’s important to clarify all your needs before you arrive at the airport.
Get automated: Use online check-in to decrease your time in queues. If your children have toys, weed out any weapons when packing: however harmless and cartoonish they look, that rubber Pirates of the Caribbean sword is likely to be confiscated by airport security.
Take advantage: Familiarise yourself with the concessions offered to families, like being allowed to take strollers to the door of the aircraft when you’re boarding, and being able to wait until other passengers have disembarked before you do with your family.
Handle the pressure: Most adults know how to swallow and equalise pressure in their inner ears when the aircraft they’re in ascends and descends, but children can find it very uncomfortable. Age-appropriate food like biltong or dried fruit helps stimulate the child’s swallowing reflex and equalise pressure in their ears.
Hydrate, but not too much: Airliner cabins tend to be dryer than the air outside and that can lead to your airways drying out and a feeling of dehydration. While it’s good to sip water, too much can lead to sodden nappies or many trips to the toilet. Lavery also suggests rooibos tea mixed with water-down fruit-juice rather than carbonated drinks loaded with sugar and caffeine.
Devices aren’t a vice: Many parents are conscious that children risk spending more time on their mobile devices than is good for them. But air-travel is a pretty good excuse for allowing them to indulge in MineCraft or whichever their latest favourite game or app is, as it’s a good occupier of time. Headphones help too, as well as power-banks to ensure the devices don’t run flat. And while you might usually insist on games that help your kids develop motor skills and visual-spatial reasoning, toys with small parts, like Lego and Duplo, are best stashed until you reach your destination.