Don’t underestimate the distraction power of entertainment. It’s right up there with oxygen when it comes to preserving sanity (yours and that of fellow passengers)

Ever sit on the plane, looking longingly at those parents whose kids are playing without a peep, angelically following every instruction of their commander parent, wondering if you should enlist your one or two+ dependents in their military outfit? 

While that may have definite appeal, there are other more child-friendly hacks to taking the stress out of flying with kids – and dare we say even allow you to look forward to the journey.

As a mom who frequently travels with her two little girls, both under 5 (with and without her husband), Amanda Rogaly, Chief Mommy of BabyYumYum, a parenting portal that talks about everything relating to a parenting lifestyle, shares some of her tips for travelling with kids.

1.    Sleep aids

Let’s face it, a sleep-deprived kid isn’t a pretty sight. “Be proactive,” advises Amanda. “A rolled-up blanket can double up as a cushion and provide warmth, helping to encourage sleep on the plane or a layover,” says Rogaly. 

Depending on the size of the blanket and child, fold the blanket in half once or twice and roll it up. Secure a wide ribbon around the top and bottom ends, allowing the ribbon to slacken in the middle as a sling strap. Kids who are old enough can carry it on their own, teaching them responsibility and independence.  Until then, blankets can be folded together and given to each child once you’re on board.

2.     Snacks

Having pre-packed snacks for each kid can help contain hunger, sugar levels, tantrums and your blood pressure levels.

“Make this a fun, visual and tactile experience using a plastic container with little compartments, filling each space with a healthy snack of different colours and textures,” says Rogaly, who suggests snack ideas like nuts, dried fruit, pretzels, cut-up fruit or veggies. Include bottled water to keep them hydrated. Additionally, keep a tantrum-busting treat on standby as a bargaining chip when you’re all out of options and energy.

3.     Travel bag

Anyone who’s travelled with kids knows you need as many free hands as possible. Enter the backpack, helping you allocate a place for items such as your kid’s travel documents (ID, birth certificate, passport, visas – depending on where you’re flying).

“It’s best to err on side of caution here,” says Rogaly. “Packing a spare set of clothing in case of spills, together with wet wipes, paper towels, hand sanitisersand sealable plastic bags for soiled or wet clothing can go a long way to restoring order and removing the evidence of any projectile mishaps.”

4.    Technological support

“Even if you didn’t attend boy or girl scouts, you can at least adopt their motto: ‘Be prepared’. Sign up for cellphone or email alerts via the airline website so that you’re informed of delays or flight changes.

“Make use of the online check-in to have one less thing to worry about,” says Rogaly. Print out boarding passes or, better still, have the digital version, minimising check-in time at the airport, allowing you to go (hopefully) quickly through the security gates.

5.     Fun and games

“Don’t underestimate the distraction power of entertainment. It’s right up there with oxygen when it comes to preserving sanity (yours and that of fellow passengers)," she says.

“Bring out new toys each hour to break the monotony of a long journey. Games can be simple such as I-spy, naughts and crosses, or card games. Creative ideas include activity books, puzzles, Lego, board games, colouring in books, precut felt (which can be arranged on a felt-board), play dough and sticker books."