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Top 10 Tips Flying with Kids

by on 21/02/2013 4580

Most of us would agree that one of the most enjoyable things to do in life would be travelling around to see the world. Before we had our daughter, my husband and I would find every opportunity to go to a new place and take a breather from our hectic working lives. We thought having a baby would change everything, disabling us from travelling the world. Although life did throw us a surprise by taking us to Saudi Arabia where my husband now works as a researcher in a university here after our daughter, Olivia reached one-and-half year old, travelling with little ones has become part of our lives and no more leisure by choice!

Apart from the yearly trips back to our hometowns, we can’t miss the opportunity to travel around the region that we live. The mysterious lure of the Middle East countries, the picturesque postcard-looking cities in Europe, and the wild fun of Africa - these destinations are just a stone throw away from us. Their attractions often outweigh the hassle of tugging a toddler along, and so off we go again to the next destination on our long wish-list. 


So, let me assure you, starting a family does not mean that it is the end of your travelling life. Having some experience flying and travelling with a kid, I’ve devised some tips that will make your travel plan a fun and loving experience. Here it goes:


1. Pack children clothes for an extra two days in your hand carrier. The worst flight delay we had ever experienced was a 24-hours-delay from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Penang, Malaysia due to adverse weather condition. The flight should have taken us only 10 hours including spending one night on the plane and transiting in Kuala Lumpur. On that unforgettable flight, we spent a night at the Jeddah airport lounge followed by another night in KLIA’s hotel.  After this trip, I am convinced I should always bring more than extra clothing (and diapers) when we are out of the house.

2. Bring diaper pants, even if your child is toilet trained.  Some flights are so full and the queue for toilets can take up a while.  Get some diaper pants ready even if your child is toilet-trained, so your child could slip on the pants and do his business discretely when the toilets are not available.

3. Pack a snack bagThe meals on board are normally served during odd hours and kids can’t take hunger for too long before melting down. So pack a snack bag for your child. Good choices of snacks-on-the-go are muesli bars, cheerios, carrot sticks and biscuits that would not break easily. Yoghurt and fruits are usually not “travel-friendly” because children smear them on seats and clothes easily.

4. Make a “goody bag” to entertain the brain. If you are a parent who objects strongly about your child using iPad or videogames, you are not alone. I would rather pack a bag of activities for my daughter than to compromise on using technology to keep her mind busy. I will pack a colouring book and some drawing papers with a set of mini colour pencils. Add a sticker book, a few mini puzzles which are sleek in size and a number of mini animal models or Transformers, in case your child is in the mood for a role-play on the plane. Tuck all these items in a hard A4 folder and give him a surprise “goody bag” on the plane!

5. Train your child young to use a straw and drink from a mini milk carton. Throw away your nursing bag and travel in style!  I trained my daughter to use a straw and drink from milk carton since she is around one year old.  This will save you the hassle of taking warm water bottle, milk bottle and milk powder along.  Substitute that with a few packets of mini milk cartons; they are spill-proof and can be disposed of easily.  If you are still breastfeeding, bring along a sarong to cover yourself so that you could breastfeed in your seat comfortably.

6. Bring sufficient medications for your childNever leave the country without taking your child’s medications along because you never know if you could find the same medication in another country. Although it is cumbersome and the chance of using them is quite rare, it is better to be safe than sorry! 

7. Book children’s meals in advance. Some flights do not have children’s meals and the meals served could be too spicy, or too exotic to your child’s taste bud. You could reserve children’s meal online for most of the airlines now, so why not make full use of this service.

8. Prepare your child in advance. Explain the journey to them so that they have an idea about what they could do before reaching the destination. The number of hours may not make sense to the younger child. Therefore, explain to him in terms of “things to do on the flight” in sequences. For example “First, you have your meal and do some colouring, then you take a nap and we will be reaching the airport soon!”

9. Plan your trip around your child’s sleep schedule. If possible, choose to travel during the day and avoid midnight flights. Do your best to avoid upsetting your child’s body clock. A well-rested child is more likely to be cooperative on the journey.

10. Take a pram or buggy along. Even if your child is walking, a pram or a buggy serves as a place for him to rest during the day. Moreover, there is a chance that the flight arrives at odd hours and your child may fall asleep at the “wrong” time fighting off jetlag. You could just put him down on the pram without making major adjustments to your travelling plans. It is also wise to find out if your destination has a paved path, if not, you should consider investing in an all-terrain pram.

Lastly, I wish you a happy and safe journey with your kids on your next vacation! 


About the writer:

Jamie Hoo is a school teacher turned stay-at-home mom. She lives in Saudi Arabia with her husband and a four years old daughter.