Travelling with your family for the first time can be a little daunting, especially if it’s by aeroplane. The winter school holidays is a particularly popular time for parents to jet their kids off somewhere packed with adventure. But an easygoing flight isn’t guaranteed – there are a few things you’ll need to plan and prep beforehand if you want a smooth sailing trip. And, luckily, we’ve got the important tips to help you stay mindful while travelling with the brood in tow.
1) Be honest to your kids about the flight
Don’t be afraid to talk to your children in order to prepare them for the flight. Share with them exactly what they can expect and how there will be other passengers on board that they must be wary of. If you make it sound enticing and adventurous then it may even stir great excitement within your little one for the flight ahead instead of trepidation.
2) Pack more than you think you need
Sometimes it’s better to over-pack for a trip with kids, especially if they’re prone to ‘little accidents’. This includes an extra change of clothes, wet wipes, medication, and snacks. Multiple snacks on hand are a great distraction for kids – the chewier the better. Plus, they also double-up as a way to help ease inner-ear discomfort from fluctuating cabin pressure.
3) On-board entertainment
In today’s age, there are various tablets and gadgets all geared towards keeping kids entertained. From educational apps and games to videos, there’ll be hours of fun to tuck into. But if you’d like to leave the technology behind, take books and small toys or colouring-in materials on-board instead. Also remember to bring something familiar along, like a plush teddy bear or favourite doll, which will serve as a great source of comfort if your youngster starts to feel agitated mid-flight.
4) Plan, plan, and plan
There’s a healthy portion of research that you need to complete before embarking on a flight with children. Flight tariffs, authentication when boarding like an unabridged birth certificate, and flight times are among three of the most important facts to check before your trip. The authentication documents also differ when flying domestic or international, so be sure to check these details when purchasing your flights. If travelling without your spouse, for example, certain airlines will ask that you provide an affidavit from your spouse granting permission to travel with your child.
5) Give yourself time to take time
Try to not leave anything until the last minute and give yourself loads of time to tick everything off your list instead. In this way, you’ll be able to assemble the clan, pack everything that needs to be packed, and leisurely make your way to the airport without breaking a sweat. Local airlines like FlySafair have just launched a new check-in method via their Check-in Rangers to speed up the check-in process. These rangers are assistants (they will be the ones wearing pink Stetsons) and are equipped with printing devices and tag generators so that they can print boarding passes, as well as tag bags before being dropped at the check-in desk. This addition to their check-in system is a great time saver for large groups.
6) Schedule flights during their nap time
If your toddler or infant have specific times when they sleep, then try to book a flight during that exact same period. It might help them fall asleep quicker if the take-off time of your flight is the same as the time of their regular afternoon nap.
7) Check yourself in online
With new systems in place, passengers can check themselves and their kids in online the night before flying. This is a great time saver, too. In this way, you can print out your boarding passes at home or save it on your phone.
By Features Writer Marike Watson