I know that some people give their kids medication to relax them for the flight. I personally can’t suggest this one as I had a bad experience with a reaction where not only didn’t it make my child sleepy, but did make her throw up the entire flight. If you do want to give medication, be smart and try it out ahead of time. And definitely make sure to check with your doctor to give the proper amounts as sometimes with flying amounts differ.
Another thing! as well as the earplugs, I would definetely suggest the sleeping mask, for those who can´t sleep unless everything is really dark, and I find it difficult to sleep on planes with the lights they keep on during the flight (I need total darkness) and this is very useful for hostels or dorms where there is always somebody turning on the lights while you are sleeping…
What happens if you arrive in a city, go to grab your email confirmation for your accommodation, and your phone and laptop are out of battery? I always make sure I have a hard copy of my guesthouse name and their address, as well as directions if I won’t be taking a taxi. Once I arrive, I’ll grab one of the hotel’s business cards, so I’ll always know where I’m staying, and can show it to locals to ask for help with finding my way back.
15 If it looks like you're going to be weighed down with mountains of bags, you may want to send on suitcases and bulky items such as prams via a baggage delivery company. You'll pay around £70 to send up to 30kg of luggage one way between European countries, and £110 between the UK and US, but prices per kilo come down the more you send, and you'll get better rates if you send things a few weeks rather than a few days before you travel. Try firstluggage.com or carrymyluggage.com for a quotation.
Across Canada, there are Wildlife Warning Signs reminding drivers to be cautious while driving. The country also has a Wildlife Collision Prevention Program, which provides helpful hints to avoid hitting wildlife and what to do if striking an animal is inevitable. Reading up on safety tips could save your life. In the Rockies, there are unique animal overpasses to avoid such accidents.
You’ll learn a lot about yourself and how to become independent. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Traveling solo taught me how to fend for myself, talk to people, and handle unfamiliar situations with ease. It’s made me comfortable with myself, helped me learn about what I’m capable of, and allowed me to be super selfish and do whatever I want! It can take some getting used to if you’ve never done it before but do it at least once. Make yourself uncomfortable and surprise yourself. You’ll learn valuable life skills when you push yourself!
In my experience, toddlers aren't fans of reins, backpacks with a leash, or any infringement on their freedom. Keep tabs on them at airports, train stations and crowded attractions with a child locator. The child wears a small unit (strapped to a belt or shoe) and you keep the transmitter. If you lose your child set off the alarm and follow the sound to find them.
Different airlines have different policies. Some require an infant to be at least two days old, others at least 2 weeks old. Doctors recommend you wait until your baby’s immune system is more developed before flying, usually at least one month, though most recommend anywhere between 3-6 months. We didn’t fly with Eula until she was 4 months old, but we took car trips with her down to Atlanta (a 2 hour drive) to visit Matt’s parents before that. It was nice cutting our teeth on those few road trips before flying. Our first flight was domestic, and we took her up to NYC over the holidays. And it was great! By 5 months old she went on her first international flight, Atlanta to London, and by 7 months old she made the 14 hour flight from Atlanta to Tokyo.
This is number one for a reason, mostly the bassinet part. You’ll survive in any seat on a short flight, though an aisle is super preferable for getting up to walk or change the baby. On most international flights there are baby bassinets that fasten to the bulkheads. You often can’t actually reserve or book them. However, I always call in advance and put in a request for one—they can note that you requested it on your ticket. It doesn’t hurt. The key is to show up early and beat the other babies! I’m only kind of joking. They are often (depending on the airline) doled out on a first come, first serve basis at the gate, so it’s essential to be early for your flight so you can be there to nab it. I also research the layout of whatever plane I’m flying and book the seats closest to the bassinet. You usually can’t book the actual seats because they are set aside for people with babies, such as yourself! We have managed to get the bassinet on every long haul international flight (and there have been many). Show up early, for real. And always call before to see if you can reserve it or at least put in a request. And note, the maximum weight allowance is usually between 20-30 lbs. This is a great comprehensive resource that covers policy by airline.
As for being open, most folks on earth are nice, kind and will chat you up for a bit. I made a few awesome friends here in Fiji by being open, by saying “bula!” and by extending the conversation just a little bit. Sharing your thoughts, and connecting, helps you make friends and if you haven’t made at least a handful of travel buddies over the years you’re missing the point.
Travel blogger Monica from thetravelhack.com says: “most parents start off with good intentions when it comes to screen time for their little ones but you’re definitely allowed to let your standards slip during a flight! Load your tablet with games, songs, TV shows and Disney films to keep them entertained for as long as possible. Even tiny babies can be distracted for 10 minutes by a cartoon with a catchy song and it can be just long enough to enjoy your in-flight meal or avoid a tantrum. Try The Furchester Hotel – it works like magic for my little guy! Also invest in some kiddie headphones so you don’t annoy your fellow passengers with those catchy Disney songs.” Before you stock up on free apps to keep the kids entertained, check out our list of the best ones for your iPad or smartphone to get before you fly, guaranteed to keep children entertained long enough for you to at least eat your in-flight meal.
The fear of every parent is flying when their child has a cold, as they inevitably go Poltergeist upon take-off and landing. In those situations, even those parents who you thought were your allies will refuse to make direct eye contact with you. But even if a child doesn’t have a nasty head cold, they still tend to complain about their ears popping during the flight. You can tell them to try yawning or chewing some gum to alleviate the discomfort in their ears. But I find that headphones — for you the parent — are the most effective solution.
We have eaten everywhere from our favorite dives to Michelin star restaurants with baby in tow (though my preference for the latter style of dining is *definitely* to hire a sitter)—the key is go early. If your baby makes unfortunate, loud baby noises as babies do, there are less people to disturb and thus less mortification to be had. And if they’re a little more mobile towards the end of that last year, it gives them a little roaming room. Another tip, when a high chair isn’t available and the baby is old enough to sit up, we have been known to “strap” her to the chair using a baby carrier. When she was too small, we simply wore her, held her in our lap, or put her in the stroller on the rare occasion we had one with us. A lot of restaurants abroad are quite small, so a stroller isn’t the best option in those tight places. If you can hit dinner right when your baby passes out for the night, obviously that’s ideal, but you can’t always plan for that.
Many major attractions allow you to reserve your spot and skip the line. Always look online to see if this is an option. This will you to avoid wasting time in multi-hour lines and go right in. I’ve seen people wait hours for the Paris Catacombs, Louvre, London Churchill War Rooms, churches, temples, historic fortresses, and more. Pre-book the day before, skip the line, get to see more during your day!
Some of my biggest highlights are things that sound so normal: it was drinking and singing with newfound friends in the Philippines, hiking alone in the mountains surrounding Taipei, trying to guess what everything was at a wet market in Saigon, dropping my travel plans to fly home and surprise my mum for her birthday, and spending six weeks in Madrid because that’s where my friends were spending the summer.
1. Bring new toys and books. Something that they have never seen before will hold the attention far more than something that has been played with dozens of times already. For our then-ten-month-old, it was a toy phone (not a noisy one) and a set of keys. For the one-year-old it was a new Curious Georgebook and a new car. This time, the baby needed no entertaining but the big brother did. We catered to his current obsession with Go Diego Go, and bought a few books featuring Diego. The key to this, is to not bring them out to soon. We wait until the meltdown begins and then bring out the big guns. If you bring out the secret weapon too soon, then you have no recourse.
“Make sure they have taken care of all bathroom needs prior to the plane ride and be mindful of liquid intake afterward and its impact on bathroom frequency. It may sound harsh but know that we cannot always accommodate an emergency bathroom trip. This last weekend I had a dad come up to the front just as we were taxiing, telling me his son ‘really needs to go poop and can’t wait.’ I had to tell him no! If we’d let him in the bathroom, we would have had to take a delay, which is a cardinal sin in the airline world!” —Christie Poulton.
I do it this way: I walk inside the terminal and take a look at both the length of the line for check-in, and the clock. If the line isn’t too long, and I have enough time, I head for the check-in; I get your seat assignments, can make any special requests, get credit for frequent flier miles, and can best address any problems with the flight such as delays or cancellations.
Starting at ten weeks-old, I’ve flown with my children at every age and stage, and now we’re in the midst of tweenhood. In these posts, I share my concerns and the reality of our flights. They weren’t always easy or vomit-free, but I don’t regret any of them. And I speak from experience when I say that flying with infants and toddlers does get easier as they get older.
You think you won’t forget anything, but you will. You won’t remember the name of that lovely girl from Oslo you hung out with for a day in Marrakech, you won’t remember the name of the hostel you loved in Beijing, you won’t remember the conversation you had with that dude in a pub in Sydney. Keep a journal to remember those small details because you’ll treasure them in a few years.
Don’t get discouraged over a cancelled flight just yet. The best way to handle an off-schedule flight is to call the airline as you wait on line at the ticket desk. There’s a good chance you’ll reach a phone agent first. Equally as important, you won’t have to negotiate with the same frazzled agent who’s dealt with dozens of similarly disgruntled fliers. These are the things airlines won’t tell you, but every flier should know.
14 Getting your children started on a few holiday-related projects before you leave is a great way to prepare them for what's to come. You could explore maps, or the history, geography, animal and plant life of your destination, or read books or watch a film that's set there. If the food is likely to be radically different, research dishes that they might enjoy, and try rustling up something similar before you go.
This works if you have a child that’s content to be in their car seat. Our son hated his car seat and would scream through 10 minute car rides to the grocery store. Part of the problem was his refusal to sleep in it. We often flew to avoid the car seat for any significant length of time. He was and still is wonderful on an airplane. There’s just something about being able to wiggle around and snuggle close to mom.
When you can, minimize. Getting through an airport without a stroller is unthinkable for some parents, so consider switching out your regular-size stroller for an umbrella stroller. If you've got more than one little traveler with you, consider a kid harness (leash), Wendy suggests. "I was so against them until I saw a woman with three young boys using them in baggage claim. It made so much sense," she says, "with the exit doors to outside right there. Look, flying is stressful enough. Do what you need to do to protect your kids and your sanity."
Let’s say you’re bumped from a flight, but the airline still manages to get you where you’re going within an hour of the original arrival time. You’ve got no cause to complain, really, other than just being a dick, and you’re not going to see any compensation. BUT, if you arrive between one and two hours past your original arrival time on a domestic flight (or between one and four hours for international), they owe you compensation of 200% of the one-way fare to your destination -- up to a maximum of $675. And for domestic flights arriving more than two hours later, you are entitled to 400% of your one-way fare -- the US Department of Transportation (DOT) requires they compensate you in cash, up to $1,350.
Sure, you should have a rough plan for your trip, but don’t book everything in advance or you’ll likely feel too restricted and end up regretting it. Book a one-way ticket and your first few nights of accommodation — you’ll figure the rest out along the way. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds. If you’re in a tourist destination there’ll always be someone who’s willing to take your money by giving you a place to stay.
Bring a car seat for your child. "Car seats aren't just safer for children," notes Veda Shook, a flight attendant who has been with Alaska Airlines for 16 years. "They also help kids stay calmer, since they're used to being in them." Shook suggests investing in a car seat-stroller combination. "The seat slides right out of the stroller part, which you can check at the gate," she says.
Flight attendants urge parents to pack enough essentials for the flight. "Unfortunately, you can expect there to be zero food on a plane that would interest a kid," says Lynn. "And we are so limited in what we can offer in terms of comfort items as well." On the flip side, parents will struggle if they zealously overpack. "Usually, when it's one parent traveling with one or more kids, they'll bring way too much stuff in an attempt to keep their kids happy," Wendy says. "They forget they have to carry all that stuff off the plane with them, along with their kids."
After about 25 seconds you will feel the plane start to lift, and if it's daytime, you'll see the ground getting further away - you may find it fascinating to see your town from the air for the first time! It's normal to feel some bumps while the plane is still climbing, so don't worry - see our article on airplane turbulence to find out more about the facts behind those common bumps.
Disasters happen. It’s always good to have a backup in case you get robbed or lose a card. You don’t want to be stuck somewhere new without access to your funds. I once had a card duplicated and a freeze put on it. I couldn’t use it for the rest of my trip. I was very happy I had an extra and not like my friend, who didn’t and was forced to borrow money from me all the time!