Are you excited about the holidays, but dreading those hours on the plane with your kids? Parent travel pros at Kinsights share their advice – unique tips beyond the usual “check your stroller at the gate” and “bring lots of snacks” – about what really kept them sane in the air. Here are some great tips that parents shared:
1. Book a direct flight.Factor in sleep times whenever possible. Pack special lovies/blankets that will make it easier for them to fall asleep.
2. Use the TSA Pre-Check. This rapidly expanding program costs $85 and allows you to speed through domestic security lines without taking off your shoes, belts, etc. Kids under 12 can go with parents who are part of the program.
3. Pack some new toys along with some tried-and-loved ones. Choose favorite books, an iPad/portable DVD player if they’re old enough to sit still and watch TV/movie, and crafts such as, sticker collages (sheets of stickers are easy to pack and provide a lot of entertainment, especially for toddlers), edible crafts (bring fruit loops and make edible necklaces), body art (tattoo pens are a safe, easy, and washable creative outlet).
4. Must-haves in your carry on. A hungry toddler is an unhappy one so bring plenty of snacks and empty sippies to fill on the plane. Pack more diapers than usual and a change of clothes in case of a particularly tragic potty accident.
5. Make friends with your fellow passengers. Upon finding your seats, pass out a little goody bag filled with chocolates and earplugs to everyone in your immediate vicinity, apologizing in advance for anything that might happen.
6. Bring a cheap lightweight stroller. Umbrella strollers are great for gate-check and to easily wheel around the airport. They also hold diaper bags and other items you’re carrying when your child isn’t riding.
7. Choose a seat in the back row. Forget about airline status and head to where the other families are. It’s much easier to have understanding people around you if your kid cries.
8. Hit the aisles to stretch legs. Get up and walk up and down the aisles a couple of times with your child during the flight when possible. Better as a preventative measure when things are calm than trying to escape with a screaming child during drink service.
9. Cut out the kicking. Does your child love to torture the passenger in front of them with constant kicking? Sitting in a car seat makes this worse, since it leaves even less legroom. If you want to forego the car seat, but still prefer a more secure restraint, try a CARES restraint system.
10. Bring rewards. Buy tons of small toys and snacks and keep them hidden in a carry-on bag. When your child is well behaved, they get a prize from the bag every 15 or 20 minutes. The ultimate prize is a giant ring pop, which might keep your child occupied for up to 30 minutes.
And while you’re busy packing toys, iPads, snacks, and books to keep your kids occupied on the plane, don’t forget to bring something much more important – your child’s basic health information. If your child gets sick or has an accident when you’re away from home, there are some basics that you should always have on hand (for you, and anyone – family member or sitter – watching your child):
• Pediatrician name and phone number
• Health insurance information (insurer, group number, policy number)
• Your contact information
• Child’s full name and birth date
• List of allergies and description of reactions
• Any medications that your child is taking
• Recent or ongoing medical issues
• Updated list of immunizations
And rather than scribbling all of this down on a stack of post-it notes or lugging a file around, you can consolidate everything in a beautifully charted personal health record for free on Kinsights – they’ll keep it organized, private, and secure. Before you head out the door, print a copy and toss it in your carry-on bag. Along with fruit loops and sticker sheets.
Meet Kinsights: part parenting community, part online health record. Kinsights provides parents with a safe place to seek answers to their questions while also helping them track their child’s health information. Organize your child’s growth and development milestones, immunizations, medications, allergies, and more. Connect with Kinsights at Kinsights.com to learn more and sign-up-and it’s free! You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.