12 Tips for Planning Your Child’s First Flight

12 Tips for Planning Your Child’s First Flight

If you’re about to embark on your first family holiday abroad, get ready for an experience you’ll never forget. This may also involve your child’s first flight which can also be very exciting. Flying with kids can be a challenge, however, so it’s important to be organised. If your child’s never flown before then there are extra things you need to be aware of. Go over plane etiquette and get them as prepared as possible. It’s also essential to lead by example and maintain a positive attitude at all times. With a few tips and tricks you can ensure the journey goes smoothly. Here are twelve tips for planning your child’s first flight.

Choose an appropriate destination

It’s important to choose an appropriate destination according to your child’s interests, age group, and the overall needs of your family. If it’s your child’s first flight you might also want to avoid long-haul journeys if you’re concerned they may get uncomfortable. You could look into destinations that are only a few hours away, for example. If you’re confident your child will be a happy flyer you could risk travelling further.

Involve them in planning the trip

If you want to get your child more enthusiastic about flying you could involve them in planning the trip. There are several benefits of involving the kids in planning a holiday. They’ll get more interested in the chosen destination and will want to know more about it. You could also let them pick activities to do from a list so they feel as though they have a bit more control. You want to avoid them feeling like they’re being dragged somewhere they don’t particularly want to go. 

Sort out passports and visas ahead of time

Before you book your flight you need to ensure you sort out passports and visas ahead of time. These can take a long time to process otherwise. If you’re planning a trip to the US, for example, there’s no such thing as a fast track esta and you’ll need time to apply. It’s worth double-checking all your paperwork is in order before you even mention the trip to your kids. A change of plans could be upsetting to them if they’re already excited about their first international holiday. Be proactive and ensure all documentation is up-to-date, and for the children as well.

Ensure you have all the essentials to hand

When it comes to packing you need to ensure you have all the essentials to hand, including passports and other relevant documentation. This will make your experience at the airport much less stressful. As well as your basics like wallet and passports, you might also want to prepare a list of other essentials. Think of scenarios in the airport, for instance, like your child getting a runny nose, or needing a drink of water. If you’re travelling with a baby, you can use this packing checklist for babies to help remind you of the necessary essentials.

Pack light

Even though you need certain essentials, it’s still worth packing light. This will take a lot of stress out of your journey. Rushing to make check in, kids in tow, while carting heavy bags isn’t much fun, so save your energy and be minimal when packing. Choose versatile clothing and items that won’t get dirty easily. This way you can mix and match. You probably won’t need toiletries as these may be provided by your accommodation. If you’re travelling far at the other end some sunscreen might be useful in a small bottle, however. Here are a few more tips for packing light with kids.

Double-check airline regulations

Before you go to the airport it’s a good idea to double-check airline regulations. These can vary so you need to ensure you meet their requirements. You may have a certain weight and size limit for luggage or be restricted by the number of bags. If you’re travelling with a baby or toddler, there may also be certain rules about carrying a pushchair with you. It’s better to find out these things ahead of time so you can pack accordingly and reduce the risk of getting into problems on the day.

Discuss plane etiquette beforehand

If your child has never flown before it’s important to sit down with them and explain the rules of air travel. This may include being as quiet as possible while other people are sleeping and not getting up out of your seat while the seatbelt sign is on. Do this with a positive attitude and make the flight sound exciting rather than like a trap, but ensure your child understands the importance of plane etiquette. This way they’ll be prepared.

Explain a few flying facts

Another good thing to go through with your child is a few flying facts. Explain what will happen at take-off and landing so they are less likely to be afraid. Make sure they understand that the plane will go very high and very fast. Let them know about turbulence and that it’s nothing to be worried about. If you’re a bit of a nervous flyer yourself, here are a few tips on how to deal with turbulence that might be useful for yourself or your child.

Lead by example

The most important thing to do is lead by example. If you manage to stay calm in the airport and on the plane, the likelihood is that your child will do the same. Children often mimic the behaviour of their parents, so even if you’re feeling anxious, try not to express this too much. The airport can be a notoriously stressful place as it’s full of crowds, queues, and frustrated people waiting. The best thing to do is to try to be as organised as possible so you can relax a little when you’ve finally checked in.

Ensure everyone is well fed and hydrated

Keep the entire family well fed and hydrated, including yourself. This is a good way to prevent mood swings and keep energy levels up. Having a good meal can also often help you sleep on the plane and this works for children too. If you don’t have refreshments included on your flight it might be worth eating something substantial at the airport. Get a bottle of water you can refill. Planes can often make you feel a bit dry and thirsty, and even though you might be used to this your child may not be.

Relax screen time rules

If you’re about to embark on a long journey with children you’ll need plenty of distractions to keep them entertained. It could be worth relaxing the screen time rule for this reason. There are ways screen time can be positive and it’s definitely good to have the option on a plane. Your airline might provide in-flight entertainment which should have plenty of fun options for kids. Alternatively, you could bring other forms of entertainment such as books, toys, or colouring pencils, as long as it’s not something that might disturb the other passengers.

Maintain a positive attitude

Even though travelling long-distance with children can be a little stressful, try to maintain a positive attitude. This will wear off on your kids as well and hopefully you can keep them calm. The most important thing is to focus on your destination and how much fun you’re going to have when you get there. More often than not, children find their first flight enjoyable and it will be an exciting adventure you can experience together.

Kate Dyson

Kate is the Founder of The Motherload, the 'owner' of one husband, two daughters, two cats and one rabbit. She loves wine, loathes exercise and fervently believes in the power of women supporting women. Find me on instagram: @themotherloadhq

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