Flying international with your kids? Here are 5 practical tips to help you prepare
In case you are planning an year-ender trip, here are our expert tips on how to fly internationally with kids
If you love travelling, you already know that pulling off an international family vacation requires planning, effort and a whole lot of investment. Let’s not forget that such long travels can be grueling even for adults, so attempting them with stir-crazy, young kids would need a lot of stamina and preparation.
But the more you travel, the better you get at it.
This also means that by the end of a few international trips, your planning gets better and your kids get used to the long haul flights. However, much of the comfort of international sojourns depends on how you start and end the travel. This includes planning the itinerary, complete visa formalities as well as preparing a checklist for the entire family.
So in case you are planning an year-ender trip, here are our expert tips on how to fly internationally with kids.
1. Roll up your sleeves and plan well
Before you jet set, you should have all the documents in place. This means making sure the passports are ready (with scanned copies in your mails), flight and hotel bookings done, credit or debit cards changed to international, cash in the bag and clothes and shoes packed to the minimum basics.
Once you have all the items checked from your ‘out-the-door’ list and you are ready with the tickets, put away your cameras and ipads or magazines. Yes, you read that right. Because flying international with kids is a full-time job and would require your complete attention. So get your on board and inform them about the facilities that they can avail while in the flight.
For instance, Emirates has a lot of facilities for kids. We spoke to Terry Daly, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President, Service Delivery, who explained, “We go to great lengths to entertain and occupy children with an ongoing investment in product and service. We know keeping the young ones happy is a key part of ensuring a smooth and enjoyable travel experience for the whole family so we continually enhance our offering. We have dedicated services such as special kids meals, entertainment, toys and goodies to occupy children throughout their journey with us.”
He also added that Emirates’ award-winning in-flight entertainment system – ice – has dedicated children’s channels for all ages as well as exciting interactive games. “There are currently up to 90 channels of kids’ TV including 50 Disney movies on ice, specially designed headsets for kids and a bespoke activity magazine. A selection of proprietary brands of prepared baby meals are also available on board Emirates flights. For children between the ages of 2 and 12 years, we offer tried-and-true kids’ favourites, including vegetarian options,” informs Daly.
Also, you can also avail the ‘meet and assist’ facility if you check in online. This will ease your travel even more.
2. Pack light and right
Travelling internationally with kids would mean that it’ll end up being a long day or night. And so you would be lifting not just your little kids, but also a lot of luggage. So if you haven’t really been a smart packer and added extra clothing for days you might want a choice, let us tell you upfront, it may be a bad decision.
Most international flights allow upto a minimum weight per person, so do not go overboard thinking you can compensate extra if you use your kids’ weight percentage. You will eventually have to carry all that luggage yourself or hire a really expensive porter!
Plus, if you are travelling with your baby, make sure to pack a diaper bag with all the necessary items including extra diapers, food, clothes, wipes and medicines.
But also don’t forget to take one extra shirt on your flight (just in case the baby decided to rain in your parade!). In both cases, it’s best to pack the most important things and get ready to transform yourself into a porter.
Continue reading to see the three most practical tips that come in most handy when flying international with kids.
3. Create a planned system
If you do not have your passport, tickets or any other document that will get you through immigration and onto the flight easily accessible and in an order that it is needed to be shown, you’ll be lost!
So create a folder or a file, where all these documents are kept together and are always carried by the same person and kept in the same bag, so there is no confusion. After all, you’ll be on a long haul flight, at the end of which you will need everything to be conveniently secured so you don’t have to run around your kids and look for your papers.
Let’s not forget, these papers are the only things you’ll need to travel internationally, so keep them safe and preferably away from your kids.
4. Do not feel guilty because you won’t see these people again!
Yes, you read that right and it is the most practical thing to remember. Your kids may create a bit of inconvenience during the flight, and that’s okay. Remember that long flights are not a trip, they can be a marathon for parents.
So if your kid accidentally makes a noisy thwap on the tray table or jumps on the floor of the plane before you sit him down with a headphone, don’t feel guilty. It happens and most airlines have great in-flight entertainment to keep the kids engaged (cue the ‘FlightMap’).
But if you are still quite concerned, know that most international flights such as Emirates have conformable seats that can easily seat people without anybody scraping against one another. So if you are travelling with them, rest assured your kids will be seated comfortably and will not be disturbing anybody even if they move their tray table a bit.
5. Enjoy the ride
As much as it is daunting, an international flight with kids can be made enjoyable if you just learn to let go. Try to have a cheerful attitude towards the travel and slap a smile on your face. Rest assured, your kids will be more excited if you tell them you are also happy and excited about this trip.
Let’s not forget, one of the most important factors when flying is the need to keep the kids entertained. Most long-haul flights (and even some shorter ones) have endless screen entertainment for the whole family, from games and music to movies. These entertainment systems are perfect for kids of all ages but sometimes younger kids desire more than just a cartoon running around on the screen.
Plus, you can always ask the flight crew to help you with extra blankets or water or toys (like Fly with me Animals) to anything that you or your kids may need on flight. Most international carriers such as Emirates have great in-flight service and are quick to help out families with kids.
Emirates the Fly with Me Animals has been specially designed for infants and toddlers aged between six and 12 years old.
Emirates’ Fly with Me Animals is a new take on its signature kid’s products, replacing the popular Fly with Me Monsters. The toys are designed for infants and children up to eight years old and are meant to be both entertaining and educational. Each character represents a specific region and will help children learn more about its habitat.
On my travel from New Delhi to Dubai recently, I was pleasantly surprised that Emirates even had a cute in-flight photo session especially for those travelling with kids. They gave the families a polaroid shot as well!
That’s certainly something to look forward to now, isn’t it?
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