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Flying with kids: 9 tips for happier little travellers

Flying with children in tow can be a test to your patience – as well as your fellow passenger's! Getting onboard a plane is the first step to most holidays, but it's at times a difficult time for the little ones who might not be used to the small space and long hours in the air. Read on for Skyscanner's tips on how to make flights enjoyable for the kids, and bearable for those around you too.

Cheap flights to everywhere

Children disturbing a sleeping passenger
Every passenger’s worst nightmare: badly behaved kids.

1. Know your kids

Are your kids likely to fuss, fall asleep, or binge on airline food? Are they hyperactive? Will they hate being confined to their seat for hours? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, it’s a definite that you’ll need to be prepared. Knowing your kids will help you anticipate what you can expect from them, and how you can prevent any trouble from brewing.

Kids jumping
If your kids are very hyperactive, it might be a good idea to let them burn off some energy before the flight.

2. Know your airline

Before you board your flight, make sure to find out the kind of entertainment they provide. If you’re in luck, there might be movies and shows for kids on the in-flight entertainment system, otherwise it might be a good idea to bring your own mobile device. Also remember to bring charging cables as well as extra and fully charged external batteries.

Young girl watching laptop screen
Load your kids’ favourite shows on your portable device to keep them entertained on long flights.

3. Crafty ways to get kids to sleep

Some kids sleep through the entire journey, but others remain stubbornly awake. If your children are the latter, you may wish to speak to your doctor about giving them a mild and safe sedative during the flight. However, if you prefer an all-natural method to help kids slip into dreamland, plan to fly at night even if it isn’t necessarily the cheapest option. Lavender essential oils are also said to aid in calming and soothing one into peaceful sleep, and might be another natural alternative to try.

Young girl sleeping on mother
Ask your family doctor about safe sedatives for children to help them sleep.

4. Upgrade if possible

Do everything in your power to get an upgrade to business class or premium economy. The extra legroom and plush seating could greatly help your children fall asleep, or at least get them to feel more comfortable than they would be in coach, hence guaranteeing a peaceful flight for everyone in the vicinity. It’s worth forking out the extra cash, or emptying your accumulated miles for!

Young girl asleep with stuffed toys
Spacious seats in business class or premium economy will greatly reduce the stress of flying on your little ones.

5. Novel ideas to keep the kids amused

Prepare a stack of new books, toys or magazines to take on board. The novelty of having new things to play with and read can keep the kids occupied for a few hours, or even the entirety of the flight!

Two girls focusing intently on their colouring books.
Colouring books: expand your child’s creativity while keeping them occupied on long flights.

6. Keep their tummies full

Bring as much food as you can on board! In preparation, try Googling ‘healthy snacks for kids to take on planes’ to inspire you on what you could take. If you’re short on time, muesli or fruit bars, crackers or biscuits, and nuts are always a great idea. Throw in a large bar of chocolate just for yourself – you deserve it!

Child eating on plane
Kids are less likely to fuss when they’re well-fed and content.

7. Be friendly to fellow passengers

A friendly smile and a cheerful hello will help quell any animosity from fellow passengers who might dread having to be seated next to potentially noisy children. Remember how you felt before having children and make it clear that you will do your best to prevent your kids from bothering others.

But this is not the only way to be friendly towards other passengers. You could also help out other hapless parents with crying babies by taking the child away for a bit, and walking around the airplane. Your fellow passengers will thank you for it!

Smiley passenger peeping around a plane seat
A friendly smile goes a long way in building good relations with your fellow passengers.

8. Find a flying nanny

Etihad provides Flying Nannies that aim to help traveling families keep their children happy and entertained throughout the flights. It’s well worth checking out this service if Etihad is flying your way!

Nanny reading to a young girl
Feel free to kick back and relax as the Etihad Flying Nanny takes care of all your children’s needs. Image credit: Etihad Airways

9. Pack spare clothes

On long-haul flights, it’s wise to pack extra sets of clothes for the children and yourself, just in case the little one has an accident on board. You don’t want to spend the rest of the flight smelling bad, do you? Remember to also bring wet wipes!

![Packing spare clothes into a suitcase]( "Remember to pack extra clothes whenever traveling with children! You might never know when an "accident" could occur.") Remember to pack extra clothes whenever traveling with children! You might never know when an "accident" could occur.

Flying with children in tow can often be a gruelling experience, especially if you’re with toddlers or really young children. However, some clever planning and packing of your carry-on bags can make flights with them a whole lot easier!

Family of four on a plane
Traveling with kids can be fun for everyone involved with some preparation!

Cheap flights to everywhere

Time for another family vacation! Book your flights, hotels and car rental with Skyscanner, or download our free mobile apps for easy browsing and booking on the go.

*Inspired by an article originally written by Seana Smith for Skyscanner.