Air Travel With Children Is An Adventure!
If you're a jaded traveller, you might find your heart sinking at the idea of going through an airport with small children. You want to take them to the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando and you're looking forward to that, but you are not looking forward to dragging children through the while process of checking in, security and waiting in the departure lounge. But small children who haven't been on a plane much before find the whole process a lot more enjoyable: see it through their eyes and your trip can be come a lot easier (it also becomes easier if you travel light and rent what you can in the way of equipment, e.g. strollers, at the other end)
Parents often forget how their moods affect their children's moods. If you're grumpy, bored and hassled, your children will catch this off you and you will all end up feeling worse. If you stay calm, then your children will take their cues for you. If you manage to drum up some enthusiasm, then your children will often become enthusiastic, too. It's hard to be perfect when you're a parent, but try your best!
One key thing to do to help your children through the process of going through an airport and flying is to explain what's going on to them. Don't worry that all the other people around you will think you're an idiot if you entertain your child with singing, dancing and the like. In the case of airport officials and staff, you'll probably make their day a lot more enjoyable. If a silly song complete with actions and funny noises is going to stop a toddler throwing a tantrum in the middle of the security check, for goodness sake, sing it. With gusto!
Here are a handful of ideas for making the process of going through a busy airport a lot more fun.
Baggage handling: Let your children ride on the airport baggage trolley as you proceed to the check-in. If you're sensible, you'll leave a lot of child-related paraphernalia behind at home and get, say, stroller rentals in Orlando at the other end of your journey. You'll have more room for little passengers if you don't have all that extra clobber with you. Something new to ride on is a lot more fun for a child than riding in their regular stroller.
Check-in: One tip that makes things easy at the other end of your air journey when it comes to finding your baggage on the carousel is to put a strip of brightly coloured material on each item of your check-in baggage. Ask your children to help you make sure that each item that goes on to be weighed has this piece of material on it. Show children the numbers on the scales if they're old enough and explain why baggage has to be weighed and why there's a limit - we don't want to make the plane too heavy to fly (this is where the song about Mr and Mrs Hippopotamus getting on the bus and making it too heavy can fill in a minute or two). At this point, you don't want to lose your cool and get flustered and irritated if you've got too much baggage and are likely to incur an excess baggage charge - if you've decided that booking stroller rentals is the way to go, you are likely to be glad that you did.
Security: Again, tell the children what's going on: that the guards (this is the easiest way of describing them) have to make sure that bad people who want to hurt others don't get onto the plane, and they have to check everyone just in case. As all children who are able to walk unaided have to walk through the security gate alone, encourage him or her to march through like a soldier and to salute the guard on duty. You might get a smile! If you're in the mood for it and if you've had a number of children marching through and saluting, try doing it yourself. Children and babies should not remain in cribs, carrier or the like as these go through the X-ray. If the item is too big to go through the X-ray machine, the security people will have to inspect it manually, which is another reason why getting stroller rentals makes your trip easier: it speeds the process up if you don't take this sort of clobber with you through security.
The departure lounge: This can be the most difficult part of the trip, as you can end up waiting ages, depending on what the weather and connecting flights are doing. Don't worry about making your child sit still in a seat for ages at this point - they're going to be sitting down for long enough in the plane, after all. If do have a stroller with you rather than renting one at the other end, let your child out to move a bit in the airport lounge. You shouldn't let your child annoy other people or bump into them, but sensible activity won't hurt anyone and shouldn't annoy them (running riot will, however). See if your child can do forward rolls (or hop or spider walk) across the floor. Walk around the room and watch planes taking off. Get your child to do exercises on the spot - star jumps and arm waving things. Action songs are also good. If you're really lucky, you will tire your child right out so he or she falls asleep during the trip - a real plus on a longer flight!
by: Rick Rakauskas