With the December school holidays fast approaching and our family having leveled up by adding Smallberg #4 to the mix, we need to plan a lot longer in advance for our family vacay. Visiting family that isn’t in Cape Town is on top of the list and with that the dreaded thought of flying with a 7 year old and a 4 month old. Booking affordable flights and keeping the kids entertained and calm for the duration of the travelling time is my biggest concert when planning a trip.
The first step in the planning journey is to research every aspect of what you will need for your trip. Most days adulting consists of planning, preparing and heaps of paperwork. It can suck but if you do proper research it can make anything, even the daunting thought of flying with children, manageable. Get as much of the administration behind you so that you can move onto the next step in the planning process. Ensure that you have all the travel documents ahead of time for your child i.e. ID, Birth certificate, passport and visa. A good tip is to make copies ahead of time of these documents and store them online.
Set enough time aside to mentally prepare your child for the flight. We usually start the mental prep with Jayme a week or two in advance. This includes watching videos regarding the plane such as how it takes off and we try and imagine how it will feel. We talk about what he is most excited about and what toys he wants to take along or what special clothing he is going to wear on the flight. Our family is big on hyping up any new situation for the kids so that they buy into the idea. We usually try and keep the hype going by giving Jayme a surprise gift, usually a new toy. I think he already knows its coming and he looks forward to it and this easy gets him to be on his best behavior.
When you start your packing there is a few things to keep in mind, namely extra clothes, medication and most importantly snacks. Moms know that packing extra clothing for the kids is a given. Pre-pack one or two spare outfits in zip-lock bags, this way the dirty clothing can be placed in those bags should your little one have an accident. Medication should also be packed ahead of time, preferably with moms’ hand luggage and in sealed bags as well. Remember to have proof for any prescription medication you need to take along. When it comes to snacks your best bet will be to pre-pack healthy snacks to avoid needing to buy easy sugary treats that could cause your child to have too much energy to sit in their seats. Jayme enjoys peanut butter sachets and cut up pieces of fruit. Try taking snacks that don’t cause a mess or melt. Wet wipes and hand sanitizer is a must for moms handbag.
A big aspect you need to consider is what will keep your child busy for the duration of the flight. The new gift Jayme gets keeps him busy for an hour or so but when the novelty wears off I turn to the trusty smartphone or tablet with apps and games that fill the remainder of the time. Make sure to download the games ahead of time and check that they work and are updated. Take a power bank along in case it’s a long flight. If you or your child is not too keen on apps, consider taking along travel size board games or activity books that can keep them busy.
Whether you are a new mom or a seasoned veteran, kids can cause for us to need to do things that were not part of the schedule. To avoid last minute panic book your tickets and check in online, get to the airport well ahead of time and be smart about what time you book your flights for. Nap time is usually a win.
Let me know if you have any tricks of the trade that have worked for you. Remember, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” – Benjamin Franklin.
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