Before you leave...
* If possible, book your flights for non-peak travel times (e.g. Monday–Thursday, avoiding weekends if you can). Fewer crowds mean less stress. Flying in the evening or night is better, so your child is able to sleep on the plane.
* Pack lots of entertainment for the flight (snacks, drinks, books, colouring books, travel-size games, playing cards, other activities, little gifts). Bring more than you think you'll need so that you’re prepared for any delays.
* Prepare your children for the trip. Give them a calendar to mark off the days before they go on holiday. Tell them what to expect at the airport and on the plane. (For toddlers and above).
* Book your children’s meals ahead of time, where it be children's meals or infant meals. Their meals and special dietary meals are brought out first, allowing you to get your children settled eating their meals before your own arrives.
* If the airline allows, select your seats ahead of time. Always request a bassinet seat if your child is under 2 depending on availability of bassinets.
* When flying with small children, some people believe the best seats are the front row or bulkhead seats where the bassinets are. These do have more legroom, however the armrests here don't always fold up (because they contain the tray tables that would normally be in front where the bassinet is instead). Another option to consider is the window seats. During daylight, kids will enjoy looking out the window. And at night, the wall provides something to lean a pillow against. You’ll also have armrests that fold up, enabling children to sleep lying across the seats.
At the airport
* Allow extra time at the airport. As a parent you already know that everything takes l-o-n-g-e-r when traveling with kids.
* Give your children safety rules, such as what to do if you become separated. For example, should they stay where they are and wait for you? Or should they go to the nearest shop?
* Even if you don't normally use a child harness, consider using one in the airport. You’ll need a free hand to have passports and boarding passes ready and you may be distracted when checking in and claiming your luggage. If you have to let go of your child's hand, at least with a child harness you can have them on a strap around your wrist.
* Look up the airport(s) you’ll be using ahead of time online. Many airports have designated family areas or play areas that are good spots for lengthy stopovers.
* If you are bringing an umbrella-style stroller to the gate, find out at check-in whether it will be available at the airplane doors when you leave the plane or whether you will have to go to a special baggage claim area for it. If the airlines cant tell you this, why not try out an innovative product called "Ride On Carry On". It is an ingenious chair which straps onto your rollaboard luggage and converts it into a travel stroller.
On the plane
* Take-off and landing can be painful for little ears. Bring along ear filters which buffer eardrums against rapidly changing air pressure. Encourage your child to swallow by having a water bottle or even lollipops (if the child is allowed one). If you are traveling with an infant, bottle or breastfeed them on the way up and on the way down to help pop their ears.
* For maximum entertainment value, bring toys out one at a time, and put one away before introducing the next. Create a “bag of surprises” from the $2 shop that they can reach into when bored.
* Seat your child by the window. Most kids find the view fascinating. There is also less chance of them getting bumped by the drinks/meals trolley and other passengers walking up and down the aisles.
* Remember, not all passengers appreciate the joys of children, even a wonderful child like yours! Plan to keep your child entertained. Some parents deliberately choose seats at the back of the plane where engine noise can help muffle piping voices