Travelling with children can be a stressful experience. The plane is often the most challenging part of the trip, but fear not – here are some useful tips from child and adolescent psychotherapist Joanne Higgins that will make the journey fly by.
Don’t worry about the noise levels
Nearly three-quarters (72%) of parents mentioned that this was the most stressful part of travelling with young children, with many aware that it could irritate other passengers, and some even saying that fellow travellers ‘can be quite grumpy’ about it.
Often the parent is more aware of the disruptive behaviour than other passengers are, but remember that other people are usually understanding, and that an apology (if needed) can also go a long way.
Psychotherapist Joanne Higgins suggests: ‘Children are generally far more active than adults and usually less inhibited when it comes to keeping quiet. It would be unrealistic for them to remain quiet unless they happen to be sleeping, so try not to worry too much about noise.’
Enjoy quality time with your family
While it’s recommended to rest up on a long-haul flight, don’t worry too much if your child is unable to sleep, or to restless to try. Most planes now offer in-flight entertainment systems, perfect for keeping children entertained.
Joanne advises seeing the journey as an opportunity. ‘The concentrated amount of time spent together on a plane journey gives the availability for families to spend quality time in one another’s company,’ she explains.
Take a deep breath and communicate
The temptation to react negatively to squabbling siblings or toddler tantrums can add further challenges to an already stressful situation.
Joanne adds: ‘If children become irritable or distressed, this is likely to add to feelings of pressure that may already be around for parents. It’s worth remembering though that behaviour is a form of communication. Children may use behaviour as a way of alerting parents when they need their attention.
‘Under the pressure of feeling embarrassed in a public place parents may understandably just want their child to conform, but taking a few moments to notice and respond more fully to what is going on may prove more helpful in resolving the situation.’
Have a few tricks up your sleeve
Pack your carry-on carefully, and make sure you have some comforts to help your child feel at home. This could be a favourite toy, a blanket, a colouring book or tasty snacks. Ensuring that you have a few items to keep them entertained and distracted will make for a smoother travelling experience.
Its also important to prepare young children for what to expect. Joanne notes: ‘This may be something to talk about prior to a journey, as a way of preparing children for what to expect. How much to talk to a child about this will depend on their age and their curiosity about it.’
Prepare in advance
Holidays are an exciting time for all the family, but the process of getting through the airport and onto the plane can be stressful. Remember, the entire family is likely to be out of their comfort zone, feeling nervous as well as excited.
Joanne advises that: ‘Parents have a lot to bear in mind when trying to remember everything needed for a journey. If parents can decide beforehand between themselves how they will manage and share tasks on the day of travel, they are more likely to feel relaxed themselves and this will influence of how the children feel.’
For more tips and tricks to make travelling with children easier, check out this comprehensive guide from Florida4Less. For more travel hacks, check out the ultimate guide to saving on airfare and today’s top travel bloggers sharing their vacation advice.