Traveling with young children on an airplane for your Hawaiian vacation? Then you'll want to read this first to drop some of those travel day stresses.
General: DIY / How-To
General: Kid Friendly
Easily the most stressful part of any vacation to the Hawaiian Islands is the actual traveling. It’s an incredibly stressful time that starts long before you ever step foot on a plane. We’ve all experienced the anxiety associated with travel days. Did I remember to pack everything? Is the car fueled up and all the tires have air in them? Did I remember to lock the house and shut the water off?
Get passed all of those worries and then you arrive at the airport which is always a terrible experience even on a good day, of which there are few. The golden days of air travel are long gone and not coming back anytime soon. Security lines, unfriendly counter agents, and the fact that we can’t seem to understand how and when to form a line and board a plane properly are just part of the fun of travel.
How can it possibly get any worse? Simple, bring young kids with you and the misery level increases tenfold. So if you plan to hop on a 5+ hour flight to Hawaii then learn how to make the experience as pleasant as possible with these top tips.
Fly At Night
If you have the option to fly during a late night or red eye flight then go for it. Trying to occupy children for hour after hour on a plane isn’t easy during the day. No matter how many coloring books, games, and Disney shows you bring with they get antsy about half way through the flight. Fly at night when they’ll be tired enough to sleep and you have a chance at them sleeping for most or all of the flight and arriving well rested in the morning.
You absolutely must bring snacks for your kids. Don’t rely on the terrible airline food that they likely won’t eat anyhow. Bring stuff that they’ll enjoy that isn’t full of sugar. Healthy snacks are best but make sure anything you bring will be allowed beyond the TSA security point. Or, buy snacks after the TSA security station as well as grab a bottle of water for each person in your group. Yes, the airline will offer you water but not always when you need it. To avoid blood sugar spikes and the attitude changes that come with them, keep the kids fed and hydrated with good stuff.
If you’re bringing baby food, make sure you’re up on the TSA rules. You may also end up tasting that food if the TSA requests it so only bring stuff you’re willing to taste!
Bring Things To Do
This is an obvious one but make sure you bring enough different things to do because it’s going to be a long flight. Portable DVD players or tablets (include headphones!) with movies and games are a great start, but you’ll also want some analog activities as well. Puzzle books, reading books, a deck of cards, coloring books, and travel games are a good start. Avoid anything with lots of small pieces that will, guaranteed, get lost.
Use The Bathroom
Everyone with a child knows how this works. You ask your kid of they have to pee and they say no. Five minutes later they have to pee like never before and now you have an emergency. The solution? Stop drinking fluids a while before the flight and then have them go to the bathroom (even if they don’t think they need to) right before you board. Don’t resume drinking until the plane is up in the air. Before the plane is going to land, make sure they use the bathroom one last time and stop drinking again.
If you have a child in diapers then you already know to bring extra diapers and wipes. Just make sure you bring plenty because running out won’t end well. You’ll also want to bring disposable changing pads. When changing your baby do so only in the bathroom. Don’t change even a wet diaper in your seat. Air on a plane is precious and even those wet-only diapers stink to those around you more than they do to you.
Get An Aisle Seat
Having easy access to the aisle is key with kids since you’ll likely be making a lot of bathroom trips. Assuming your child has their own seat, give them the middle and take the aisle for yourself. This will keep their hands from being wacked by the carts that roll through.
Be Ready For The Sick
Even the most robust kids can end up getting sick on a plane, especially if there is a lot of turbulence along the way. Be prepared for this and don’t expect a barf bag to be on the plane. Bring a few gallon sized zip lock bags and put a couple of paper towels in each. If a kid gets sick they can let it out in the bag and the paper towels will absorb some of the mess rather than letting it slosh around. You can then zip it up to seal in the stink and dispose of it in the trash. Bring extra paper towels or moist wipes to clean your child up as well.
Sometimes airplanes are freezing cold, other times they’re like a sauna, but rarely are they ever “just right”. So dress your children (and yourself) in comfortable clothing and be ready to add a sweater as needed. Bring a small blanket in case they need to cover up more. If your child doesn’t wear socks, bring a pair with anyhow since feet are usually what get the coldest.
If you know your child is a screamer, or deathly afraid they might be, then consider sitting in a seat that will be closer to the engines of the plane (usually just behind the wing or near the back). Why? Because these areas are generally noisier to begin with and that scream will be slightly drowned out by the engine noise. Slightly.
The reason most babies scream is because of the air pressure change that occurs as the cabin pressurizes and the plane climbs in altitude. For older kids, just give them a piece of gum to chew and they’ll likely pop their ears and never have an issue. For babies, usually sucking on your finger or their “binky” will help pop those ears. Feeding them may also help.
Got a real troublemaker? Of course not, your child is perfect! But let’s say, hypothetically of course, that your child maybe throws a tantrum occasionally and you’re worried about bad behavior on the plane. In that case, prepare your child days before the flight and explain how the Plane Police are hidden as passengers throughout the plane and always looking for kids who misbehave. You don’t need to go crazy with this in a way that will scar them for life, but a little fear goes a long way.
Avoid First Class
It used to be that you’d never see a kid in the first class section of a plane. Lately, that has changed a lot. Even though many airlines have age requirements for first class, I’ve never seen any of them enforce their rules. That leads to babies and young kids in first class where they do not belong. Sorry, they just don’t.
First class passengers paid a ridiculous amount of money to sit up there and they don’t want a screaming child or seat kicking kid by them. Besides, this crowd is going to be far pickier when it comes to nuisances than the unwashed masses back in economy. Do yourself a favor and slum it like the rest of us back here in the ghetto. The added bonus is that your kid will have competition back in economy and you always want the worst kid in your section to belong to somebody else.
What Have We Learned?Now that you have plenty of tips to make your travel days slightly less stressful try to sit back and enjoy your flight. I realize that’s not really possible, but try anyhow. In a few years the screaming you’ll hear on a plane will be coming from somebody else’s kids, not yours for a change, and that will be music to your ears.
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