Flying can be a stressful event, especially when flying with children. Kids have smaller attention spans, extra energy, and unpredictable mood swings. While traveling with kids, it is nice to have some help. However, the extra assistance that comes from a second parent is not always available. As a parent who has flown solo with my two younger children, I have been able to develop tips for other solo parents flying with children.
Ask for help.
Most airlines allow parents with young children to board first. Take advantage of this if you are carrying a lot of luggage or traveling with multiple kids. Not only will it take off some of the pressure while finding seats and getting situated, but it will make it easier to ask for help from the flight attendants.
Don't hesitate to ask a flight attendant to carry a bag or even a car seat to your seat. Same goes for the end of a flight. If you are first on and last off, the flight attendants are even more willing to help, as there are less people needing assistance.
During layovers, it is OK to ask for directions to the correct gate, nearest bathroom, or a restaurant.
Bring entertainment for everyone.
The longer the flight duration, the more important entertainment will be. Don't forget something for yourself. Some ideas are durable (yet quiet) toys for babies, coloring books for toddlers, portable DVD players and iPods for older kids, and books or magazines for yourself.
Don't forget snacks.
Kids seem to be hungry all the time. It is no fun dealing with hungry children while being unable to tide them over with something light to eat. Raisins, granola bars, fruit snacks, and Gold Fish are some easy snacks to pack along.
Be open to the idea of purchasing extra seating for babies or using toddler "leashes".
If you are traveling with a child under the age of two years old, there might be the option to have the child lap-sit for free. While this option is enticing, especially will on a tight budget, it isn't always the most convenient. Plus, it is safer to have a baby sit in a car seat during flights.
Though some parents are against the idea of child harnesses, they might just come in handy while traveling. If you have a toddler who might give you trouble by attempting to run off, a child harness will help prevent that.
Bring extra clothing for everyone.
Spills are a normal occurrence around children. Come prepared by having an extra set of clothing for both the children and yourself. If there are children who use pull-ups or diapers, remember to bring extras of those as well.
Have comfort items easily accessible.
Everyone has a comfort item, whether it be chewing gum for yourself, a pacifier for a baby, or an iPod for your tween. Having these items easily accessible during flight will help calm everyone down and ease some of the stress.