Flying Solo With Kids? Here's How To Make The Plane Ride Easier
STORY: Priyanka Elhence
12 August 2022
Travelling with young ones is never easy. But it can be a whole other challenge if you’re doing it without an extra pair of hands and eyes to help you. But don’t worry, it’s easier than you think.
If you find yourself travelling alone, then try these tips to maintain your sanity:
1. Splurge and book non-stop flights (and window seats!)
Booking direct flights or routes with as few connections as possible may be a little more expensive, but it’s really worth it. You don’t have to worry about the hassle of running across airports to make your connection and you only have one flight to survive.
While you’re already paying top dollar, suck it up and pay for that window seat. Although aisle seats make going to the toilet much easier, it’s worth getting your child a window seat if it will keep them entertained. Plus, you won’t have to worry about your child ‘escaping’ in case you fall asleep in the aisle seat.
2. Book a morning flight
Although most travel-with-kids articles will tell you to travel during your child’s bedtime or nap time, it’s worth considering a flight earlier in the day when you’re travelling as a solo parent. Children have the most energy in the morning, so take advantage of that and get them flying when they’re excited to be walking themselves rather than needing to be carried. Also, in case the flight is delayed, it’s comforting knowing that you will still be able to arrive during daylight hours (hopefully).
3. Arrive VERY early at the airport
Do yourself a favour and give yourself plenty of time at the airport (at least 2 hours before the flight departure time should be adequate). It’s easy to do, it gives your kid time to burn some energy before the long flight, and it is one less thing that you’ll be stressed about knowing that you don’t need to rush to get onto the plane.
4. All parenting rules go out the window
Seriously. Even if you have a strict rule for screen time, now is the time to break that rule. If it keeps them quiet and happily stuck in their seat, let them have screen time for the entire duration of the flight. Go with the flow and don’t sweat the small stuff. Or the big stuff. You’ll figure it out and there will always be a solution.
5. Don’t forget to preorder a kids' meal
Kids' meals are served first before the meal service starts for the rest of the passengers, so make sure you order it at least 24 hours in advance. The last thing you need on your hands is a hangry child. You’ll have the option to eat at the same time as your child or to have it later.
6. Pack enough snacks
You can never have enough snacks, so arm yourself with a variety of age-appropriate fun snacks (for both you and your child). And pack them somewhere that’s easy to reach so that they are instantly available and won’t get squashed.
7. Take any help you can get
Don’t try to be a parenting hero at 35,000 feet. If someone offers to watch your child while you quickly gobbly down a meal or go to the toilet, accept it! And if the flight attendant offers some candy when your child is throwing a bit of a tantrum, swallow your pride and take the candy. You’ll at least live to fight another day!
Tip: When you land, ask to hitch a ride on the buggy that’s often waiting at the gate. It’s for passengers that require special assistance, but can sometimes be extended to parents travelling with young kids. You’ll get driven straight to immigration, and with some luck, you might just be able to jump the queue and have someone help you with your luggage.
8. Bribe them with surprises
Use bribery to your advantage. Promise your child a little surprise or a special treat every few hours, but only if they promise to behave. Stock up on small, inexpensive toys and treats before the flight and keep handing them out whenever you think best. And wrap them up to make it more exciting - the more layers, the better!
9. Don’t forget about yourself
Yes you’re travelling alone and responsible for a child, but it doesn’t have to be all stressful. Be as well prepared as you can be, and you’ll have as smooth a journey as possible, and you might actually enjoy the trip with your child. For instance, dress comfortably so that you’re not conscious about what you’re wearing (and pack an extra change of clothes for yourself too in case of any accidents). Pack plenty of your favorite snacks, healthy or not (see pt.5 above) so that you’re not hangry and irritated yourself for no good reason.