Surviving the airport with kids

Travelling with children can often go hand-in-hand with stress and fraught nerves.

Travelling with children can often go hand-in-hand with stress and fraught nerves.  Not only are you going to be on the go for the best part of the day but you are disrupting your normal routine and this can throw even the best behaved children off kilter.  We expect our children to understand what is happening and behave when things are running smoothly never mind when things don’t go to plan.    
So how can we survive the airport when travelling with children?  Planning, planning and then some more planning!   My worst delay was a 7 hours travelling with three fed up and impatient children, not all mine!!  It was 7 very long hours at the boarding gate!  It was a number of years ago so there were no smart phones, no tablets and no pre-planning on my part!  I learned a very harsh lesson that day; as a result I travel a little differently now! 
One big concern for most parents is safety.  If your children are young enough bring a buggy to save their little legs.  Use wrist straps or toddler reins to make sure your little one never leaves your side.  If you do get separated from your child report it and ask for help from security immediately who are far better equipped and trained in locating your wandering toddler so try not to panic!  There is no point running around the airport like a headless chicken, and let’s be honest here - there is always the slim chance that we have reason to worry so it’s  better to be safe than sorry.    It is worth investing in one of the many things on the market for children such as ID bracelets, cards, clothing tags or you can even get a stick on tattoo with your child’s details on it!  
Make sure you are ready for check-in and security.  Be aware of the security requirements and airline regulations.   Keep all travel documentation within easy reach.  Don’t bring any unnecessary items that will weigh you down.   Remember that everyone has to go through the metal detector, even baby who must be taken out of the stroller.   Allow yourself plenty of time to go through security.
If you are delayed, find out what your rights are.  You can usually find an airline representative at the desk or gate.  Ask how long you are likely to be there.  Some airports have family friendly areas, restaurants and facilities; make a point of finding out where they are before travelling to the airport.   Pack extra snacks, a light change of clothes and plenty of baby wipes!   Avoid arriving at the airport too early, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement and arrive hours and hours before your flight – bear in mind that not only have you a number of hours check-in time but the flight and transfer at your destination make the day long enough for your little ones.  
When planning your trip, pre-book your seats where possible and avoid boarding first if you can.  As you seat number will be allocated there is no need to rush on to the aircraft which means less time in a small space for your children.   Try see things from your child’s perspective, it can’t be easy for them staying cooped up in one spot for so long.   
Bring lots of things to keep your little ones amused.  A favourite teddy or comforter may mean the difference between a hysterical child and a happy one.  Reading stories can distract your children and may even help them drift off to sleep.  Tablets and phones can be a major distraction if you find yourself delayed for hours!   Changes in altitude can be painful for children, a bottle, soother, a chewy jelly; whatever is safe to give your child on take-off and landing may help reduce ear pain on the flight.  

While most of this sounds like common sense, it can easily get overlooked or forgotten in the stress or panic of travelling!  
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