If you’re travelling with little ones, you’ll want to do everything you can to make the journey as easy as possible for them, you, and everyone else on the plane
Even if it's a long haul flight, there are lots of things you can do to keep your child happy and relaxed during the journey. But don't forget to look after yourself, either – the holiday is for you too, after all.
1. Make it fun
It's easy to forget that flying is amazing. We're so used to it that we take it for granted – but remember that it can be a magical, memorable experience for your child.
2. Dress them in something easy to spot
Whether it's head-to-toe neon yellow or their dinosaur fancy dress outfit – just make sure it's really obvious.
3. Take a picture of them on your phone
Once you've dressed them up, take a photo on your phone.
It's a lot easier to show someone a picture if your little one decides to go for an unexpected wander around the airport.
4. Inspect your gadgets
Modern gadgets are a lifesaver for busy parents, so get your phone or tablet fully charged and packed with games that'll keep your children busy. Even if you normally limit their time on gadgets, it might be worth relaxing this rule to keep them occupied.
Think about buying a cheap USB battery pack – because there's nothing worse than running out of battery mid-flight.
5. Plan for delays
Better to spend a slightly boring hour in the departure terminal than having to make a mad dash through the airport.
There's always going to be a fair bit of faffing, maybe the odd sulk, and some urgent trips to the loo. Include all this as part of your journey time, and you'll be able to relax – because there's no rush.
6. Cover all the bases in your hand luggage
If you check in any bags, you won't get them back until the end of your flight – which can feel like a very, very long time. Some airlines provide children's activity packs on longer flights, but don't leave it to chance!
That means including everything you need to keep your child happy and occupied in your hand luggage. Clothes, snacks, pens, paper, books, headphones; you know your children, so if it'll keep them smiling, make sure you have it with you.
If your child is over a certain age, they may be able to carry their own hand luggage – so don't be afraid to give them a backpack.
7. Don't forget fuzzy friends
Stock up on toys. If your child absolutely loves a certain cuddly toy, make sure to keep it in your hand luggage for easy access.
But keep a close eye on it – nothing will cause tears faster than a forgotten teddy bear.
8. Pack your own food
Even though you can only bring liquids under 100ml through customs, most foods get through security without a problem.
That means you can pack a proper meal, including treats to soothe any frazzled tempers. It also cuts down on the temptation to give in to fast food at the airport.
To make things nice and easy, don't bring anything that's particularly messy or sticky. And if you're bringing a baby on board, you may be able to bring up to 1 litre of baby food and milk – though you might be asked to taste the food for security reasons.
9. Bring boiled sweets/ear drops
Flying can be uncomfortable for little ears. Grab a few boiled sweets – you'll be glad you did when it's time for take off.
10. Pack wet wipes and hand sanitizer
For sticky fingers and changing babies, it's worth bringing plenty of both.
11. Book off-peak flights
If the flight isn't packed, it'll be less stressful getting on the plane, and staff will be more able to help out with any last minute requests.
12. Pick your airline carefully
Some airlines are a lot more accommodating when it comes to children, so shop around. You may save a few pounds, but a stress-free flight might be worth a lot more.
Most airlines will let you sit younger children on your lap – which may mean you only need to pay a nominal fee for their ticket. Find out their rules before you book any flights.
13. Consider car seats
You may be able to bring your own car seat onto the plane for your child to sit in – find out if it's allowed on your airline. It'll give your child something familiar and comfortable to sit in for the whole journey – though it's going to be bulky to carry.
14. Fly at night
If it's a long-haul flight, it'll help to sync it up with your child's natural sleep patterns - and that'll mean a lot more peace and quiet for you.
15. Spot empty seats
To make sure your child gets a decent bit of rest on the flight, keep an eye out for empty seats.
If you spot one, ask if you can move across – then it's armrests up for a quick snooze. Perfect.