Traveling With Small Children Or Babies Abroad

A unique experience, or a true challenge for most parents’ patience?

When making travel plans, especially for traveling abroad, most people find that doing this by plane is one of the most comfortable, pleasant, and safer ways of traveling, statistically speaking. But traveling with children also means that parents often have to deal with some uncomfortable –and sometimes embarrassing– situations caused by their very little ones. With regard to this, recent surveys have asked travelers if parents or flight crews should be stricter about the behavior of very young passengers traveling, including babies. There are lots of stories about kids behaving badly. In a fairly high percentage of comments, flight attendants put the blame on very permissive parents.

For example here are some of those comments, but, of course, no actual names are used. Chloe: “Families with children have every right to fly, but they need to teach their kids to respect others’ rights so everybody can enjoy a pleasant quiet flight.” George: “It really drives me crazy to be surrounded by families talking loudly, and passing objects, food, drink, towels, toys, etc., back and forth.” Zach: “I have had enough of kids kicking the back of my seat, while their parents look elsewhere pretending not to realize what they are actually doing!” As you can see, every comment involves a different point of view, depending on the case. The idea of “family-only” sections on aircraft was also suggested by some attendants. But then average families might not enjoy crying babies any more than other passengers.

So one might wonder, what is the role of the flight crew for families traveling and in terms of keeping peace on a plane? As an example, a young mother and her screaming baby were recently escorted off a plane because one of the rookie attendants considered that the other passengers could not properly hear the safety instructions announcement. After the incident, a more experienced attendant commented: “I think that was not necessary at all but, definitively, those are very delicate situations which require a more professional attitude from our flight staff. But if parents do not control their kids when traveling by plane, then flight attendants have to do what they think is best for all. Of course, every situation is different. The crew can ask parents to control their kids, but soon they start responding: ʹMind your own business!ʹ or ʹWhat do you know about children?ʹ Honestly, trying to parent another person’s unruly children can be really troublesome!”, he finally said.

Although it is quite true that small children and babies traveling in a cramped airplane cabin could sometimes be a true challenge for most parents’ patience, we would like to offer some useful tips to avoid unnecessary complications. In the case of small children, talk to your kids before getting aboard the plane, especially while in the boarding area waiting for your flight arrival or departure. Believe it! Giving short, direct instructions and recommendations to your little kids, in a loving and sensitive way, will work better to gain their confidence. It might sound strange, but in a number of cases, they behave badly because they are simply projecting their own inner insecurities or, in other words, because they’re calling for your full attention. But in the case of babies, you should take some different measures. Here is a list of very useful tricks:

  • First of all, check that you have everything before leaving home: clothes, food (especially his/her special milk formula) baby-toys, disposable diapers, baggage, etc.
  • If possible, avoid too much baggage when traveling by plane – just one handbag, a diaper bag, and a stroller are more than sufficient pieces of baggage to carry with you.
  • Smile going through check-in, security, and customs. If you have the chance, ask politely about jumping the line.
  • Reserve a bulk-head seat and a bassinet, if they are available.
  • Try to board the plane earlier. It will allow you to have enough time to think about how to stow your handbag or other personal items in the most convenient place possible.
  • Pack yourself an extra change of clothes, or at least another shirt or a blouse.
  • Feed your baby on takeoff and landing, this keeps his/her little jaws going so that his/her ears can adjust to the changing elevation.
  • Use a carrier or wrap, and try to get your baby to sleep at strategic transit times.
  • Do not stress about your schedule, but do try to keep a rhythm.
  • And, if possible, try to keep a fairly good sense of humor. This attitude will help you to let things going more easily.

Traveling by plane is, in itself, a wonderfully unique experience for anyone, especially when traveling accompanied by his/her family. But flying with small children or babies is, undoubtedly, a true challenge for most parent’s patience, including those considered as very permissive. At last, after all these recommendations, there is only one piece of final advice. Have a nice flight, and enjoy it as much as you can!!

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VIAAbelardo Canelo
SOURCEAbelardo Canelo
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