There is no doubt that flying with kids is not an enviable task, and when you’re faced with the trip as a single parent, it becomes even more daunting. It’s hard to even contemplate coming out the other end unscathed and ready for a ‘relaxing’ holiday, but it can be done if you follow some simple tips.
There are three key things to remember when flying alone with kids – bring everything, expect nothing and don’t hesitate to ask for help. Some of the more practical things you can do to make the flight run more smoothly, is to arrive at the terminal early, pack plenty of food and drink and bring some new or favourite games or books to keep the children entertained. Further tips from the team at Single Parents on Holiday include the following: Make your reservation early. This sounds like a pretty obvious tip, but it is well worth taking note as an early booking may guarantee you get seats together. If you’re a single parent travelling alone, this is very important as you might find it stressful to move from one area of seating to another, not to mention that your fellow passengers and flight attendants might not appreciate finding themselves ‘babysitting’ your children.
Splash out on priority boarding if you book with a cheap carrier or charter airline. If you can afford it, it is well worth paying for: It will make a big difference to your stress levels if you can remain seated until boarding and don’t need to worry about joining the battle for seats together on board. This also has the advantage that you will have time to get you and your children settled on the plane and store your hand luggage safely in the over-seat lockers before take-off.
Choose your seat position wisely. Do your homework on seat location and amenities offered by the airline you are travelling on. Look at the airline’s website to choose the right seat location – near the staff area, the bathroom or just an aisle seat if your children tend to be restless. Find out where the power ports are located – crucial if you’re relying on electrical entertainment such as DVD players, game consoles and iPods to keep your children amused. Just remember to always bring headphones – other passengers will not appreciate the constant droll of your child’s computer game or DVD player for several hours on end.
Befriend the flight attendants. Travelling alone on a plane is hard work but remember that the flight attendants are there to help. Making sure you have at least one person who is aware you are travelling alone is a good move, for safety reasons as well as practical reasons. It will make life easier if you need to make a toilet trip or leave your seat for any other reason, and if the attendant is good with children, it might even lighten your work load.
Keep the children entertained. This can be the hardest task of all as a single parent – you only have one pair of hands so it’s well worth preparing a few games or crafts which the kids can get on with once you’re air borne. A great game, known as ‘build a story’, can keep kids amused for hours with everyone adding a sentence onto the story. A pack of top trumps, coloured paper and crayons or a piece of string for cat’s cradle also take up little space but go a long way. Failing that, and if your airline doesn’t have any in-flight entertainment, hire a few of the latest movies and use them as leverage to make sure that your kids behave themselves and do what is asked of them during the flight.