Surviving travel with children from Dubai
If you are afraid of turning into one of those families we’ve all seen on board planes with unruly children, don’t worry. With a little forethought and preparation you can get to your destination with minimal stress and a happy family.
Planning your trip
The details of your vacation can mean the difference between success and disaster. Keep these ideas in mind as you plan
1. Aim for direct flights so you can avoid changing planes. If you have to make a change, avoid short layovers that give you too little time to get from gate to gate; conversely, avoid long layovers that require lots of idle time in airports. If your child is restless before they get on the plane, the flight will be a disaster.
2. When you make your reservations, ensure you provide the agent with the ages of all passengers. You may learn some important rules, such as:Regulations allow only one lap-child per adult. If you’re traveling with two children and only one adult, one child will require a seat of his own.Some airlines don’t allow newborns to fly so check age requirements.Some airlines offer discounted prices for children’s tickets.Most airplanes have only one extra oxygen mask in each row, which means you can only seat one lap-child per row. If two adults are traveling with two children under two, consider sitting across the aisle from each other, or in the seat directly behind.Some airlines count carseats or strollers as extra baggage.
3. If your child falls asleep easily, try scheduling travel during your child’s nap or sleep times. If you have a finicky sleeper, on the other hand, avoid traveling during usual sleep times as your baby may just stay fussy and awake.
4. Reserve your seats in advance to be sure your entire party sits together.If you have an infant, ask for the bulkhead (front row) and request a bassinet.Contrary to popular advice, it’s best to avoid the bulkhead with older babies and toddlers because these seats offer neither under-seat space nor seat pockets, so you’ll have to store all your toys and supplies in the overhead compartment. The food trays in the bulkhead also pop up from the armrest, effectively trapping you in your seat when food is served.Don’t put your child in the aisle seat as the food cart and passengers carrying luggage could injure him.
5. If you can afford to, buy a seat for your child and bring along his carseat. The familiarity may make it easier for him to sit still and even sleep. This only works when your child is able to fit comfortably in the tight seat compartments. A toddler with long legs will be scrunched between his seat and the seat in front of him. The added benefit of bringing a car seat is the safety feature of having your child in a protective seat on the plane. Make sure your carseat has a sticker that says it’s FAA approved for air travel so that it’s not turned away at the gate.
6. Visit your baby’s pediatrician a week before your trip to be sure he isn’t harboring an ear infection or other illness. If possible, avoid exposing your child to other children the week before the flight so he’s less likely to catch a kid-carried bug. If your baby will be taking any medication on the day of the trip (such as a decongestant or pain reliever), be sure to test it out before the day of travel to gauge any side effects.
7. Dress yourself and your child in comfortable layers of clothing. Airplanes are often cramped and temperatures can fluctuate.
1. Get to the airport early.
2. Check as many pieces of luggage as possible to avoid overloading yourself.
3. Remember that your child will have to be taken out of the stroller when you go through security.
4. When you check in, tell the desk attendant you are traveling with a baby. Let her know if you have a stroller or carseat with you.
5. Change your baby’s diaper immediately before boarding the airplane.
6. Avoid breast- or bottle-feeding your baby just before boarding as he may fall asleep and wake up crying as you struggle to carry him and your belongings to the gate. Wait until you are seated and unloaded, then feed him and maybe he’ll take a nap. Saving food and drink for when you’re on the airplane is also a great way to keep older infants entertained.
7. Whenever possible, check your stroller at the gate just prior to boarding so you don’t have to carry your infant through the airport.
8. If traveling with two adults and multiple children, ask if one adult can do early-boarding to set up while the other adult gives your little ones a chance for some last-minute exercise before boarding.
1. To help your baby’s ears adjust to changes in cabin pressure, encourage swallowing during takeoff and landing by breastfeeding or offering a bottle or pacifier. Toddlers can take a drink, nibble on crackers, or suck on a lollipop. (Look for those without a gum or chewy center, which can present a choking hazard.) Use the feeling in your own ears to determine when to give your baby something. If your baby is sleeping soundly, don’t feel you need to wake him.
2. Air travel can cause dehydration more quickly in a child than an adult so keep your baby well hydrated throughout the flight.
3. Changing diapers can be a real challenge as airplane change tables are typically very small. If you have an older baby, consider using pull-up disposable diapers on the flight since they can be pulled up with your little one standing.
4. The flight attendant will usually heat a bottle for you. Be sure that you shake it well and test it thoroughly as the galley system often makes things very hot.
5. If your baby is unhappy and begins to cry, take a deep breath and focus your attention on him alone. Fellow passengers who are unhappy about the disruption may forget that you have as much right to be on the plane as they do. They also may not know how difficult it is for a baby or young child to be patient during a long flight. Your best defense against an unpleasant stranger is to say with a smile, “I’m doing the best I can.” And then tend to your baby.
6. Unless you have to, don’t rush off the plane. Let your child play until most of the passengers have disembarked. This will prevent you from standing in the slow-moving aisle while carrying an armload of luggage and trying to keep your baby happy.
Packing your carry-on
The right carry-on bag can be a lifesaver. Make sure that your bag is easy to lift or roll, and that it falls within the airline’s size limitations. Here’s what to pack in your carry-on if you have a baby with you:
1. Extra nappies-plan for an unexpected layover or delay
2. A baby blanket
3. A nappy-changing mat
5. A sippy cup or bottle.
6. Infant pain reliever in case of ear pain or other discomfort. (But don’t try anything new; make sure it’s something your baby has tolerated well before.)
7. Lots of new toys-or old favorites that have been hidden for a few weeks. Avoid noisy toys that will annoy fellow passengers.
8. Extra dummies/pacifiers if used.
9. A small medical kit with bandages.
10. Wet wipes for nappy changes and cleaning baby’s hands and face.
11. Empty plastic bags for soiled nappies.
12. A bib and complete change of clothes for baby and an extra shirt for you (spit up and spills happen).
13. Toothbrush and toothpaste for unexpected layovers.
14. If only one parent is traveling, make sure you bring a letter of permission from the other parent just in case. This should be signed and assert that the parent gives permission for the child to leave the country.
16. If you’re traveling as two adults with two children, divide up the children’s supplies into two separate bags in case your seats are separated on the plane.