Parents generally think that having children prevents them from indulging in their love for travel. While this is emphatically not true it is most definitely easier to altogether avoid planes with kids. If your wanderlust is inspiring you to explore with your kids you are not alone. I had to keep traveling. I couldn’t stop. Here are my best survival secrets for flying with children, so you can travel even though you’re a parent.
My name is Veronica and I have two daughters. Jefri is seven years old and has been a junior explorer by traveling to seven countries so far. Charleigh is five years old and has been our travel companion in six of those countries. I will say that traveling with one child is exponentially easier than traveling with two children. When there are two children vying for attention and having differing priorities, tensions can rise quickly.
Airports can be a source of stress for even the most seasoned traveler. You’ll need my survival secrets for flying with children so you don’t lose your temper or your child in the chaos. Travel will get a little easier even with kids.
Secret Number 1
Motivate kids with rewards, not punishment.
Parents try all kinds of tactics when it comes to convincing children to do what needs to be done. We threaten to take away toys, we tell them they won’t get dessert, and we put them on time out. The one thing virtually every punishment has in common is that they also punish the parent. And if we are really honest with ourselves, the punishment does not solve the problem or encourage better behavior in the future.
It’s time to flip the script and end the insanity of punishment as a means to solve the problem. Instead, you’ll need a whole arsenal of survival secrets for flying with children that motivate with rewards. As you consider your child’s favorite things try to look beyond the concept of “do this and you’ll get candy.” That’s not to say candy can’t be one of your rewards, it can be, as long as there are other things you are motiving with too.
Here are some examples of non-food based rewards:
Secret Number 2
Explain things in terms kids care about.
Conflict with children often stems from confusion and overwhelm. Put yourself in your child’s shoes in an airport. They are being told to walk, wait, hustle, move, take off their shoes, and more. It is important to realize that they likely have no idea what is going on at any given point. They hear the orders being barked at them but they don’t know why.
Take the time to break down every step in detail so they become part of the process. I like to call it dictating our lives. When my children were babies their doctor told me that it is good for brain development as well as bonding to explain what is going to happen next. All these years later I have continued with that advice.
When children know what to expect it reduces anxiety. Use the simple who, what, when, where, why, and how method to remember all the things you should be explaining. Never talk down to your kids, instead treat them as travel partners. We know all the things we know now because someone took the time to teach us. This tip goes beyond survival secrets for flying with children, it applies to everyday life as well.
Here are some examples of things your kids want to know in an airport:
Refrain from answering in a condescending tone. Yes, a million questions are even more annoying when you are under the stress of an airport. But your ability to answer the question clearly, concisely, and in terms they understand has a direct link to the enjoyment of your travel adventure.
Secret Number 3
Ask them a million questions.
As a parent, you can take back control of many situations by flipping the script and asking the questions instead of answering them. You aren’t asking questions because you need to know the answer, surprisingly, some of the questions you ask won’t have definitive answers. Instead, you are asking questions to give your child value and purpose. It might be tempting to tune out the answers but don’t. You have to listen.
In fact, listen and reply. Asking the questions creates a two-way conversation that fills time, improves trust, and increases bonding. If you don’t keep your child’s mind busy they will have time to cause mischief. Practice active listening by asking clarifying questions based on your child’s answers to your initial question.
Remember, not all of the questions you ask need to have a definitive answer. Sometimes you can ask questions where you already know the answer. Other times you can ask questions that encourage your child to speculate or imagine possibilities. Both practical and pretend questions have value in expanding your kid’s mind and vocabulary.
Here are some examples of questions you can ask your kids at the airport:
Survival Secrets For Flying With Children
Traveling with children has a lifetime of benefits. Not only will your child grow up with a global perspective on culture and values but you will build a relationship beyond the monotony of everyday life. Parents who prevent themselves from enjoying life can grow to resent their kids. I’ve heard from many clients that they wanted to travel but they felt their kids held them back.
I am here to tell you that children can be amazing travel partners. In fact, kids can help you see the world from a whole new perspective. Children have a pure way of looking at things that adults sometimes miss. Let yourself see the world from their level and with their innocence.
Next time you are about to use your kids as an excuse of why you can’t travel, ask yourself one question.
Would you want to travel there if it weren’t for your child?
If the answer is yes then you should book the trip.
Use these survival secrets for flying with children as a guide to begin your travels on the right foot. You deserve to travel not to escape life, but to ensure life does not escape you.
Flying with children might be hard, but a lot of people hate long haul flights anyway. So what if I tell you, it is quite easy to survive long haul flights!
How do you survive traveling with kids?