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Mark's Masterclass: Top tips for flying with kids

by Nicole Brunton

Flying with kids can be a daunting experience for parents, but don’t worry! Our founder, Mark, has mastered the art of family travel and is here to share his top tips for a smooth and enjoyable journey. From the importance of sleep to clever packing strategies, Mark's insights are a must-read for parents gearing up for their next adventure.  “As a family we’ve been on more than 50 flights together and we’ve certainly learnt our lessons with the do’s and don’ts of air travel with toddlers!” 
1. Prioritise Sleep for a Tear-Free Flight 
You may be tempted to tire your kids out for a peaceful flight, but this may backfire. The airport's hustle and bustle, coupled with an overtired child can lead to tears mid-flight. Therefore, always ensure your kids get a good night's sleep before the journey.  Where possible keep the days leading up to the flight as routine as possible.  Sleep them at home, in their normal bed.  No parties or events that may interrupt their regular sleep patterns.  You could also start adjusting their sleep times to match your destination.  Going east is the easiest adjustment for your body’s natural circadian rhythm, but your return to NZ maybe harder.  So, on your return trip, start to bring forward your child’s bedtimes 30 mins each day to match NZ time.  This will mean they are well rested for the flight and will be adjusted when you return. 
2. Embrace Early Morning Flights 
Despite the initial struggle of waking up early, everyone will be fresher and more cooperative. This simple adjustment sets a positive tone for the entire travel experience.  According to Travel & Leisure Magazine, morning flights are also considered to be more reliable – aircraft usually sit on the tarmac overnight so are less likely to be subject to disruptions and delays from the day before. Plus, airfares tend to be cheaper at less popular travel times.  So, opting for a 9am flight that avoids the business hour rush, may save you money as well. 

3. Strategic Planning - with things such as Toys and Games and keeping your children comfortable 
To keep the little ones entertained, plan ahead by bringing new toys, games, and plenty of food. Mark recommends creating a small bag of random toys, introducing an element of surprise to maintain their interest throughout the journey.  An absolute must is a good travel pram – and why not opt for one designed in NZ for kiwi kids such as Otto.  It’s important your pram offers comfort for napping and conveniently fits into the overhead locker of the airplane. Mark recalls how Frankie slept everywhere in the Otto travel pram when they travelled to Italy.  “We used to put Frankie down for his naps in his pram which allowed us to do our tourist stuff without being hindered by getting back to the hotel for his nap times”. 

4. On the plane – hints and tricks                                                                         

For a more comfortable journey, Mark advises booking a bassinet for any child up to 11kg—most airlines offer this option. Additionally, booking kids meals in advance ensures that your children have familiar and appetising food options during the flight.  You could bring a lunchbox of surprise treats that you know your kids will love.   

Mark's pro-tip for a more controlled environment is booking a window seat. Kids love looking out the window, and it provides a built-in barrier to prevent them from running away. Attachments to the window also add an extra layer of distraction.  And it doesn’t have to be expensive, go check out your local opportunity shop for some second-hand options!   

Take-offs and landings can also be tough on little ears. For babies, Mark recommends giving them a bottle or breastfeeding during these times to help alleviate ear pressure. For older kids, a lollipop serves as a tasty yet effective solution. 

Finally, don’t forget to bring the grandparents! Their wisdom, extra hands, and unique ability to spoil the grandkids can turn a family journey into an even more enjoyable adventure. After all, what's better than making travel memories with multiple generations? 
Armed with Mark's expert advice, parents can tackle air travel with confidence. Bon voyage!  




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