Seven Stupid Mistakes I’ve Made: Flying with Kids

People on planes probably dread the sound of children, knowing they are probably going to be disruptive. Parents dread flying with kids too. But the plain fact is: every adult was once a child. Instead of being angry and frustrated with the little ones trying to make it through a flight, we should be trying to help them. I’ve been on a quite a few flights in the past two years with a preschooler and made a load of mistakes along the way. So today I’ll be sharing my experiences and tips for flying with kids. (Flying to Cape Town soon? Check out these cheap flights to Cape Town)

Here are some mistakes I’ve made:

  1. Getting to the airport at the last minute. 

This isn’t such an issue at a small airport like PE but in Joburg on 15 December with everyone leaving at once, not such a good move. We had many delays in leaving including a long trip to the airport, ok I have excuses, but the bottom line is I should have left earlier. 

I was running around trying to find the right queue and finally found it. I knew that I had cut it fine when a lady started calling for our flight (even though I was at the front by that stage). 

Nicky thought it was hilarious when the lady was calling the different flights (We had a blow by blow retelling of this story with my mom in the car: “Four o’clock Cape Town come!”, “Quarter past four PE, come!”) but rushing around at the last minute? Not a lot of fun.

I need to add here that although early flights may save money they aren’t fun for little kids. Check out this pic of Nicky when I flew early: bags under his eyes and half awake! But he still had fun on the plane. 

2.Letting my kid drink 350ml of juice just before a flight.

I was a bit thirsty before we left PE so I got a sparkling water and of course Nicky wanted something too. I should have thought this through. But he wanted that guava juice and it seemed a bit unfair for me to drink and not to let him have something. 

We are sitting there in the aeroplane, the food and drinks have been served. Nicky has juice and I have some hot coffee sitting on our fold down tables and a rather large lady to the left when he says:

“I need to pee.”

So now we need to plan our exit from the seats to the toilet. I place both drinks on his table and Nicky dives down underneath. I hold the drinks in my hands. The large lady unfortunately had to stand up to let us out. 

The trip to the toilet actually turned out to be a bit of an adventure. We did get a bit of a fright with a very noisy flush. He had fun telling this story but personally I could have done without all the manoevres to get out of there. 

3. Forgetting to bring a sweet or something to suck on during descent. 

It seems to me like there is less of a problem coming down to Joburg (the air is thinner and higher) than coming down to PE. There was one time coming down that Nicky was in so much pain he couldn’t even look at all the ships in the harbour (which he likes to do). After this I make sure that I had some sweets for him to suck on when coming down to a lower lying area. With babies it is also important to feed them on take off and landing. 

4.Forgetting to pack earphones for the IPad.

Thank goodness for screens on flights. They keep kids occupied. But you can bet your life that the adults around you don’t want to listen to the lion jumping up and down a million times on an app that doesn’t need internet. So one unfortunate soul had to, but I made sure I packed those earphones next time.

5. Packing the wrong snacks or forgetting them altogether. 

For the times I did get to the airport early, of course we have a hungry kid. Airports have plenty of shops so it’s an easy thing to buy a packet of biscuits. The one time I did get this right I packed a mixture of cheese and cucumber slices in a container plus a yoghurt. Having a kid too hyped up on sugar isn’t going to help matters much either.  But a packet of biscuits is better than nothing in a long boarding queue with a hungry kid. 

6. Wearing the wrong shoes and/or having luggage without wheels. 

I set out from Jozi after a lovely pedicure for my summer beach holiday and of course wanted to show off my newly painted toes in some sandals which had a bit of a heel. Not too bad to walk in, but as a general rule, when you are pushing luggage and hanging onto kids, it’s a good idea to be equipped with comfortable shoes.

Your baggage should be easy to move too. This one time after riding the Gautrain after our trip I had to get to the right spot to catch the Uber and the wheels came off my main suitcase. It was one of those really awful times I will remember, to somehow move a huge bag and keep track of my kid, making sure that he stayed close and didn’t wander off. Suffice to say I will never use that bag again. 

7. Allowing the stress to take over instead of enjoying the start of the holiday. 

There’s a lot of excitement about going on holiday, and we should cherish that instead of worrying about all the things that could go wrong. Make sure you have the basics covered (bring your ID book and your kid’s birth certificate for domestic flights) and after that, it’s time to relax and enjoy yourself. So what if your kid has a tantrum or needs the loo at the worst time? These are memories you can look back on and laugh about.  They are only going to be little once, and the years will pass quickly. Before you know it they will be flying around by themselves.

Something that I did do right was read Richard Scarry’s “Planes and Rockets and Things That Fly.” This book has a very good illustration of the parts of an aeroplane and the functions of an airport so that children can be interested in what is going on around them. This was particularly helpful when Nicky was sitting by the wing so that he could cheerfully inform me when the ailerons were going up and down.

Happy holidays and happy travelling!

Here’s a useful video from Travelstart with more tips below plus infographic and check out their cheap flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town

This post was sponsored by Travelstart. 



3 thoughts on “Seven Stupid Mistakes I’ve Made: Flying with Kids

  1. Shaveh says:

    It’s funny how they sound so simple by if they are not taken note of or accidentally forgotten – these things become huge issues. Nicely pt together. Loved it

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