Travel can be an overwhelming idea for even the most frequent flyer. I see people literally everyday in the airport overwhelmed, frantic and just all around feeling lost. It’s a joke among my coworkers that the airport environment makes people lose all their logic. They suddenly don’t know how to count, left from right or how to read any types of documents. Though we make jokes about it I am fully aware that travel can trigger anxiety in anyone. And if we as adults can’t get it together before we’re scheduled to fly imagine what it can do to the little people traveling with us? Here are 7 tips for flying with children with anxiety.
Get to the airport early
Trust me. I am one of the last people on my flight ALWAYS. But traveling with children bring its own set of struggles. You don’t want to add rushing on top of that. I had to run through the airport with both of my kids once and by the time we got to our gate my older child was such a mess from it all he kept throwing up. They can’t handle that type of pressure.
Get them excited about the idea of travel
I know we live in a time where everyone wants to have that “surprise reaction” from their kids so they can have that memory (or post it on social) but this may not be the time for that. For many that suffer with anxiety, the very feeling of the unknown is a trigger. Take some time to get your children excited about the idea of traveling. Take about places they want to go. How do they want to get there? What do they think the place will be like? Hype them up so they’ll be excited about their trip.
Watch planes landing/takeoff
This is another idea just for setting expectations. If you get to the airport early enough head to a window and watch the runway for a little while. Talk about what you see and get excited about the idea of getting on your own plane. Sometimes the visual helps.
Bring plenty of distractions
Since most airlines have the same baggage allotment for children with a paid seat this is a great opportunity to let your kids get personal about their personal item. Have a special travel backpack with things your kids love that will also help keep them distracted throughout the flight. Snacks, movies downloaded on their devices (with headphones!) and puzzles are just a few ideas.
Take a red eye flight
This one is a somewhat of a no brainer. If you’re traveling late night/early morning you’ll be inflight during normal sleep time. Once you’re in the air, the low light in cabin will hopefully help your little drift off to sleep. A flight with a sleeping child is the best kind of flight!
Get a good night’s sleep
This one’s for you mama! You’re going to have to be on your A-game. We also know tired mamas are much less patient mamas. Get some good sleep so you’re ready and prepared for all moods and emotions of the day.
Ask for help
Enlist the help of your gate agents and flight crew. Dependent upon circumstances you may be able to pre-board which will give you additional time to get ready in your seat before takeoff. Also, letting the flight attendants know will give them the heads up and they may be able to offer additional assistance in the event of a meltdown. Just having people on your side is always helpful.
At the end of the day travel can be stressful for anyone of any age. Flying with children with anxiety doesn’t have to be a stressful occasion for you as well. Plenty of rest, preparation and enlisting help can help make the trip even a little smoother. Knowing your child’s triggers are super important. From the plane, to Disney, to overseas anxiety does not have to stop your travel.
Do your children have anxiety? How do you get them ready for travel?
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