How Do I Keep My Kids Happy On the Fly?

Virtuoso travel advisors share their strategies for stress-free air travel.

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Chicago O’Hare’s children’s museum.
  • “Travel through family-friendly airports. For example, London Heathrow has a family lounge and game zone, Hong Kong International features an activity-based learning theme park, and Chicago O’Hare offers a Nickelodeon-recommended interactive children’s museum.
  • Some airlines also go the extra mile for little flyers. Etihad staffs dedicated ‘flying nannies’ with childcare training. Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Qatar, and Qantas have excellent inflight entertainment programming geared toward kids. Air New Zealand has three-seat rows that convert to couches, and Virgin Atlantic provides special infant seats.”
    — Mishelle Ying, travel advisor, El Segundo, California
  • “It’s imperative to sign up for Global Entry, which provides expedited clearance at customs and includes TSA PreCheck. Not only will you get through security quicker, but your family won’t have to take their shoes off!
  • To prevent jet lag: Make sure kids stay hydrated. It will help them adjust to a new time zone and keep them from getting sick. Pretend there’s no time difference; put kids to bed at their regular hour, and in a day or two, they’ll be on the new schedule.”
    — Michael Schertz, travel advisor, New York City
  • “I recommend traveling nonstop; kids are going to get restless regardless, but you’ll have more peace of mind without the hassle of switching planes. On extended trips, fly into your main hub the night before; book a comfortable hotel and put the kids to bed early so they’ll be rested for the next leg.
  • For passing time in the air, iPads are great, but also encourage your kids to pack books, puzzles, and favorite toys. Bring a change of clothes to keep them comfortable if they spill something.” — Kori Brazeau, travel advisor, Ontario, Canada
  • “When it comes to the best seats for small kids, I have one word: bulkhead. You’re typically close to the front of the plane, so it’s easier getting on and off. Plus, there are no seats in front of you, so if your little one starts kicking, no one will complain.
  • Buy infants their own seat (you’ll appreciate the extra space) and remember to bring something for them to suckle during ascent and descent – it helps with ear pain.”
    — Alex Dalton, travel advisor, Port Saint Lucie, Florida

Top Photo: (LONDON HEATHROW) LHR AIRPORTS LIMITED

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