Tips On How To Reduce Airport Anxiety (From A Mother Of Twins)
Travelling with kids is never easy. Make them pint-sized, and it’s a whole other ball game. If you get anxious about flying, then you’re really not going to be looking forward to getting on a plane with your little one. But sometimes staying home is not an option and multi-hour flights have to be conquered - with or without tears.
Take it from me - my twins had their first flight at just three weeks old and I survived it!
Try these tips to reduce your airport anxiety when travelling with kids:
Don’t travel solo
If at all possible, try not to travel alone with your little one, especially for long haul flights (and especially not if you’re a parent of multiples). Little children bring a lot of baggage themselves when travelling (think diaper bag, stroller, little personal backpack, etc), so it can get daunting just thinking about how you are going to manage the check in, keep an eye on your child and also manage to get through immigration and customs without losing it. Even on the plane, travelling with someone makes routine things like eating in peace, catching a little shut-eye or going to the toilet POSSIBLE.
Budget in A LOT of extra time
Leave yourself a lot of extra time to get to the airport, to check in and to not have to rush to make it to your gate. Being well-prepared can help reduce anxiety and feeling overwhelmed, and a long wait at the terminal is always preferable to a stressful race through when travelling with little ones. I know I always feel better when we’re early rather than rushing, and you can take your time getting through customs and immigration, rather than have to run like mad. And have you noticed that when you’re short on time is usually the perfect time for children to throw a tantrum and start a screaming match?
Consider your flying route and timing
Short flights are easier, being point to point. But with long haul flights, consider if you’ll be less stressed travelling for longer but non-stop, or would it be easier to break the journey with a stopover or two? I personally preferred travelling non-stop over one flight, rather than having to deplane, board and settle down again two or three times. Yes, the kids can get cranky with the lack of space to run amok, and they might shout and scream for a few minutes, but I promise you, it passes.
Plus I found that staying on one flight meant that the crew was more familiar with you, and were more likely to try and help as much as possible, which was easier than dealing with a completely new crew halfway through the journey.
And depending on your destination, book a morning flight if at all possible. Not only do morning flights have lower chances of getting delayed, but you should arrive at your intended destination within your child’s regular sleep cycle, which means that you can put them down for the night soon, and put your feet UP!
Travelling with kids is not the time to make fashion statements! And this applies to both you and your children. The last thing you need to worry about on top of all the airport and travel anxiety, is not feeling comfortable in your clothes and shoes, or how you’re looking to others (because God knows that’s the last thing I needed to worry about when travelling with twins).
Being grounded in your body makes you feel more in control, so wear what’s comfortable, rather than what’s in fashion. Airport and plane temperatures can change frequently, so wearing layers (again for both me and the kids) that could be taken off or put on easily was really helpful.
Dressing in something dark can help hide small spills and food stains, rather than wearing something light or white. Ditto for shoes! Ditch the heels for flats or good quality sneakers that you can run (after your baby) in.
Keep your child busy
Divide and conquer goes a long way here for maintaining your sanity! If your child is distracted by snacks, a cartoon or a favourite activity book, then the chances of him throwing a tantrum are well reduced. Keeping your child busy can help with the long airport waits, or any potential delays too. Yes, it might go against your personal belief on too much screen time… but in my book, having an iPad babysit two little toddlers for 30 minutes is well worth it when you’re at the airport!
Don't be hard on yourself
Normal rules really don’t apply when you’re travelling with a little child, so cut yourself some slack and give yourself a break from trying to make it the perfect trip, starting right at the airport. Perfection is not going to happen. Children can smell your fear, so if they start feeling your irritation or panic, they’re going to get edgy and irritated too, leading to a potential tantrum. Go easy on yourself, breathe and remind yourself that you’re doing the best that you can.