One of the challenges of expat life with small children is the amount of time you spend navigating through airports. Each visit to an airport is a unique experience as your child is at a different stage in their development. A baby who was a dream flying long haul a year ago, may now refuse to get up off the floor in departures. Or happy go lucky older kids are now anxious tweens.
Talk to your children about the airport
Do your research on the airport
A little advance research will pay dividends when you get to the airport:
• Which terminal do you fly from?
• Is there a family lane for security?
• Is there a children's play area for your children to burn off some energy before getting on the plane?
• What can you bring on board?
• Where are the baby changing facilities?
• Where are the toilets?
• How do you get children’s equipment through the airport i.e. prams or car seats?
There’s nothing worse than having too much luggage when flying with children. Keep luggage to a minimum but ensure you have what you need to hand.
Your expat child may love the idea of their own carry-on but be careful before you agree. Are they used to carrying a backpack? If not you may end up juggling their hand luggage with your own.
The following should be part of your carry-on luggage when flying with little ones:
• Workbook to provide them with a mix of activities
• Twistable crayons or colouring pencils that don’t need sharpening
• Magnetic drawing board (the pen is attached so no crawling under seats for dropped crayons)
• Soft toy or blanket for nap time
• Favourite snacks
• Tissues and wet wipes
• Change of clothes
• Warm socks in case the air conditioning is too much
Dress for airport security
Using the family airport security lane
Entertainment for the plane
There is no doubt the airport can be a challenge for children at the best of times. If you are raising an expat child who flies more than most, they might find it particularly frustrating. Still, with some preparation and extra time you can make the most of family time while in the airport.