Travel Special

Survive the journey

As most parents will testify, your issues are far from over once you’re all strapped in and ready to go. In fact, for some parents who worry terribly about how their children will behave, this is the worst part of all! Digital travel platform Booking.com has teamed up with psychotherapist, author and parenting specialist Anna Mathur to offer some strategies for cutting the stress.

Published

Let go of the guilt

So many parents struggle with guilt around their children being disruptive to other passengers. In truth, your children are simply being children, and flying is an exciting, different experience for them. Just like you, they may well have moments of being tired or wanting to stretch their legs, but unlike you, they’ll be noisier about it. Remember that you have as much right to be on that flight as anyone else! 

Know where your responsibilities lie

You are responsible for ensuring that your child is safe and accommodated for. You cannot control how much noise or movement they make, Research from Booking.com shows that over half of kids rank being asked to sit still or be quiet as one of the most annoying things about grown-ups when flying on aeroplanes! When we pressure ourselves to control the things that we cannot, we find our stress levels increasing. You can ensure children have a fun game, but you can’t ensure silence when their sibling wins!

Keep your eyes on the end goal

The journey to your destination is part of the fun, but keep a thought of arriving at your destination in your mind to help you ride out any stressful moments. And make sure the whole family, including the kids, have the end goal in mind: an awesome holiday for everyone!

Don’t over apologise

If you feel a need to over-apologise to those around you for any noise or disruption, ask yourself if your kids are doing anything ‘wrong’, or whether they are simply responding the way children would be expected to respond on a flight! An apologetic glance may work wonders. But remember, ultimately, you’re all there with the common goal of jetting off for a holiday, and you are all equally deserving of that flight seat! If you feel the weight of frustrated glances or eyerolls, hold this in mind! Some people don’t remember how it feels to be a kid on an exciting journey, but others may well look at you with admiration and warmth. How others experience you is down to their own perception, and not necessarily a statement of how good a job you’re doing as a parent! So pop a mask on and enjoy the flight.

You can ensure children have a fun game, but you can’t ensure silence when their sibling wins!

Keep your expectations realistic

How often when your kids are eating at the table, do they wiggle around or climb down? How often when at home, do they proclaim boredom regardless of how many toys they have around them? The flight will be no different, so expect the usual challenges and you’ll feel more armed to tackle them. 

Welcome the boredom!

In our age of constant digital stimulation, we’ve lost sight of the beauty and benefit of boredom! Boredom prompts your kid’s brain to utilise creative and problem-solving skills. Before you travel, begin embracing boredom at home. When children utter those words ‘I’m bored’, encourage them to create a game or a new way to play with an old toy. The better relationship we have with boredom at home, the more creatively we learn to navigate it in the moments we don’t have toys and digital distraction at our fingertips.

Come armed with ‘prop-free’ games

Have a think about games and things to do that you don’t need to pack in your hand luggage. Take turns in telling single lines of a story and seeing how it takes shape or create your own flight lotto on the back of a piece of scrap paper. A game of I Spy can be very distracting and there are lots of other games that you don’t even need pencil and paper for: all you need is your imagination.

Add a new tool to your worry toolbox

It’s natural for children (and adults) to have moments of worry or anxiety when flying. Breathing exercises tell our body that we are safe in moments when we may feel nervous. A great one to do with children is to look out the window and imagine gently blowing the clouds away! You could also name any fun shapes you see in the ever-changing outside landscape as a way to distract and anchor any wondering thoughts.

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