It may not be possible to avoid traveling with young children during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the prospect of flying at this time should not scare you. Airlines are doing all they can to sanitize aircraft and are committed to health guidelines to keep you and your family safe. That said, there are a few ways that you can prepare for your upcoming trip.
1. Talk to your children
Overthinking the coronavirus can be stressful, but while it might be second-nature to try and push it to the back of your mind, it’s essential to talk to your children. How much information you choose to disclose is up to you. However, it might help to speak to them about extra precautions that need to be taken at the airport and on-board. That could be things like making sure they don’t touch anything, or ensuring they stay close to you and encouraging them not to panic.
Flying at this time might be different from what they are used to, but any changes are for the benefit of their health.
2. Stay abreast of travel updates
Due to the nature of the pandemic, travel plans could change quickly. Staying up to date with status updates on your flight will help you feel calmer about your upcoming journey. Check specifically with your airline to minimize stress when you’re at the airport and focus on your family.
3. Invest in face masks
If you have face masks at home, bring them along to the airport. If not, think of investing in some for your journey. While some airlines are now giving out masks to passengers, for your children, they may not be the right size.
Find peace of mind by coming prepared with face masks that you know will fit. Not all airlines require passengers to wear proper masks, either. Instead, a face covering that hides your mouth and nose can be used. See what requirements your airline has and prepare that personal protective equipment before you fly.
4. Bring hand sanitizer
You might be one of the lucky few who has been able to get hold of hand sanitizer. If you are, then don’t forget to bring it along on your flight. For that extra sense of security, make sure you encourage your children to sanitize their hands after they touch surfaces or when they cough or sneeze to prevent the spread of germs.
Some airports now provide hand sanitizer at dispensers located around the gates, but it might relax you more to know that you have a personal supply.
5. Encourage hand washing
If you can’t get hold of hand sanitizer, be sure to encourage your children to wash their hands regularly. Keeping up practices of handwashing both at home and out and about will mitigate the spread of the virus. Try to do this as often as necessary and take advantage of bathrooms at the airport.
6. Think through your food options
Some airlines have scaled back their in-flight meals while others are only accepting card payments for food. To minimize the risk of coming into contact with too many people, think about eating before you get to the airport.
If you and your children will need food on the journey, pack a few snacks. Purchasing food at airport outlets and on-board is not inherently dangerous, but the more you know about where your food comes from and who has been in contact with it, the better you may feel.
7. Take bathroom breaks
Likewise, you might feel more comfortable if you can avoid going to the bathroom on-board an aircraft. It means that you will not need to pass people as you walk through the aisle and risk touching surfaces that other people have come into contact with.
It’s much easier to practice social distancing at the airport; therefore, you might find it more comforting to use the bathroom there.
8. Get to the airport early
This one doesn’t only apply during the pandemic nor for when you’re only traveling with young children. But getting to the airport early can reduce your stress levels. You’ll feel more prepared and will have enough time to adapt if things change.
Keeping a cool head will also ensure your children feel comfortable and safe.
9. Practice social distancing
Airports are among some of the establishments that have put in place social distancing markers to help people keep a safe distance. Ensure that you keep your children with you at all times to avoid them interrupting other people’s personal space and their own.
Perhaps you could find a creative way to incentivize social distancing, such as a game or a reward for following your instructions.
10. Wipe down your seating area
It is not essential to wipe down your seat when you arrive on an aircraft. Almost all airlines are now practicing some form of intense sanitization to remove germs from seats, tray tables, and overhead lockers.
However, you should not feel guilty about doing a once over yourself. There is no such thing as being too careful when it comes to protecting your family.
Do you have any additional tips for parents or guardians traveling with young children? Let us know in the comments.