It’s that time of the year when airports are packed, weather delays are inevitable, and well, traveling is a bit of a shitshow. As a new parent who traveled alone with her son earlier this year (and is about to do it again), I wanted to share some tips on helping parents on a plane. Whether you have kids and are like ‘omg please, yes!’ or don’t and usually eye roll parents (like I used to), hope this helps!
Engage and connect
One of my fears with flying, which I know is very common, is bugging the people around us. A crying kid, a bunch of shit that accompanies children on planes, seats getting kicked, etc – it’s not fun. But something else that non-parents don’t realize is how bored a parent can be on a flight with a kid. Sitting there for hours just holding your baby or watching them color is boring as f*ck.
On one of my flights, I sat next to two women who talked to me and were so engaging – they even talked about non-kid stuff which was incredibly refreshing. It made for such a pleasant experience and I wasn’t as bored as I was on my silent flight to my destination. This doesn’t mean you need to talk the whole time, but I think making a parent feel like a human (especially if they are holding a baby and can’t even read a book) goes a long way. Or let that parent know that you have x kids or nephews or whatever and that you know how it goes.
Offer a beverage (alcohol for a bonus)
On my flight alone with my baby, I had a fellow parent buy me a glass of wine. How kind is that?! Yes, it was an assumption that I drank which isn’t always the case, but I thought the nod was so cool. Even if you aren’t dueling out drinks, offer to fill up a mom’s water bottle or to hold their drink while they take the child to the bathroom. I can’t wait to buy a fellow mama a drink on my next flight though.
There are SO many things that are hard to do when traveling with kids, especially if a parent is by themselves. There are simply not enough hands to do things like fill up the water bottle for formula or open the bag of peanuts or get the seat wiped down for germs. If you see a parent struggling in any way, be a kind person and think of a way to help. The parent might refuse, but I guarantee the ask alone will go a long way.
Entertain the child
If you like kids, there’s nothing more helpful than having a moment where the parent can relax. Maybe you can talk up the toddler running up and down the aisle or show them your cool pen. You can wave at a baby and keep them calm for a minute. Especially when you see a fussy child, being a new face/voice/person for that kid can be super engaging – and helpful for the parent.
Pick up a bag
Kids come with a lot of stuff, we all know this. If you see parents with a lot of it, offer to carry that bag from the security belt to the bench where the family is putting their shoes back on. Carry the mom’s bag down the airplane aisle as she holds her baby, and then place it up top. If comfortable, you can even offer to hold the baby after talking to the family a bit (I had a women hold my son for about an hour and my biceps were so thankful.). Anything you can do to ease the physical labor of traveling with kids is major!
Here’s to us all being kinder during travel. More on that here!
Photo: Happily Grey