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us travel survey

Travel Easier With Toddlers This Summer {Tips Guide}

Summer vacation travel season is on the horizon.

Emirates Airlines conducted a U.S. Travel Survey on Family Travel, identifying key struggles of traveling with kids and what parents say are the most effective ways to make the experience better for them and the kids.

In the survey of 4400 adults with a passport, planning to take an international trip in the coming year or have taken an international trip in the past few years, and who travel at least once every two to three years and are between the ages of 18 and 64. 

It’s no secret kids can get antsy during flights.

Emirates found that while kids get better at flying as they get older, many kids across all ages are already antsy within the first two hours of a long-haul flight:

  • Under 2 Years Old: 70% of travelers say kids under 2 get antsy in the first two hours of the flight
  • 3-5 Years Old: 57% of travelers say kids 3-5 years old get antsy in the first 2 hours of a flight
  • 6-10 Years Old: 32% say of travelers say kids 6-10 years old get antsy in the first 2 hours of a flight, with another 50% saying this older group gets antsy between 2-4 hours into a flight

The survey found that parents serve a child’s favorite snacks as one of the top needed distraction.

Additionally, while kids across the U.S. reportedly get restless in the early parts of their flights, kids from Boston tend to be the antsiest flyers in the U.S., with 38% of respondents reporting kids under 2 and 24% of kids 6-10 years old are antsy as soon as the plane takes off.

 Keeping kids busy on the ground can be tricky, let alone on a plane.

The number one way to keep kids occupied during a long flight? People say devices are the best at keeping kids occupied across all age groups.

The most helpful methods across age groups include: 

  • Under 5 Years Old: 57% of respondents say devices to watch movies, TV shows or videos are by far the most helpful, followed by devices to play games (17%) and activity books and toys (16%)
  • 6-10 Years Old: 96% of respondents say devices to watch movies, TV shows or videos and devices for games tie for being the most helpful in keeping kids content, but are followed closely by having snacks kids enjoy on hand (88%)

 However, parental worry about keeping kids entertained through a flight isn’t created equal – Emirates survey found that flyers in Orlando, Houston, Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles are the most concerned about this issue when flying.

 Is this Seat Available?

 It’s no secret that many people try to avoid sitting near kids to ensure peace and quiet during their flight.

Emirates found that the average traveler’s willingness to sit next to kids depends on how long the trip is.

It turns out that 61% of fliers would say no to sitting next to kids on a flight over 10 hours, and of that, men are actually more likely to agree to it (57%) than women are (64%).

 While the West Coast is known for friendliness and the South for hospitality, residents in San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale are actually the least willing to sit next to kids on long-haul flights.

Here are Emirates’ Cabin Crew’s top tips for traveling children this vacation season:  

  • For parents flying with babies, try to choose a flight that is as close as possible to their bedtime. This can help them sleep for a large part of the flight. Also, make sure you have sweets or a bottle of milk for babies/toddlers to suck on during take-off or descent, as they may have difficulty equalizing their ear pressure and feel uncomfortable.For small children, keep one new toy aside to give them mid-flight to ensure they don’t grow bored of the ones they already have. This will provide a fun, distracting surprise, and will keep them occupied longer than one of their old toys.
  • For kids of all ages, find ways to break up activities during the flight. Don’t depend solely on games or videos – pack a small puzzle, colouring book or interactive toy in addition to devices or in-flight entertainment systems, and use time between shows or movies to try something different.
  • When kids are awake, take brief strolls when they are already in good moods. This will help them stretch and break up the time between activities in their seats, and help prevent a restless-child meltdown.
  • When going through an airport, bookend your kids with one parent upfront and one taking the rear (if possible) to ensure you don’t lose any little stragglers along the way, and keep them moving quickly through checkpoints.

 Good luck!

plane travel tips graphic