Travel Nanny Gives Us The Best Advice For How To Make Flying With Kids Easier

Air travel can be daunting at the best of times, but introducing kids into the equation transforms the experience into a whole new challenge. There's the whirlwind of packing toys and diapers, making sure that everyone has the entertainment they need, and managing the inevitable unpredictable nature of children. That, coupled with the side glances of other passengers that become even more noticeable when your little ones are in tow, can be enough to make you spin out. Luckily, there are a few tips and tricks you can employ to make sure you make the journey as seamless and enjoyable as possible for everyone involved.

In an exclusive, Explore spoke with Nanny Sharz — a childcare expert and travel nanny with a whopping 19 years under her belt working with families and high-profile clients — to discuss all things traveling with children. In her words, "The most common mistake people make when flying with children is being underprepared for an emergency or flight delay. For example, not making an emergency supply of nappies or extra clothes" she says. "When a flight is delayed or canceled, it is always better to be prepared than to be caught off guard."

To better prepare for the journey ahead, Nanny Sharz suggests putting together a detailed to-do list. "I always make a to-do list before I travel with any family, and I tick it off as I go along. That way, I always remember to pack all the important things."

Research your destination

In addition to creating a packing list, one of the most important things to remember before jetting off with your kids in tow is to make sure you look into your destination. "Prior to booking your vacation, check with the host or hotel manager that the accommodation is child-friendly and suitable for families," says Nanny Sharz. "Notify them that you are a party with a baby, toddler, or children so they can make the right adjustments if necessary."

The same goes for looking into any local amenities and attractions. "Prior to traveling, research the location you will be staying in. An even better tip is to do a Google Earth search so you can see exactly what the area looks like before you get there." Nanny Sharz adds. This includes researching the closest pharmacy, urgent care, or hospital so you're prepared in case of any emergency and doing a thorough risk assessment of the property before you've even left home.

Keep the essentials at hand

When it comes to traveling with kids, packing light — but smart — is a must-do, especially while boarding your flight. Nanny Sharz's top recommendation for getting on the plane easily and quickly? A combination of a lightweight travel stroller and babywearing. "Bring a travel stroller that is lightweight and easy to assemble and opt for babywearing to avoid extra baggage and to travel lighter." Most airlines allow flying with a stroller free of charge, and you can use these all the way to the plane door before a flight attendant takes it to load. Then, you can expect it to be at the plane door once you reach your destination.

Additionally, your diaper bag is another vital piece of the puzzle. "Pack a diaper bag that you can put under the seat that has all the essentials you need to avoid searching through luggage to find important items," explains Nanny Sharz, who loves sharing tips and experiences on her Instagram and Facebook accounts with fellow nannies and parents alike. "The items must be enough to last for the full journey from home until you get to your travel destination."

Make sure the bag also includes some of your kids' favorite toys and age-appropriate activity books that you can rotate to keep them from getting bored. "Keeping your child stimulated and entertained on the trip with items such as water doodle fold-up mats, sensory toys, activity packs, soft books, and soft toys really does help!"

Consider hiring a travel nanny

Still worried about your upcoming trip? If budget permits, Nanny Sharz suggests hiring an expert travel nanny — much like herself — to help ease some of the nerves and give you an extra hand. After all, not only can a professional nanny bring some much-needed expertise, but they can also act as a calming presence and act as a valuable resource in unfamiliar environments. All of which can help both parents and children have the best experience possible, no matter where they go.

"A travel nanny like myself will be responsible for shared childcare duties to allow respite," Nanny Sharz says. "They will also accompany your family on your trip from home, entertain your child on the plane, and provide flexible and high-quality on-the-go childcare to allow for more stress-free family time." An investment, sure, but one that can redefine the travel experience for the entire family.