Flying solo is not an option for most childfree travelers (Image by gingerbeardman via Flickr)
It’s that time of year, holiday time. Whether or not you actually get a holiday the one of the things you will notice if you step outside into the world is that there are children. There are children everywhere. Small ones, big ones, some with parents, some without, because it is their holidays too and unless you are a parent this can come as a very rude shock.
In most public spaces the exits are not only clearly marked but you can make use of them at any time you see fit (I do see leaving as a last resort, but it is always a viable option). There is one circumstance which I have frequently experienced where exits are clearly marked, but you can’t just leave whenever you choose, you know what I’m talking about, it is the airplane.
Childfree flights have been topical for a while now and unless Ryanair makes good on their April Fools Day promise they only way to get a childfree flight is probably by chartering a flight or flying your own plane. Personally I enjoy flying and do everything in my power to optimise the experience and I have some tips to share with childfree travellers on how to get the most out of a flight where there are children on board.
- Ear plugs: For unrelated reasons I always have ear plugs on hand, I can even recommend my favourite brand (Cabot Safety Corporations Classic Platinum). It’s not rude to plug your ears, it makes sense especially if you want to catch up on sleep.
- Noise cancelling headphones: This is not something I have yet acquired. When I get some I will go for a hardcore Bose pair (cannot justify the expenditure at the moment, they aren’t cheap). However if you like your tunes and hate the noise there are a number of great brands with various degrees of noise cancelling ability, they aren’t all expensive and good ones will come with the airplane adapter plug.
- Headphones: If you can’t get awesome noise cancelling headphones then make sure you at least have a normal pair, even if it is the one provided by the airline.
- Electronic entertainment: I never rely solely on in-flight entertainment. Whether it’s an mp3 player, dvd player, net book, iPad, Laptop, Nintendo DS, anything that you can plug headphones into will do the trick. If you control the entertainment you can always be blocking out the external noise. It also means you are covered in case of in-flight entertainment failure. The key times that you are going to need electronic entertainment are ascent, decent and turbulence when babies tend to get ear pain and kids in general can play up.
- Pick your seat carefully: Most airlines at some point give you the opportunity to choose your seat. I recommend picking a window seat. You may be trapped however you wont get disturbed by a parent wanting to get up and change, nurse or entertain a baby. If you are traveling with someone else, pick a set of seats that will fill your row if possible, i.e. if there are two of you and there is a row with two seats, grab it as there will be no one right next to you.
- Caffeine: Not for everyone I know, but whether it is a strong coffee before you get on the flight or a cup of tea during service caffiene can really take the edge of and make you less susceptible to being annoyed by children
- Alcohol: Again, not for everyone but can really take the edge off if there is a teething baby in the seat behind you.
- Sleeping tablets: It may appear that I am condoning drug use… okay maybe I am. If you have trouble sleeping, and are on a long flight, and need to catch up on sleep anyway under your doctors direction this may be an option.
- Fly Business or First Class: Can’t say I have done either as much as I would like to but if you have the dollars or the option go for it. Better service makes for a happier flight and because of the cost the odds are good for no children behind the curtain.
-Move seats: If you flight is not fully booked and you find yourself jammed in with a stressed looking parent and a handful of kids, move seats. You will be further away from the source of the noise and will find that the parent will be grateful for some extra breathing room.
- Car Keys: Many of you will cringe at this one. It may even generate a few comments but I got through a flight when there was a 18 month old on the lap of the lady next to me by jangling my car keys. If you don’t like kids don’t do it. If you don’t want to talk to people don’t do it. However if you are in the mood and adverse to crying kids this is a great trick.
-General comfort: The more comfortable you are the less you will notice annoyances on your flight, to a certain extent anyway.
- Understanding: I like to think that most parents have good intentions and don’t really want to make your flight hell. Unless the child is massively out of control I think its nice to have a little bit of understanding (hence my car keys tip) and there is no reason to get aggravated. If you know any parents or happen to be one then kidspot.com.au have some great tips for how to travel well with children.
A note for smokers: I fully encourage you to quit smoking, no question there. Having said that if you have recently quit and about to take a flight longer than an hour get some patches or gum to help you on the flight.
I hope that your travels are trouble free and that if you are childfree you can use my tips to make your flight more enjoyable. If you have any tips you would like to add feel free to do in comments below.