There likely comes a time in every parent’s life where they will face these three daunting words: flying with children. The schlepping of gear, the unpredictable behavior, the ensuing jet lag — and that’s even before you factor in the kids themselves. To find the best advice for traveling with little ones, we asked a group of experts to weigh in: the Emirates Cabin Crew. From their experience in logging countless hours of flying with passengers of all ages, here are their best tips for making your and your kid’s (and every surrounding passenger’s) next flight a little less painless.

flying with kids

1. Choose nighttime flights when possible. The Emirates Cabin Crew advises parents to find flights as close to bedtime as possible, to increase the chances of your child sleeping through at least 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,” the Crew advises. Some airlines can help with this; Emirates, for example, provides bottle warming services on board.

2. Pick your seats carefully. Try to get seats in the front of the plane or book bulkhead seats where there’s more space. Some airlines have airplane bassinets that can attach to your seat in the bulkhead row. Double check if your plane offers them and if so, try to reserve one ahead of time.

3. Stay close together while moving through the airport. Getting through the airport is half the battle of traveling. The Emirates Cabin Crew recommends to “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.”

4. Keep everyone warm and comfy. The temperature on planes can be chilly, so making sure everyone stays warm is key for a comfortable flight. Have blankets or layers with you or pick something up on the way. Emirates also offers a number of stuffed animals and toys if your tot needs a little extra snuggle.

5. Hide a new toy in your back pocket. Have some sort of distraction handy because long flights can be boring for anyone. “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,” the Crew says.

6. Break up activities during the flight. Most in-flight entertainment systems have a variety of channels for music, games, and kids’ TV shows and movies (Emirates has up to 90 kids’ TV channels and 50 Disney movies). But don’t just rely on digital distraction. The Crew suggests packing a small puzzle, coloring book, or interactive toy, and to use time in between movies or shows to try something different. On board, Emirates provides children with Lonely Planet Kids Amenity Kits, which include educational books, creative crafts, and travel journals for a some analog fun.

7. Get moving. When in doubt, move about. “When kids are awake, take brief strolls when they are already in good moods,” the Crew says. “This will help them stretch and break up the time between activities in their seats, and help prevent a restless-child meltdown.”

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