Flying can be one of the most challenging parts of traveling with your kids. Between the discomfort they'll feel with cabin pressure changes and the difficulty sitting still for hours, it has all the ingredients for a rocky start to your vacation. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce the pain and make flying with your kids a breeze!
#1: To Entertain is to Distract
The hardest part about flying with kids is keeping them entertained. Bring along toys, coloring books, or portable games, anything that is compact and won't make too much of a mess.
You can also download some kid-friendly apps or movies on Netflix for your phone or tablet. This youtube playlist was made specifically for kids traveling by plane, and is a great resource for their in-flight entertainment, but don’t forget the headphones!
#2: Strollers Are Key
Strollers are a life-saver. Not only can you wheel around your kids, but you can strap on and tuck away your carry-on bags too, plus they serve as makeshift bed for tired kids during layovers. Just be sure to check with the airline before you go, as some have restrictions on strollers.
If you have a child that is too big for a stroller, consider getting them a luggage scooter. Kiddietotes luggage scooters make for active fun at the airport, and convert into a conventional roller suitcase. Not only will it entertain your child, it will make traveling fun for them and a lot easier on you. All Kiddietotes scooters are TSA and IATA-compliant. They meet all domestic and international flight size requirements, and they fit in the airplane cabin's overhead bins on both small and large planes.
Regardless of how much you painstakingly pre-plan for your trip, a meltdown will still happen. These meltdowns will be frustrating and you will be in a public place where you may not be able to implement your usual “go-to” form of discipline. Check out this list of what to do when your child has a tantrum while you are on your flight here.
#4: Get to the Airport Early
This is especially important if you’re flying with young children or have a lot of luggage. Give yourself plenty of time to check-in, go through security, and find your gate. It’s easy to get yourself through security and to your gate when you’re alone and in a hurry, but with a child every step is doubled in guiding them along with you. If you’re traveling during peak times, such as holidays, it’s even more important to arrive early.
Many airports have a play area for kids. Before you leave the house, find out what terminal this play area is located in. These are a fantastic way to let your child get a lot of their excited energy out and a full hour of play before boarding your flight could translate into a long nap in-flight.
#5: Bring Your own Food and Snacks
We all can get cranky when we’re hungry; keep a stash of gentle snacks at the ready. Airport and airplane food is expensive too, so save yourself some money and bring your own snacks from home that you know your child will be satisfied with. Some pretzels, nuts, cereal, or crackers are a great way to get some nutrition without overloading their tummy and bringing on air sickness. Pro Tip: bring something chewy like gummy bears to help your kids pop their ears during takeoff and landing and get some ginger-ale from the in-flight service as a little treat.
Although food can be taken through security, most liquids are not allowed. There are some exceptions you can read about on the TSA website here, with considerations taken for children traveling. Consider bringing an empty water bottle to fill once you are passed security at one of the many chilled water-fill stations. If you are wondering about what snacks to bring on your trip, check out this list of snacks toddlers love that are airline-approved HERE.
#6: Dress Comfortably
You’ll be sitting in a cramped seat for hours with seldom a chance to move and stretch, so you want to make sure both you and your child are wearing comfortable clothing. Avoid anything too tight or constricting; loose, breathable fabrics are best. Wear a light jacket as the planes tend to get chilly or it can double as a small pillow for your little one. Consider packing their pjs in a carry-on to make them more comfortable for sleeping. If you don’t have room in your carry-on for their pjs, consider having your child bring their own carry-on. Backpack and luggage sets are the perfect solution for your child’s checked bag and carry-on.
You may have traveled and flown dozens of times already for work or your own adventures, but this is all new, special, and at times scary for a child. Taking the time to plan ahead and prioritizing comfort can help ease their time in the bustling airports and get them as excited for this vacation as you are. And remember, you’re on vacation! Through all this planning be sure that you’re having fun with them and creating memories they’ll cherish.
Best of luck and safe travels!