Recently I published a post about packing to travel with your kids. But what if you are flying? That’s a WHOLE different ball game. So I wanted to share real quick my favorite tips for flying with kids.
Prep the night before your flight
- We all know what you look like getting your kids off to daycare in the morning. Do you really think that leaving for vacation will be less stressful? Lay out everything you need the night before, including clothes.
- Have your kids help out by packing up a little backpack with their own toys that they can carry on to the flight. It lightens your load to only carry the essentials in your bag – diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, medications, and a kindle for you – and they share in some of the responsibility.
- Pack an extra pair of clothes for everyone and put them in a ziplock back in the bottom of your bag. Hopefully, you won’t need to use it. But if you do, now you have a bag to transfer the soiled clothes into to make it to your destination. And you won’t be spending big $$$ in the airport to replace little Timmy’s pants.
- Charge all. the. things. I touched a little on this in a previous blog post, but be sure you charge all the things the night before. Phones, tablets, external batteries, headphones, everything. Because nothing is worse than everything dying on you 20 minutes into the flight. Just do yourself a favor and charge all that the night before.
- Pack a few snacks for the flight – there’s no need to go overboard here. A few granola bars, crackers will do the trick. But whatever you pack, make sure it’s not messy and easy for you to clean up when you leave. Don’t rely on in-flight snacks to sustain your littles and don’t spend a fortune in the airport either. Have them in your carry-on handy to pull out and hand out. Pack an empty water bottle for you to fill up for yourself when you get through security (or buy one once you go through), because you won’t want to juggle trying to not spill your little cup on your tray while you are juggling your kids, too.
Getting through the airport
- The main thing you don’t want to forget if you are traveling with real little ones – your carrier. Wearing kids through the airport is the easiest way to sail from point A to point B. Traveling with multiples? Use a stroller if you have to, but be sure it’s one you are familiar with and can break down easily at the gate. Most jogging strollers cannot be gate checked, so keep that in mind.
- If you can, try to rent strollers and car seats at your destination. If not, be sure to bag and tag them appropriately and give yourself plenty of time to check-in, as most of these need to be dropped off at a special bag check.
Security Do’s and Don’ts
- First, did you know you can take liquids on the plane that are more than 3 oz. for your kids? Including drinks in sippy cups? When I figured this out it was a game changer. First of all, I hate spending a bajillion dollars on apple juice in the airport. Second, do you know how hard it is to find regular juice in the airport? Stupidly hard. So I now bring my own. The catch? You need to give yourself a few extra minutes to get through security because they will want to screen all your liquids.
- Don’t try to pass off a large, full nalgene water bottle that we all know is YOURS as your kids. It may work, it may not, but really you are screwing it up for the rest of us. Just don’t do it. Enjoy the perk of getting a little extra wiggle room in the liquid department, but don’t take advantage. Grab a bottle for yourself in the airport or fill up your empty bottle as you go.
- When I pack my carry on, I am deliberate at how it gets put together. Package your medications, liquids and other things that need to be declared for extra screening together and on top. Make sure that’s on top. Traveling with tablets or computers? Make sure those are easily accessible, too. They all have to come out to be screened in separate bins.
- Wear footwear that is easy to get on and off – including your kids footwear. Now’s not the time to worry about impressing anyone with your fancy boots with a million buckles. Quick slip on and off shoes will do the trick.
On the flight
- You made it to the airport, and through security and you’ve herded your bunch to the gate on time. Now what? Most airlines will let families with small kids board early, usually right after they board first class and preferred business. Take advantage of that early board time. Get your littles on the flight, buckle them in and get settled with their toys/entertainment.
- Make sure everyone had a drink/sippy cup handy for take off. If you are traveling with infants, hold off on feeding them for take off. This is when kids are the fussiest/squirmiest. Wait. For. Takeoff. Drinking will help their ears pop when you are ascending in the flight. Most kids will fall asleep during this time, too, but not if they are screaming in pain from their ears hurting. Have it handy to hand it off.
- If you are traveling with small kids, invest in a good pair of bluetooth headphones. I’ve touched on this before as well, but I cannot reiterate – the best purchase we made was a set of bluetooth headphones for our little one when we travel. No more cords accidentally getting pulled out, or tangled up. And the kid friendly ones have an automatic cap for volume to protect little ears, and noise cancelling features to help block out the scary noises on planes.
- During the flight, we have a “one toy rule.” My daughter is allowed to have one thing to play with at a time. If she wants to color, she needs to put away the tablet and then she can pull out the next one. When she’s done, she needs to put away the crayons and book and then she can have the tablet back, etc. It mitigates our mess as we go and keeps things simple. It’s the same thing for drinks and snacks. Once we clean up our mess we can move on to the next activity.
- Finally, breathe. There may be bumps, and there may be rough moments. It happens in the grocery store, it may happen on the flight. Take a deep breath and know, you’re doing great, mama. It’s a lot of work to get them this far. If/when strangers offer to help, let them.
Do you have any great tips on traveling with kids? I’d love to hear about them in the comments! Finally, have you checked out our packing list for families? It’s a great tool to make sure you remember all. the. things.
Happy Wanderlusting Friends,