Flying with children can definitely raise your stress level and anxiety. Gone are the days of sitting back, reading a magazine and sipping on a beverage. The reality is you will be moving non-stop as you try to entertain your kiddos, pick up the countless spilled items that roll from the tray table onto the ground and slam a glass of water as soon as the flight attendant hands it to you because if not, there’s a good chance that water will be in your lap (remember all that movement I referred to earlier?). While traveling with kids may not be the most enjoyable way to spend the day, the end result of visiting family or going on vacation makes the experience worth it. I’ve been traveling with my children since they were babies. I often have help from my husband or family, but I have flown solo with them numerous times. I’ve survived and will give you some tips to make your experience less stressful.
Tips to Keeping Everyone Happy
- Pack EXTRA of EVERYTHING!!! Trust me! You’ll need more diapers, wipes and snacks than you can even imagine. Make sure you pack extra clothes for your children and don’t forget about extra clothes for yourself. Accidents happen and you don’t want to be covered in spit up for the remainder of the trip. Stuff some plastic bags in your carry-on in case you need to store wet items.
- Figure out what you are going to do with your luggage prior to arriving at the airport. Curbside checking your luggage is convenient because you can get rid of your bags before dragging them through the airport. If you are checking your car seat and stroller, consider purchasing a travel bag for them. Since most airlines check car seats and strollers for free, you can even squeeze some diapers into that bag to save room in your luggage.
- Keep your hands available. If you have a baby, I highly recommend using a baby carrier. Also, wear a backpack instead of having bags on your shoulder that will slip off.
- Stock up on the entertainment. Kids will lose interest quickly from looking out the plane window. It’s a great time to buy some new goodies they haven’t played with before and surprise them throughout the trip with various items. You can even wrap the items in tissue paper to make the reveal even more exciting. The Dollar Store is great spot for purchasing inexpensive trinkets.
Entertainment Ideas: window clings, stickers, notebooks, iSpy books
Screen Time: Ignore any rules about screen time and bring whatever devices will keep the kids entertained. Remember to charge the tablets before you pack them. Also, be sure to bring kiddie headphones so the passengers around you aren’t annoyed with the noise.
- Use the restroom before boarding the plane. You’ll have to squish into the tiny bathrooms on the plane and with the constant movement it makes the experience a little awkward.
- Help reduce ear pain by bringing pacifiers, lollipops, gum or crunchy foods as this will help to alleviate the pressure. If you are nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, take off and landing is the best times to feed them as it helps with ear pain.
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. I advise selecting shoes that are easy to remove while going through security (kids can keep their shoes on). Airplanes are typically chilly, so bring a jacket or blanket to stay warm.
- Bring cups with lids. Turbulence, an easily kickable tray and an open cup can lead to disaster! (If your child will want milk, buy some once you’ve gotten through security because milk is often not available on board.)
- Utilize your children to help. When my son was two, we bought him a cute backpack and stuffed it with activities, books and snacks. It’s great for the kiddos to have their own plane bag stuffed with their treasures. Have them put it under the seat in front of them so it’s accessible throughout the flight.
- Above all, remain calm! Children can sense when you are stressed and the best way to keep them happy is for mommy to be relaxed.
My motto is: things that may not “fly” at home are perfectly acceptable to keep the kiddos entertained, full and happy. Bring on the sugary treats and screen time so we can all survive the flight!
Contributing Sister Site and Author
Amy is an “on the go” momma to two spunky and fun loving kids (ages 6 & 5). She came to Columbus to pursue a career in elementary education and decided this was home. She’s an avid traveler, yet can’t master the art of packing. Her philosophy is bring it all because you don’t know if you’re going to need it. If you ever decide to take a trip with her, don’t worry about bringing a camera because she’ll take enough photos of the experience that it will likely crash your hard drive. Before kids, you could find everything neatly organized and straight vacuum lines in her carpet, but these days she’s not bothered with worrying about the small stuff. You can catch her belting out her favorite song, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and using her two left feet to bust a move with her family during their frequent impromptu dance parties. She loves living in such a family-friendly city!