Don’t!!! Okay, so maybe that’s not the most practical solution! But let’s face it…flying with kids can sometimes be a challenge! With all that comes with air travel (security checks, delays, baggage restrictions, long lines, small planes), flying can be a daunting experience. Now add a couple of small children into the mix, and it can be down right overwhelming!
So how does one survive a flight with a kid in tow?? Here are 10 tips for flying with kids:
#1 – Start a conversation:
If your child is of an age where they can have a conversation, start prepping them for what to expect. I.e. security process, use washrooms before boarding plane, seatbelts are to be worn at all times during flight, taking off/landing, etc. Be sure to make it fun so it will be a positive experience for everyone.
#2 – Research ahead of time:
Always be prepared. Knowing a little bit about the airport and airline you plan to be traveling with can relieve a lot of stress when you have kids in tow. What terminal are you departing out of, how many bags can you check, is there a family lane at the security checkpoint, do you require extra time for boarding, have you made transportation arrangements at your final destination, etc.
#3 – The Survival Bag:
Most airlines only allow one carry-on and small bag per person. Maximize this by packing a small survival backpack for your child. Include wet wipes, extra diapers, sugar-free gum, snacks, books, games, etc.
Tip: Small children can have difficulty with their ears popping during flight, making for a miserable experience. Have them chew gum or drink water during takeoff and landing to help ease this pain.
#4 – Bathroom break prior to boarding:
Even if your little one is still in diapers, allowing time for a quick diaper change or pee break before boarding is a crucial step for creating a comfortable flight. If your child still has the occasional accident or needs to use the washroom frequently, wearing a pull-up for the duration of the flight might be a way to avoid any mishaps. This way you will always be prepared for ground delays or if the seatbelt sign gets stuck on during a bumpy flight.
#5- Make friends with your flight attendant:
When traveling with an infant or toddler, flight attendants are your best friends! Treat them well! Introduce yourself if given the opportunity and don’t be afraid to ask them questions about any in-flight concerns you might have while traveling with your child. They are there to make your flight more enjoyable, but also to keep you safe.
Tip: Don’t be insulted if your flight attendant doesn’t offer to hold your child, or cram your heavy bags into the overhead. For health and safety reasons, many airlines train their employees to avoid all heavy lifting. This is not part of their job description, and airlines won’t compensate flight attendants if they get injured lifting your heavy bag or child! Ouch!
#6 – Games, coloring books, stuffed toys:
There are endless options for keeping your child entertained during flight. Pack some of their favorite “plane friendly” toys or surprise them with a new book during flight.
Tip: Try making a 3D sculpture with “Wikki Sticks” or pipe cleaners. Pack a portable Scrabble game like “Banagrams” , doodle on a crayon free tool such as “Travel Magna Doodle”, or color on your own backpack with the “Kidzsack Cloth Backpack”. Finally, read a book about flying!! Try “My First Airplane Ride” – by Patricia Hubbell, “A Day at the Airport” – by Richard Scarry, “Going on a Plane”- by Anne Civardi,or “The Noisy Airplane Ride” – by Mike Downs.
#7 – Noise canceling headsets:
Noise canceling headsets for infants and children are an essential tool for any flight! While some children find the “white noise” from the plane engines soothing, others will find it hard on their ears and they won’t be able to relax. Many kids will fall asleep easier on a flight if they are wearing noise canceling headsets, or will remain asleep as they wont be disrupted by any noise around them. Plus headsets protect developing ears, and will help calm nervous or uneasy feelings.
#8 -Walk around:
Don’t be scared to get up when the seatbelt sign is off and move around. Sitting still for long periods of time can be hard for children, so allow them the opportunity to get up and stretch when possible. Note: This doesn’t mean allowing your child to run up and down the aisle unaccompanied. Be respectful of those around you, especially if the flights attendants are in the middle of their service.
#9 – Technology:
When all else fails, watch a TV show or movie! Kids love the opportunity to watch their favorite show or play a game on a tablet. If your child is too young for videos, try letting them listen to some soothing music through kid-friendly headphones. Anything to help your child relax will help pass time, especially during long flights.
#10 – Ignore the stares from the people around you:
Kids are going to cry, kick seats, and throw a fit. That’s life! Don’t let the angry faces of those around you ruin your experience. You will most likely never see these people again, so don’t be embarrassed if your kid doesn’t behave perfectly. You want flying to be a positive experience for everyone involved, so smile and enjoy the flight. Chances are everything will go smoothly!
For more information check out TSA guidelines for flying with children:
Have any great tips for flying with kids? Share your story below!!!