According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, more than 737 million individuals fly every year. Many of these people fly with small children.
Flying with a child can be stressful for the parent, the child, and the other passengers. Kids can become easily frightened or agitated, which can cause them to be finicky or loud. And, while you may try to avoid it, sometimes flying is just the only way to get on your dream vacation or to a family reunion.
Luckily, flying with kids doesn’t have to be a nightmare. By keeping these 10 tips in mind, you will be able to have a successful trip with your children.
1. Get There Early
If you’re used to flying on your own, you may have gotten in the habit of rolling up to the airport just over an hour before your flight. You breeze through security and get on the plane at the last second. This strategy won’t work if you are flying with kids.
Kids have little legs, so they won’t move as fast through the airport. They may also get overwhelmed going through security, so that process will take longer. Not to mention, don’t forget to factor in time for extra potty breaks. Given these challenges of flying with kids, it’s best to get to the airport with plenty of extra time.
2. Take Advantage of Pre-Boarding
Another benefit of getting to the airport early is that you will be able to take advantage of pre-boarding. Most airlines allow families traveling with small children to board the plane before other passengers do. This will give you additional time to find your seat and get situated before the plane gets crowded.
3. Bring Activities
Don’t expect that your kids will sleep through the entire flight. Most kids will be too overwhelmed by the new sensory experiences to fall asleep, and will, therefore, need activities to entertain them.
Bring a variety of activities, as kids will tend to get bored pretty quickly. At the same time, be careful not to pack things that take up too much room.
Good options are paper for folding origami, coloring books, or a portable DVD player. You can also plan to play some games that don’t require any setup, including 20 Questions or I Spy.
4. Bring Snacks
If you’re going on a long flight, a little baggy of airplane peanuts will not be able to satisfy their hunger. It’s smart to bring some non-messy, healthy snacks your kids will like. Good options include apple slices, pretzels, or raisins.
5. Plan Seating Strategically
Whether you book your flight directly through the airline or through travel affiliate sites, you typically have the option to pick your seats. When you do this, make sure to think strategically about where you want to sit. For instance, you may want to sit close to the bathroom if you suspect that your child will need to go.
Also, some parents find that it is more effective to seat one parent alone and the other parent with the children, rather than seating everyone together. This way, one parent can deal with the kids, and the other can have some peace. When a break is necessary, the parents can switch seats.
6. Think Before Lap-Seating
Some folks assume that, if their child is under age two, they will fly for free. This is only ever true if you have your child sit on your lap instead of in their own seat. For some airlines, they may charge a partial ticket price, even if the child sits on your lap.
Even if you do have the option of lap-seating your child, you will want to think about whether this is the best choice. It can get pretty uncomfortable pretty fast to have a toddler sit on your lap, especially in a crowded airplane seat. Additionally, lap-seating your child is not as safe as having them fly in their own seat with a booster.
7. Pack Wet Wipes and Pull Ups
When flying with kids, it’s a good idea to pack wet wipes and pull-ups, just in case. Even if your child is potty trained, you may not always have the opportunity to get them to a bathroom in time. By packing pull-ups you’ll be able to ensure you don’t have to travel with a messy kid.
8. Bring a Backpack
For parents traveling with small children, one of the options for a personal item is a backpack. Carrying a backpack will still give you access to both of your hands, making it easier to wrangle children. Airports can get busy, so you’ll want to hold your kid’s hand to make sure they don’t wander off.
You can also consider giving a small backpack to each of your kids. This way, they’ll be able to get into the traveling spirit and can even carry some of their own activities and snacks for the plane.
9. Know How to Pack Baby Gear
Typically, it’s not possible to carry on a stroller or a car seat onto an airplane. But you can take these items through security and check them free of charge before you get on the plan. Taking advantage of this option can be a good way to make sure all the baby gear you need gets to your destination.
10. Be Kind to the Flight Crew
Flight attendants have a very difficult job. They work irregular hours, are away from home a lot, and often have to work with unhappy people. As a parent of small children, it’s crucial to be kind to the flight crew, and try to make their experience as pleasant as possible.
If your kid makes a mess on the plane, make sure to clean up, rather than leaving it for the crew. Always thank the team at the end of your flight as well.
Make Flying With Kids a Snap
With these tips in hand, flying with kids will be easier than ever before.
What tips and tricks did we forget? Let us know your strategies for flying with kids in the comments below!