With a husband in the military, I have become an expert when it comes to flying with kids. All three of my kids flew on an airplane before their first birthday, and two of them had flown already by the time they were a month old!
We’ve had good trips, as well as those trips that leave you wanting to crawl into a hole nearby and avoid eye contact with any other adult human being. My children are normally obedient and respectful, but kids are sometimes unpredictable.
With that being said, I have come up with a lot of ways to make life easier, cleaner, and quieter while flying with young children. I hope you find that they are not your typical suggestions. I guarantee that you will be more relaxed and pull fewer hairs out of your head using these tips!
Remember to let go of the stress and have fun, and keep in mind that this trip will only last one day. It is important to be considerate of others, but you should not let your concern with what other people think of you as a parent make you or your children miserable. You should do everything you can to keep the kiddos quiet and civilized and leave your stress and concerns in God’s capable hands.
Flying with Young Kids
1. Have your kids carry their own bags. I know my kids love having little responsibilities and being able to carry/roll a bag just like Mommy and Daddy, so put some toys or snacks in a small bag for them to be responsible for.
2. When in the airport (before your first flight, but especially on a layover), let the kids run around! Don’t let them be obnoxious, of course, but let them burn up all that energy. They will be sitting still for a long time! Play tag in an empty area, go back and forth on those moving walkways, etc.
3. Have the kids use the restroom right before boarding whether or not they say they need to go. They may not feel like they need to right at that second, but 0.17 seconds after boarding or after the captain turns on the seat belt sign, they are sure to feel the urge.
4. If you are traveling with a spouse, it may be beneficial to have one parent board with as many carry-on bags as possible while the other parent walks around with the kids and boards with them last minute. No sense adding 20-30 minutes to the flight time while waiting for passengers to board and get seated.
5. Ask for some water as soon as you board the plane to mix with powdered formula, fill up the kids’ sippy cups, etc. You cannot take water through security, and the bottled water in an airport costs about the same as bottled water at an amusement park. Airport water fountains freak the germophobe in me out, so this is a good way to get water for free before the flight attendants offer drinks during the flight.
6. Give the window seats to the little ones. There will be so much to look at, especially during ascent and descent.
7. This is not the time to be an electronics snob. Bring all the electronics you own that will hold your children’s attention and keep them quiet and busy. Playing computer games or watching shows for one day will not turn their brain to mush.
8. Play simple games that do not require any boards or pieces, such as I Spy.
9. Most Moms already know this, but if you are traveling with a baby, try to feed them during takeoff/landing to prevent ear pain. It may not be time for them to eat, so a pacifier is a good alternative option if they’ll take it.
10. Allow your kids to talk with those around them (under your supervision, of course) during boarding and take off. People are much less likely to get upset by noise or crying or whatever if they have previously been charmed by your adorable child.
11. If you are like me, I imagine airplanes to be covered in grime and germs like a NYC public transportation bus in a bad part of town, so I always wipe down the tray tables, seat belts, armrests, etc. with antibacterial wipes. Even if it does nothing, it gives me peace of mind, and I don’t cringe with disgust at all 39 times that my son puts down his tray table. They also work great for any spills or messes to clean up!
12. Finally, RELAX. Kids feed off of your stress like a horse “smells” a rider’s fear. (I’m not comparing your child to a horse, just making an analogy.) So, relax and have fun with them! It is an exciting day for them that they will possibly remember for the rest of their lives.
Be better prepared for flying with kids, check out 19 more tips.
I hope these tips give you some great ideas and make your next trip less stressful! Please comment below with any additional tips that have helped on your family trips. Or feel free to just tell us a hilarious traveling story that happened with your kids!