If you’re going to be flying with young children, make sure you are prepared with these great tips!
Tips for Flying with Preschoolers and Babies
Before take off, being prepared for the worst is always a good idea. Here are some great tips to help you know what to bring and how to be prepared for your children’s needs.
1. Probably the most important thing you can do in preparation of flying is make sure that your children know their full name, your full name, your cell phone number, your address, what to do if they get separated from you, and who to go to for help. I tell my kids that if they can’t find me, they should ask a woman with children to help them. Odds are that a fellow mom is a safe bet to get the proper help for them and less intimidating for them to approach and talk to.
2. Prepare your kids for what flying on an airplane will be like if it is their first time. Talk with them about the airport, security, seat belts on the airplane, etc. Get excited about the trip together! There are plenty of kids books about flying on an airplane available at the library as well.
3. Book your flights early if possible to ensure that you have seats together as a family! We usually fly on Southwest where seats are not assigned ahead of time, but they are on most airlines.
4. Pick a flight time (if you have options) around your kids’ schedule. This could be difficult with lots of children, but just choose a time that will set them up for success, whether that be flying at night or during nap time in hopes that they fall asleep, flying in the morning when they are adequately rested, etc. Morning flights are less likely to be delayed, so that may influence your decision.
5. Lay out comfy clothes for you and the kids for the day of travel, and be prepared for the weather in both your departure and arrival locations. This may mean layers for everyone that can be taken off or put on depending on the temperature. Remember that for the day, comfort trumps fashion. You will be sitting in a small seat for hours on end! Uncomfortable kids are cranky kids. (And an uncomfortable Momma is a cranky Momma, often with less patience.)
6. Have those comfy clothes include bright colors so that you and the kids are easy for each other to spot in the sea of people at the airport.
7. Pack early instead of packing at the last minute the night before. You can always add to the suitcases if you need to pack something that you use daily or have to do a load of laundry that you want to take with you. This will allow you to get sufficient sleep the night before, and taking care of yourself is important before a possibly stressful day of flying with little ones!
8. Ditch the diaper bag and use a backpack instead. They are much easier to carry, zip completely shut, and leave you with two hands free!
9. Make sure that any electronics you are bringing are fully charged, and don’t forget to bring the chargers with you.
10. Pack a few plastic grocery bags in your carry-on to use for trash. Somehow children manage to accumulate trash at a rate 62.7X faster than the average adult.
11. If you are traveling with a baby, pack ziplocs and a changing pad of some kind to place over the changing tables in the airport bathrooms and to use on the plane. Some planes to not have changing tables in the bathrooms, so you will need something for the seat or floor or whatever small corner you can find to change your baby with some dignity. The ziplocs come in handy for dirty diapers on the plane.
12. Pack individual servings of snacks in little baggies (or buy individual size snacks). This makes it much easier to grab for your little one, and there is a lesser chance of spilling on the plane. Or, if things do get spilled, it’s not an entire box of crackers.
13. Be sure to include some of your child’s favorite snacks on the menu for the day! It will be sure to put a smile on that cute little face no matter what is going on.
14. Pack lollipops, candies, gum, pacifiers, sippy cups, or whatever your child is allowed to have during takeoff and landing to suck on and keep them swallowing to help prevent their ears from hurting.
15. Pack some of their favorite small toys at least 3-7 days before your trip so that when you pull them out on the plane, they will be thrilled and play with them like they are new again. You could even buy a handful of cheap small toys at the dollar store that would then actually be new to them, too.
16. Here are some of my favorite travel toy ideas to pack in carry-on bags: finger puppets, books, nesting cups, stickers, pipe cleaners, crayons and coloring books, compact mirrors, toy cars, dolls/action figures, and a roll of blue painter’s tape. Tray tables make superb race tracks, stages, and canvases (for painter’s tape, not the crayons). Painter’s tape sticks onto anything but comes right off! Your kids can create some incredible tray table art with it.
17. Pack extra supplies (i.e. food, diapers, formula, etc.) in case of unexpected delays.
18. Pack your wallet, ID, and documents (such as birth certificates for children who are traveling on your lap) in a spot that is very easy to get to. It is a good idea to pack a copy of all of the kids’ birth certificates, just in case. It may also be a good idea to contact the airline to make sure that you have all required documentation.
19. Arrive at the airport with more than enough time to get checked in, through security, and to the gate. It will not help things to be rushing like chickens with your heads cut off in order to not miss your flight. Checking in, getting through security, and walking to the gate take longer with kids, and oftentimes it takes longer than you think it will.
Some of the best behaved children have their moments, especially when they are excited or anxious about flying. I hope that these tips will help you be better prepared to deal with anything that comes up so you can have a more peaceful flying experience!
Please leave a comment with your tip for preparing to fly with kids!