31 Tips For Flying With Kids

Traveling with kids may seem like the impossible, but believe me it isn’t. I have been out of the country with a child as young as 2 weeks old and have flown numerous flights with 3, 4, and 5 kids with me. I love to travel and even though we don’t get to as often as I’d like I actually really love getting to travel with my kids too. I’ve definitely learned some things along the way and I’d love to share some ideas with you…

  1. Flying Times: Think through flying times and when it will be most convenient for your kids and the normal schedule they are on. For little babies plan a flight time that is during their nap time so that you can have them sleep the whole flight. For older kids plan a flight time that is during their happiest time of the day…usually mid morning, that way you can put them down for a nap or have down time once you arrive.
  2. Back Of The Plane: Honestly I feel like this depends on the time of day….If flying at night or during your babies nap I would avoid the back of the plane like the plague. It’s super annoying to have people coming to stand in line for the bathroom, not to mention the smell, and the flight attendants tend to chit chat back there as well. BUT, if traveling during the day, not during a nap time, then I would highly recommend the back of the plane. Those seats are usually the very last to fill up and we have had many leftover seats for our rows because everywhere else filled up first. And if the flight attendants love your cute kids they’ll let you walk around in the back and bring your kids extra snacks, stickers, and wings.
  3. Wear Black: I don’t think I have ever flown anywhere with my children and not ended up with baby poo, spit up, food, or someone’s drink spilled on me. Find your cutest all black outfit and rock it.
    one glass slipper|meg wallace|30 tips for traveling with KIDS!
  4. Flight Activities: For babies the best advice I have is a few books and little movies, but for slightly older kids think ahead of activities they can do for 30-45 minutes at a time. If you have a 3 hour flight then plan 4-5 of those activities (for the way there and the way back). Come up with activities that involve being creative and things that won’t make a huge mess. One of my favorite options are these crafts called Foil It. There are a ton of variety as far as themes for both boys and girls and even my three year old can do them!
  5. Pack Smart Snacks: Pack your own snacks, but be smart about them. Snack time can also be an “activity” if you’ll think through it. I love snacks that involve dipping or building or scooping. I normally feed my kids healthy meals, but flight time is more of an “anything goes” kind of time. Things like Lunchables or Nutella w/dipping sticks, or celery and peanut butter with mini chocolate chips that they get to put on themselves…any idea to get your child to build their own food and then eat it helps pass the time away. Whatever it takes to get through it! 🙂
    one glass slipper|meg wallace|flying with KIDS
  6. Medicine Kit: Bring your own meds. I have made the mistake many, many times in thinking that if I needed anything I could always just go out and get it…but when your on a plan and kid is suddenly hurting or sick you don’t want to waste time trying to figure out where to get meds fast. I always have Children’s Dramamine for motion sickness, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Cold Meds, cough medicine, Childrens Tums, Neosporin, Bandaids etc….
  7. Don’t Overpack Diapers: I always take only what I need for the flight out and maybe the first day. Packing them is always so bulky and you can easily buy a package once you get where you are going. (The exception is if you’re leaving the country, so ignore this one if that’s the case!) One you arrive at your location buy a package that you’ll use for your time there and enough to get you back home and it’ll save you a ton of space.
  8. Bring Your Stroller: When you go through security it’ll be a pain…everything will take time to dismantle and get through the scanners, but after that you can roll right up to the gate, down to the side of the plane and they’ll load it into the bottom of the plane for you. Always be sure to ask the flight attendants if the flight is full….if it isn’t then they’ll possibly even let you take your car seat and put it into an empty seat for your child. It’s super helpful to be able to have the buckles as well as something familiar to your child to fall asleep in. However, personally I never choose to take the car seat with me. I always prefer more space in the seat than the extra bulk of having/carrying it. Keep in mind though that most rental car companies have car seats available, so if you’re heading somewhere and are renting a car anyway ask about the fee for a carseat rental too. There’s pros and cons for both ways, but it’s good to know there are options.
  9. Getting Through The Security Line: When traveling with a baby I highly recommend using the stroller and taking it all the way to the gate, but if you don’t plan to use or bring such a large item I would recommend an Ergo or Moby wrap to wear while you wait in line. You can scoot your bags along or even have bags on your shoulder while holding your baby comfortably all the way up until the last minute. Put everything into the bins to be scanned and then take your baby out at the last second to walk through the scanners. If traveling with toddlers or older, explain in detail exactly what will happen so that every child knows exactly what to expect. It is hard when they feel clueless about why they have to put their things in bins and then right after that confusion are told to walk alone through a scanner past scary dudes dressed in black with guns. Explain it all in advance while you’re waiting in line. Have them watch others ahead of you. A child refusing to walk through the scanner alone while everyone else is waiting and getting frustrated it is not fun. Trust me. 🙂 Go through the scanner first to show them is not bad and then have each child follow you through to the other side.
  10. Give Kids Their Own Backpacks: If traveling with toddlers or older kids, have them carry their own backpacks with their own stuff. They feel excited to get to be a part. I pack their own toys, a few books, their headphones and some presents (usually small things from Party City or the dollar store) and art projects in their own backpacks and give them each their own snacks to take out whenever they would wish to eat something. I put a small pack of tissues, a travel size wipes, some sanitizer, their favorite blanket or stuffed animal, and a little bit of candy in each of their bags. Here’s a tip for you: If the present you buy has bulky packaging take the item out and wrap it in wrapping paper. Unwrapping their new things is obviously super fun, but it’s also another way to take up a tiny bit more time of them playing with something. The flight attendants come around so often with trash bags so just make a pile and hand it to them to toss.
  11. Changing Diapers: Don’t be shy. Taking care of what your baby needs is more important than you trying to be scared to offend others. Some airplanes have changing tables but if they don’t you can just change your baby right there in your seat. You can ask those who are next to you if they would be okay with it, and most of the time they are, but if not kindly apologize and get done what you need to do. 🙂
    one glass slipper|meg wallace|flying with KIDS
  12. Use the Bathroom Beforehand: With older kids plan ahead and make sure you get to the airport in plenty of time to get through security but also to take each of your kids to the bathroom before boarding. Hopefully that’ll save you the trouble in air, but if not it’ll at least buy you time until you have to brave that near impossible feat. Oh and don’t forget to go yourself! There’s nothing like having to leave all of your children unattended for you to have to use the restroom in the middle of a flight. Many strangers are usually more than willing to take over for a few minutes…but I always hate having to leave my kids at all.
    one glass slipper|meg wallace|flying with KIDS
  13. Noise Canceling Headphones: If traveling with a baby that will most likely be sleeping buy noise canceling headphones. Those announcements are unbelievably loud and oh so annoying and will never, ever, ever come at a convenient time so find a way to get rid of it! With older kids headphones in general will help with tuning everything else out and letting them get into their game or movie….which totally helps again with making the time go by faster for them.
    one glass slipper|meg wallace|flying with KIDS
  14. Noisemakers: Don’t leave home without them!: We take our noisemakers everywhere. They help to cancel out any noises in the hotel rooms, apartments, or houses where you are staying. Our favorite is this one…it also has the option to run off of a battery which means if your child falls asleep on the plane and you don’t have noise canceling headphones this might help drown out any unwanted sounds. Whenever we have accidentally left ours at home you can bet that is the first thing we pick up once we get there!
  15. Dress Your Kids Cute For the Flight: I hate to say it but if your kids look cute and everyone is ooohing and ahhhhing over how adorable they all look the more likely people are to be supportive should one become upset. I usually have mine all in matching clothes anyway because it’s easier for me (and other people) to spot them should one wander off. But it didn’t take me long to realize that people responded differently to us when they all looked put together and cute, rather than disheveled and out of control. Hey, I’ll take whatever empathy I can get when traveling with five kids! 🙂
    one glass slipper|meg wallace|flying with KIDS
  16. Take Off & Landing: When you have a baby the best thing is to nurse or bottle feed to help with their ears and the pressure. I’ve also used pacifiers too, which also worked well. But if your baby is already asleep then most likely you won’t have a problem. If you have older kids (meaning age 3 or older) I would highly recommend teaching them how to chew gum! I know that may seem young and I’ll probably get some backlash about how they’re too little for gum, but if you really take the time to teach them and make sure they know how to chew it and then spit it out it really can be a lifesaver when flying. Pick up a few flavors your kids will like and then offer it if their ears begin to hurt. It also makes them happy to get to pick out a new flavor, which is really helpful when you’re nearing the end of a long fight.
  17. Get Over The Germs: There’s just no way around it. If you’re a germ-a-phobe then most likely the entire airport and flight will be a near panic attack for you…but pack a travel size of Clorox wipes and a few bottles of sanitizer and you’ll be just fine. It’s all part of traveling.
    one glass slipper|meg wallace|flying with KIDS
  18. Buy Multi-Use Cords: If traveling with more than one child a splitter cord comes in super handy. Buy separate ear phones for each kiddo but one connector so that both (or more) can watch the same movie. The one we have is HERE.
  19. Family Line: Some airports have a separate family line for security. If you’re not sure just as a TSA worker. Sometimes they don’t use signs to advertise for it even though they do exist.
    one glass slipper|meg wallace|flying with KIDS
  20. Carry-ons: If traveling with a baby pack extra clothes for child and you. Buy a package of plain cheap onesies just in case there is a poo blow out. That way you won’t feel bad at all for just tossing it into the trash. 🙂  With toddlers throw in an extra pair of shorts/pants and a shirt. Other things I like to put in my carryon–extra diapers, snacks, books, blanket for airport floor (when traveling with a baby or a crawler), grocery bag or small trash bags for anything gross, toothbrush, medicine, sippy cups (bring empty if possible to avoid the longer wait and extra checks in security and then fill on the plane), earphones, games, toys, art projects, and my laptop (for movies). Slightly older children (even my 3 year old can) are able to carry their own backpacks. Let them help you pack the bags and let them carry their own stuff.
  21. Think Through Shoes: Try to not put shoes on your baby…even though lil baby shoes are adorable chances are you’ll only end up with one (or less) by the time you arrive wherever you’re going. For toddlers put them in slip ons that can easily be taken off and on for the flight. Most likely kids will be more comfortable without them so plan to just shove their shoes under the seat in front and let them settle in. Think through what shoes you’ll wear too. Most airports do not have kids take off their shoes through security but you will have to. If you’re trying to round up your toddlers you’re not going to want to untie boots or shoes…choose something that is really easy to get on and off that doesn’t require much effort or time.
  22. Don’t Use The Water On The Plane: Apparently the water on the plane has some sort of chemicals in it that will make you sick if you drink it. I don’t actually  know if this is a fact or not, but I was told this long ago and have believed it ever since. Always ask for bottled water to fill bottles or to drink. Don’t wash your kids pacifiers or cups in it either!
  23. Diaper Bag: I usually carry on a large diaper bag and my purse. If you don’t have a huge diaper bag I would highly recommend a backpack instead. Not only can you fit more in it but having the ability to put it on both shoulders will help as you move through the tight spaces on a plane.
    one glass slipper|meg wallace|flying with KIDS
  24. Layovers: I hate layovers. Personally I would rather take a very long flight rather than stop and wait and get on another. I like the one and done feeling. But, I will say that if you know your child will need time to get off of a plane and walk around, take a break and then get on again then make sure you have a long layover. Anything less than 40-45 minutes is not enough. By the time you get off, get your stroller, find a snack it’ll already be time to board again. Plan extra time to wander around, let your kids run in the terminal to get out some energy, explore new airports, use the bathroom, and get some food. Then you’ll be ready for another round.
  25. Boarding: If you have a seat assignment then I would recommend boarding last. The shorter amount of time you have on the plane is the best. Let your little one run or crawl around to get out as much energy as possible before having to sit still for however many hours on the flight. If you don’t have a seat assignment (ex: traveling with Southwest) then I would highly recommend setting a timer the day before to check in for your boarding pass as fast as it becomes available. If you get an early boarding pass then you’ll have first pick on the plane for which seats you want. If you don’t get good boarding passes then just know that people with children will always board after the A class is on….which usually works out really well too. Oh, and if you are taking your stroller and carseat make SURE to stop by the ticket counter to pick up a tag to put on those bigger items. You’ll also want to put the address labels on them too….just in case they get lost.
  26. Extra Blankets: Whether you are traveling with a baby or toddlers (or both) having extra blankets on hand is a must. Sometimes the planes are cold and sometimes your little one will just want to cuddle up and rest. Nothing is worse than being stuck on a plane with kids that are freezing and there’s nothing you can do about it.
  27. Ask For An Extra Seat: This one is a must!!! Always always ask the flight attendants if the plane is full. If not, let them know you are traveling with a child, or many children, and make sure to ask as sweetly as you can if you could be in a row with extra seats. We have had many flight attendants radio to the back of the plane to have them help us find a row or couple of rows that we can spread out in.  They’ll work with us to make sure they stay open for us as the remainder of the people board too. 🙂
  28. Grab The Window Seat: If traveling with your baby or toddler I would highly recommend the window and middle seats. If your kiddo gets upset it’s much easier to turn your back to the evil stares and try as best you can to block it out. Also, kids LOVE looking out the windows to see the ground and the clouds. In my opinion it is far more worth it to have to crawl over someone for a potty break and still get the window seat than to be on an isle the whole time.one glass slipper|meg wallace|flying with KIDS
  29. Movies: Most movies nowadays have the ability to be uploaded onto your smart phone or computer. Set up a stash, maybe with some new ones they haven’t seen before or stick with some all time favorites, on your devices to use on the flight.
  30. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help:  There have been a number of times when I have traveled without my kids that I have seen a mom or two struggling with their child. Although I would be ecstatic to jump in to help, I never know whether or not to, so I most often just wait to see if they ask. I am confident that if I think that way, most people would too. Sometimes all it takes you being willing to ask and accept help and others will more than likely jump to the opportunity. Look for a potential grandma or someone that you might think has had kids and would understand what you’re going through. Whether it be airport staff, security, flight attendants, or the person sitting next to you…don’t be scared to raise your hand.
  31. Stay Positive: If you dread traveling with your kids, then it’ll be obvious to not only your children, but to everyone else around you. If you have a lightheartedness about it then others will pick up on that as well. Don’t stress the small stuff. Things WILL go wrong and when they do just find the fastest and easiest way to remedy it. Let your kids know what’s coming and what you expect, but be sure to enjoy the process too. One day you’ll be able to laugh at some of the stories and inconveniences that end up happening!
    one glass slipper|meg wallace|flying with KIDS

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