Walking down the aisle of a plane can be an intimidating feat. As you scan the numbers on the bulkhead looking for your seat, you see the other passengers curiously staring at you, sizing you up, and wondering if you will be their seatmate. Boarding a plane with kids makes the situation that much more judgemental. It’s as if you can almost hear their horrified stares screaming out at you, “Please not me! Please don’t let those kids sit near ME!” Children have a bad reputation for being disruptive and difficult on planes. In fact, I’ve witnessed it many times myself, and who can blame them?! Sitting for long periods of time in such a crammed space can make many adults restless, and can be an almost impossible feat for young kids. I decided early on that I didn’t want that to be us. I wanted to be the quiet little family that came on and off the plane unnoticed. I also knew that my kids were going to be spending much of their childhood crammed in those little airplane seats and I wanted it to be a positive experience for them! I didn’t want them to grow up dreading airplane rides.
For the past few years our little family has travelled for roughly half of the year. My husband travels a lot for work, and we try to go as a family as much as we can. My husband loves what he does, but has always been very committed to keeping the family together as much as possible. The decision to travel together has meant countless flights and hours spent on long road trips. We started this rigorous family travel schedule when my daughter was five and my son was just two. Although I loved my husbands desire to travel as a family, I was a little concerned with how this would practically work. One of our very first trips was an 8 hour flight to England! I realized these kids were going to break this flying thing in quick! Fast forward a few years, and my kids have been on countless flights, and have become little flying pros. I’ve discovered that with a plan, a little organization,and these helpful tricks, flying with kids can be a breeze!
#1- Bring Snacks
Most flights offer a complimentary drink and then a VERY small bag of pretzels or cookies. Your kids will likely need more than this, and may not care for the snacks offered. No one needs to deal with a H-Angry child on an airplane!
#2- Bring An Empty Spillproof Cup
This is a tip I learned the hard way… a few times. The crew will offer your child juice or water and will hand it to them quite full, in a flimsy, slippery plastic cup. Your child will then set said flimsy plastic cup, on an equally slippery and unstable tray table in front of them. I think you can see where this is going… The first swift movement in ANY direction will send said cup and all of its contents splashing on you, your child, your seat, and anything else that is nearby. Now you have a sticky, wet child for the remainder of the flight. A wet and sticky child is not a happy child, and a wet and sticky Mommy is not a happy Mommy. I bring a little water bottle for my kids. The flight crew is more than happy to fill your spillproof container for you in lieu of their cup!
#3- Bring Chewy Candy or Gum
The pressure during take off and landing can be quite painful for little ears. My daughter especially struggles with pain during take-offs and landings. We have found that chewing bubble gum or really chewy candy like Starburts and Gummies can really help.
#4- Bring Medicine
Especially if it’s your first time flying, you have no idea how your child will respond to flying. There is nothing worse than being trapped on an airplane with a child who is dealing with motion sickness. Having some Gravol or other motion sickness prevention medication can really help. If your child struggles with motion sickness in the car, I would actually recommend giving your child a little medicine beforehand as a preventative.
#5- Bring Plastic Bags
This tip has two purposes, and one is related to tip #4. If you or your child does feel ill during the flight, you will want to have a plastic bag closeby. Most flights provide a small sick bag in the seat, but you may need more than one, and you don’t want to be scrambling to find that in an emergency! Also, when you are crammed in such a small space you want that space to be tidy. I like to have a small plastic bag with me to catch all of the snack wrappers and garbage so it’s not a huge mess.
#6- Bring Wipes
If you have kids I feel like this one needs no explanation. My kids are WELL beyond the diaper stage but I still carry a little package of wipes with me, especially when I travel. You never know when you will be faced with sticky fingers, a spill, or a sneeze that’s gone awry! Trust me, you will be so glad you have these!
#7- Bring Busy Activities
This is the part of the plan that takes a little time and organization but will save your sanity in the end! I always bring a few little activities for my kids to do on the plane. I usually try to have one for every hour. If we are on a 4 hour flight, I’ll bring 4 things. These are always new things that my kids have never seen before. (Example: sticker books, coloring books, word search, mini dinosaur figurines, or farm animal figurines, mini etch a sketch, little cars and trains, etc.) One trip to the dollarstore, and you’ll find everything you need. Electronic game tablets are great too, but sometimes kids become bored with the screens, and it’s nice to have something a little more stimulating for them to do.
#8- Download Entertainment App
Many of the newer planes have done away with the individual TV screens at each seat. We have been on many flights now that do not have screens. Most planes are in the process of switching to Online Entertainment Apps. Each flight still offers movies, games and television shows, but they can only be viewed on your own personal device. (ipad, phones, tablets, etc) It is helpful to download the entertainment app before you fly. A good app that works on most flights is the “Gogo Entertainment App” .
#9- Bring Headphones
Most airlines will offer headphones or have them for purchase, but they are almost always the little ear buds. Most children’s ears are too small for ear buds and they are uncomfortable or will not stay in their ears at all. It is best to bring your own comfortable headphones. Another tip- Many children’s headphones with the noise reduction feature will NOT work on planes. The maximum volume on the volume reducing headphones is often too quiet, and the children will not be able to hear (even on full volume) over the roar of the plane’s engine. It is best to bring regular headphones, without the volume reducer, and then just monitor your child’s volume yourself.
#10- Do Not Check Your Stroller
Did you know that you do not have to check your stroller with your luggage? I find that this is a common misconception. People often think they have to check their stroller with their luggage and then have to try to wrangle their children through the airport sans stroller. This is not true! All airlines will allow you to push your stroller right up to the door of the plane! Right before you board, they will stow your stroller for you. When you arrive at your destination and de-board your plane, your stroller will be open and waiting for you at the door of the plane. This can be extremely helpful with a sleeping or tired child. You can just plop them in the stroller and you’re on your way!
If you are travelling with your little kiddies soon, good luck! I hope these tips help! I would love to hear all about your adventures in the comments below!
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