I ain’t gonna lie.
I’m not a mom.
I don’t have any idea of what it’s like to fly and travel with kids.
And I can only imagine the challenges both parents and kids deal with.
So I asked my best mommy friends what they had to say about flying with kids…
Planning & Packing
Always consider what you pack for carry on and checked luggage.
Carry On Bag
Only the essentials should be packed in your carry on bag such as:
- Lollipops or gum to reduce pressure in the ears
- Water (after airport security)
- An age appropriate toy or coloring book
- Portable DVD, preloaded with shows or movies
- iPad with games
- Bottle, pacifier, diapers, formula, ready-made-bottle
- Blanket and small pillow
“When we took Angelo to Hawaii, we packed lollipops, so when the plane was descending or ascending, his ears would pop.” – Ana Salvatore, San Jose California
In addition to clothes, shoes and toiletries check these essentials items:
- Car seats for cab rides
- Baby monitor
- Medical kit with infant Tylenol, band-aids, q-tips, sunscreen, etc.
- Kids bubble bath and kids shampoo and soap as most hotels don’t provide baby items
Prepare Your Kids
- Tell them how many days the trip is
- Give them their luggage or backpack
- Ask them to list everything they want to pack
- Set a limit on the number of toys
- Ask them to get all items they want to pack (like a treasure hunt)
- Help them pack their bag
- Have them carry their bag at the airport
Before the trip, walk your kids through what they’ll experience at the airport and on flight including baggage check, security, waiting area, flight and baggage claim.
What to Wear
The day of your flight, wear slip on shoes or shoes with Velcro so you can take them off easily at the security checkpoint.
Dress your kids in layers because the airplane temperature can vary dramatically.
It’s a good idea to give your child a piece of paper with the parent’s names, addresses, and contact and flight info written clearly in case you get split up at the airport.
Airport Check-in & Baggage
When you arrive at the airport, show your children what the security guards and policemen/women dress like so they know who to talk to in case you get split up. Remind them of the piece of paper in their pockets with your names.
Before you arrive at the check-in counter, it’s helpful to have everyone’s identification, flight numbers and tickets together in one place to speed things up.
On domestic flights, Adults traveling with children might not require a photo ID for their child. However, check with the airlines on the exact requirements as you might need to bring a birth certificate instead.
On international flights, Children (including babies) will need a passport.
If a child is traveling without an adult, the adults responsible for dropping off and picking the child up will need identification. The airport will need to be notified of these exact people ahead of time.
Before you arrive at airport security, give your kids a brief run through. Remind them to remove their shoes and jacket.
“Buy bottled water after you are done with security. I have had my water taken so many times, it’s infuriating. You can’t make a formula bottle without water, so I always panic about getting that water!” – Rebekah Grace Hollister, San Diego California”
At airport waiting area, take your kids on a walk or have them play to burn through any extra energy before the flight. This will help them reduce stress and calm nerves before the flight.
Directly Before Boarding
- Take your kids to the bathroom / change diapers
- Check stroller at the gate
- Fill up water bottles or prepare formula
“I didn’t travel much when my son was small. He’s 15 now and we traveled to Europe last summer. Instead of just dragging him around I taught him how to navigate thru the airport, showed him how to read the arrival and departure signs find the gates, read train schedules etc. We talked a lot about personal safety and being aware of your surroundings and personal belongings when you are traveling. Teenagers have a tendency to put on the headphones and zone out, I wanted him to be a part of the travel experience and learn how to get around safely and with confidence.” – Caryl Miller
Boarding & In-Flight
Families are allowed to pre-board to get settled into the plane. If possible, seat your kids by the window or between two adults. The aisle seat is more dangerous if they have their feet or arms in way of a food/drink cart.
Place all the items they might need during the flight, in the seat pocket or under the seat in front of them.
Show them how to use everything in the seat including the belt, eating tray, recliner, games and radio.
“One thing I absolutely, positively do with my son is make him aware of the person sitting in front of him. Nothing is worse than having a kid kick the back of your seat the whole flight because they can’t sit still (and aren’t your kid!). I wish more parents did the same, but kids are kids and space is tight.” – ChrisNoe
If you have an infant, nurse them during takeoff and landing to help pressurize their ears or if you have kids, give them gum or a lollipop.
During the flight chat or play games with your kids. Some great games are I-Spy, 20 Questions, and Go Fish.
If you’re child was well behaved, praise them for their good behavior.
“Don’t not go somewhere because you think it will be too hard with the kids!” Traveling with kids is a well-known clusterf*** that is part of the joy of parenting. Might as well embrace it and give the finger to people who look at you sideways when you’re kids are crying. We are humans. We procreate. We are part of a society, get over it a-holes!” – Rebekah Grace Hollister