Whew, these last three weeks have been a bit of a blur, in large part due to our trip to CA for the holidays. This last trip marks the 3rd time I’ve had to fly by myself with both kids (ages 4 and 2) in tow, and I must say, it wasn’t half bad. I used to hire a private jet charter because I’ve always loved their jet card programs. and travel a lot back when we lived in TX the first time (with only one kid though), and I think I’m starting to get the hang of it once more. You see, I’ve been roving around on the internet, on forums like Traxplorio | Best Travel Community, to find those handy tips on how I can travel efficiently. Much to my surprise, I found quite some travel hacks.
These are the 5 Tips for Traveling on An Airplane with Kids that I’ve compiled. No, I am not including the suggestion to hand out care packages to those around you– I agree with the writer of this article that one should not have to apologize for having kids on an airplane. Children are people too, and their grandparents have feelings and need to see their progeny! End of story!
1. Choose The Right Seats— As much as you may not LIKE sitting in the very very back of the plane, it is essential to handling a flight with children. Being near the very back, especially in the actual last row, enables you to annoy as few people as possible if situations arise. This will help your stress level (mothers can’t help but hear every cry a million times louder than it actually is!), which will in turn help keep your kids calm. Being near the lavatory is also a MUST, and you’re right near the stewardess if you ever need anything! I’ve even asked a stewardess to keep an eye on the kids while I use the tiny lavatory.
If you’re flying with just one child, or you’re flying with another adult and you have a “lap child” (0-2 years old without a purchased seat), here’s a little trick we’ve learned: when you pick your seats ahead of time, pick an aisle seat and a window seat. You might panic, thinking, “but what will happen if we’re separated like that?” but the odds are in your favor. Middle seats are the absolutely LAST to get chosen, and I can’t tell you how many flights we’ve been on where we got that middle seat for “free” because no one wanted a back-of-the-plane-middle-seat. And if it does get filled by someone? They will want to trade with you for your window or aisle seat when the time comes! Plane Pal extends your child’s seat allowing them to lay flat and sleep on a plane!
The plane’s engine is also quite loud in the back of the plane, which I’ve found acts as excellent white noise for napping babies!
2. Chewy Candy– For my kids, they are most likely to cry during takeoff and landing since their ears are popping and they don’t understand why.
Since they shouldn’t have gum and the stewardess is required to take the beverages away before landing, I’ve been searching for the right candy to help their ears and I think I finally found it this last trip! Jellybeans! They are the perfect amount of chewy so that they can let their ears adjust to the air pressure gradually, and they last much longer than a sip of water. We had a large multi-pack of Jelly Bellys, and each of my boys got to pick their colors which made for some added entertainment and fun (hey, anything is a bonus after they tell you to put away electronics!). My boys consumed around 4-5 jellybeans each on take off and then again on landing. Not a ton of sugar, but something that they looked forward to.
3. Give Each Kid A Job– Obviously this one only applies to older toddlers and above, but my 4 year old went from being squirrelly and destructive to actually helpful when I gave him a few chores in the airport. I actually had him hauling a roll away suitcase at one point! He was beaming because instead of being told to “be quiet”, he was being given an adult-like task that made him feel important. It also kept his hands glued to something so that he wasn’t always trying to punch (or tackle) his brother!
In addition, he had a small backpack full of his own toys. I thought that would be stressful for me and that I would be constantly worrying about whether or not we had them, but he loved the responsibility of watching out for his toys.
4. Dress Right– It may seem obvious that layers are the way to go, but you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve forgotten this. In the middle of summer, it’d be hard to imagine that the plane will be cold, but it probably will be. You also never know if you will get stuck during a layover, with all of your extra clothes in your checked bags (read here for the time where we spent the night in the Denver airport with a newborn!). Extra layers also make for toddler sized pillows, if need be.
Along this line, here’s another (semi-embarrassing but essential) tip. Repeat after me: Dress.Your.Kids.Cute. Dress.Your.Kids.Cute. I mean it. Bring out the cute sweaters, the bowties and the mary janes. Dress your little people like Janie and Jack threw up all over them. Let’s be honest– it’s much easier to love kids when they’re cute. It’s also much easier to love other people’s kids when they’re cute. And you’re going to need all the extra love and grace the people can give you while you’re standing for an hour in that airport security line. When your little darlings look like model citizens instead of some snotty-faced petri-dish stereotype that single businesspeople expect, you will find that everyone extends you a lot more leniency when the kids are acting up, even, dare I say, possibly smiling and saying, “How cute!” Just make sure to avoid clothes that are hard to access for diaper changes (tights).
Oh, and this one should go without saying but I’ll say it anyways– Moms and Dads, wear slip-ons, something that hardly needs hands to put back on. When you’re going through security, 9 times out of 10 the kids can keep their shoes on (thank God) but the parent cannot. You want those shoes to be lightning fast! Wear loafers in the summer and Uggs in the winter.
5. Wear Your Baby– Obviously this one only applies to babies and small toddlers, but it’s good to remember. Wear your baby in carrier. Avoid the Moby Wrap, as nice as they are for newborns, because you will have to take it on and off through security (at least, I did every single time I flew) and it needs to be fast, otherwise, where are you going to set your baby while you’re busy folding and wrapping that thing around you? You’ll also have to take your baby off during take off and landing and hold them in your lap (again, in my experience).
But babies feel so much more secure when they’re close, and they might even spend the majority of the flight (s) napping! Win! You also won’t have to worry about checking a stroller at the gate, and don’t even get me started on how much easier it is to use the restroom when you don’t have to keep your baby from touching everything…
Those are my 5 tips for traveling on an airplane with kids. Do you have any to add? Or do you avoid traveling on a plane altogether with your kids (as many of my friends do) ?