To be completely and totally honest, the first couple of times that we flew with two children, it was a bit chaotic and somewhat distressing. However, we have finally discovered the secrets of flying with children and I am about to share them with you.
Here are my TOP TEN tips for flying painlessly with children.
#1 Encourage the whole family to wear slip-on shoes or flip flips so that going through security is quick and easy. Also, tell little ones beforehand that they will need to take their shoes off. Kids get very upset when they have to take their shoes off without warning…
#2. Be ready to put all laptops, cellphones, keys, watches, shoes into a bin to pass through security.
#3 HERE is a BIGGIE: Get your baby/toddler out of their stroller, fold it up and put it through security as soon as you can. If it goes through first, then your little guy or girl is right back in it and ready to get his/her shoes on.
#4 Bring snacks, but no liquids. They will not let you take liquids on the plane. You can buy them after you get through security.
#5 Bring lovies like their favorite blanket and stuffed animal (see California with his giraffe below).
#6 Load up your iPhone/iTouch will cool apps (see below), bring art supplies, books and favorite toys aboard the plane in your carry-on luggage.
#7 If your baby/toddler/preschooler still uses a carseat in the car, bring it on the plane! It will keep them from fidgeting, getting out of their seat and they will be more comfortable and more likely to take a nap and chill out as shown below. It helps out tremendously to schedule the flight during his/her normal naptime as well.
#8 Bring your credit card. As of June 1st, 2009, American Airlines stopped taking cash for meals, snacks, beverages and headphones. I gave them my debit card with a Visa logo and it worked just fine. Buy a cookie for your little one and tell him/her that she can have it when the plane starts to descend if he/she makes good decisions (of course, you need to outline what these good decisions are).
#9 Expect the unexpected. Pack an extra change of clothing (especially underwear and pants) in your carry-on. Pack baby wipes and antibacterial wipes even if you don’t have babies.
#10 Try to get seats in the back of the plane close to the bathrooms OR near the wing. Why? a)If your kids do get loud or upset, they will be muffled by the noise of the engines, so you don’t have to worry about bothering everyone on the plane. b)Being close to the bathroom cuts down on long walks down the aisle of the plane when they have to go really bad c) If you sit near the wing, it gives children a better perspective of how they are traveling, of the Earth and its landforms and of the sky and clouds – which makes for great conversations.
BONUS TIP: Don’t let your kids kick the back of the seat in the car, ever. This will make them less likely to kick the seat in front of them in the plane (which is a big pet peeve for non parents and parents alike). Make sure to not feed them any sugar or caffeine before the flight so that they aren’t on a sugar high and more restless than usual. Save the sugar for good decisions at the end of the flight!
That’s it! I would love to hear more tips from other traveling families out there…please leave a comment!