Do you remember how you felt the day before you took your child on their first flight? Where you worried about how they would handle the flight? The pressure of making sure you that you have everything you need to keep your child entertained and happy on a flight is real.
I feel very lucky to say that Aiden has always been a champ on flights.
It has made travelling with him so easy, hence the reason why we do it over and over again.
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Below are a few tips when travelling with young children
- Please, Do not feel bad if your child cries on the plane
As we all know, most people avoid sitting by children on the plane. I have had people look disappointed when they notice that Aiden and I will be sitting by them. Children do not cry on airplanes because they want to drive everyone crazy. They cry genuinely, because they are uncomfortable and that is normal and should be expected. Some children cry due to the discomfort of the elevation, or even due to ear pain. There are several other reasons other why. As a parent, you can only do your utmost best and try to comfort and distract your child in every way possible. Don’t feel bad for something you have absolutely no control over, and don’t let people who give you dirty looks bother you. You are human, and so is your child. All you have to do is your best! I was flying with my two-year old niece a few months ago and someone gave me a dirty look, and I stared right back. They got uncomfortable and looked away. Yes, I am that Mom!
- Fly during nap time
When I fly with Aiden, 90% of our flights are booked around nap time. Most of the time, he sleeps the entire flight, from take off to landing. We flew from Los Angeles to Paris in August; a 10hr 40m flight and Aiden slept for 8hrs of the flight. It was simply amazing. Someone noticed and made a comment “The Benadryl must have worked well.” I was shocked and responded with “I don’t give my son any drugs to make him sleep.” Why would she even think that? I know sometimes flying during nap time is not always possible, but when you do have the option, choose nap time flights. Some children are the opposite and don’t sleep well if they’re not home or in their beds. You know your child best, so you’ll have to assess this.
Make sure to purchase the 1st Class Kids Pillow below. It’s amazing!
- Do not sedate your child
I have heard people joke about this, but I have the feeling that people actually do sedate their children to avoid having to deal with them on flights. I do not in any way recommend that you sedate your child. This will make them restless and who knows if it’ll work or not. My suggestion, don’t take the chance. Be prepared to deal with whatever happens on the flight. Usually the first flight is a learning experience and you’ll know what to do next time.
- Take off and Landing
Lots of children complain about ear pain during take off and landing. I have experienced this a few times also. My recommendation is to nurse your child or give them a bottle. When Aiden was younger, I nursed him during take off and landing. Another option is to have your child chew something, or suck on something like a bottle of water or milk. If this is not a problem for them, then you don’t have to do anything. Luckily enough, Aiden has never complained about ear pain or discomfort.
- Use an FAA approved car seat on the flight
I cannot rave enough about how amazing it is to fly with a car seat. Aiden loves his car seat and once he is in there, he usually falls asleep and stays asleep. When he is awake, it helps him stay contained. Without a car seats he would be really fidgety, kick the seat in front of him, play with the tray table etc. Also, it is the safest way to fly with a child. We used his primary cart seat, Orbit Baby, and which is really heavy so I don’t recommend it, we switched to Evenflo Maestro and Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat.
- Baby/Toddler Carrier
Carriers are the best thing that happened to anyone needing to carry a child and be hands free as well. I used an Ergo when Aiden was under 2. After he turned 2, I purchased a toddler Lenny Lamb carrier. He is 4yrs old and 39lbs, and YES I still use it. When it’s just Aiden and I, I typically travel with a small bag, as well as his car seat and car seat stroller. With all those things, having one free hand is essential. When he falls asleep on the plane, waking him up after landing and expecting him to walk of the plane is just not an option. I usually whip out my carrier, wear him on my back, carry his car seat with one hand and my bag with the other. People always ask me if I need help, but with a carrier, I’ve got it! So I politely decline.
I’ve noticed that it’s so much easier to fly with a backpack than it is with a purse. I stuff all the things we will need for our fight in a backpack and that allows me to be hands-free. A backpack is also great because it distributes the weight on your shoulders evenly. You don’t want a bag with one strap weighing on one shoulder, it’s just not comfortable.
I just purchased this backpack below and I love it already !! It can fit A LOT!! lol Perfect for travel with kids.
- Check in all luggage
If you are flying with a child, as well as taking his car seat on board, my suggestion is that you check in ALL luggage. Can you imagine, having a carry on, a car seat, a bag/purse and trying to make it to your gate without your child running off? Yes I said running off because Aiden is runner. He’s taken off on me at the airport plenty of time, lol. The fewer things you have, the easier it is for you to get around the airport and on and off the plane. Make sure to factor the cost of checking in luggage and pack smart!
- Pack enough food / snacks / drink
Find out what your child’s favorite snacks are, and pack it. Don’t forget to pack extra just in case. Aiden loves Annie’s Organic Cheddar Bunnies. I’ve never seen this sold at the airport, so I don’t take the chance when I fly, I pack a good amount of it. If we have an early morning flight and he hasn’t had a chance to eat breakfast, I pack breakfast for him. Usually oatmeal, bacon, toast etc. If we’ll be flying during lunch/dinner time, I pack him a meal as well, steak, rice, broccoli, pounded yam and egusi or vegetable soup etc. As you know, airport food is expensive and also not always the best. For us, it’s not the expensive aspect, but the fact that Aiden is a picky eater. I have had to pack Fufu and Egusi Soup (his ultimate favorite meal) and fed him on the plane or at the airport several times. As a matter of fact, I always freeze some and travel with it as well. As for drinks, Aiden is only allowed to drink water, so that’s the only thing I pack.
TSA will allow you travel with food, snacks and a drink as long as you have a child flying with you. Do keep in mind that they will have to test it. I have traveled with cooked food, uncooked food, snacks, yogurt, water etc. I’ve never had an issue with this. As long as they know that the food is for a child, they are okay with it.
- Avoid Sugar
Aiden isn’t allowed to drink juice, or have sweets so this is not a problem for us when we fly. I was on a flight a few weeks ago and noticed a mother giving her young child soda in his bottle. The child was about a year and a half. He screamed and cried and kicked my seat the entire flight. She felt bad and kept apologizing and I simply smiled back at her and told her not to worry and that it was okay if he kicked my seat. He was exhausted and wanted to sleep; but he also had so much energy. His energy and exhaustion were clashing and you know how kids are when they are over tired. My suggestion, avoid sugar on flights at all cost. If you absolutely have to, keep it to a minimum.
- Headphones and tablet
Aiden got a tablet and headphones when he was two. His tablet is loaded with lots of educational games for him to play and his favorite shows and movies. When he’s awake, or bored, he enjoys it on the flight (He’s not allowed to use his tablet at home). It keeps him busy. Also make sure you have headphones so you don’t disturb the people around you. I have been on flights with kids who had no headphones and watched their shows and played games with the volume really loud. If your kid absolutely refuses head phones, then make sure the volume is very low as not to be a bother. I always encourage Aiden to wear his headphones because even I don’t want to listen to him watch the same episode of Thomas the Train over and over and over again, lol. (By the way, he’s been watching the same episode over and over for months now. HELP)
Aiden has a wide collection of books. When we travel, he gets to pick out what book to take. If it was up to him, we would travel with his entire library, but that’s just not feasible. So, he gets to pick one to three books to take. Prior to offering him his tablet to play with, we do some reading first. A Day At The Airport is one of Aiden’s favorite travel books. I highly recommend it as I enjoy reading it to him also.
Toys are an absolute must. Aiden gets to pick out one to three toys to travel with. He can play with this on the flight and also play with it where we are going. You do not want your child to see another kid with a toy when he has none to play with. You already know that’s a tantrum waiting to happen. (Airport tantrums are the most exaggerated, you know the ones when everyone is watching, lol). I’ve seen kids cry and try to snatch Aiden’s toy from him. Sorry kid, but I can’t take my sons toy away from him so you don’t cry. Because we’ve been faced with this before, I always have an extra toy at all times. I stay prepared.
He also always travels with a small tub of Play-Doh. Play-Doh can keep any child occupied for hours on end. The possibilities are endless.
We call it homework, but it’s really just writing materials. Crayons, Washable markers, Workbooks, Coloring books, paper etc. We always pack writing materials as Aiden likes to practice his writing, drawing etc on the go.
- Kids Harness
Prior to having Aiden, I thought these were absurd. Which parent in their right mind harnesses their kid like a pet? (Said the girl with no kids). When you have a runner on your hands, you gotta do what you gotta do! If you need it, please absolutely use of it. Don’t let people’s dirty looks bother you. People will complain if you have your kid on a leash and those same people will complain when your child is running around like they are on
drugs a sugar high, lol. I’d rather know that my child cannot get far away from me than worry about what people think. That sense of security is highly needed especially at the airport or Zoo’s, lol.
Aiden has taken off on me several times, and he is fast. He has even tried to board a flight we weren’t on, by making his way through under peoples legs. Boy oh Boy! Brica makes one with a backpack, or you can use this simple one by Mommy’s Helper that is just a leash on its own. Or if you have your carrier with you, just strap them to your back.
My favorite however is this one below – Safety Wrist Strap. Worked perfect on our trip to Japan
- Portable charger
Some airports are just not charger friendly. You may have to walk to a different part of the airport, or wait at a terminal or gate that isn’t yours just to find a place to charge your electronic devices. I like to be on the safe side and wait at my departure gate. The easiest way to avoid this is to have a portable charger with you when you travel. Anker makes the best one’s. I have THIS exact one and I can charge my phone and tablet while on the go.
- Extra clothes
When Aiden was in diapers, while asleep on the plane, he somehow managed to pee through it and his pants were wet. The worst part of it was, I had no change of clothes for him. I had to use my Scarf as bottoms for him because I didn’t want him in wet, pee smelly clothes. Thankfully it was a short flight. I recommend packing at least 1 top and 1 bottom, and you should be good to go in case anything happens. Better safe than sorry. Oh, and a scarf. I always carry a scarf. It is very versatile and can be used in a million ways.
- Diapers / Pull-Ups / Wipes
Don’t forget diapers/pull ups/wipes if needed. I have yet to find and airport that sells all three. One time I mistakenly checked in our bag with all the diapers in there. I only noticed this when it was time to change Aiden’s diaper. I had to wait in the bathroom by the kids changing table like a creep to see if another Mom will bring their child in for a diaper change so I could beg for a diaper. Talk about an embarrassing moment, lol. Always check your purse\backpack to make sure you have enough diapers/pull-ups and wipes.
- Find a play area at the airport
Some airports have play areas. Those airports are honestly my favorite. Kids get bored very easily and a play area at the airport comes in very handy. If you get to the airport way before your flight or if you have a long layover, this is a life saver. There are usually other kids playing there as well which is great for interaction. Aiden always tires himself out at these play areas. (I’m working on a post with airports that have play areas so you’ll know beforehand)
- Apply for TSA / Global Entry
Time is money. Save yourself time and money by applying for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry. Both only have benefits, no cons here. Can you imagine emptying your bag and taking off your shoes off each time you have to go through TSA with a kid? This will help you zip through security so much faster. Kids get bored easily and definitely wouldn’t to wait in long lines. If you plan to travel internationally, skip TSA Pre-Check and just go ahead and apply for Global Entry.
- Pick seats wisely
Make sure you pick seats next to each other when purchasing your tickets. If you are not able to do this, make sure to talk to the gate agent prior to boarding so she can assist you with this. Waiting till you board to make this change may and/or will prove difficult (speaking from experience here). I have been on flights were people are not willing to switch seats to accommodate families. If you have a kid who likes to walk up and down the aisles, pick an aisle seat. If you have a kid who likes to look out of the window, pick a window seat.
Keep in mind that if you’re installing a car seat on the plane, you are only allowed to install it in the window seat so as not to block anyone in case of an emergency. In this case, you’ll have to book a window seat. If you’re not travelling with a car seat then this shouldn’t matter.
- Prepare for the best and expect the worst
Sometimes you plan well, and pack everything you need but still everything goes wrong. It almost feels like the universe is out to get you. Take a deep breath and relax.
Remember that things don’t always go as planned and that is perfectly okay. Some things are just out of your control. You just have to do your best as a parent, and that is what counts the most.
I hope these were helpful to you.
What other survival tips can you share for parents/people travelling with children?