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A Detailed Guide To Flying With Kids For The First Time

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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 and blessed to say that Aiden has always been a champ on flights. This has made travelling with him so easy, hence the reason why we do it over and over again. However, just like any other parent, I was very nervous about the first flight we took.

 

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.

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  • 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.

Top 10 Must Have Items When Traveling With Kids

  • 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. You can also use the CARES Child Safety Device. If you have a younger child, make sure to invest in the  Doona Car Seat. This is a game changer when traveling with infants and babies. This is a car seat and stroller in one and it is very convenient. All of these options listed are FAA approved for use on flights. 

If you plan to use a car seat on the flight, then you can take it all the way to gate and then carry it on board and install it. Make sure you know where the FAA approval sticker is because some flight attendants will ask if they are not familiar with a car seat. You can also take a stroller to the gate and gate check it. You will get it back as soon you get off the plane at your destination. You can even take your kids scooter all the way to the gate as well as on the plane  if you want to. You can store this in the overhead compartment.fly with a 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.

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  • Backpack

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. My go to backpack is the Diaper Bag Backpack because it has lot of pockets and is perfect for stuffing lots of things. I don’t have any kids in diapers at the moment, however I use every single pocket. It is just so handy!

  • Check in all luggage

If you are flying with a child, as well as taking a car seat on board, or trying to maneuver a stroller, I highly suggest that you check in ALL luggage. Can you imagine dragging a carry on, pushing a stroller, carrying a car seat as well as 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 times. The fewer things you have, the easier it is for you to get around the airport and on and off the plane without forgetting anything. Make sure to factor the cost of checking in luggage and pack smart!

flying with a car seat

  • 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 or I just take an empty water bottle.

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 and 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. They will test water if it’s in a water bottle, so keep that in mind.

If you need something to store water or food to keep it warm or cold, I highly recommend a Thermos and Water Bottle.

  • Avoid sugar at all costs

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)

Look at them –> Snacks, Tablets, Headphones, @Ospreypacks Backpacks, @GoPlae Shoes on – hanging out in first class @United At their age I had NO idea what it felt like to ride in an airplane, let alone ride in first class . These kids may not realize it, but they are blessed beyond measure!! With that being said, they had such an awesome time in Mexico City. And now it’s time to head home. My only issue being in first class with them are the dirty looks from the annoying adults every time they make a peep. SMH. If noise bothers you that much, maybe you should fly private 😡. Of course I’ll tell the kids to use their inside voices but I’m not stopping them from talking to each other. Have any of your experienced something similar flying with your kids in first? #TravelWithKids #Flyingwithkids #MexicoCity #FirstClassWithKids #FirstClass #UnitedAirlines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #BlackTravelFeed #BlackFamilyTravel #FamilyTravelBlogger #BlackFamilyTravelBlogger #BlackMomBlog #BlackBlog #BlackTravelers #BlackTravel #BlackTraveler #BlackTraveller #BlackKidsTravel  #KidsTravel #BlackKids #BlackBlogger #BlackTravelista #BlackKids #NigeriansTravelToo

A post shared by TheMOMTrotter| Family Travel (@themomtrotter) on

  • Take books to read

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.

The Best Travel Books That Will Ignite Wanderlust In Your Kids

  • Pack lots of toys

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 love the TRAYblecloth Airplane Tray Cover below which is perfect for holding toys such as one of Thomas & Friends Toy below.

  • Make a homework packet

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.

How To Keep Your Kids Entertained On Flights

  • Invest in a kids safety 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. It comes in a 2 pack.

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  • 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. 

  • Ask for help

If you are traveling with your child by yourself and you need a minute to use the restroom or get up and stretch while your baby is sleeping or even awake, do not hesitate to ask for help. If you don’t feel comfortable asking the person sitting next to you, then press the flight attendant call button and they will come to your seat. I’ve even seen flight attendants walk around the plane with a baby so the mother could get a bit of rest. If you need help, Ask! Do not suffer in silence, and definitely do not wake your sleeping baby if you don’t have to.

  • Pack 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. 

  • Don’t forget 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. 

  • Apply for TSA PreCheck / 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 tips were helpful to you.

What other survival tips can you share for parents/people travelling with children?

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21 Comments

  1. July 2, 2017 / 2:53 am

    These are great tips. They are really going to help parents out . I definitely would’ve used these if. My kids were younger.

  2. July 3, 2017 / 3:15 am

    I love these tips! I’ve definitely had good and bad experiences sitting near children on a plane. I think you can tell when the parents have actually put the effort into making their children’s flight experience positive!

  3. July 3, 2017 / 11:16 am

    We are traveling with kids now and someone suggested Benedryl for our trip home…yeah no matter if its a joke or not its not funny!! You dont sedate kids just because!! You teach them how you act on a plane or roadtrip.

  4. July 5, 2017 / 7:57 pm

    Great tips. Very helpful for traveling with little ones and in general.

  5. July 7, 2017 / 1:18 pm

    I don’t have kids of my own, but I know how challenging it can be when traveling with kids. Sedating is the worse you can do to a child. Isn’t it better to engage kids in a meaningful way which also helps their personal growth.

  6. Lisa
    July 7, 2017 / 1:59 pm

    These are some really useful tips for anyone travelling with young children. I always feel sorry for parents of young children on flights whose children continuously cry, and they’re trying everything to calm them down. I think the no sugar tip is really true, probably doesn’t help them at all!

  7. July 7, 2017 / 3:58 pm

    Wonderful that you write these tips down, with flying countless times a year I can say there are many parents who should read this and follow it! It is all about how you respond as a parent, well written.

  8. July 7, 2017 / 3:58 pm

    I can totally relate to this article as I do many of these tips when travelling with my son! I always make sure he has the Ipad to keep him amused when awake! However wee Travis always seems to fall asleep during take off which is lucky haha. I would have been soo angry if someone had said that to me insinuating I had gave my kid something to make him sleep! Some people really are very rude!

    • July 7, 2017 / 6:40 pm

      Agreed, some people are quite rude.
      I also love that my son falls asleep at take off each time.
      Easy Peasy 🙂

  9. July 7, 2017 / 4:02 pm

    Sedating your child? Wow, that must be a desperate shot. Maybe some natural products to calm down, the opposite of sugar, but this is asking for a disaster.

  10. July 8, 2017 / 6:35 am

    Ah still don’t have kids. But I surely wanna keep traveling when I will! So I really like to see families with young children that keep on traveling!! 😉

  11. July 8, 2017 / 8:40 am

    these are such useful tips. I am not a mom, but I am addicted to travel, so this is a great post for me to save in the future when I have kids. It must be stressful at times but it seems like you have a great system to ease some of that stress!

  12. July 8, 2017 / 10:28 am

    Wonderful tips for parents traveling with kids. I know lot of parents who try to book their flights during their kids nap time but it’s not possible always and that is where your other tips come so handy.

  13. July 8, 2017 / 12:04 pm

    I wish I read this before I took my 2 year old on a long haul flight, she was crazy! I did book it during nap time going out but coming back the only option was daytime and she even managed to disturb another baby that was behaving next to her! Toys are the main things I need to take next time, and the recommendation of Play Doh is a good one too!

  14. TSOLAYE
    July 8, 2017 / 7:32 pm

    Really practical tips. Will be Travelling with my twin toddlers in a bit.. Definitely hopping on the no sugar train.!!

  15. July 8, 2017 / 7:40 pm

    I.am.not married yet , but I can imagine how hard to manage kids while flying with them. But this post is really helpful for many who have been struggling with this problem. I loved your practical tips as how you can avoid doing many things and can engage your kids while they are awake during the fly hours.

  16. August 11, 2017 / 1:04 pm

    These are awesome tips when flying,the more prepared you are the smoother the trip !

  17. February 26, 2018 / 5:56 pm

    I like how you talked about bringing toys to occupy your children while traveling. My nephew and I spend a lot of time together, so I like to bring a children’s travel tray with me, but I’m wondering if I’m bringing enough toys when I watch him. What you said about bringing extra toys so your child doesn’t have a tantrum about seeing another kid with one was very interesting to me. http://mylapbox.com/product/my-lap-box-childrens-travel-tray/

  18. mila
    March 15, 2018 / 8:52 am

    Super great, super extensive list. Couldn’t agree more, especially on the sugar! Ive just read from a friend who’s four year old did so well on the flight and she was so proud of him that she let him have a small bottle of coke when they landed at the airport. he’d never had one before and they still had three hours of train ride ahead of them – needless to say, she chased him around the train for three hours and he’s never having coke again till he’s 18. :p

    • March 22, 2018 / 9:02 pm

      Thank you so much. And Yes I can imagine. Coke does things to ya. I’m not a fan of it, and my son has never tried it also. I’m glad she learned from that experience, lol

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