Flying with Kids
Our boys, Badge (5) and Rowe (3), have been on so many flights in their young age that I have already lost track of how many! Badge visited 3 different continents in utero so let's just say that he was destined to be a world traveler from the get go. Traveling with these two certainly has it highs and lows, but all the pain of flying is worth getting to an amazing destination. :) I would love to share some tips that have worked well for us.
At least one of us is happy.
1) Choose your flight time wisely.
You know your kids best, what is the best time of day for them? For us, it is the morning. Many people schedule shorter flights during nap times because the little darlings will be so tired they will just pass out right? Uh, probably not! (See #4) Wake up early, take one of the first flights out and you'll be able to enjoy more time in your destination.
I think his bag weighs more than he does!
2) Pack Light and Smart
This is how not to pack! We were moving to London so not our typical baggage allowance. :)
I only have two hands and depending on the age of your kids, you may need one of those hands free to hold their hand. For us as a family of 4, who primarily only fly with carry ons, we try to keep it to 3-4 bags. My 5 year old is almost to the point where he can pull his own bag (Hallelujah!) and I will be grateful when both of them can take more responsibility.
Here is the breakdown of what we each carry with some recommended contents:
Mom- Large backpack (Contains wipes, hand sanitizer, extra snacks, iPad, presents (see #6), I also stuff my purse in here) and 1 or 2 carry on sized roller bags. If we are going on a longer trip, I will bring a huge suitcase and check it to lighten our load.
Dad- Roller bag and carry on size duffel back pack (This frees up at least one hand to hold on to the 3 year old)
Kids- Small backpack each (contains Water Bottle, Headphones, Activity books, 3-4 toys, Ziploc bag of snacks and a change of clothes) Half the time my 3 year old's back pack ends up tossed over the handle of my roller board :)
Traveling in their Go Go Babyz Travelmate
Are you bringing their car seat on this trip? Then get the Go Go Babyz Travelmate and be the envy of everyone in the airport. This handy adapter adds wheels to your carseat and allows you to pull your child in their seat. They will be happy and so will you!! This does limit the amount of carry ons you can pull through the airport, but sooo worth it!
3) Make it comfy.
There are an infinite number of products available for kids on airplanes. Some of my favorites are the Fly Tot and Jet Kids Bed Box. These products turn an ordinary seat into a first class oasis for kids. There are some adult versions out there too!
I love following the Facebook page Club Bebe Voyage for some great tips. Make sure you pack a hooded sweatshirt for everyone- some planes get very cold and those thin blankets don't help.
Pro tip: Bulkhead seats can be great, they give you more leg room and floor space but the catch is that the arm rests do not go up. The trays and entertainment systems are folded up into the arm rests since there is no seat in front of you to store them. My boys were miserable on a long haul flight in these seats. They just could not find a comfy spot to sleep with two huge pieces of metal on each side.
One of the Worlds Best Travelers
4) Plan on them NOT sleeping
I know, I know, you WANT them to sleep and if you are flying for several hours they probably will. But what if they don't? You are frustrated, they are frustrated and no one is happy. Go into the trip with the attitude that they will not get a wink of sleep. Airplanes are noisy, busy and uncomfortable. Its almost impossible for me to sleep on the plane (unless I am very lucky to have a flat bed in First Class :) ) so why do we expect our kids to pass out even if it is 2am? If you go in with the plan that you'll be entertaining for the next 9 hours and they do happen to sleep, it is just an added bonus.
I can't make my kids sleep. I wish I could. The only thing I can do is create a safe, comfortable environment for them. If they are relaxed and happy, the chances of them catching a few Z's are much, much higher.
Ugh, airplane food is just not good. Always feed your kids a large meal before you get on the plane. Our go to is some type of chicken nuggets and fries. It is usually available in any airport and I know they will eat it. I also pack Ziploc bags with snacks and treats. Our go to snacks are: Chips (Pringles are very packable), Popcorn, Rice Krispie Treats, Peanut M&Ms, Gummies (Eat Skittles at take off and landing to help with ear pain), Lollipops and Apple Sauce. Always pack the Kids-are driving-me-insane-and-you-are-desperate snack- for us that would be Oreos.
Looks like we got desperate and passed around the Oreos.
**Most airlines do have kids meals available and you can request them at time of booking.**
6) You are the Entertainer
A new set of Legos always keeps my boys entertained!
Raise your hand if you have the kid who will not watch a single minute of TV on the airplane and only wants to do activities for 7 hours straight?? That would be lucky ol' ME! OR horror of all horrors, you sit down in your seat and realize there is NO magical screen with kid friendly movies. In times like these, you need to be prepared and bring a stock of fun items to keep them entertained. We love sticker books. My boys enjoy matching them to the right place and can almost do it independently. I also visit a dollar store and will wrap up little presents for them to open. I space them out as long as possible.
A few of our favorite activity books:
Don't have time to shop and come up with activities? Fly Kids will customize a box of activities for your kids based on their interests!!
He looks entertained to me!
-Take them to the loo right before you board and limit fluids as much as you can. Now is not the time to hand them a juice box. I highly recommend using pull ups too even if your kids are potty trained. Trust me on that one. ;)
-Remember to relax and have fun! Your days of popping in your headphones and cracking open a book in the skies are on hold for the next few years, but you can still take some time for yourself if you create a happy environment for the kids. One day your kids will thank you for taking them on so many adventures at a young age.
I enjoy planning adventures for families around the globe so that they can focus on their time in destination and not worry about the details of getting there. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.