I would not consider myself an expert on anything that has to do with raising kids or motherhood. I have to think on the fly, do my research, listen to other’s and their experiences, and pray my kids don’t get screwed up.
BUT, the one thing I might consider myself an expert on… traveling with kids. By the time my son was 18 months, I had lost count on how many plane flights he had been on and now my daughter is following suit. I travel monthly, sometimes weekly, to visit family in Southern California and often times my husband travels down at a later date. I have been in quite possibly every flight scenario: Big man on my left, child vomiting on the right while simultaneously breastfeeding; Child screaming and refusing to walk off the plane (I actually had to turn around and apologize to the entire flight); Delay on tarmac for 3 hours while both kids are supposed to be napping and/or eating a meal; Suitcase falling on my sons head from above; Touch and go landing, also while my child is vomiting from the turbulence; Nursing my baby while having to take my other child to use the plane restroom. Been there done that.
Needless to say, I have come up with a few tricks and practices along the way to make these trips a little smoother.
1. If you are traveling with more than one child, pack a travel carry-on for each child. This took a while for me to learn. My kids were always arguing over who got what snack, who got to play with what toy, and sharing my iPhone was a lost cause. Now that I pack a small backpack for my son, he wears it and what’s inside is all his. I have my daughter’s and they don’t know the other exists. Everyone is happy and no one is hitting.
2. Ask if the flight is full. From my experience, this only works for Southwest but try on another airline as well, it can’t hurt. If your child is under 2-years old, hold on to that car seat until you board. Most planes will not be 100% full and Southwest lets you take that open seat for free. This is perfect for your baby who can stay confined to a car seat. If you physically can not bring your car seat with you past security, spread your stuff over the empty seat so no one takes it and that seat will belong to your toddler – paid for or not.
3. Check your stroller at the gate. Strollers these days are amazing for storage. If you are traveling solo with kids, use that stroller to help you with all your stuff. All airlines let you take that stroller with you until you physically get on the plane and it’s right there for you when you land. Don’t check it, extra storage is always a must!
4. Let each child pick one snack or small toy from the airport store. Use that snack as a bribe the entire way, girlfriend. If you are on a long flight, your child gets 1 for every hour they behave (if they choose something like M&M’s or Skittles). If that doesn’t work, make them wait until you land, then proceed to handover the treat or toy.
5. If your child is old enough to enjoy an iPad or iPhone, let go of all your rules on screen time and use those devices. There is a reason those things exist, Mama. Use them! Downloading one new game or TV episode before each flight is also a plus because it holds their interest to something new and exciting.
6. Snacks, snacks, snacks. This is another one you have to let go of, Mommy. If the flight is during meal time, get over your usual “healthy” meal and hand over those snacks. We all know they’d rather have it anyway. This also buys time and makes them happier longer. Happy kids mean fewer tantrums and meltdowns.
7. People want to help. When I’m traveling solo, I have my baby in one hand, while the other hand is carrying my purse, backpack, and holding my son’s hand who sometimes won’t wear his backpack. This is a lot, ask for help. Most flight attendants or even pilots will help you carry items to your seat.
8. Lastly, don’t think twice about an upset passenger who is annoyed at your screaming or fussing child. Chances are they either never had kids or they forgot how hard it is to travel with them. Just remember, do what you need to do and ignore the rest. When was the last time you made a best friend on an airplane flight?
TOYS (one travel-bag for each child):
Ideas for Older Toddlers or School-Age:
- Travel Play-Doh or Model Magic.
- A handful of Magna-tiles.
- Coloring book with crayons.
- No-mess markers with accompanying book.
- Water Wow coloring book.
- Gel clings for windows.
- Wax Wikki Sticks.
- Magnetic drawing board.
- Scissor or tape activity book like this.
- iPad, iPhone, or kindle – obviously – for kids who can use them.
Younger Toddlers or Babies:
- Travel Play-doh or Model Magic.
- Small notepad with crayons and lots of sticker packs.
- Gel clings for plane windows.
- Pack of band-aids, post-its, or page marker tabs (such a good time-suck!).
- Pipe cleaners.
- Buckle toy like this.
- Puppet books.
- Divide food and snacks into small compartments using something like a jewelry container or a Bentgo lunch box. Packing the full travel packs end up going to waste or on the floor and take up a ton of space in your bag or back-pack.
- Snacks can include items such as goldfish, nuts (if you don’t have an allergy), veggie-go fruit snacks, freeze-dried fruit, pretzels, fruit pouches or apple sauce, pirate booty, Chex-mix, Annie’s bunny grahams, and any bar: granola, protein, nut bar, fruit bar. etc.
- Sandwiches cut into bite-size pieces.
REST EASY, YOU GOT THIS!
Like This? Re-Pin Here: