We’re getting ready to embark on a family plane trip soon–with 3 kids ages 5 and under! While it’s not our first rodeo by a long shot (we’ve done at least 6 flights now with babies & toddlers), it is our first with 3! So, I’m hoping all the things we’ve done in the past to help ensure things go smoothly continue to hold true for us. These are some of our tips for flying with the youngest little travelers:
1. Planning, planning, planning. This starts with choosing your flight. For us, this means choosing flights (when we can) that are over sleeping periods. We’ve done a lot of evening flights in which the kids usually fall asleep about an hour or so in. Once the flight’s been selected, planning for the logistics of the flight itself is important (what to bring, what bags to take, etc). I like making checklists with all the “to-dos” and a “to-pack” list for each child ahead of time. Also, don’t forget to check the rules of your airline for topics relating to traveling with kids. Do you need a birth certificate? Are you bringing a car seat? What can be gate-checked? etc.
2. Prep the kids ahead of time – I find that even toddlers and preschoolers seem to adjust better when they’ve been prepped for events in advance. We talk to the kids about where we’re going, all the fun things we’re going to see/do, and (perhaps most importantly) our expectations for their behavior!
3. Bring extra. I’m a huge fan of packing light, but that gets a bit trickier where the kids are concerned. You never know when you might experience delays, get stuck on a tarmac, have luggage get lost, someone have a diaper blowout, someone else have a potty training accident, etc. So, I always pack a little extra then we think we’ll need. It’s SO worth carrying a little bit heavier diaper bag well-stocked with a few extra clothes, diapers, and snacks than to be scrambling if something comes up.
4. Bring a variety of activities. Little ones get “bored” easily and while I love (and they love) technological gadgets, those items don’t always work. So, we make sure to have a couple of favorite toys, plus some activities to do (like coloring books, playdoh, etc). These DIY travel activity boards are awesome for allowing the kids to color/draw/etc. on the go! Sometimes we’ve even gotten a special new toy for a travel surprise pulled out after we’re on the plane. Often, the novelty helps hold their interest for a longer period of time. Plus, taking it away can be a great consequence if things start going awry.
5. Baby wear. I’m a huge fan of baby wearing when traveling. It’s SO nice to have your hands free! Plus, it helps babies feel all nice & snug!
6. Help with pressure changes. The only way little ones might be able to tell you they’re experiencing pressure changes/ear pain is by screaming. Not fun! So, to help avoid that, remember to give them something to drink or suck on during take off and landing. If you’re lap carrying an infant, nursing or giving a bottle (or even a pacifier) can be helpful.
7. Keep calm & carry on. Believe me, I know this is sometimes easier said than done. But, no matter what happens, try to keep your cool and not stress. Yes, even if the baby is screaming during the flight. Kids of any age will sense all the stress and tension, usually only making matters worse.
What are YOUR tips for flying with little ones?