Everything you need to know before flying with kids and the reasons why. Hi, how are you doing? As a mom of two under 10 kids who is also a seasoned traveler, I decided to put together an updated essential post that I believe every parent or caregiver flying with kids (whether you have an infant or a teenager) would find useful. I wrote a similar post 2 years ago (check it out HERE) but this time around I didn’t just stop at sharing my tips but also rallied a few fab moms from different backgrounds and included their awesome tips. Life with kids involves is filled with many unpredictable moments, so keep reading to read the many “oops” moments other moms have experienced; after all experience is the best teacher:–)
Everything you need to know before flying with kids
1. Always pack extra clothing in your carry-on.
I decided to start with the one rule that most moms I talked to all agreed on, never, I repeat never leave home on flight without packing extra clothing in your carry-on. Don’t just stop with clothes but also include underwear. To elaborate further, I am sharing one “oops” moment I received from a mom.
“So on a recent long-haul flight from country xxx, my 7-year old (who developed a love for spicy meat) had a lot of it during the day (might I add with a lot of pepper).” Mid flight, my daughter wakes up, kneels on the floor, pulls down her pants and poops right there. She said she dreamt that she was on the toilet seat.” Needless to say everything she wore had to be tossed in the trash.
“I forgot to pack jumpers for my kids on a long-haul flight a few years ago. The trip was horrible as my daughter caught the chills.”
2. Leave home as early as possible
The one rule that can change your entire flight experience is this. Make a conscious decision to leave for the airport as early as possible. Just as we should when we travel alone, it is even more crucial when traveling with your little one cos they will slow you down and you will need that extra time. Avoid missing your flight or rushing to the gate and dealing with upset children. Remember you get to board the flight early (especially with children under 4 or older if you take a stroller) so take advantage of this perk.
3. Ensure your baby is visible in the carrier/ use your stroller
Femi writes, “make sure your baby is visible, they come in handy for jumping queues.” I travel with my stroller with my pre-schooler to ensure this happens, lol. There is a special lane for strollers, so take advantage and travel with your umbrella stroller & never miss a flight or avoid rushing to your gate.
4. Ensure your child has eaten before boarding a flight and pack extra food too.
This rule is everything people! Don’t wait till you get on the flight to feed a hungry child, use the time at the gate when they have more room and space to make a mess to feed them. Also pack their favorite snacks (traveling isn’t the best time to try new food.)
“The optional kids menus usually aren’t the best. I learned the hard way on an International flight from country xxx. My child only ate crackers:(” This mom was traveling business class, never rely on flight food.
5. Don’t forget “disinfectant wipes/Sanitizers.
Good hygiene is everything and it is crucial when flying to prevent leaving the plane with more than your luggage. While regular wipes are fine at home, opt for something with disinfectant on flights. Thanks Idunnu of Misayo House for sharing that tip.
One rule of thumb I use is to wipe the arm rests and tray tables my kids are going to be seating on before they settle in cos kids will always be kids and will touch everything lol. Another rule of thumb here, stop at the rest room after you deplane to wash their hands especially if you‘re flying with toddlers.
6. If flying with an infant in arm, take your boppy pillow on the flight
A boppy pillow serves as an excellent bed on your lap for the baby and you have your hands free to do other things. There are only so many bassinets on a plane and you never know how many babies would be on your flight.
“Once we forgot to take out changing pad on a trip and had nothing to place the baby on when changing her in icky public bathrooms. Our solution was to nick a small hotel towel each day and use as a makeshift changing pad for the entire duration of the trip.“
7. Traveling is a learning experience, tell them everything.
Sarah Lampley writes “We love purchasing books for the boys weeks before our trip to a new destination. It gives them a chance to get familiar with the culture, sights we may be seeing and maybe even learn a few words in the language before we get there.”
Bukky O writes, “ tell them where they are going, why, what airline, airport, etc. Kids are sponges and the journey is as much a learning opportunity as is the destination.“
8. Get new and exciting toys and games.
Flying creates one-on-one time with your kids, take advantage of it and introduce new and exciting games you can all enjoy together. A brand new toy is also an awesome idea.(I started this tradition with my kids on our current trip.) It will keep them occupied which means more time for you to relax. I love activity packs which are under $2 from Target for my toddler.
9. Pay for your seats in advance
If possible avoid tickets that only allow you to be assigned a seat at the gate because you might not end up seating together. Even if you have an older child or teenager who wants to set separately ensure they are close by.
“I once booked a flight where I was assigned seats at the gate, we ended up being separated and I had to plead with other passengers to seat next to my family. Not everyone was nice about it and needless to say my 2 year old who had his own seat, sat on my laps the entire flight while his seat was empty.“
My friend who chose not to pay to seat next to her older child was shocked when she decided to check up on him and realized the person seated next to him was watching an R-rated movie and her kid was watching it too!
10. Take them to the bathroom before you leave home and before you take off.
Wande of Ladyee Boutique writes, “when traveling with young kids, make sure they use the bathroom before you leave for the airport and 15-20mins before you board the flight. Then maybe again before take off. Since you typically get to board the flight before most passengers, take your kids to the bathroom one last time. Because chances are they‘ll have to go when the seat belt sign is on.
“Take it from me the flight attendant won’t give a crap (no pun intended) if your kid has to go during takeoff. They require everyone seated period, lol.
11. If traveling with toddlers and older kids, take a back pack for them.
I think this is a must when traveling with toddlers and older kids. It’s an easy way to pack their snacks, drinks, toys, etc. It makes them self-sufficient and it is one less thing you have to do. My pre-schooler loves this! You can also include their change of clothes and lip moisturizer in this bag. To save money you can simply use their school bags.
12. Boost their immune system.
If over 4 year old, give airborne one week before and everyday while on the trip and also a week after. It prevents them from getting sick. One of the fab moms I spoke to says she has tried this on 3 different international trips with no issues.
13. Limit connecting flights if you can.
“I once missed my connecting flight and ended up being stuck an extra 4+ hours at the airport with two small children and a nursing child. That was the last time I took a flight with more than one connection. One connection is fine but more than one leaves more room for error.”
Prepare early (don’t just engage in”mental packing”) don’t wait to pack for a long trip a day or two before your flight. Comfort is everything when flying with kids, so ensure routines aren’t interrupted as much as possible. If your kid still naps, try getting them to nap around the same time or if you’re flying overnight don’t let them stay up all night watching movies or games because it keeps them quiet, it could disrupt their schedules and make your vacation unpleasant. Lastly, travel should be fun, make it fun! I hope you now know everything you need to know before flying with kids. If you have additional tips, please leave it in the comment section & I will love to read about your oops moments too:-)