I will be perfectly honest with you. Flying with kids is not my favorite thing, but it does not need to be scary either. There are many ways to survive flights with kids. Whether it be a 1-hour flight or a 9-hour flight I have included some tips and tricks to achieving the best experience possible for everyone.
Tips and Tricks for Flying with Kids
- Plan the flight time around the child that needs the nap the most. Yes, I expect you to forfeit one child’s potential happiness for another’s. If your toddler is going to be the more difficult child to fly with then plan it for a nap around take off.
- Do not over pack with entertainment. Give the window view its time. When that joy wears off then bring out one item/game and so on. Do not give your children ALL OF THE OPTIONS in the first thirty minutes of the flight.
- Pack snacks and water even though they give out snacks and water. When all else fails bribe.
- Do not freak out about ear popping. If you are nursing a baby then nurse during take-off and landing. If you are not then pack something chewy (gummies, fruit leathers, etc) for them to chew during take-off and landing. As a pilot spouse, I can tell you that this is even more important during landing. If they are asleep during landing do not panic more than likely it will be ok. Suckers tend to work very well for younger ones who are not quite old enough to chew well and who are not nursing. We like the ‘Yum Organics’ lollipops.
- You do not need to pack the pillows and blankets. Most airlines will gladly supply those.
- As I mentioned before, a bag of games is not necessary. Keep it simple. We love our boogie boards, magnetic faces and we try to make the face look like other passengers. We also enjoy card games and one deck of cards and provide a lot of entertainment if it needs to.
- Something I had to learn the hard way is to reserve your seats if they give you the option. Also, you can speak to the flight representative at your gate to move seats closer together. It is worth the money to not start your flight off with a seat situation mess.
- Foreign airlines tend to take the children on board into special consideration. When flying with Aegean air the flight attendants supplied my kids with coloring books about Greece.
Before You Fly
These days it is fairly common for a flight to be delayed, canceled, or just not moving as quickly as a panicked mother needs it too. One of the saving graces that I have used almost every time we have flown this last year; Paper Planes. Yep. They are a mom’s best friend. We left the U.S. with a brand new Usborne Paper Plane book and ran out of paper planes the day we flew back to the U.S. six months later.
Such a simple concept and yet so effective to buy you a solid hour or more of happy child time. Most of the waiting guests will play along too. Do not worry too much if your child’s airplane dive-bombs sleeping people. Our middle child once hit a sleeping man in the head with a paper plane and he had to creep over to retrieve it and the guy scared him half to death. It was hilarious. People are not typically out to ruin your child’s good time.
Keeping it Real
It is emotionally challenging to wait to board an airplane with small children. Because we are conditioned to feel guilty about making the other passengers feel uncomfortable over our child’s presence. I have seen loads of blog posts about the cute little “I’m sorry” bags that moms make for the passengers around them. Unless your child is notoriously obnoxious these bags should not even be under consideration on your part. Your child has just as much of a right to fly as the man who will take his shoes off next to you. Your child has just as much of a right to fly as the woman choking everyone with her perfume.
Do not feed the mainstream culture’s ridiculous notion that kids shouldn’t be on planes. People quickly forget what it is like to be sleep deprived and doing your best to keep people alive and happy. Do not let them get to you. Their happiness is not your problem. Simply do your best to keep everyone from crying at the exact same time and that is enough. You are enough. You can do fly alone with your kids. Get out there.