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8 Awesome Tips to Make Flying with Kids Easier

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The joys of flying with kids. I will admit, being trapped in a metal tube thousands of feet in the air with two toddlers does not sound like a barrel of fun, but it is the burden I bare in order to travel with my babies. The truth of the matter is that I hate flying. I can feel the panic tightening in my chest as I write this post. Unfortunately, I have to do it if I want to travel, which I do. So, up up and away I go.

Now, as if air travel wasn’t stressful enough, I’ve added a couple of high-energy munchkins to my journey. My usual pre-flight routine involves a couple very big martinis, but now that I’m a mommy I have a little more to worry about than my own nerves. Gulp. To plan flying with kids takes a lot of prep work, but it is all worth it to make the flight as pleasant as possible. Here are some of my tips to help your plane trips fly high!

Flying with kids

1. Pep talk

If your child is old enough to understand, talk to them about your upcoming sky adventure. That’s right, before flying with kids, talk, talk, talk. I found that with my two-year-old daughter, building the excitement and explaining my expectations of her behavior months leading up the trip really resonated with her.  She would talk about how excited she was for ride in the plane and then say, “I won’t cry, I won’t scream, I won’t run away from you on the plane,” long before the trip occurred. The same went for my son. Although, he add “no farting on the plane.” I didn’t tell him that, but I’ll take it…it is a good rule.

daughter on airplane
Look at this lil sweetie

2. Plan your flight during kids’ nap-time or bedtime

Normally as parents we try to avoid activities when our kids are tired, because they tend to be cranky. But, flying with kids is a little different. Tired kids is a good thing. That way they will hopefully sleep the majority of the flight (or you could just give them Benadyrl). I’ve never tried it because my kids are great little sleepers and I don’t want to mess up their schedule if possible. Also, I don’t want to unnecessarily drug my kids.

Beware! If you are planning on taking the Benadyrl route, keep in mind there are a small percentage of children that experience a reverse effect. Instead of a sleepy child, you could end up with a hyper one. My nephew is one of them, which we discovered due to an allergic reaction. Good thing she never tired it on a plane. So speak with a pediatrician and give it a test run before your trip.

kids sleeping on airplane
This is what you want people!

3. Layovers are Awesome!

Some people like non-stop flights so they can just get it over with, but I don’t mind a stopover when traveling with kids. This is a great opportunity to give the kids a break, get mommy a drink, eat a proper meal, change diapers and burn off some energy. You’ll want your layover to be more than an hour, otherwise you’ll be rushing to get to the next gate and create a lot of chaos for yourself. Be careful, a layover that’s too long can drag the trips out and make for some fussy babies. When flying with kids, I like layovers to be between 3 and 4 hours. I have found that 2 hours is not enough time to relax by the time you get your crazy crew off the plane and more than 4 hours can make the trip way too drawn out. I mean, we do want to get there!

kids having fun in airport
Run. babies. Run!

4. Compress your carry-on items.

When maneuvering through a busy airport with children the last thing you want to do is be loaded down with stuff. I opted to take umbrella strollers on our trip, because we could wheel our kids safely through the airport and easily check them at the gate. Fold and go baby!

Flying with kids with umbrella strollers
Umbrellas are great and easy for travel

I used to love accessorizing my flight outfits with a cute purse! Now that I’m all about family travel, I’m also all about backpacks!! Slap your goods on your back and you are on way; HANDS FREE!

daughter boarding plane
Backpacks ROCK
son boarding plane
Unless, you son wants to drag his through the airport

5. Bring surprises!

Before a trip I like to stock-up on toys and gadgets that I slowly reveal to my kids during the flight. That way it holds their attention and keeps them excited to play with new toys. I pack a new set of goodies for the returning flight to keep the excitement and interest level high. The Lazy Travelers have a great post about planning for down time that is worth checking out. You can also read more about my favorite travel toys, HERE.

kids activities on airplane flying
Keeping them entertained

6. Plenty of snacks is a must

My kids like to eat and like to snack, so I have to come stocked wherever I go. When flying with kids, keep their tummies full and happy. Also, snacks help with ear popping. I gave my kids lollipops or drinks to suck during take-offs and landings and had no problems.

Flying with kids snacking on food
Snacks & a movie

7. Bring comfort items

Make sure to have a blanket or little neck pillow for your little ones, so that if they want to sleep they’ll stay asleep. Flying with kids is a tricky balance of making them comfortable and keeping them entertained. Blankets and pillows help make the cozy and calm. It may sound annoying to carry more things, but just fold the blankets on top of your stroller when it is time to move and you are good to roll!

kids behaving resting on airplane with pillows
Comfy Cozy

8. Walk it out!

Don’t be afraid to walk the aisles of the plane. Kids are kids and they have energy to burn. A long flight might be too much for your little one to sit still, so keep them happy by giving them room to move. It might seem annoying and tight, but walking is better than screaming. I don’t like to do this either, that’s why I’m a fan of layovers. When flying with kids, you got to do what you to got to do!

Flying with kids

That’s a Wrap!

Obviously, these are just my tips that work with my kids. All kids are different and require different needs, but hopefully most of these suggestions will alleviate some of the stress of flying with kids. Have a safe flight and good luck!

What tips do have for parents flying with kids?

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Author

I am a busy mama with 3 delicious babies and a serious itch for travel and writing (when I am not bartending, that is)! After graduating from Cal State San Marcos with a B.A. in Communications, I decided to start a family and pursue a career in freelance writing. I created HotMamaTravel as an outlet to do what I love while sharing useful travel tips and inspiration with others. Our mission is to show parents how to master travel with kids, while keeping your Saturday-night selves. We call it "Family travel...with a twist".

14 Comments

  1. seriously, these tips are great even if you’re not traveling with kids! though we like to have our benadryl with wine, which we’re guessing is frowned upon when administering to children…

    • Haha! Thanks. Flying with kids you really learn what you’re made of, but alcohol helps. Cheers!

  2. Oh yes, we were big aisle-walkers when our son was smaller. We do the pep talk as well now that he’s 2! And I like your rationale on stopovers — to get mommy a drink 😉

    • Yeah, we’re doing our first non-stop this year with my 2 yr old son and my 3 yr old daughter. We shall see how it goes. Fingers crossed.

  3. Great tips but I thoroughly disagree with the need to drug kids to get them through a flight. Timing long flights for bedtime are a must for us and, in conjunction with everything else, this seems to be enough to avoid us needing to medicate our child for a comfortable flight.

    • I agree, I’m not into the benadryl thing, but I was surprised that it is a pretty common thing. When I was about to go on my first flight with my kids almost every mom I talked to said, “just give them benadryl.” I’m not personally comfortable with it, so I offer my other tips to keep air-travel with kids going smoothing.

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  5. I don’t have children of my own, but I can certainly appreciate a mom like you who works to keep their kids entertained and quiet during a long flight!

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