So… here’s the thing when flying with kids to exotic and amazing destinations most times (Okay… EVERY time) there is a LONG flight you must take. There is no way around this… You just have to suck it up and GO. Is it terrible… Sometimes… (hey… this is not a pep talk… just being honest yo’).
Having flown with 5 kids over the past 15 years (now ages 4 years old- 15 years)I know a thing or to about flying with babies, toddlers and kids. Fortunately for you, I will post some things I have learned through my own errors. Hey… that’s what friends are for 😉 My pain… YOUR gain!
10 tips to help you survive Flying with kids! + One Super Secret Tip
1) Pack Extra Clothes (For you too):
Unfortunately, vomiting doesn’t follow your flight plans. You never know when a flu, motion sickness or just eating or drinking the wrong thing will cause your child to spew. And, when they do there are no guarantee’s where it will land. But, as a parent you can bet you’ll get some on you.
So… be smart and pack an extra outfit for any traveling child under 4 and an extra shirt and lightweight hoodie for yourself. Better safe then sorry. *I pack a backpack for each of my bigs with snacks, wipies, extra outfit, socks, gum, journal, crayons, small action figure type toys, books, magazines etc… They are each allowed a carry on and a backpack 😉
2) Pack Tylenol & Motrin
Similarly to vomit… fevers, headaches etc… have a mind of their own. Be prepared.
3) Pack FOOD!
Most planes do NOT serve a complimentary meal with flight these days, and we have had even worse situations happen. While flying back from Costa Rica, my husband overheard the flight attendants saying that the airline was running out of food to sell (and this was at the beginning of the flight) He quickly sprung into action and bought items for my kids as that would have been 5 hours of torture.
Hawaiian airlines still does, and we LOVE them for it. <enter me raising my hands in the air like I just don’t care… oh ya!> But, most airlines have made the switch to offering purchasable meal & snack boxes and a limited amount of each at that.
So, what you do is this… stop by your local Trader Joe’s and pick up some healthy pre-made salads and sandwiches along with some snacks and treats bc I have been on more than one flight where they ran out of any desirable option and I was forced to allow my kids to eat candy as meals- AHHHHH!!!
Don’t let it happen. The outcome usually results in #1 happening. This one is preventable. Just bring your own darn food people! If you MUST purchase on the plane I suggest you do it as soon as you board before they start running out of what you want. *Make sure if you are packing any liquid or pb or yogurt it is purchased in the airport after security!
4) Pack Blankets, Socks & Sweatshirts
Yes, the airlines are more packed than ever… I just read they are flying at 88% capacity on most flights from @ThePointsGuy on Twitter. Which means things like blankets go fast and there is no guarantee that you will get one. Plan ahead and bring one. The comfier you can keep your little ones the more likely it is that you will enjoy your flight. My older kids
5) Pack Your Own Entertainment-
I say In-flight movies are sketchy at best and you never know whether or not your flight is a newer plane with the nice built-in TVs… or worse it may have the TVs but yours is experiencing a glitch. Yes, both happen fairly often. So, pack your iPads, laptops, tablets and portable game system. Stop by the dollar store and grab some journals, crayons and stickers and maybe a lovie etc… Like stated above the more cozy your munchkin the more happy the mama 😉
Sunglasses always provide entertainment
6) The Airplane Bathroom is your Friend-
I spent a 16 hour flight from Dubai to LAX with a newly adopted 3 year old who only slept a total of 30 minutes. You will run out of options sometimes. But, some of those longer flights have little disposable cups in their bathrooms which make for some great tower building, the water itself is a toy- wash hands, cups etc… Also, just getting up and walking to the bathroom kills time and helps your little munchkin make it through those longer flights.
7) Don’t forget gum, binkies, and bottles-
Your kiddos ears are sensitive and the simple act of chewing or sucking helps a bunch to relieve and prevent your child’s ears being clogged as you are changing altitudes. Make sure you have enough for everyone for take-off and landing.
8) Take Turns Watching the Kids-
Gotta love modern day dads because they are so helpful!! I suggest taking turns watching the kids that way the kids stay entertained and each of you is guaranteed some time off to relax. Talk about your schedule ahead of time and that way you have a plan!
And, if you are flying with kids and have WAY too big of a crew, like yours truly separate kids into to groups and take turns with each group. I like the bigs in one and the littles in another because it feels like a break when you have just the big kids 😉
9) Fly Red Eye when your Kids are Young-
Sounds a little crazy but your kids sleep every night. And, their little bodies know the schedule. Flying through the night guarantees the plane will be kept dark, disturbances to a minimum and although you most likely won’t sleep well I have found that my kids sleep just fine. And, I will trade no sleep for not having to entertain them for long flights (long being more than 4 hours).
10) And, maybe most importantly… Talk to your kids (ages 2 & up) before you fly and Teach them Appropriate Plane Behavior-
I don’t understand how parents think their kids should just know how to do things (like ride on airplanes) if they have never experienced it. I suggest you watch some youtube clips, do some imaginary play, read books and talk about what it is like to ride on a plane. What they can expect and also what your expectations are for them. Sometimes this easy task makes a world of difference.
Side note: I think it’s important I warn you that when you walk onto a plane with kids people will: stare, moan, sometimes give dirty looks, whisper etc… If you follow my tips above hopefully when you walk off the plane those same nasty folks will be complimenting your parenting skills and you can teach your kids a good lesson in not judging people- ha!
And, if the flight turns into a complete nightmare… relax… take a breath and realize that it will be over soon. You probably will never see those people on that plane again in your life. AND… you will have a great story to talk to your girlfriends about when you land.
My Super Secret Tip – Bring the flight attendants a gift!
I am telling you right now, this is the best tip ever given to us about flying. One of our good friends is pretty well traveled and he always brings something for the flight attendants. It doesn’t have to be big, something like chocolates, cookies or other delicious treats work well (nothing home-made).
Why do such a thing? Well, you would be surprised by the service you will receive when you give the flight attendants a gift. Over the past couple years, we have been given free food, free cocktails, upgraded to economy plus, visits to sit in the cockpit with the pilot (before take-off of course) it’s pretty incredible.
Looking for cheap flights? Check out my How to Book Cheap Flights- Top 10 Tips!