When my daughter was born, we traveled all the time because we lived far away from family, and she flew for free until she was two. By the time she was two, I was a pro at flying with a baby. Fast forward six years, and now I have three kids, there’s been a pandemic, and we haven’t flown with kids in years. We recently traveled again, and here are some of my tips for flying with kids.
- Electronics: If you’re a family that has electronics for your kids, like an iPad or a Kindle, now is the time to use them. On both iPads and Kid’s Kindles, you can download content like TV shows and movies for the kids to watch on the plane and in the airport.
- Snacks: If you’re a parent, you know that your kids are going to want snacks in every situation. You can pack snacks for the plane and bring them through security.
- Lids for drinks: I don’t know about other airlines, but Southwest will give you a lid and a straw for your drink if you request it. I request lids and straws for my kids, and it saves me a lot of anxiety.
- Baby-wearing: Back in my little baby traveling days, wearing my baby was the best thing for air travel, especially when traveling alone. I would switch from the stroller to the baby carrier when boarding, and it would leave my arms open to carry the millions of things I needed for the baby on the plane.
- Stroller: Bring a stroller in the airport. Even if your kid is 3 or 4, bring the stroller. They are going to get tired of walking, and you won’t want to carry them. Plus, even if they demand walking, you can put all the stuff on the stroller and push it. Be sure to gate-check your stroller so that they will take it at the gate when you get on and return it to you at the gate of your layover and/or destination. You will need to get this tagged before boarding.
- Car Seats: You can check your car seat for free. If you plan on checking it, I recommend a car seat bag. Plus, you can stuff whatever you want in a car seat bag with the car seat. For example, I put our son’s puddle jumper in there with the car seat so it didn’t take up space in our suitcases. You can also gate-check a car seat like the stroller. NOTE: If you plan on taking your car seat on the plane, your baby needs to have a purchased seat, regardless of their age. Your baby can only fly for free on your lap.
- Backpacks: Every ticketed passenger gets two carry-on items. Take advantage of this. Have your kids each take a backpack with their stuff in it, so you don’t have to carry it. My almost three-year-old had his little Thomas backpack that had a few trains and his kindle. It wasn’t a lot, but it was less for me to carry.
- Arrive Early: When we were kid-less, we would arrive for a flight an hour and a half early. You need a full two hours with kids. As a parent, you know kids add a half hour of time to any endeavor.
- Water bottles: Bring along empty water bottles for your kids, and even yourself, so you don’t have to buy them a $3 water at the airport. There are water refill stations in the airport for you to fill them up once you’re through security.
- Breathe: Kids can feel your stress, do your best to stay calm and hype up the plane ride. They will take their cues from you!