Plane travel with kids isn’t always hearts and rainbows, but with a few tricks it can go pretty darn smoothly. –And maybe even be fun! (gasp!) After traveling on planes with kids for 9 years I have a few simple tricks:
Enthusiasm-My boys have been going on planes since they were babies. One of the best strategies I have developed is to build up enthusiasm for the weeks leading up to it. “Guess how many days until we go on the airplane!?”
Feel free to ask for the wing pins or even to see the cockpit once you board. These things really make going on plane fun for your kids!
Backpacks-Each of my boys gets a backpack that they can fill with items for entertaining themselves. Books, little figurines, playdough, etc. The one rule they each get is that they must be able to carry it themselves. Even our toddler carried his own backpack!
Blankets-It’s a good idea to have a jacket or sweatshirt along with a little blanket in their bags. The planes are always colder than you remember. These small fleece ones from Walgreens are perfect. (I also pack one in my bag!)
Snack bags-Seriously snacks occupy so much time! This means the snack bag is a critical component for successful plane travel. I pack each boy his own snack bag. I do include a small pack of gum since they are not as good at popping their own ears as adults are. I also keep a secret stash of suckers in my purse in case of a meltdown!
Electronics-Thank you electronics! You are the best and easiest way to keep everyone happy on a plane. If you are lucky, you will have the seat screens on your plane. Be sure each child has headphones packed in the backpack. Also, have backup electronics since many planes don’t-Ipad, Leap Pad, Phone, etc. If your children like movies, remember to download them ahead of time since most planes still don’t have wifi.
Dollar Store treasures-Prior to a trip I go to the Dollar Store and pick up new little items to occupy them-sticker books, mini games, coloring books, etc. I usually ask them to do one of these things prior to giving them the electronic option.
Stroller-If you have a child under four, do not leave home without a stroller-even if your child doesn’t normally go in one. Even the most independent of toddlers with slow you down if you have a far gate or you have a close connection. We just had ten minutes to run 18 gates and without the stroller we would have definitely missed our flight. You can simply gate check the stroller prior to boarding.
YOU-Don’t feel bad or guilty about having your kids on a plane- I was horrified when I read about the mom who handed out apology candy bags to passengers on behalf of her child. The love of travel is an amazing thing to instill in your children. Be super proud you packed everyone up and you are off for an adventure. And remember –you never need to see these people again!
Whoever you are, wherever you are have an adventure today!
Have a baby? Here are my helpful hints for traveling with a baby!