Ten Great Tips for Flying with Children
Today’s Parent magazine gives some great advice for flying with kids and infants. Here are ten tips to help you travel with children more easily.
Preparing for a flight with a child (or children) starts with preparation well in advance of the flight. The more you do before you get on the plane; the better off you will be during the flight.
Tip #1 – Ship Things Ahead of Time
If possible send as much as possible of the things you need after arrival ahead of your flight. Pack up the stuff you can and send it ahead by the cheapest ground transportation to your destination to arrive before you do. It is a fantastic idea to have a portable crib that is the same type as your child likes to use at home and send it ahead of time so you will have another one to use when you arrive. When you arrive at your destination and put your child in a portable crib that they already are used to being in, from trying it out at your home, this is the best way to make them feel like they are at home in a strange environment.
Tip #2 – Use Early Check-In
If you cannot send things that far in advance, then plan to go alone to the airport early and check in for your flight well in advance of the departure time. Ask the airline for their early check-in policy, which may allow check-in many hours before a flight actually leaves. Deal with all the luggage and check-in procedures before bringing the kid(s) to the airport. Bring everyone’s identification to show the airline clerk if traveling on an international flight requiring passports. Then, go back home and pick up the rest of the family when it is time to go to the airport.
If you just have the kids and the carry-on luggage to deal with and they do not have to wait in the long, boring baggage check-in line, you will reduce a major part of the headache getting through the airport.
Tip #3 – Carry-on Luggage is Survival Gear
Carry-on luggage should be reserved for everything you need to take care of yourself and your children on the flight. Be very aware of the limitations regarding the amount of liquids allowed in carry-on luggage. You are packing your carry-on luggage for in-flight survival so pack accordingly.
Tip #4 – TSA Rules
The TSA rules about carry-on liquids are very strict. The use the “3-1-1” metaphor to help people remember the rules, which are:
- All liquids must be in bottles that are 3.4 oz. (100 ml) or less. This includes juice boxes that are your child’s favorite.
- All of these bottles must fit in an easily closed, one-quart, zip-top bag.
- One bag is allowed per traveler. If your child has a separate ticket then they can have their own bag. If you child flies for free because of being under two-years-old and will sit in your lap, they CANNOT have a separate bag.
Tip #5 – Bring Food and Snacks
If the food is a liquid or gel, it has to be in a container that is 3.4 oz. (100 ml) or less and counts as part of what you can have as carry-on listed above. If the food is solid, then you can carry natural foods like fruits or vegetables and other things that are wrapped like sandwiches. Be aware that you may not be able to take fruits or vegetables into certain parts of the world, so they must be either eaten on the flight or thrown away before you exit the plane at the destination.
Packages of condiments such as ketchup, mayo, or mustard are not allowed. No dips, no jams, no jellies, no alcoholic beverages, no soup, no yogurt, no salsa, no oils, and no salad dressing.
Stick with small cakes, chips, nut snacks, candies, and you will be OK. Don’t bring fast food on the plane. The smell of French fries will drive everyone nearby crazy and they are already pre-conditioned to hate you when they see you have a kid with you.
Tip #6 – Bring Electronic Games and Toys
Have all your kid’s favorite toys, games, and stuffed animals that you are able to take in the carry-on luggage to use as distractions. Be sure to bring headphones and music players.
Tip #7 – Take Advantage of Early Boarding
Getting on the plane before others and getting your child settled in, as much as possible, before other passengers are coming on board is a great idea.
Tip #8 – Make Friends with Other Families Traveling with Children
If you see other families traveling with children, strike up a conversation with them because they may be your only allies on the flight if your kids get out of hand. If the children are similar ages ask the flight attendants to seat you next to each other.
Tip #9 – Expect the Flight to be Hellish
Children can get easily frightened, become restless, and have a temper tantrum at 30,000 feet. They suffer from pain in their ears due to air-pressure differences as the plane is rising or descends. If they are toddlers, having a pacifier will help to relieve the ear pressure as they suck and chew on it.
Other passengers will not be sympathetic and will blame you for not having control of your kids if they start crying. Just grin and bear it. If you are traveling with a spouse or another family member, get seats in separate parts of the plane and take turns in the seat next to the kid(s). Sometimes a change of the presence of the other parent or family member will calm an unruly child.
Tip #10 – Don’t Expect Your Child to Sleep
Children have a tendency to get more energetic on planes in the confined space, especially if you just gave them a package of gummy bears to shut them up. Tell the child you will soon be there, even if you are hours away, and use all the toys and distractions that you packed in the carry-on bags to keep them busy.
If you get through the flight you will be so happy to put your child to sleep in the portable crib you either brought along or sent ahead to already be there when you arrived.