20 Best Tips For Flying With Kids

Image: iStock

Flying with kids can be worrisome for parents. Whether your child is an infant, a toddler, or older, they can get anxious when they are in a new place and have many unknown people around them. In addition, constantly active children or ones who are overly excited about the adventure ahead may find it difficult to be confined to a seat throughout the trip.

It is common knowledge that children can go from zero to a hundred in no time. Therefore, before you know it, they may experience a meltdown in a metal box flying 30,000 feet above ground level while being surrounded by unknown faces, who may judge the crying and irritable child.

If flying with your child makes you nervous, do not worry. We have you covered with this list of best tips for flying with kids. These tips will ensure your child has plenty of things to keep themselves engaged and let you enjoy your trip as much as possible.

20 Tips For Flying With Kids

When traveling with a child, you need to plan and pack everything in advance. There is nothing you can leave to chance. Meticulous planning will help you get everything in place before you step out of your house.

Consider the following tips when flying with children.

1. Book early

Airline tickets are issued by computers. They do not know if you have a two-year-old and might assign you and the rest of the family seats at the opposite ends of the plane. To avoid such a nightmarish scenario, make sure you book your seats early and take care to double-check your seat reservations before booking.

2. Opt for relaxed flights

If there are layovers in your trip, select an airline that offers the longest layovers. While traveling with children, you must remember to relax and take it easy. Do not hurry your children, and let them enjoy the trip without having to worry about time.

3. Travel in the morning

If you are planning to travel on a night flight so that you can sleep on it and wake up in the morning, you might want to reconsider the plan. Your child will most likely be cranky with the change of scene, and an irritable child would most likely disturb other passengers’ sleep on the plane. You will draw undue wrath from others. Plan a morning flight when you have children.

4. Delegate duties

When traveling with children, the key lies in delegating duties intelligently. If one parent is the toddler’s caretaker, the other parent can look after the luggage or older children. Whatever you do, make sure you take up only so much work as you can manage. Managing a baby in an aircraft is full-time work, even when they are sleeping, so plan accordingly.

5. Over-prepare

The best way to go on an airplane journey with your children is to be prepared. No matter how long or short the flight, it is always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared when children fly with you.

6. Make friends with other parents

Believe it or not, there will be other parents of little children who are equally terrified of flying with their young ones. Befriend them at the boarding area. Ask them simple questions and keep them on your side. It helps both parties when either of your children has a massive meltdown.

7. Board early

Early boarding is one of the best privileges you can get as a parent of a young child. Many airlines offer early boarding facilities to people traveling with small children. Boarding early gives you the chance to store your hand luggage comfortably before the others start coming in and acquaint your child with the surroundings a bit better.

8. Carry snacks

No matter how much your child loves food, it will be a totally new environment for them, and they will not relish the foods available on the airline menu. Carry their favorite snacks. Gummy bears and chocolates can stop tears faster than you can say your child’s name.

9. Engage them in activities

While snacks are a must, you cannot always keep feeding your child to keep them quiet. You need some activities to keep them occupied for at least some time. Carry your iPad, Kindle, handheld games, sticker books, coloring books, picture books, storybooks, board games, cards, dice, crayons, markers, pens, or stuffed animals. Nothing can be too much when you have a child with you.

10. Carry the car seat

This might seem counterintuitive to some, but carrying a car seat in an airplane might be the answer to many of your problems. Your child is already used to sitting in a car seat; so, instead of making them sit on an unfamiliar seat where they will most likely feel uneasy, strap on the car seat, put your child in it, and let them relax.

11.  Pack lots of diapers

Carry enough diapers for your little one. You will not get diapers on an airplane, so you need to bring as many as you want in your hand luggage to avoid sticky situations. Always remember to dispose of used diapers properly during a flight. Do not flush it down the toilet.

12.  Take the stroller

We cannot stress this enough. If you check in your stroller, you will be holding a cranky baby in your arms while waiting for the long luggage claim line to bring up the stroller while deplaning. It’s not the best scenario. Instead, take the stroller with you and use it to the full.

13.  Pack an extra set of clothes for yourself

Everyone packs extra for children. But what about the parents? You must put in an extra set of clothes for yourselves so that you have something in some situations. For instance, if your child vomits or poops on you, you have an alternative ready.

14. Carry a soft blanket

If your child has a favorite blanket, take it along. It gives comfort to your child as they are familiar with it. Many airlines do not offer blankets, so a soft blanket will serve you well.

15.  Carry disposable sippy cups

One of the biggest problems children and adults face in airplanes is blocked ears. While adults can chew gum to relieve the pressure, children find it painful and frightening. Get disposable sippy cups they can suck on to ease the pressure. Children usually suck for comfort, and these sippy cups will come in handy.

16.  Dress in layers

This is equally important for both parents and children. Instead of putting on a thick sweater, make your child wear clothes in layers. This will help immensely when cabin temperatures vary.

17.  Once seated, remain seated

It might seem very tempting to you to let your child walk around once the plane takes off. But, often, it doesn’t help much and causes more trouble. Your toddler will not take it kindly when returning to sit again while landing, and they are likely to disturb other passengers unknowingly.

18.  Don’t fly after a vaccination

Vaccinations are good, but not before a trip. Vaccinated children might get anything from fever to diarrhea, and it is not advisable to travel within a week of vaccination. Schedule your trip such that your child gets ample time to get back in good health after vaccination.

19.  Time your surprises

If your child’s flying for the first time, let them enjoy the entire process. If they are not cranky, do not offer them their favorite snacks or entertainment. Let them explore, and offer them their favorite things one at a time only when they are on the verge of crying. This way, they will be occupied for a longer time.

20.  Spend extra for entertainment

While you can carry a few of their favorite toys, their crankiness might soon overcome them. Instead, spend some bucks on new toys that can make them feel happier during the flight. Unleash each toy one at a time and only when they seem irritated so that they are happy throughout the flight.

Flying with kids can be challenging if they fear new places or people, which might make them uncomfortable and irritable. Further, silently sitting in the same spot for long durations might make the journey overwhelming for them. Hence, we have listed the above tips for flying with kids to help distract them from their anxiety. You could try carrying their favorite toys and planning several fun activities to keep them engaged. Ultimately, try to make their trip a positive experience so that they will cooperate with you on the next one.

Key Pointers

  • Fluctuating cabin pressures and temperatures and restricted mobility can make a child anxious and cranky when flying.
  • Book tickets early and opt for morning flights to ensure you get the desired seats and avoid disturbing sleeping passengers.
  • From dressing your child in layers to taking a stroller, scroll down for many useful tips to make your trip stress-free.

The following two tabs change content below.

Catherine Mok

Catherine Mok is a therapist at Austin Family Counseling. She specializes in working with children, adolescents, parents, individuals and families using a collaborative and client-centered approach tailored to the unique needs of each client. She uses a variety of therapeutic methods including Play Therapy, Sandtray Therapy, Attachment theory, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Family Systems Therapy, and Strength-based Therapy. She is also... more

Nisha Bharatan

Nisha Bharatan is a freelance writer with experience in writing health and finance content for various Indian and international clients. An engineer by profession, she also did content marketing courses to complement her interest in writing. Nisha writes articles centered around kids’ development, their activities, crafts, games, and fun elements that keep children and families entertained. Her research skills and experience... more