So you are going on an airplane with your kids? Let’s be real, traveling with kids is like a 2 out of 10 on the scale of fun things in life – and the only reason its a 2 instead of a 1 is because typically there is a sunny destination (and a strong drink) at the end of the trip that makes it all worth it. Despite my husband’s thoughts that you can just throw some clothes in a bag and go, traveling with kids takes a LOT of planning and preparation. I have flown with my kids at all ages: 8 weeks, 11 months, 4 years…. and 7 months pregnant with a 20 month old lap child (what the heck was I thinking???). I’ve learned a few lessons along the way. Here are my tips for traveling on an airplane with kids:
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Tips for traveling with an infant:
What to Pack in your Carry on:
1. Calculate how much your baby will need to eat for the estimated duration of your trip….. and then TRIPLE it. You do not want to run out of food/formula in the event of delays. If you are nursing, don’t forget your boobs. Oh that’s right. You are a package deal.
2. If you are formula feeding, pre-fill bottles with water in case you don’t have access to any on the plane when you need it – like when you are taking off and your baby is screaming his head off. Or, consider buying the pre-mixed formula. The airline security people will need to wave a test strip over any liquids you bring, but you are allowed to do this.
3. Bring more diapers and wipes than you think you need…. and make sure you have at least one extra outfit in your carry on. If you forget the extra outfit, your child will have an epic blow out. Murphy’s Law. Oh, and your changing pad too. There are about to be a lot of public bathrooms in your near future.
4. Sanitizing Wipes. A lot of them.
5. A lightweight blanket….. these aden + anais blankets are my favorites. Great for temperature changes on plane, for a nursing cover, to block out light so your baby can sleep, a sneeze guard to protect your baby from the blubbering man sitting next to you etc.
6. A few small toys or Chewbeads to keep your baby entertained in the unfortunate circumstances that they don’t sleep. But we can still hope they just sleep.
7. Tylenol. Because what mom goes anywhere without a little Tylenol?
8. Xanax. Kidding. Not really. No, really, seriously kidding. But if you are taking me seriously, this is for you, not baby.
9. Buy a water bottle for yourself after you get through security. (See Flying High # 4 for details)
Getting on the plane:
1. You can bring your stroller and/or infant carseat to the gate to gate check….Yes, you can even gate check the double BOB. Consider bringing a baby carrier too so you can free up your hands for carry-on items when boarding the plane.
2. When you board the plane and approach your seat take a deep breath. You are about to get a serious eye roll from the person sitting in your row when they see your baby. When people see babies on planes they automatically stop liking all babies. Even me. I wouldn’t want to sit next to a baby on a plane and I love babies. Smile at them nicely, tell them you will do your best to make sure your baby doesn’t spit up on their Chanel bag, and remind yourself that you will never see this person again in your life (hopefully).
3. Once you get settled, begin to sanitize everything within your reach. Ignore crazy stares.
1. Nurse/feed/pacify baby on take off and landing – this will prevent screaming, which could in turn result in stares, more eye rolls, and requests for seat changes.
2. Pray your baby doesn’t poop on the plane. Really. I have no advice for what to do if this happens except to plan your flight around their poop schedule. Seriously. Changing a diaper in a jolting chamber of disgustingness is something you want to avoid at all costs.
3. Make sure your baby’s nails are clipped short. If your baby is an older infant (8 months and up) they will likely spend the majority of the trip mauling your face. Fun!
4. When the stewardess comes by to offer you a drink, politely decline. Does it look like you have hands for that right now? Pull out the water bottle that you purchased in the terminal and air-cheers the lady sitting next to you who just ordered a vodka. Good. Maybe she will pass out and that will be one less thing you have to worry about.
Tips for Traveling with Toddlers and Preschoolers:
What to Pack in your carry on:
1. Candy. Okay so you don’t believe in giving your kids candy. I get it. After 30 seconds of a tantrum on an airplane, you suddenly believe in giving your kids candy. Get lots of it. Preferably candy that takes a long time to eat – think lollipops.
2. Sanitizing Wipes. Did you see my post on Disgusting Things My Kids Did in the Airport?
3. iPad and Headphones - fully charged and stocked with pre-downloaded movies and games
4. Change of clothes. Again, Murphy’s Law.
5. Empty sippy cup – you know, so your kids can get in on the “complimentary” beverage action without spilling it.
6. Goody Bag - for bribing purposes. I like to include a small new toy to keep them occupied. But if you are giving them exclusive rights to the iPad, lets be honest….toy schmoy.
Getting on the Plane:
1. First, make your kids do sprints in the terminal to get out all excess energy. They are about to get a LOT of candy and a LOT of screen time. Realistically, the chances of your kid falling asleep on the plane are slim. If they do, they will fall asleep when the plane is landing. Happens every time.
2. If you are not bringing a stroller with you, this works too:
…or you can BYOC (bring your own carseat) and cart the kids around the airport in one of these:
BRICA Roll ‘n Go Car Seat Transporter
3. Make sure they use the bathroom before you get on the plane. At least 2 times.
4. They allow families with children to board first. Why in God’s name would families with kids want to sit on the airplane any longer than they have to? We like to board laaaaaast. But that’s just us.
5. When you get seated, sanitize everything – especially the little tray clip knob, guarantee that is the first thing your kid touches. Again, ignore crazy stares.
1. When in doubt, give out that candy. Mini-tantrum=1 piece. Kicking the person’s seat in front of them = 2 pieces. People are starting to complain = pass them entire bag. (Then you can spend the next 7 days on vacation explaining how you were really not rewarding their negative behavior, just trying to get them to shut the BLEEP up!)
2. Rule of thumb for airplane travel: There is no such thing as too much time on the iPad.
….and that’s pretty much it. Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best….. and a drink waiting at your final destination doesn’t hurt either. Trust me, you’ll need it.