Traveling with kids can be a cumbersome task. Add in ‘flying on a plane’ with little ones and it can be enough to make any parent wish they had just stayed home! I once had a friend make the joke that at this point in our lives, we aren’t taking vacations… We are just taking trips because we have the kids in tow! There is very little that is “relaxing” about vacations nowadays (those days will come back, right? haha).
That doesn’t mean that we should just throw the towel in and buy our time until those vacations come back. There are definitely things that can be done to make this traveling thing go a little smoother!
My husband and I LOVE to travel. We have gone all around the world! That has obviously slowed down a little since starting a family but our little ones have been flying since they were tiny. When my oldest was 18 months old, we even headed to Sydney, Australia to attend my best friends wedding. We also have family all over the U.S. which increases our travels as well. I can’t even count how many flights my girls have been on. With all of that flying, we have picked up a few tips along the way!
1. Snacks… Lots and lots and of snacks!
Before we head out, I ensure that I pack a TON of snacks. I pack a few of their favorite snacks but I also add a few NEW snacks with every trip. My hope is that the novelty of a new snack will be enough to keep the kids distracted on the long flights!
2. Netflix… You are a beautiful thing!
I used to rent new movies through iTunes before a flight. This worked okay but it became pretty expensive. It was also only available for a limited time and my kids only had one new movie per trip and it took up a ton of memory on my device.
Just recently I learned that Netflix allowed you to pre-download a TON of movies before a trip and it allows you to stream those shows and movies without the use of wifi… SAY WHAT? It also appears to not eat up a ton of space on your device (even better considering I have thousands of pictures on my phone that takes up all of my memory!). THIS SAVES US ON TRIPS! This allows for variety on those long trips and my girls can pick and choose what they want to watch.
3. Find the best apps!
I also like to download fresh apps before a flight. My girls have their favorites but it is also great to have new apps to explore on those long flights. Here are some of our favorites.
4. When traveling with a lap baby, reserve the window and aisle seat!
Okay, this tip may sound a little strange! Before we had our 2nd and we were just traveling with one lap child (children under two are free but must sit on your lap) we would always reserve a window and aisle seat. The reason- this increased our chances of getting an entire row to ourselves.
I mean, who really wants a middle seat anyway? Those middle seats are usually the last to get chosen. If someone ended up in between us, they were eternally grateful to switch either me or my husband for the aisle or the window seat so everyone was happy! BUT, if our plan actually worked and no one wanted that single middle seat…… There was more space for this family of three who was originally slotted to travel the entire flight with a baby on their lap; VICTORY!
5. Plan your travels around naps and bedtime!
This is another little travel tip that can make or break a flight… Plan your flight itinerary around naps or bedtime! If you can work it out so that your little cutie is SLEEPING during that flight… That. Is. BLISS!
We just returned home from a cross country trip where we specifically planned the itinerary around our two year olds nap schedule. It sure makes those 5-6 hour flights go a lot faster when those squirmy toddlers can sleep for half of it!
6. Security- Plan ahead of time and know what you are in charge of.
Okay, I almost feel like going through security is the most stressful part of flying. Have peace of mind that parents of small children do not have to go through the x-ray machines though (we go through metal detectors). However, having small children does not exclude us from doing the same protocols of removing our shoes, taking lap tops out of the bags and removing liquids from bags.
There have been some pretty chaotic security lines for my husband and I to work out an efficient system. Now, I take care of the kids while he pushes the bags through. We know what we are each in charge of and we meet each other on the other side of security! Since we have done this, it has made the security line go MUCH SMOOTHER!
7. Traveling with milk
I know when we started to travel with milk, I started to panic. I was fortunate to nurse my oldest baby for 13 months so when I needed to bring a sippy of something other than water, I started to freak out. How do I do this?
I quickly learned that TSA is EXTREMELY forgiving with all things baby. If you bring a sippy or bottle with milk that is over the 3.4 fl. oz. limit, they will just manually check it. Whew!
8. Pack New Toys
I always like to pack new toys for the trip as well. This could be anything from a new coloring book, fresh blank paper to draw on, to a small new toy. Something to keep their attention for the trip. The novelty of the new toy is tends to keeps things fresh!
On our latest trip, I bought the girls a few coloring books and the Melissa and Doug Color Wow books. These are AMAZING for travel. They are small, compact and feel brand new once the pages dry. I LOVE this toy so much! I would recommend this to anyone (It is also nice because you will have a toy with you during your trip!).
9. Plan for ear popping!
Ohhhh, the ears. It can be very painful for the kids due to pressure change! They also don’t understand what this weird feeling is. During take off and landing, we are very proactive and ensure that we have some sort of food or drink available for our kids so they do not experience any type of pain or discomfort. When my girls were tiny, I always nursed them during this time so they were actively swallowing to reduce any ear popping. This tends to help!
10. Request the bulk head for international flights
This was a SAVIOR during our international flight. When we flew to Australia, we requested that we sit near the bulk head for the bassinet. At 18 months, she was too big for the bassinet but it allowed us more space. When the seat belt sign was turned off, we could put a blanket down on the floor and she could play in front of us on the floor. This also allowed her to move around a little. If you are planning for a longer flight, call ahead and ask for this space… You won’t be sorry :).