Are you a seasoned traveler or a novice? Either way, traveling with kids changes how you do things. While a flight delay might be an annoying experience for a solo traveler, it can be downright awful for those with young, hungry, tired, and bored children.
These tips will help you when you travel with toddlers and preschoolers on a plane. Make your travel days go smoothly. Or at least as smoothly as possible. Go forth and embark on family friendly travel!
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1. Expect the Unexpected
Veteran travelers know that planes are often delayed, bags are lost, or traffic can be at a standstill. While I fully embrace being an optimist, shit happens while traveling that is completely out of your control. Lack of preparation can make a bad travel day much, much worse when kids are involved.
2. Overpack the Snacks
Overpack snacks and activities. It’s so much better to have too many snacks than have a child trapped on a plane without any sustenance. Food is one of the most important things to keep on hand while traveling. My kids loose it when they are hungry and it’s best for everyone if I do all that is within my power to avoid hangry kiddos.
3. Bring extra clothing in your carry-on
I know it’s a pain, but count on clothing getting wet or soiled during travel. It won’t always happen, but it’s best to plan for it. On my kids’ very first flight, my daughter was throwing up during the night and again at the airport. Thankfully, she avoided puking on herself or me, but others aren’t always so lucky. Pro-tip: use small packing cubes (like these) or gallon ziploc bags for each extra outfit. If your own clothes are big adult sizes, even having a clean shirt will do wonders for you during a trying travel day.
4. Bring some brand new toys or activities
It is worth it to bring along new-to-your-child toys when traveling. We were so fortunate to have received several gifts before we moved that I could tuck into my carry-on luggage and pull out as a surprise. During our first trip to Mexico, I ended up buying a fake-lego set for my son because we had nothing for him to do (and we’d forgotten their tablets).
5. Allow Technology even if you normally don’t
Even thought there is room for some toys and activities in your bag, you can’t bring the kitchen sink when you travel. It is really helpful to have a game or two loaded up for kids who are old enough to play while traveling (make sure it doesn’t need wifi). Check with your local library, as they may lend out something suitable. We bring tablets that are kid dedicated and somehow, we still end up having to relinquish our phones for a time. In case of battery failure, here are some non-tech travel ideas.
6. Bring Hand Sanitizer Wipes
They are sold in travel size packs and fit well in a purse or carry-on. Airplanes are gross. You will want to wipe the tray tables before your kids use them. You may not even be a germaphobe and you’ll still want to. Even though I know germ exposure isn’t necessarily a bad thing, taking an airplane trip is like germ overload. It’s okay to be the parent who wipes everything.
7. Stay Patient, especially with your kids
When delays happen, model for your children the best you that you can be. Don’t be the jerk who is yelling at airline personnel over delays that aren’t their fault. Show compassion, empathy, and patience to the airline personnel and your children. Your reward will be not be instant and in fact, you may not see it for years. But your children are watching how you react to adversity.
What would you add to this list?