When my husband said “that wasn’t bad” after we had just passed through security for the 10th flight flying with kids as a family of 5 in less then one year, I knew I had finally got down pat flying with my 3 boys – 5, 3 and nearly 1 year old.
I had always been a traveler and the thought of flying with kids – beyond going to see family – never entered my mind before I had my own. But once I realized that if we wanted to travel a lot, it meant we had take them with us and that I needed to get this down pat and fast. So, after nearly 30 trips in 6 years I’ve figured ways to help eliminate any “turbulence” that I could prevent.
This is not to say that we haven’t had our hiccups…at over 35 weeks pregnant with my 2nd child we sat in the airport with our 21 month old for 12 hours before our flight took off. We have experienced the 7 hour delay to only be able to fly into an airport an hour further away than our original destination and arrive at 2 am. And the time I thought we’d never travel again – it was the week we went to the Caribbean leaving two days after my husband dislocated his shoulder.
Standing on the tarmac in the Caribbean in 90 degree weather, I had my youngest one, who was then 6 months old, “bjorned” to me while I was trying to break down the infant car seat and stroller and pack it in the travel bag, only to land at the next airport to find 3 flights waiting in one area with no air conditioning.
I’m not saying it’s all “fun and games” flying with kids, but it can be done with not too many bags, not too many excess items, and at least a few minutes of quiet on the plane.
So, to help you on your next trip with kids-
Flying with Kids Rolling Bag
Don’t just use all the large canvas bags to pack in. They are heavy and do not have compartments (I do love compartments). Bring one small rolling bag with you. It makes transporting all the “heavy” items (i.e. computers, iPads, cameras, etc.) much easier to do. Also, the outside pocket on top is perfect to put a small patch with all diaper changing items.
It is useful to pack a spare set of clothes for everyone traveling in there. Each person gets their own large Ziploc bag with everything they need and it’s labeled. That way I can grab and change them and have a spot for their dirty clothes (having experienced bathroom accidents, nausea, spillage – these clothes have definitely gotten used).
It is a given that whether it is a 1 hour flight or a 6 hour flight, my kids expect their same “snack” bag and sippy or spill-proof cup on the plane. I pack snacks for each child in a separate zip lock bag. That way when our seats get separated, I pass the bag off the child so he can hold it and eat when he pleases. It’s worth it to keep a few extra surprises separately, but they have become accustomed to their sandwich and snack bags. Beware that the change in air pressure will cause some sippy cups to have water pouring out when you open it in during the flight though. Also, it is a good idea to bring a few extra empty bags to collect all the garbage than can accumulate. And don’t forget napkins and extra wipes –or that snack for your spouse (and yourself!) as well!
I am a true believer that if you have a seat for your infant/child you should bring a car seat on the plane for any child up to about 2 1/2 – 3 years old. It may be an extra item to schlep through the airport, but it is absolutely worth it. Having your car seat allows your child to sit in a familiar place and maybe sleep, and more importantly for you to be able to have a minute with your hands free.
If you are traveling with a toddler and an infant, I find that it is definitely worth it to bring the car seat on the plane for the toddler. They may not need it, but once you are up in the air, you can have your toddler sit with you and have a spot to put your infant. Of course, this only works if you bring a car seat that is suitable for either a small baby or a toddler.
If you do plan on bringing a convertible car seat, there is nothing easier then letting it serve a dual purpose by using it as a stroller too. My kids have all loved when I have attached a car seat cart to the car seat (my preference is the Britax Car seat Travel Cart) and wheel them right through the airport in their seat. That way you can bring it on the plane, fold the travel cart and stick it in the overhead compartment and do not need to wait for anything at gate check when you land.
Traveling can be fun, although it may be stressful. Unfortunately the days of reading a dozen magazines in flight may be behind you, but hopefully over time your kids will become seasoned travelers and you may even catch up on a book or two – or even a nap – when flying with kids!
About the Author:
Casey Wanderer is a stay-at-home mother of 3 boys (ages 6, 4 and 1) in New Jersey. She loves running, spinning and traveling. In her past life she was an event planner, and thus is constantly always planning something and has become the source of random information for her friends.