We get it, you’re a seasoned traveler. You know exactly what time you need to leave your house to make it to the airport in time in order to check your bag, grab your coffee, and get settled at the gate. There’s nothing that could throw you off your game.
Then next thing you know, you’re flying with kids and everything changes. You no longer make it to the airport with time to spare. Instead, you’re running to your gate in hopes you make it before final boarding call.
So how do you ensure you have all the boxes checked with it comes to a smooth travel day with your kids?
Prepare Ahead of Time
With kids comes unpredictability. And while you can’t control everything when it comes to traveling with your kids, you can control some things.
Many parents find that booking morning flights make travel easier on them and their kids. This is because the likelihood of children sleeping on an earlier flight is higher than if you wait until later in the day. The earlier flights also tend to be less crowded, which takes a little pressure off you as a parent.
You’ll also want to confirm that the seats for you and your family are together on the plane. Even though it may seem like common sense to have two family members sit together, the airlines won’t know you’re traveling with a child unless you tell them.
Dress for Comfort, Not Style
Sure, your kid probably looks extra cute in that dinosaur onesie or those lace-up Converse shoes, but imagine how difficult it makes the flight if you have to change their diaper or if you have to redress them. Opt for quick and easy outfits that make transitions a breeze.
Not only will you want to dress your children comfortably, with ease in mind, you’ll also want to do the same for yourself. You might have considered wearing heels or skinny jeans while traveling at one point in your life, but that was before you had kids.
Dressing practically will also help make the security line a breeze. Find out more about how to prepare both you and your children’s clothes ahead of time to make it through the line with time to spare.
Most airlines offer to let families with small children board early.
You should absolutely take advantage of this. Odds are, even if you’ve checked a bag, you have a lot of extra bags and maybe even a stroller that you need to find a spot for. The last thing you want is to be in the last boarding group, stressing about where to put all your bags.
Let’s be honest, most airlines don’t offer many benefits in the way of traveling with kids. Boarding early is one of the greatest gifts that you’ll want to utilize. In airline terms, it’s their way of saying “we get you’re about to endure the longest flight of your life, so we might as well ensure you’re able to put your carry on wherever you want”.
Pack Lots of Snacks
Speaking of the small list of things airlines offer their passengers, snacks won’t be one of them. Especially not anything your kids will enjoy eating. Be sure to put together just the essentials that will keep your children happy and full throughout the flight.
Instead of picking chips or greasy snacks, choose food with lots of protein that have loads of flavor while also filling up their stomachs. You can also use this as an opportunity to offer your kids special snacks that they might not be treated to often. This will act as an incentive for good behavior.
Have a Bag of Tricks
No matter how panicked you are, don’t pull out all your tricks as soon as your board the plane. Give you and your kids enough time to settle in and adjust before you start whipping out the toys and coloring books.
Traveling is a great opportunity to incorporate some fun, new games and toys for your kids. Having a couple of go-to items to keep your kids occupied allows them to settle into a rhythm without expecting you to entertain them throughout the entire flight. You might even have a few “gifts” wrapped up to surprise your kids with.
Since your kids are already out of their element and routine, consider throwing their regular screen time out the window and allowing them to enjoy a few more minutes with their favorite show. If it brings you a sense of calm and allows them to relax, it will be well worth it.
Keep Your Composure
We’ve all encountered a parent with a screaming child. Whether it’s been on a plane or in a grocery store, it’s not a fun experience for anyone, especially the parent.
No matter how frustrated you might feel throughout your trip, be sure to keep your cool. Traveling with kids is frustrating no matter how much you prepare. As long as you put your best foot forward, the people around you will do the same.
You’re always going to come across those people in travel who seem to get upset as soon as they realize there are kids on a plane. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything you can do about them other than control the way you face the situation.
Your children can sense if you’re frustrated, which will cause them to act out as well. Do your best to maintain your composure, if the people around you aren’t.
Setting Expectations When Flying with Kids
There is no one solution on how to best travel with your children. When flying with kids, you’ll want to give yourself and your kids some grace.
Even the most seasoned and experienced traveler will have difficulty when they add 1 or 2 little people who depend on them for life into the mix. As long as you prepare ahead of time and do your best to account for the small things that might hinder your travel, your trip will be a success.
If you’re still hesitant about your upcoming trip, reach out to the airline you’re traveling with for more tips and tricks for traveling with your kids.