Tips for flying with kids
My husband and I were brave when we (The Kids + I) decided to tag along on his business trip to Boston, Massachusetts. We want the boys to see the world and travel as much as possible. As a child, every year I flew somewhere with my family, and those experiences are something I’ll never forget. When my husband accepted his new position at his new company, he accepted his obligation of flying out to different offices when needed. So his first business trip was a little over a month of his first day, and the entire Bonnaire fam came!
I read countless articles and blog posts about traveling and flying with kids, that literally only gave me more anxiety. The endless lists of what to pack, what not to pack, how it is going through TSA, the ear popping, car seat regulations, etc etc. But it wasn’t until I actually experienced it, that I learned IT’S NOT THAT BAD. Sure people were staring at us, as our circus rolled into the airport, sure I had to do several head counts to make all my kids were with us, sure I had to change a poop diaper in a 3 foot by 3 foot airplane bathroom, but it was not bad at all and we are totally going to do it all over again in a couple months.
So here are my tips on how we managed to stay stress free while flying with 3 kids: one of which being a 10 month old breastfed baby and a stubborn 2 year old. For a full list of my Must have Travel items with kids, Click here!
Getting to the airport and Maneuvering through the airport:
- Pay extra for assigned seats: It’s like $30 more a ticket, but its so worth it! There was a family at the airport who didn’t get assigned seats, and her entire family was split up on the plane. Her kids were older, but the mom was wishing she paid the extra money to keep her entire family together!
- Park at the airport(closest to the terminal): It’s so much easier to park there, rather than having someone drop you off with all your kids. Or worrying about taking a shuttle from a parking lot to the airport. If you forget something, you’re right there rather than miles down the road! And plus when you get back home, you can go straight to your car and drive straight home rather than waiting!
- Get an early flight: Earlier flights are less crowded, and the airport isn’t super busy. Airports and airplanes are already so overwhelming for a child, so having it less chaotic is a plus. Our flight was at 7am, so it wasn’t an over booked plane, and plus the kids instantly fell asleep once we took off because they were so tired from waking up early.
- Leave super early for the airport: being that our flight was at 7am, we left our house at 4am. The airport is 30 minutes away, so by the time we got there, checked in our bags, went through TSA and sitting at the gate, we had an hour before boarding even started. It was so stress free!
- Expect a delay at TSA: expect a delay, especially if you’re traveling with a car seat and stroller. All the kids have to come out of the stroller, and either walk through the metal detectors or carried. They inspect all the nooks and crannies of the car seat and stroller! It’s super annoying when you have a child screaming and another one running around, but It gives me so much peace of mind that they’re doing all those extra security steps!
- Put them in a stroller: Believe me you’ll thank me for this one. It’s so much easier to keep track of your kids especially if you have more kids than adults. And your stroller can be gate checked! If you don’t know what that means, it means that’s you can literally keep your child in the stroller until you step foot onto the plane. When you’re in the tunnel that leads to the plane door, you’ll then take them out and leave your stroller at the entrance and they will then put your stuff with the rest of the cargo, and when you get off the plane, they will have it there waiting for you. I do recommend using an umbrella stroller and getting a protective cover like this one, to put your stroller in before you gate check it. I have two kids that need to be put in a stroller so I brought the (Sponsored)Joovy Twin Groove stroller, it’s light and can be folded quickly and it’s very slim. We had countless compliments from other travelers saying they wish they had a stroller like ours for traveling! It has under storage (most umbrella strollers don’t) and plenty of compartments to store things like boarding passes, snacks, and lollipops (read more to find out why we pack lollipops) and if you don’t need the double seats, check out their single version.
- While at the gate, let them walk around and be cute: people are more likely to tolerate a crying toddler or baby if they already saw them being all sweet and cute before the flight!
- Make sure they go potty before getting on the plane: and limit liquid intake before the flight! Last thing you want to deal with is taking a toddler into the tiny airplane restroom.
- Get on the plane early: Delta airlines, allow parents with lap infants, strollers and car seats to board 2nd (after people in wheelchairs)! This was seriously so helpful, most of the time we went first because there wasn’t anyone in a wheelchair! The flight attendants are so helpful too when you’re the only ones on the plane. After we (parents with lap infants, strollers and car seats) are boarded THEN 1st class/priority seats are boarded.
While on the plane:
- Pack lots of snacks: even though they provide snacks on the plane (depending on who you fly with) pack extra. Stuff you know they like and will eat. Also bring a sippy cup! The flight attendants offer soda, juice and water, but I can’t trust my kids with a cup, especially on a plane. So I’ll have them pour the apple juice into the sippy cup! Rj my oldest spilt apple juice all over my cardigan, so yeah bring the sippy cups, even for the older ones who don’t typically need it. We used (sponsored)this sippy cup for my 2 year old.
- Bring their car seats (onto the plane): My 2 year old is use to long car rides in his car seat, so we made sure we brought his seat, for him to ride on the plane. My older son (who is 5) just sat in the airplane seat. And my 10 month old was a lap infant. We brought only one seat that my middle child sat in, but once we got off the plane, when we rented our SUV we rented 2 more seats- 1 was a forward facing seat, that my 2 year old then sat in, and a high back booster seat that my 5 year old sat in and my 10 month old sat in the car seat Elias flew in, because that seat could be forward faced (like it was on the plane) and rear faced. **that car seat we used on the plane was a Graco Milestones. It’s super slim and fits perfectly on the airplane seat** we purchased this car seat bag to get through the airport! My husband looked super ridiculous with a car seat strapped to his back, but there were like 3 other dads we walked past with the same bags!
- Bring headphones for yourself and the kids and load the iPad with tv shows and movies: We bought the kids childrens headphones (link here for similar) , and an AUX splitter so when they were sharing the iPad both of them are able to listen! If you don’t have an iPad, maybe bring an old phone you don’t use, or let them use your phone to watch pre downloaded movies. Some airplanes have tv monitors in the headrest (our flight back home had it), which each child can then directly hook up their headphones into and watch new movies. But some planes are older and don’t have tv monitors(our flight there didn’t have it). Delta Airlines has free in flight movies and shows that can be streamed straight from your iPad or cellphone while in air. So when they got tired of their shows (that were pre-downloaded onto their iPad) I put on a movie on the iPad through Delta’s movie marketplace!
- For a breastfed baby: Make sure you nurse your baby during take off and landing. The sucking and swallowing helps with their ears popping! Also make sure you wear something that you can easily nurse your baby in. For the flight there, I wore this (sponsored) top and cami from undercover mama. I was able to easily lift my top and nurse Joel discreetly! For the flight back I wore this (sponsored) maxi dress also from undercover mama, it has an opening at the front, so you’re able to nurse the baby. I also used my (sponsored) coveredgoods (save 15% with promo code MERRYSSP) for the flight back because I was in an aisle seat in the middle of the plane so people were constantly walking by. Not that I care if people see, but Joel is a distracted baby. He needs to be completely covered to nurse in peace!
- Pack lots of lollipops: my sister in law gave me this tip. The sucking and swallowing of lollipops helps with the popping and pressure from take off and landing! Thankfully we flew right after Halloween, so we had a ton of lollipops from trick or treating!
- Right when the plane lands, start getting your stuff put together: as soon as your able to unbuckle your seat belts, start unbuckling the car seat and putting it back into the carrier. That way when it’s your turn to exit the plane, you’re not holding up the rest of the plane. Or you can just wait for everyone else to get off and do it last! Either way it’s less stressful!
- Get a luggage cart: While waiting for your bags to make it to baggage claim, get a luggage cart. You can fit all your suitcases, carry ons and personal bags on it. They’re like $4 to rent and you get a whopping $.25 back when you return it! Lol
One major tip, ask lots of questions! Don’t just assume! I almost paid $35 to check in my DockATot Grand and guess what? I was able to gate check it for free!!! So in case you forgot, I was able to have it checked At TSA and brought through the gate with me! I had peace of mind knowing my DockATot was with me 80% of the time, and waiting for me when we got off the plane next to my stroller! Just make sure you get the pink tag to put on it! So had I not asked the lady at the front counter (when you check in your luggage) if I was able to bring the DockATot with me, I would’ve just checked it in with the rest of our luggage, and God knows how they would’ve treated and handled Joel’s DockATot…or worse, lose it!!! You’d be surprised how helpful people really are, especially if you have multiple kids, if you just ask questions!
Stroller was gifted by Joovy, DockATot and Travel bag was gifted by DockATot, Sippy cups were gifted by Nuby, Matching shirts were gifted by Love Bubby, and Breastfeeding attire gifted by Undercover Mama and Nursing Cover gifted by Coveredgoods| As always, all opinions are 100% me!