Tips for Traveling with Kids on a Plane
Tips for Traveling with Kids on a Plane
Traveling with kids on a plane sounds scary, especially if this is your first time. 😨But there is nothing to fear if you know what to do, and what to bring with you. You can and will have a peaceful flight.
The key here is to be prepared for any situation that can arise. Being prepared will give you the confidence you need to fly with your kids.
I have been traveling to Costa Rica with my kids since they were babies. Most of the time I travel by myself with the kids and my husband flies later and we all come back together. So, I have plenty of experience traveling with kids on a plane and I’m happy to say that we have never had a bad experience, not even when my boys were babies.
Grab a cup of coffee or a sweet ice tea and get ready because I will give you some helpful tips that are going to make traveling with kids on a plane super easy.
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When it comes to planning you have to take into consideration the amount of time your kids will be on the plane, their age, and their needs.
- If you can, try to always sit close to the back of the plane. The bathrooms are closer in case your kids need to go “NOW” and can’t wait, or in case you need to change diapers. Plus, you will get more help from the flight attendants.
- Schedule flight times around naps.
- A few weeks before your trip, explain to your kids all about airplane rides: airport procedures, how the plane flies and stays in the air, how it feels during takeoff and landing, what is turbulence, etc. Make it fun and exciting, this will help with any plane anxiety they may have and also knowing what to expect makes it easier on them. Amazon has a great book called Amazing Airplanes check it out here. It explains everything from check ins to why the pilot speaks, and many other things that happen during the flight.
- Go over rules and how you expect them to behave on the plane. Make sure they understand what they can do (sleeping, playing, reading, watching a movie, etc.). Also, what they are not allowed to do (screaming, fighting, kicking the seat in front of them, etc.).
- Think about what things you need to bring on the plane. Some things that are a must are: extra clothes, medicine, toys to keep the kids entertained, wipes, snacks, drinks, a jacket or a blanket, their lovie (an item that your kid uses for comfort, mine carry a little pillow everywhere).
- Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get ready and get to the airport on time. Going to the bathroom with kids can easily take 20-30 minutes to make sure you have plenty of extra time.
- Make sure you and your kids are wearing comfortable shoes and clothes easy to take off and put on.
What to bring on the plane
- Extra clothes: you never know when an accident can happen, so it is better to be safe than sorry. Don’t forget to pack extra underwear!
- Backpack: I make my boys carry their own backpacks ever since they were little (3 and up). In their backpack, I pack everything that they will need on the plane. Now they are older and they can carry bigger backpacks. They pack some toys, tablet/phone, notebook, crayons, random games, plus a jacket or a blanket and their comfort items and snacks.
- Snacks and drinks: buy different snacks for them; for example; gummies, crackers, cookies, nuts, cereal, dry fruit. Be mindful of others around you in case of allergies. Also, if you have more than 1 kid make sure you pack the same thing for all the kids that way there is no fighting. Make sure to always have some water with you and/or spill proof juice.
- Lollipops are always good to have on hand; it can make a crying toddler stop. Gum is also good for older kids.
- A new toy. There is nothing cooler than the excitement of new toys, some kids can play with them for hours. Find something small. My kids love Legos and Lego makes small packs that are perfect for traveling. Also these cute toys keep kids entertained for a long time.
- Pack extra diapers or pull-ups and have plenty of wipes.
- Bring a bag or a backpack with all the essentials that you can easily store underneath your seat so you don’t have to get up all the time to open the overhead compartment.
- Backpacks or messenger bags are better because your hands will be free. I think this one is the cutest backpack, it has lots of room and it’s very fashionable so you can use it with all kinds of outfits. I love the pockets! I just ordered one for me!!! 😁
- Bring plastic bags. You can put up dirty clothes or trash in them. You will find a good use for them, so bring a few.
- Medication: If your child needs medication, make sure you bring it with you. Always try new medication at home first just in case it causes them to get sick or have an allergic reaction. 🤢
- Books. My boys are old enough so I buy them a new book to read during the flight and during vacation. When they were little I used to bring their favorite book on the plane for them. Buy a book for you too! My friend gave me this book and I read the whole thing in a weekend, it’s a true story.
- Bring a pen.
- Bring sanitizer, planes, and airports are full of germs.
- Before you board, take your kids to the bathroom and change diapers. Even if they don’t need to go, it’s always good to try.
- Also, before you board the plane, have your kids get some wiggles out by walking around, crawling, dancing, jumping. Some airports have a play area that you can use.
- Take advantage of priority boarding.
- Go over the rules about the way they are supposed to behave on the plane. Let them know what is expected of them.
- Have your passports and documentation on hand and easy to get to.
- Be excited about the plane ride and make it fun for them.
- If you are bringing a stroller, make sure it has a tag. Do this before boarding.
- When you get to your seats, get situated and put a few essentials you may need in the front pocket of your seat.
- Seat kids away from the aisle, with carts and people going by they can easily hurt their arms or hands.
- Take the blankets, stuffed animals and/or the little pillows out, so your kids can cuddle with them and be comfortable.
- Make sure everybody is buckled and ready for takeoff.
This is where it gets kind of tricky, 😟but no worries, everything will be fine!
There are 3 important factors here: kid’s age, flight time and time management.
- Make sure they are drinking plenty of water, especially during takeoff and right before landing. Gum is also good for older kids and cabin pressure.
- If you have babies or toddlers, you can try to keep them awake before the flight. Once they are inside the plane they can nap. This tip always worked for us.
- If your kids are older they may not want to take a nap, but they can have a quiet time where they can cuddle with their blanket and close their eyes. Don’t call it nap time, just call it quiet time (30 min). It always works like a charm, soon they will fall asleep.
- Divide their time into activity blocks to keep them engaged. Make sure you bring plenty of activities for them to do, especially on long flights. This is an example:
- 5:00-5:30 quiet time (if they fall asleep, adjust the time blocks).
- 5:30-6:00 reading and dinner time
- 6:00-6:30 tablet or phone
- 6:30-7:00 drawing or coloring
- 7:00-7:30 play with toys (small tub of playdoh, a small bag of Legos).
- 7:30-8:00 family game (5-second rule game, puzzle, memory, cards).
- 8:00-8:30 table and snack time.
- 8:30- 10:00 movie
- If your flight is long and the kids didn’t sleep during quiet time, you can have a second quiet time, maybe they will fall asleep this time. Taking a nap is good because they won’t be grumpy and they will wake up happy and ready for some fun.
- Make sure diapers are clean and encourage your kids to go to the bathroom so they can stretch their legs.
- Always sanitize their hands after a bathroom break and make sure they wear their shoes when they go.
- Have a small toy or a tablet on hand for them to play with during taxing, sometimes it takes a while for everyone to exit the plane.
- Make sure you grab all your belongings.
- Make sure all forms are filled out, and passports, tickets, and pen are in an easy to access pocket.
- Time to enjoy your trip!!
- Reward good behavior; it will encourage your kids to always behave well on the plane.
What to do if kids misbehave during the plane ride
What to do if kids misbehave will depend on the age of the child.
- If the baby is fussy and crying, chances are he or she is tired, hungry, has a dirty diaper or bored. When babies are tired or bored, you can hold them and walk down the aisle of the plane until they fall asleep or they calm down. If they are old enough to walk maybe they can walk a little bit in the aisle if they are bored.
- Bring out the lollipop, candy always work.
- Read their favorite book.
- If the kids are older, walking in the isle will distract them and calm them down.
- Make sure that older kids understand that bad behavior will have bad consequences and good behavior will bring rewards.
We were all kids at one point, you will find along the way many people that are sweet and understanding. But you will also find people that do not have a lot of patience but that’s ok. The good news is that soon your plane will land and you will never see those people again. Do your best, be prepared and embrace the adventure. 😉
I hope you find these tips for traveling with kids on a plane helpful and if you have any other tips that can help a mom, feel free to drop it in the comments!