Snakes on a plane! Okay, so it’s actually kids on a plane but same stress level, right? The thought of putting your little ones in a confined space for hours on end that’s filled with total strangers is stressful enough to make you break out in hives. Air travel provides a whole host of unknowns that can throw a wrench into your plan for a smooth trip. However, with the right preparation, and a sprinkle of luck, flying with your children becomes so simple you could bake it in an Easy Bake oven.
To Fly or Not to Fly (the Red Eye)?
Your first decision is what type of flight to take. Some parents swear by flying at night. Just plop your children on the plane at bedtime and they’ll sleep right until landing and be ready for the day. For some angel children, this might be the perfect plan. However, your child might not like this plan. Your child could throw a giant wrench into the whole thing and refuse to sleep at all the whole flight. This means you have to entertain them in a confined space for hours on end while dealing with the disgruntled glares from everyone else who was planning on sleeping through the flight. Think about your little ones sleeping patterns before booking you flight, you’ll thank yourself later.
Snacks on snacks on snacks
No matter how many snacks you were planning on bringing, bring more. Travel can be filled with unexpected delays, unfamiliar situations, and general unhappiness – but nothing stops a meltdown quite like a granola bar. Airport security is tight on liquids, but most packaged food makes it through without an issue. For drinks, bring refillable bottles to fill with water once you’re through security. Quench thirst and save the environment in one fell swoop! If you’re traveling with a baby, you can bring as many liquids as necessary so long as you say they’re for the infant.
Once you’re traveling with a toddler, the necessity for entertainment grows almost exponentially. Children are fascinated by the world around them and that doesn’t stop when they’re on a plane. Be prepared to answer every question under the sun and bring a bag full of entertainment options to really astound them. If you’re concerned about keeping their attention, pack some small gifts (the $1 bins at most stores are a good place to look). Or, sometimes a gift of your empty plastic cup will be entertaining enough for you to give a moment to breathe between question 762 and 763.
Turn your car seat into a plane seat
If you’re traveling with a baby, you are allowed to bring their car set as long as it meets FAA regulations and fits into the dimensions of the plane seat. To use the car seat, an additional plane seat must be purchased for your child. Most car seats have a sticker on the bottom that will tell you whether your seat is FAA certified. On some airlines children under 24 months fly free if they’re held in an adult’s lap. So, whether to bring the car seat is entirely up to personal preference, but CPST recommendation is to always use a car seat. You never know when your flight might get bumpy!
Other Things to Consider
- Change of clothes – for you and baby. Nobody likes a baby mess but being forced to sit in a shirt covered in it for the duration of a flight is up there on the list of uncomfortable situations. Prevent that from happening by bringing along some extra clothes for all involved.
- Pack your carry-on with essentials only. While you might want to pack enough to prepare for the end of the world, you’ll thank yourself later if you pack what you need and make it all easily accessible at that. Digging through a bunch of accessories when you really just need that wipe container that slid down to the bottom with one hand already holding your little one will have you cursing your past self.
- Bring a few extra diapers – however many you think you’ll need, bring more. You don’t want to risk being in a confined location with a child whose decided that now is the time for as many diaper explosions as possible. Always be prepared.
- If you’re breast feeding consider things like breast pads (leaky boobs are no fun) and a manual pump that doesn’t require a plug (sore boobs will thank you), especially on longer flights.
- If you’re bottle feeding, make sure you have a bottle of water before you board the plane so you can make formula when needed – it’s no fun to wait for a flight attendant to being you water when you’re dealing with a hungry baby.
- A pacifier can be a huge help during takeoff and landing. The sucking motion will help your little one’s ears pop from the altitude change and hopefully prevent any extended periods of discomfort.
- Make sure you have a comfort item on hand for each child – being able to give them something that reminds them of home and can calm them down is a lifesaver on a plane.
- Go with the flow – things are unavoidably going to go wrong, that’s just how life is. Don’t fret over it and just move forward, there’s no use fixating on something that’s in the past.