We take a trip every year and it seems like every year we have bigger kids and one new baby. Now, with four, we look like a spectacle moving through the airport. We get people starring, people commenting, and looks of sympathy.
We are choosing to fly so don’t feel sorry for us. We are aware of the work and the stuff it takes. We’ve been making this trip yearly for 7 years now with kids. Each year we get a little wiser and more prepared. (Although, is one ever truly prepared to fly with small children?)
Here is our list of tips for flying with kids:
1. Pack light
As light as possible. I always pack the clothes and then cut a few outfits out. Where we go, we can do laundry and I’m fine doing a load or two. I was able to pack for all 5 of us in two regular size suitcases. One for me and my husband and one for my three boys. My daughter has her own suitcase she packs. We checked three bags and the base of the infant car seat.
We bought a huge bag and we let out kids have them as needed/wanted to help with their ears. Also, along those same lines, snacks in little packages. Small packs of crackers and fruit snacks are a big hit with us.
This is the first year we’ve let the three older kids take backpacks. I was hesitant as I didn’t want to be carrying extra bags, but they did OK. My daughter packed a journal, colored pencils, and an activity book. She also has her school work and her books. (Have to be studious if we are going to miss school!) Both my older sons have their own bags too, but I didn’t let them bring too much. A few hand toys (cars) to hold onto. One thing that helped them want to carry the packs themselves: we bought each a new themed backpack.
Or any electronic device that will occupy their attention. My husband and I both have an iPad and right now (literally as I type) my oldest son has the regular iPad and my 3 year old has my iPad mini. We loaded them up with games and movies and they are happy. Just make sure they are fully charged before you leave!
5. Seating Arrangement
My husband had an aisle seat with the boys (one in a car seat and one without) and he has the baby sleeping in his arms. I have our oldest in my row and thankfully we don’t have a third passenger so we have a seat for stuff. Here’s a trick for that: If the flight isn’t full, place your child in the window seat and leave the middle open. People will be less likely to sit there. Of course if the flight is full that isn’t an option. Also, next year we will need that seat as our baby will be over two (sad sad day) We also found the farthest row back, the better. Closer to the bathroom and less people around us.
6. Take the car seat on the plane.
It’s a pain, but for us it was necessary. Our son is used to being strapped in and so the plane it was no different. Our older two are bigger and we didn’t feel as though they needed to be in their car seats. We did make them carry their booster seats and we put them in the overhead.
7. Most importantly, relax.
Chances are you are going on vacation so just enjoy! Prepare your kids ahead of time and don’t worry about other passengers on the plane. Our baby fussed for the first hour (that was rough) but he eventually had enough and fell asleep.
To sum up, just relax and enjoy your flight. Don’t let the funny looks and the stares bother you.