Although Ladybug and Buddy are still young, they are no strangers to traveling by plane. We have been flying with Ladybug since she was six months old and Buddy’s first experience with air travel was when he was two months. I can understand how traveling with even just one kid can seem like an impossible task. It’s amazing how much gear one child needs. Although the idea of flying with our children is still daunting at best, after three years of family travel, we’ve learned a few lessons that I’m going to share with you.
Leave early to allow yourself plenty of time to get to your gate
Looking back on my years of solo traveling, I realizer it used to be so easy. I would just throw things in a bag, make my way to the airport, check in and hop on the plane that took me where I want to go. Easy peasy. When you’re traveling with young kids, everything takes at least twice as long. It’s so important to make sure we have ample time to make it to your gate. Our kids like to take their sweet time doing things so the extra time allows us to get through security and make it to our gate in time to board without all the nagging and whining.
Carry your baby through the airport in an infant carrier
Kids require so much stuff, it’s true. If you have a baby, I recommend using a baby carrier. I still carry Buddy in our Ergobaby and we both love it. Carrying Buddy makes things easier for two reasons. One, we can use his seat in the double stroller to carry some of our smaller luggage, leaving our hands free for other things, like the kids’ car seats or to help Ladybug with something without having to stop and put our stuff down. Two, it makes going through security so much easier. Instead of having to take Buddy out of the stroller when we get to security, then put him back in after we’re through, I’m allowed to keep him in the carrier while I go through the metal detector. I just walk right through, the security personnel swabs my hands and I’m good to go. I don’t have to deal with the hassle of getting him out of the stroller and then strapping him back in.
Make use of carseats on the plane to keep toddlers contained
I have found that being able to strap Ladybug into her carseat while on the plane prevents her from squirming all over the row. True, sometimes she gets tired of sitting in it for longer flights, but it’s better for everyone if she’s kept contained. Having her in her carseat also helps her stay more secure when bouts of turbulence hit. As an anxious flyer, the peace of mind I get knowing that she won’t get thrown around when the plane starts to wobble is reassuring.
Pack more diapers and wipes than you think you’ll need
It has been our experience on most of our flights with the kids that we need twice the amount of diapers than we need during a normal day. I don’t know why that is but on most days we fly, it seems like we always exit the plane on our very last diaper. We also take into account that flight delays can happen at the last minute leaving us with the possibility of being stuck at the airport for longer than we expected. Make sure you’re adequately prepared with enough diapers and wipes plus extras to make it through any unexpected situation. My general rule of thumb is two diapers per hour of traveling plus 3-4 extras on shorter flights. For longer flights, I try and pack twice the amount of diapers we need in a day plus 3-4 extras.
Don’t forget to pack extra clothes for the kids
Murphy’s Law seems to strike a lot while we’re stuck in a metal box 40,000 feet up in the air. A toddler gets sick and throws up all over themselves and us. A baby, who hasn’t had a blowout for months, poops all up his back and through his clothes and onto my lap. Someone’s drink slides off that tiny airplane tray and spills all over the newborn. I’m not saying all of these have happened to me, however, I have been the recipient of a few in-flight blowouts courtesy of both children and I’ve known people who have experienced the other two. I’m sure there are many more examples of situations that make it necessary to have an extra outfit or two in your carry on. While your packing, you might as well pack an extra shirt for you, too… just in case.
Pack an activity bag
Ladybug has her own backpack that she takes on the plane with her. She packs it herself with any books, coloring books and toys that she wants to play with while we’re on the plane. I also add her favorite snacks to her bag so that she can pull something out if she gets hungry. Packing plenty of things to keep her busy helps pass the time while we’re stuck on the plane.
Buy new activities to bring on the plane to prevent boredom
This is one of my must-do items before we go on any trip. There are times while flying when even Ladybug’s most beloved toys become old and boring. I make sure to buy brand new activities or snacks specifically for these times. These don’t have to be expensive items. For us, they may include a new coloring book, sticker book, a princess doll, or a new book to read. The number of things I buy correlates to the number of hours we’ll be on the plane. I keep them in my bag- I don’t show them to Ladybug before we travel- and bring one out when I can sense she’s starting to get bored. I can usually buy a few minutes of peace while she’s occupied by her new possession.
Ignore rude remarks from fellow travelers
Thankfully, we have never been the recipients of rude remarks from fellow travelers on the plane. However, we have experienced some not so pleasant encounters with people behind us at the security checkpoint. My advice, ignore them. It’s sometimes hard, I know. I say this to myself as much as I do anyone reading this. I hate it when people’s unkindness is directed towards me (who doesn’t). Sometimes it can be hard to let it go. But I just tell myself that it’s their problem, not mine. And it’s true. Families with young children have just as much of a right to fly as anyone else. Life doesn’t stop once the kids arrive. So I try not to worry about what the people around me are saying. Besides, I’m never going to see them again anyway.
Flying with kids can be challenging, and sometimes scary. But it’s not impossible. The alternative is to stay home. That might be a fine alternative for some, but it doesn’t cut it for our family. And it shouldn’t for you if you have a desire to go places. So, my advice is to go on that trip. Have fun. And don’t forget to bring your kids.