Do you avoid plane travel because you have little children? Do your palms begin to sweat at the mere thought of going through security with a toddler? You aren’t alone, Mama! Fear of flying with kids keeps a lot of parents grounded these days!
I’m going to start by giving you some harsh advice: Get over it. Seriously you guys, just breathe! You will survive and chances are, it’ll go a lot better than you think it will!
We’ve covered a lot of miles with our three under the age of five, so I’ve got a few tips that’ll help make plane travel with toddlers (and babies) a little easier!
1. Fly direct whenever possible!
I know some are in favor of having the trip broken up but in my experience, loading and unloading children (and the gear that comes with) on and off a plane multiple times adds stress. It also sucks when one or more of said children have fallen asleep and you’ve got to drag them off the plane drowsy and then sit around in an airport for three hours. I will gladly pay more money to get directly to my destination faster!
2. Bring a carry-on!
I’m talking a suitcase or backpack filled with emergency items. Extra clothes in case someone has a diaper explosion or throws up, more diapers than you think you’ll need in case of lost luggage, and medications like Tylenol, Benadryl and Gravol. It may seem like an unnecessary hastle, but trust me, when you end up needing those items you’ll be so glad they’re accessible!
3. Don’t overdo the entertainment!
The first time I flew with two toddlers I brought each of them a backpack filled to the brim with activities. They barely touched any of it! Bring one activity bag for all your kids! Sticker books, colour wonder, a few hot wheels cars and some play-doh will do the trick! If you have an Ipad or cellphone, load that up with games. Oh, and don’t forget the snacks. Fishy crackers and cheerios are my favourites!
4. Check your stroller at the gate!
Yes, wearing your baby will help, but you know what helps more? Having a stroller to dump all your bags in! Strollers are a lifesaver in airports and it means nothing has to be put on the dirty floor. If you opt to carry a car seat onto a plane, a stroller makes a great place to put it in the meantime! Note that your stroller will have to be properly screened by security and will slow down your journey to the gate.
5. Make nice with staff!
You know the saying, “You catch more fly’s with honey?” A good attitude and smile will get you far! We’ve had lines magically open up for us, attendants push and pull our luggage, and flight attendants bring us extra chocolates. Always remember that what you’re doing may be stressful, but you aren’t dealing with hundreds of grumpy passengers all day. Give a little love and you may just find it returned in the form of help.
A few more words of advice for those traveling with babies:
– Ask the flight attendant at check-in whether or not there is a row with an extra seat availible. If you are traveling alone or if you have someone else to watch the other kids, opt to move to a spot that will allow you to nurse more easily. This was a lifesaver for me on an overnight flight to Toronto!
– Nurse shortly after take off (or during, if allowed) and again for landing. This will help your babies ears adjust with the change of pressure.
Bottle Feeding Moms:
– Be aware that security will have to screen your bottles for illegal substances. I know it’s a pain, but don’t give them attitude for this. They’re simply trying to keep everyone safe, including you and your family.
– Bring a soother for your little one during take off and again for landing. This will help your babies ears adjust with the change of pressure.
My final word of advice for plane travel with toddlers is to give yourself more time than you’d need if you were traveling solo or with your spouse – especially if you don’t travel often! It’ll take you longer to check-in and longer to get through security. You’ll also board before all other passengers to give you time to settle in on the plane.
Even if your flight ends up being a day of stress, the destination is always worth it. It’s only one day. Remember that. Now go! Book it! Get out there and make some memories with your kids!
Feel free to send any more questions you may have about plane travel with toddlers and babies my way. I’m more than happy to help make your journey less overwhelming!