Family Flying Survival Guide: Top 10 Tips for Easy Flying with Kids
Getting ready to fly with the family? Don’t despair, help is here. We have tips for everything from apps to Ziplocs to make flying with kids as easy as child’s play:
1. Dress for Success: Remember that even toddlers have to remove their coats at security. Be prepared, dress for success in simple clothing with as few layers as possible.
2. Umbrella Strollers to the Rescue: Here’s news for many new parents: You cannot, regardless of how young your baby is, push a stroller through the security check point. You need to remove your child, fold the stroller, and put it on the belt. Do yourself a favor, bring the lightest, easiest to fold stroller you can manage for your child’s age.
3. Keep Essentials Close: Never put “must have” items in checked luggage; this includes medicine (remember 4 oz max) and prescriptions, pacifiers and binkies, and blankies, snuggies, and lovies (whatever you call it, it’s irreplaceable if they can’t sleep without it!)
4. Pack Snacks: Don’t get caught with an empty stomach — assume that you will not be fed on your flight. Even if your airline offers food for purchase, there are usually limited quantities of healthy, kid-friendly options. For easy breakfasts in the air, bring instant oatmeal and ask for hot water from drink service.
5. Bring Nonelectronic Entertainment: Imagine this scenario: The doors to the plane close, the announcement to turn off electronics until further notice is made, and then, you sit on the runway for an hour with your restless kids while your IPad/Kindle/laptop sit unhelpfully by. Not a pretty picture. Be sure stock up on books, MadLibs, stickers, small games, and crayons and paper (plus a few dollar store surprises to keep them interested) to pass the time when electronics aren’t permitted.
6. Wipe it Up: Take disinfecting wipes for tray tables and arm rests and baby wipes for sticky fingers and faces. While you’re at it, add a few Ziploc bags to hold everything from loose crayons to runaway Cheddar Bunnies to soggy bibs.
7. Book Tickets Early: The early bird gets the best seat selection, which means getting to sit with your family in seats that you choose instead of relying on the kindness of strangers to give up their beloved window seat so that your family isn’t separated.
8. Fly Right: When traveling with preschool children, use tools like Travelocity’s Flexible Date Search to find off-peak flights – midweek and midday (when business travelers aren’t filling the seats) — for cheap flights and perhaps even a little more wiggle room. NEVER book the last flight of the day with small children in tow: If these are cancelled you could be stuck for the night with your kids in the airport.
9. Card Them: As soon as you start paying for a ticket for your child (they can usually fly free on parent’s lap on domestic routes until age 2), sign them up for airline loyalty cards. They’ll be racking up the miles in no time.
10. Download Apps Before You Go: Don’t get stuck in the airport without directions – travel apps provide information for everything from the nearest restroom to airport maps. Travelocity’s app can get you through the airport, tell you the TSA security wait times, provide destination information, and keep you updated on your flight status, so you’ll always have an answer to “Are we there yet?”.
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Contributing editor for Travelocity.