Tips for Airplane Traveling With Kids

Taking a family vacation is a great way to escape the chaos of your life, enjoy quality time together and make everlasting memories. While the outcome of the vacation can be a joyous experience, the traveling with children can be stressful, especially when on an airplane surrounded by hundreds of strangers.

But traveling on an airplane with children does not have to end in an awful and embarrassing experience. Instead, use these following tips to ensure that your travels run more smoothly.


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Before You Leave

A month before you leave for vacation, talk to your kids about where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Create a countdown for them to get excited about the trip and build some anticipation.

About a week before you leave, have another conversation with your children about the travel. Let them know how to properly sit and act in the airport and on the airplane. Tell them how long it is going to be, and tell them all about the plane and how they’ll be flying in the air. Make sure to answer any questions they have.

It is also a good idea to let your child pack his or her own carry on bag—with your supervision of course. Make sure that you emphasize the importance of activities that can be done while sitting stationary as well as those that do not make any noise. Good ideas include stickers, crayons and coloring books or paper, an iPod, computer or portable DVD player for movies (just don’t forget the headphones), books or magazines and of course their favorite stuffed animal or toy.

As for your own carry on bag, make sure that you have candy and or gum, wipes, tissues and a small surprise toy for each child. This way, if they get bored of the objects in their own bag, they’ll have something special and new to play with.

At the Airport

First, make sure to give yourself plenty of time. While your kids may get bored sitting around waiting for the plane, it’s better than rushing through crowds in order to catch your flight, and it’s better than missing it altogether.

Before you get to airport security, make sure to let your kids know what is about to happen. Reassure them that it won’t hurt, and let them know that everyone, even Mom and Dad, have to do it too. If your child is in a carrier or stroller, make sure to remove them before you get to the checkpoint so that you’re not holding up the line. It’s also a good idea to fold it up so that it can fit through the screeners.

After you go through security, if you have a lot of time before boarding your flight, feel free to walk around the airport. Let your kids check out the stores and food court. It is also a good idea to make sure that your child is fed before you board, so you may want to visit the food court. Since most flights only give small snacks, you don’t want your child screaming due to hunger.

Before boarding, make sure that your child either goes to the bathroom or that you put on a fresh diaper. This way, it will alleviate multiple bathroom breaks while on the flight or the risk of an accident.

On the Flight

The FederalAviationAdministration (FAA) recommends that all children under 40 pounds should be placed in a child/infant seat, so make sure you bring one with you, and make sure it is no more than 16 inches wide.

When possible, choose the first row. Not only will this provide you with a lot of legroom, but it also separates you from most of the plane if your child starts to get cranky. If you cannot snatch the first row, try to place your child away from the aisle, preferably between two adults. Make sure to get up and walk around with your child during the flight, but never let your child walk around unsupervised.

Most flights allow you to check in for your seats early so that your entire family cannot sit together. If your airline doesn’t offer this, and you are one of the last to board, talk to the flight personnel. They may be able to ask other passengers to move so that you and your family can sit together.

Make sure to give your child candy, gum or a pacifier to relieve the stress on their ears during takeoff and landing. Be sure to have juice or water on hand too, and most importantly, be patient.

Following these tips will ensure that your airline travels with children does not turn into a disaster. The FAA has many resources for traveling with children. You can find this information here.

Carrie Johnson lives in Houston and works with a traveling agency.  She enjoys writing packing and traveling tips in her spare time.  Carrie recently wrote about her flight and stay at a bahamas beach resort.

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