With families living across the country, and sometimes across the globe, air trips end up being a necessary evil. Traveling with kids can create some memorable experiences. Here are some tips to help make those great memories, not bad ones.
Let them Know What to Expect
For toddler age and older, take some time to explain to your child what to expect, particularly if this is their first time traveling. Let them know about airport security and how there may be a few moments where they are separated from you, or they may have to be separated from their favorite security toy. Also, go over basic rules on what happens if one of you becomes separated from the other in the airport. Let them know who safe people are to go to if they are lost (e.g., security guard, shop clerks). Also, let them know what kind of behavior is expected on the plane ride itself (e.g., quiet voices, stay seated).
Use Pre-Board Opportunities
Take advantage of pre-board opportunities and find seats ahead of time so you can find a location that is convenient to the restroom or has extra space over-head. See if you can pull in any upgrades with your frequent flier credits, or from family or friends, to secure seats with more leg room.
Hang on to Your Stroller
If your child is still stroller-age, bring you stroller with you and use it at the airport until you board the plane. It is great for carrying your child and your carry-on bags. Plus, if your flight is delayed, your child has a comfortable place to sleep while you wait. A flight attendant can gate-check your stroller right as you board the plane.
Bring Extra Diapers and Clothes
Seriously, bring more diapers than you think you will need. Also tuck in a few zip-style plastic baggies to contain any soiled clothes. Let’s face it, accidents happen. Speaking of accidents, bring a few changes of clothes for the baby in your carry on and an extra top for yourself. Older kids can benefit from having an extra shirt packed in the carry on too, in case they spill their drink.
For bottle-fed babies, there are convenient ready-made formula packs or powdered formula that can be added to bottled water. Heightened security rules require carry-on liquids be three ounces or less; however, formula, breast milk and juices can be brought through security if you are traveling with a young child. Always check with TSA to confirm the latest rules of what you can and cannot take through security and on to the plane. For older kids, pack some easy snacks like granola bars, dried fruit, or crackers.
Pack a zip-style bag for each child that contains some diversions. These could include puzzles, stickers, little coloring books, or a special treat. To make it extra fun, you can wrap each one up in a few layers or newspaper.