I took my first flight as a Mommy when my first son M was 8 weeks old. Honestly, if you keep it simple, traveling with babies can be easier than with tots and kids.
Luckily, M and E are pretty good little travelers. They can pull a small (i.e. kid sized) rolling suitcase while wearing a backpack. Knowing they are toting some of their own snacks and activities helps. I like to start preparing them for flights by talking about it a week or so ahead of time. We talk about where we are going. What airports we will use. How we will get to the airport and who will have what bags. I tell them about some of the activities they can play on the plane and let them know there will be snacks. I even show them where their snacks will be in their own bags. We talk about how we can’t always get up when we want and that there are a lot of other people traveling too. Sometimes we talk about the security process. They sort of understand that step now so I really only give them reminders while in line but its something you could practice with small kids at home as a game.
Here are some of my favorite flight items when flying more than one hour with kids:
Descriptions of my favorite inflight items for small kids:
- Those travel placemats you may have used while dining out with baby- I used those while flying with baby too so that they could eat snacks off the tray table. Turns out they are perfect for tots and small kids when flying so hang on to those! (you may choose to use them too!)
- Water bottle or cup for kiddo. I carry my own too. Have them empty before security then after security we all go potty (again) then fill our water bottles. Some airports even have water bottle filling stations. Woot! Sometimes that wait before beverage service stretches far too long for little ones to wait.
- Entertainment. My kids each have a Nabi tablet to keep them entertained. Use what you’ve got or introduce a new toy in flight (make sure you’ve charged it and set it up beforehand!)
- Headphones. Save all our ears and get your kid child sized headphones for that electronic or to plug in to hear the movie on the plane.
- Lastly, snacks. Try something with a bit of fiber or protein if you can. Cheese stick, cliff bars. You can usually get fruit and yogurt in the airport if you arrive early. I like to get gummy bears to hid in case of meltdown or brotherly fight. Distract them with gummy bears!!! Do NOT rely on the plane to have snacks for sale. The time you do this, catering will not have restocked the plane. Tired kids do not want hummus and bruschetta out of pouches.
This will be my first international flight with the kids. I plan on doing much the same but also making sure the kids are in comfy clothes.
A few more tips-
So far I have focused on some items to bring. I want to mention, I put the same thought into what NOT to bring. Keep your carry on items simple and necessary. When traveling with kids its much easier to check a bag. You’re likely to check car seats anyway. Put everything in you checked bag and take only what you need in a tote bag. Try keeping checked bags to a minimum. I make sure my purse can fit in the cary on tote or I just use my wallet and some zipper pouches to keep loose items organized. I use a good sized tote but keep it small enough to stash under the seat so that I can quickly grab things for the kids or myself. I actually rarely use the overhead bins since traveling with kids. You inevitably will need something in the bin when you’re not allowed out of your seat.
Stroller. If you still have a stroller. Use it. Its great for schlepping your stuff across the airport and for holding that stuff while you stop to eat or shop. Its especially helpful for the independent child that suddenly can not use their feet. I mean, all of a sudden they just can’t walk. Usually when in a hurry. Plop them in the stroller and enjoy the breeze in your hair as you actually zoom along at a nice adult paced stride. If you DO want your car seat with you or choose to gate check it, that stroller comes in handy! Particularly if you can attach your kiddo to your body with a carrier.
Do you travel with tots? What are some of your favorite methods, activities or snacks?