Traveling has been our passion for a very long time. Prior to kids, we’ve visited many parts of the world and back then we made a promise, that once we had kids, we would continue exploring the globe. So when we had Leo, we put our promise to the test.
When Leo was 10 weeks old, we took him on his first airplane ride to Pennsylvania. We were both very nervous about it but to our surprise, Leo did excellent (he pretty much slept the whole time) and the "flying with an infant experience" was quite enjoyable. Since that first flight, we have taken him on over 100 flights, visiting big chunks of Europe and USA. Mila was born in 2015, and she too has enjoyed flying.
Here are 10 tips and observation on how to make traveling with kids a positive and fun experience:
1 . Prior to leaving, do some research about your airport. Many airports have kids play areas with playgrounds, so familiarize yourself with them, especially if you have a long layover. Your kids can play while you enjoy a nice cup of coffee.
2. Pack light. There is always a feeling that you need to overpack extra clothes, gear, toys when traveling with kids. Use packing cubes as we highlighted in our packing Blog, showing you how to maximize your luggage space. See if you have laundry services at your destination. Mom and dad, it’ll be ok if you have to wear the same outfit twice.
3. Get to the airport early and get your kids involved. Allow yourself plenty of time to ticket, check your bags, clear security and get to your gate. If you’re traveling with a toddler, get them involved in the ticketing and bag check process. Kids love to be included and showing them how you get your tickets and where the bags go makes them a part of the adventure.
4. Let’em loose! After clearing security, let your kids walk/run with you versus immediately putting them back in a stroller/child carrier. Give your kids an opportunity to use some energy. You’re about to be confined to a seat for the duration of your trip, find a seldom used gate and let your kids roam around (with your supervision). It’ll be good for both of you, plus you’re secretly exhausting them out for the plane ride.
5. When flying with a baby, if possible, try to choose an aisle seat. You will have more room for your legs plus, if your baby starts to fuss, you can easily stand up and walk up and down the airplane. With a toddler, it is easier to have a window seat. They love to look outside and you have more control as a parent.
6. With Infants, be ready to feed/nurse them during take off and landing. I always had my cover up ready and as soon as we took off, I started feeding to ensure they were comfortable. If your baby takes a bottle or a pacifier, keep it handy, since the air pressure may cause a pain in their ears (sucking on something helps with it). For a toddler, make sure they have their drink handy.
7. Always have enough food, snacks and drinks for you and your kids. It is important everyone stays hydrated so drink plenty of water. Many children are picky and won't eat food served by the airline crew. Pack enough diapers and wipes, and always have a change of clothes in your carry ons for your children.
8. Onboard, have your Electronics ready. As much as we try to reduce the amount of time our children use computers, iPhones, iPads, etc., these gadgets will keep them entertained during your flight. If you can, pack a dvd player and their favorite movies. It’ll keep them occupied. We also take a coloring book and some crayons.
9. If your child is acting up, do not panic. Stay calm and control your emotions. Kids feed off our emotions and energy and there is nothing worse than a screaming baby/toddler and an angry parent. Most passengers are compassionate for those parents traveling with kids, and the flight crew generally is ready to assist you when you need help.
10.Lastly, utilize baby/child carriers. If you are using a stroller, go with something compact. We recently bought the GB Pockit Stroller that folds into a small tote bag and can be stored in the overhead compartment on the plane. It is much easier than checking a large stroller at the gate. We learned the hard way on our first trip when we went to collect our stroller at gate check (it was super dirty plus and a few parts were missing). An Ergo Baby is a fantastic accessory to have while traveling with a baby. It's light, easy to put on and comfortable for both parent and baby. Currently, we are in love with our Osprey Poco Premium carrier. It is a backpack style child carrier that also has a detachable pack. You can store all your food and baby gear in it. It has been one of the best traveling accessories. We use it while flying, going for walks, hikes, or hanging out at the beach. We highly recommend it.
The flying experience can be one of exhilaration and exhaustion for parents and their kids. Using some of the tips we’ve described above can help make it enjoyable. And remember, flying is all part of the memorable journey you are about to create with your family wherever you off to.