Fun travel doesn't have to stop because you "settle down" and start a family. Yes, flying with children definitely makes travel harder (and more expensive), but there are ways to make it easier. These 5 tips can help make your next flight less stressful.
Tip #1: Book Adjacent Seats
If you ever traveled as a couple, more likely than not you tried to book seats together. With children, you definitely want to be together to ensure they always remain in your sight (and within arm's reach), making it easier to hand them snacks, answer their 1,000 questions and keep them entertained and happy.
Plus, most airlines will allow your child to fly for free if they are younger than two years old.
Tip #2: Allow a Few Extra Minutes at Security and During Layovers
Let's face it, traveling with children is the exact opposite of how the McAllister family did it in the Home Alone movies.
You also won't be able to show up to the airport 45 minutes before your plane takes off like when you travel alone. Allow sufficient time for plenty of bathroom breaks and taking many short steps across the airport terminals as you cannot carry them and your carry-ons the entire way to make your connection.
Bonus Tip: Taking a minute to read the TSA procedures for Traveling with Children can help make passing through the security line easier. You may also want to check your airline's policy as well for additional information.
Tip #3: Pack Lots of Snacks
"I'm hungry" are two words you do not want to hear an entire flight. You can buy snacks and meals from the various terminal restaurants and in-flight, but you are still better off packing as much food as possible into your carry-on. This will keep your travel expenses down and guarantee your children will also have their favorite snacks. Packing healthier snacks like fresh fruit or crackers will also help keep their bellies full longer than the candy bars with "empty calories" that are all too common in most airport terminals.
Tip#4: Pack Quiet Games, Books and Movies
No parent wants to have "that kid" who was noisy the entire flight and disturbed the nearby passengers. Small children are going to be louder than adults, it's a fact of life, but packing travel-sized board games or puzzles, their favorite book, or movies to watch on a mobile device in airplane mode, will go a long way in winning the Parent of the Year prize.
This also means leaving the noisy, battery-operated toy drums or microphones at home. Basically, if a noise-making toy drives you crazy after five minutes at home, it's probably best to leave it at home for this trip.
These activities are also the perfect opportunity to spend quality time as a family. Depending on the length of the flight and age of your little ones, you don't have to spend every minute engaging with them, but, it can be more interactive than when you drive across the country.
Tip #5: Each Child Brings His Own Bag
While you don't want to be overburdened with carry-ons, each ticketed child can bring their own carry-ons. Use their school backpack to bring their books and toys. This will leave room in your bag for snacks and other personal essentials.
Also, if you are traveling with a toddler, look into checking a stroller at the gate. This will speed up the process it takes to traverse the airport to hop onto your connecting flight and also helps make flying with children easier. Once you get to the gate, you can let them run around and reduce the restlessness before having to board the next flight.
By preparing ahead of time and allowing a few extra minutes to get through security and pass between airport terminals, you’ll make flying with children a lot easier. Once onboard, snacks and quiet yet engaging activities will keep them comfortable and happy for the flight allowing you to relax more as well.
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