I’ve lived away from “home” for about 6 years now. I’ve have 3 kids in that time and go home to Utah a few times a year. I also do some business trips with my kids. In all I have flown 17 times by myself without my husband. My husband did the medical school route so he rarely comes with us. I have gotten VERY good traveling without him and wanted to share some of my tips for flying with kids. Hopefully they will be helpful!
1. Book nonstop flights whenever you can. If it is a really long flight sometimes it is nice to have a layover so your little one can run around. But I prefer getting nonstop so I can get there as fast as I can.
2. Aisle Seats for the little kids who aren’t mobile so you can move around, bathroom, have a little more space. But I highly suggest a window seat for those who love to run and escape. (you know what I’m talking about!)
3. Plan for the security line. I give myself 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours at the airport with kids just incase there are lines, potty breaks, food breaks, etc. Stick some suckers in your pocket, play EyeSpy, and talk about your trip and what you are going to do there always seems to entertain my kids. The nice thing about the airports now is that your kids DO NOT need to remove their shoes to go through security. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. It also isn’t a race with kids. Take a big breathe and take your time going through. The less stressed you are, the less stressed your kids will be.
4. Large Suitcases and check your bag. I refuse to bring lots of different suitcases. I can usually fit all our stuff (for 4 of us) into 2 large suitcases. I then check them in so I don’t have to worry about them the rest of the time.
5. Curbside check in. If you are on your own, I HIGHLY suggest curbside check in. It is only a few dollars tip, but that way you don’t have to roll in your suitcases in. It just makes things so much easier.
6. Strollers Strollers Strollers. I am a huge fan a strollers. I have a 3 year old and 6 year old and I bring a double stroller every time to the airport. That way I can keep an eye on my kids and I can throw my small carry on bag onto the stroller too.
7. Carseats. If you have a little child where you still carry them in carseats, bring it with you even if you didn’t buy an extra ticket. Right as I check through I always ask to see if they have any extra seats, and if they do ask to be next to an extra seat. I have done with multiple times with multiple airlines. It never hurts to ask. And if they don’t, have any extra seats, you can tag your carseat along with your stroller and drop it off right before you enter the plane.
8. Ask for help and have money for tips
I now have 3 kids and I’m pregnant with my 4th. It took me awhile but now I’m not afraid to ask for help with anything! Especially when I land and I have luggage and kids and need to get a taxi or bus. I get help from the men pushing down the
9. Listen for the Family boarding. Some people like to board very last, but if you have suitcases there is a good change there won’t be overhead room. I love to board when it is family boarding (especially with Southwest since the seats are first come first serve).
10. Flight attendants are your friends. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. Flight attendants have tough jobs, so if you are extra nice to them, they will be extra nice to you. (Even if you kid is screaming their guts out or peed all over the seat.)
11. Water bottles or sippy cups. Be sure you have EMPTY water bottles or sippy cups to make security much easier for you. Then find a drinking fountain and fill it up so you are ready for the plane.
12. Bring an iPad with new little kid apps. If you don’t have an ipad or tablet you can find a good one on Amazon. I have a Fire Tablet from Amazon and it was only $50 and it has done its job wonderfully! Then I just search for free kid games and download them before I leave. (I also play them to make sure my kids will actually like them)
13. Treats and food.
Airport food is SO expensive! (so are earphones… don’t forget those!) I would highly suggest packing a little lunch or dinner, or something portable that you KNOW your kids will eat. Then wait until you get onto the airplane before you give it to them.
Baggies are my little secret. Okay, so it actually isn’t a secret but I LOVE baggies. If I have a little toddler I pack all kinds of things in baggies. I have packed anywhere from 5 baggies to 20 baggies. Then when my toddler gets restless I pull out a new baggie of healthy snacks, toys, etc. Whatever you bring make sure it is something you can throw away. I love going to the dollar store and just buying all kinds of random toys, books, coloring books, little snacks, etc. Then I don’t feel bad if I lose anything from there.
15. Busy bags. If you have never heard of busy bags, come see what they are and how to make them HERE. Many are perfect for plane rides!
16. Nap time and flying. If your child is good at falling asleep on you, then I would suggest scheduling your flight right over nap time. If not, try and do it either before or after.
17. When all else fails, do what you are best at: Just Being a Mom! I’ve even got so desperate as to take off my sock and make puppets. Just be happy and calm so your kids will be happy and calm! Good Luck! You got this!