Traveling to new destinations is so much fun, but the question is how to get there. Yes, you can drive, but that only gets you so far and it can take a long time. As a family we love to fly, it’s fast and simple once you know what you are doing.
First, figure out the logistics of the trip:
When to Fly: When choosing your flight consider length of the flight, age of your child, time zone changes, and price of the ticket. When Ethan was 5 months old, we did a red eye from Honolulu to Phoenix. The timing worked well because he was small enough to sleep anywhere and we all slept for most of the flight. That being said, we have found that generally the kids are not going to sleep on the flight for a nap. There’s just too much noise and activity. If they do fall asleep, it’s at the very end of the flight when they have to be still for landing. We shoot for a midmorning or evening flight and just know that the kids won’t sleep well during the day and will need to go to bed early. Midmorning is nice because you don’t have to wake up early to leave, but you aren’t rushed by the end of the day.
Where to Sit: We always sit about 2/3 of the way to the back of the plane. We like to be closer to the bathroom (but not too close), but also not in the front where all the serious people sit. It does take a little longer to get off the plane, but we don’t mind because we typically end up waiting for our luggage at baggage claim anyway.
Next, here are some great tips for navigating airplane travel with little ones:
Show up early: Kids are slow. It’s much easier to navigate the airport, manage security, and find your game without stressing about time.
Check your Car Seat with the Luggage and Your Stroller at the Gate: When the kids were smaller, we didn’t put them in car seats on the plane. If you do, then you can take it through security and buckle it in when you board. We always chose to check the car seat but bring the stroller into the airport. The stroller is an amazing tool to have in the airport especially if you have more than one kid or your kids are runners. You can use the stroller to hold the kids or the luggage and you can check it right at the gate. Just make sure to get a tag before boarding.
Have a Plan to Get Through Security: When we go through security, I manage the kids and Victor manages the luggage. This is the most efficient way to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. If it’s just me and the kids, I make sure our luggage is through security and then the kids and I go through.
Board with Family Boarding: Many airlines offer family boarding. Take advantage of this. You can possibly board before your ticketed zone, find overhead storage for your bags, and settle the kids.
Meet the Pilot: Many pilots are happy to meet the kids before the flight. My kids started doing this at about age 3 and love to meet the pilot on every flight.
Bring Entertainment: Make sure you think about the best entertainment for your child. Here are 10 great travel activities for kids!
Go potty: Before you land, make sure anyone who is potty trained and might have to go, goes to the restroom. Ethan has a habit of telling us he needs to go potty when we land and it’s nearly impossible to get to the front or the back of the plane while everyone is waiting to get off.
Pick up Your Luggage: After we get off the plane, we had over to the baggage claim. We let the kids stretch their legs, go potty if needed, and take our time. By the time we get there, we hope that our bags are ready and we can continue our adventure!
Use these tips to navigate airline travel like a pro! What’s your best tip for traveling with kids? Please leave us a comment! We’d love to hear from you.