Flying with Children

Essential Travel Tips: Flying with Children

Crying babies – screaming toddlers – is your family the one that nobody wants to sit anywhere near? Was writer Robert Benchley thinking of your darlings when he said, “In America there are two classes of travel: first class, and with children”? If so, don’t despair – we’ve got plenty of great tips for you that will help you keep your sanity on the plane – and make it a fun and memorable trip for all.

Flying With Children: The Step-By-Step Guide
PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE: Make a plan, and stick to it.Try For Non-Stops: When booking, look for non-stop flights during off-peak times – crowded airports and plane changes are the enemy of traveling families.

Get The Kids Interested and Involved: Create a “Vacation is Coming” poster for little ones so they can mark off the days ’til the flight. Or go high-tech find a computer app that will do the same thing. Celebrate Their First Flight: Download photos of airplane interiors and point out where mom, dad and the kids will sit. Or check out sites like Boeing that feature virtual tours of plane interiors. Books: Go to and search for children’s books about first flights. Going On A Plane by Anne Civardi is a good choice for toddlers. Preview Your Trip: Put together a “trip montage” to play on your laptop featuring photos of family you’ll be seeing or places you’ll visit. This way, the kids won’t scream at the sight of Uncle Joe’s beard and it will distract young fliers when they get restless or bored. Know What You Can And Can’t Take On Board: Review the TSA’s list of permitted and restricted carry on items so essentials like sippy cups or snacks don’t get dumped. And double check for updates.

LAST MINUTE: Some common sense reminders.Charge Batteries: Make sure batteries for DVD players, IPods or hand held games are powered up before you go. If you’re stuck in the terminal, a favorite DVD can be a lifesaver.

Pep Talk: Remind your children what to expect during the flight including loud noises and ear pressure (and have gum or small candies to alleviate the pressure). Be sure to have a final conversation about appropriate airplane behavior, the necessity of seatbelts, and no seat kicking! Payoff: Give kids a reason to behave, such as “when we get to grandpa’s house, we will go swimming.” Never underestimate the power of a bribe.

ON THE PLANE: There are 2-key things to remember when flying with children: distraction and sustenance.Toys: Take along creative toys like Play-doh and Lego are classic favorites.

New Toys: Months before a trip, find a few tried-and-true favorites that haven’t been played with in a while and pack them in your carry-on – bring these out for something ‘new’ to play with. Snacks: When packing snacks, think layers. Put a favorite healthy food on top, infrequent treats next, and special-occasion snacks last. Don’t blow your bribe treat before take-off.

READY, GET SET, GO!Tip for Parents: If your kids lose it, you must stay calm. Don’t worry if other (childless) passengers are giving you horrified looks. Life will go on.

Have Fun: Don’t forget to have fun; after all, you’re building memories that will last a lifetime.


Published: January 8, 2009