Traveling on an airplane with babies or small kids can be an adventure for sure. I grew up as a frequent child traveler. As a mom, I have traveled on an airplane several times with my own kids. Here are my top tips for keeping your trip low stress and helping you, your kids and your luggage arrive with all of your hair in tact.
10 Best Tips for Traveling with Kids
(from a mom whose been there!)
Use your stroller
Even if your kid normally walks everywhere. Even if you are a babywearing ninja. If they fit in your stroller, bring it.
In addition to containing your child (and saving your back), your stroller can be a convenient place to keep all of your things all together. Keep your diaper bag, kiddo, coats and any other carry ons conveniently sequestered on their own little portable island. We personally have a Bumbleride Indie 4 - and it's perfect for both every day use and traveling. (you can read my full Indie 4 review here)
Have a connecting flight? Your stroller is invaluable for toting everything quickly from point A to point B. You'll be able to load up your kids and your things and book it to your next flight faster than little legs would be able to travel on their own.
Protect your investment: Get a stroller bag
Now that your trusty stroller has gotten you to your gate, you'll need to fold it up to get it on the plane. Nothing will put visible wear on your stroller like baggage handlers.
Buy a bag to protect your investment -especially if you have a nice stroller.
A huge duffel bag or plain stroller bag is better than nothing but even better is a padded stroller bag. We have the Bumbleride Travel Bag and I LOVE it. It protects my stroller really nicely and rolls up to easily carry through the airport as well. I love that it gets my stroller from point A to point B in great condition. Check out my video above for a demo of the travel bag we have.
Use a stroller compatible diaper bag
When we fly, we carry on one bag just for the baby, one bag for our older child (a backpack that he wears) and one bag that my husband and I share. To help make transporting the baby bag easier, we got a Skip Hop Dash Messenger Diaper Bag. It has special clips that attach it to your stroller - and then it unclips easily if I want to carry it like a messenger bag. This particular bag has a lot of big pockets both inside and outside - perfect for holding cell phones, water bottles, baby food and more.
Keep important items on you
Between checking in with your airline, getting through security and getting on the plane, you'll keep needing your driver's license (or other government issued ID) and your boarding passes. You'll also want easy access to money or credit cards. Digging in your bag for your wallet is a pain and fanny packs are so 1989. Be sure to keep these items stashed in your pockets or in a FlipBelt for easy access. Using the FlipBelt also gives me more wardrobe versatility because I won't have to wear pants with pockets in order to keep important items close at hand. On our recent trip, I had my phone, my ID, credit card, cash and my son's medicine in my FlipBelt to pull out as needed.
Between lots of walking and the dry air circulating on the aircraft, it's easy to get dehydrated. Bring your own stainless steel water bottle and keep it filled to encourage drinking. Because of the liquid prohibitions, you'll need to bring it through the TSA check point empty but you can fill it up once you get to the other side. My favorite water bottle for grown ups is the Klean Kanteen Wide Insulated Water Bottle and for kids we love the Crocodile Creek stainless steel water bottles.
Snacks, snacks, snacks
Nothing is worse than a cranky kid on a plane. Being hungry (along with the other stresses of traveling) brings out the worst in everyone - especially kids. Pack a personalized lunch box (We love LunchBots) for each member of your party with an assortment of healthy snacks. Some of our travel favorites are apples, plantain chips, string cheese, sandwiches, bananas, trail mix and dried fruit.
If you are traveling with a baby, you are also allowed to bring pumped breastmilk, formula or baby food in excess of the normal amount of liquid permitted. Just be sure to pack all your baby liquid/gel/soft food needs in one bag and declare them at the TSA checkpoint. For my baby, I'm a fan of Happy Family Squeeze Pouches for his snacks.
Have a plan to pop ears
While most adults can pop their ears on command, kids usually need a bit of help. If you're still nursing, nursing for take off and landing will help your baby pop their ears. I like to wear my NuRoo Nursing Scarf when I fly as it makes an easy modesty shield for me without creating a huge tent over the baby (check out the helpful video above if you're unsure how to use it without flashing!).
For older kids or babies who are no longer nursing, a sippy cup with a straw (The Safe Sippy is my favorite) is a good option. Big kids can also suck on hard candy to help their ears pop.
Figure out ahead of time how you and your kids will pass the time on your flight. We usually bring a mix of digital and analog activities: games and movies downloaded onto our tablet, coloring books, crayons, blank paper and some small (quiet) age appropriate toys. Airplanes can be rather loud, so be sure to bring a set of headphones for watching movies or hearing any of the sounds coming out of your your device.
Pack extras -of everything
The only way to outsmart Murphy is to plan for his arrival. Bring extra diapers, clothes, a shirt for mom, cash, etc. If an accident happens or you get delayed, you'll be glad you did.
(want cute disposable diapers like I have? I get them from Honest Company - these are my favorite disposable dipes. Not only are they planet and baby friendlier than traditional disposables, but they are darn cute! You can even try them for free!)
Avoid getting sick by keeping clean
I am not a germaphobe. I do, however, want to do everything possible to avoid having my kids be sick while we are on vacation. While washing your hands with soap and water is always preferable to using sanitizer, we also make liberal use of sanitizing spray to clean both our hands as well as the trays and handles of the seats in our areas. When choosing a sanitizer, look for one that does not use the toxic ingredient, Triclosan. My favorite hand sanitizer spray is Everyone Coconut and Lemon Hand Sanitizer Spray - not only does it use safe ingredients but it smells like lemon meringue pie!
I hope these tips help keep you safe and sane as you are traveling with your little ones! Have another great tip for traveling with kiddos? Leave it in the comments!