10 Ways to Survive Plane Travel with Young Kids

posted: 04/26/16
by: Katie Morton
Little girl using smart phone in airplane.

Airports and flights can test the patience of even the most seasoned traveler! Air travel today often means flight delays, cramped planes, never-ending security lines, and bustling terminals. When you're traveling with an infant or young child, getting through an airport and boarding a plane can feel like summiting Everest. Yet, it's a rite of passage for any family (you'll see Jessa and Ben go through in on this week's "Counting On"). So for all you moms and dad planning plane trips for your families, here are some of our parent-approved pro tips and tricks to make your next flight a dream, not a nightmare.

1. Allow plenty of time

This may seem obvious, but any pro traveler will tell you that you need include a time buffer when you're traveling by air especially if you have little ones. You may have a marathon line at the security check in, you may need to use the restroom before the plane boards, or you may have to deal with a travel snafu with your itinerary.

Leave a big cushion of time to get to the airport, though security, and board the plane. Your whole family will be happier, calmer campers when you're not sprinting to catch a flight.

2. Bring your car seat

Check with your airline about their policies on car seats on planes. If your child is still in their car seat, you'll want to bring it along and use it on the flight. Many airlines will let you count your car seat as an "extra" carry-on for no charge. For more information on children and car seats on flights, check out the FAA's policies and suggestions.

3. Pack a friend

If your child has a security blanket or special stuffed friend, be sure they make the flight, too. Travel can be sensory overload for little ones, and having their security object within reach can ease their anxiety. Put it in a convenient spot in your carry-on so that you can access it as soon as a meltdown begins.

4. Germs be gone

With enclosed spaces, recirculated air and lots of germ-filled people, planes are prime breeding grounds for bacteria. And, unfortunately, babies and toddlers are known to put their mouths on everything! When you board the plane, wipe down the seats, tray tables (the dirtiest items, according to a recent study), and arm rests with antibacterial hand wipes. Bring along your own blanket for comfort and security (and because airplanes rarely wash those communal blankets). Pack some antibacterial hand gel for your own use and to keep everyone else healthy.

5. Bring extras in your carry-on

Plane travel is not the time to be conservative in your needs. You may be stuck on the runway, be subject to a weather delay, or have any number of delays, which may make your time on the plane longer than anticipated. Pack your carry-on with all the kids' essentials--diapers, wipes, bottles, and snacks--and then add more. Plastic bags are also helpful in the event that your child gets sick in-flight.

6. Carry a change of clothes

If you have a change of clothes for the kids in your carry on, you're prepared to handle a diaper blowout, spilled bottle, or worse... We won't elaborate; we'll just say you (and your fellow passengers) will be REALLY HAPPY for that extra outfit if travel doesn't sit well with little tummies.

7. Take heed of ear pressure

Changes in cabin pressure at take off and landing can be hard on little ears. Babies and toddlers are prone to screaming when their ears start to pop. To prevent the ear pain, you can feed the baby a bottle, nurse, or offer a pacifier at take off and landing. For older children, you can teach them to "pop" their ears, suck on a candy, or have them chew gum. Speaking of treats...

8. Goodie bags go a long way

Kids love novelty, so pack a bag with new toys and treats for the plane, they'll be excited to see their new loot. This special travel bag, filled with toys and activities, will keep their little hands and minds busy once you're in the air. And even if you're a parent who's anti-screen time, this might be a good time to break your rule and let kids watch a movie or play an electronic game.

9. Fellow travelers get goodies, too

One family had the cute idea to make goody bags to hand out to fellow passengers. It included candy, earplugs, and a sweet note, "Hi Stranger! My name is Madeline. I will be 1 on December 17th and this is my first flight. I'll try to be on my best behavior, but I'd like to apologize in advance if I lose my cool, get scared or my ears hurt."

10. Relax and have fun!

You're all set for your trip, well stocked, and armed with tips to make your flight a smooth one for your whole family. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your well-deserved trip!