Parents Share Their Best Tips for Navigating Airports with Kids During the Holidays

Deep breaths and snacks — plus a few other parenting tricks.

By: Amanda Mushro

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Mother holding daughter at airport


Mother holding daughter at airport

Photo by: Granger Wootz

Granger Wootz

This holiday season, millions of Americans and their kids will be flying to visit family and friends. While flying with kids is always stressful, throw in the mad rush of the holidays, and there are plenty of reasons to expect tantrums and tears — and some of those might be from you. So, to help you avoid any turbulence before the flight even takes off, we asked parents to share their favorite tips and tricks to make every step of navigating airports with kids a little easier.

Keep The Kids Moving

Lynn, a mom of two who has taken many international flights with her children, shared this tip for keeping kids moving before their flight. "Some airports have indoor play areas. Those are godsends. If not, we spent a lot of time walking around (burning energy), running on the moving sidewalks or dashing through wide terminals. Absolutely no TV unless you have no other options; save TV and seated activities for the plane."

Plan Ahead

Christyl, a mom of four, recommends using apps to organize everyone’s boarding passes and vaccine cards like My TSA, Verifly, or Airside. Keeping those apps on the same screen makes them easy to access when you are juggling kids and luggage.

Carollyn, a mom of two, suggests wearing your baby in a carrier, which leaves you hands-free and lets your baby nap on you comfortably in the airport. Also, she highly recommends registering for TSA PreCheck to save yourself time and sanity during security checks.

Pack a Few Surprises

Erin, a mom of three, says the key to happy travelers is keeping the kids entertained. "Keeping them engaged throughout the process helps. Giving them something to be in charge of, asking them questions to keep them thinking, and keep them interested in the process (where do the bags go, what does the Backscatter do, why do some people wear socks and others don’t)," she explained. She also suggested creating different activities for each step at the airport to keep things exciting and help kids stay happy.

Make the Experience Special

Natalie, a mom of three, has some amazing advice on making holiday travel more meaningful for everyone. "We have a tradition of traveling on Christmas Day — probably for the last 18 years. In advance, we buy a ton of $5 McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts gift cards. Throughout the day, we encourage the kids to notice the people who aren’t on holiday, and thank them for working so we can travel. It’s really helped them to see the unseen and learn to express gratitude. Now, our youngest is 15 and oldest is 24, yet it’s still our tradition."

Stay Fully Charged and Pack Backups

Michelle, a mom of two, said make sure the electronics are fully charged before you leave your house and download movies and shows at home. "We usually keep the kids’ tablets in airplane mode the entire time to conserve batteries. Also, once you arrive at the airport, check luggage so you aren’t wrangling luggage and kids (but pack an extra set of clothes in your backpack for everyone, especially if you’re traveling with a kid in diapers. I’ve had to change my clothes mid-travel because of a diaper blowout."

Keep Your Cool

Dwight, a dad of one, said even during stressful situations, remember to stay calm. He noted, "It’s a high-stress environment, so remain pleasant no matter what. You attract more bees with honey than vinegar, as they say. Who knows, you may end up with an upgrade or an extra bag of pretzels."

Hire a Service

When juggling kids, luggage, and airport terminals feels like too much, Sara, a mom of two, recommends hiring a service to help you navigate the airport and avoid crowds. Check out Royal Airport Concierge or Sky Squad, who both offer services that help you speed through airports effortlessly.

The Stroller Is Your Friend

Jennifer, mom of one, says to keep that stroller close. "Best advice — keep them in a stroller as long as possible and use oversized backpacks or crossbody bags instead of carton luggage."


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