1. Forget the cute rolling suitcases for kids younger than 6: I was so excited a couple years ago to find my girls each their own used rolling suitcases for really affordable. I thought it would be great for them to be able to pull their own suitcases and keep everything of theirs separate. But in reality they were just too young for it to be practical. After the novelty wore off (About 2 seconds in) I was stuck trying to wheel all 3 of our bags, car seats and cribs to the ticketing counter. It also resulted in the meltdown pictured above. A wheeling suitcase is a little too much for an overtired two year old! In my experience the trip from car to ticket counter to drop off your bags is the absolute worse part of traveling with toddlers. I am usually sweating, exhausted and ready to turn around and go back home by the time the bags are dropped off. But take heart, it gets better from here, the cute little airport bakery with killer croissants, is only a short walk away. Putting everything in one suitcase helps to keep the cost for checking bags, and the stress to a minimum. Keep an eye out for sales at Costco and amazon and invest in a suitcase similar to this one:
I have one like this and I love it! The separate compartments mean that I can put mine and baby’s clothes in one and keep both of the girls’ stuff zipped up in the other one. This also works great on the way home to keep the dirty clothes separate from the clean ones. The 4 spinning wheels on here make it so easy to roll through the airport and the light weight means that you can fit a lot before you hit the 50 lb limit, which is good cause this thing can hold a lot!
2. Selecting Seats: If you are traveling with toddlers and are able to select your seats I suggest picking the ones closest to the lavatory near the back of the aircraft. It is worth suffering through the occasional whiff of that lovely scent unique to airline bathrooms. Because when the drink carts are in the aisle it is impossible to pass them without causing a big inconvenience and when your toddler has to go, she has got to go! Also when you are deplaning with toddlers you will want to be in the back anyways, so everyone gets off before you. The last thing you want is impatient business travelers tapping their toes while you round up all your stuff after a long flight.
3. Carry on as little as possible: I know it sounds like a great idea to carry on stuff to avoid paying the checked bag fees. And I know you want to be as prepared as possible, but it is hard work to wheel through an airport with 3 kids and piles of bags. I suggest bringing just your diaper bag, a small light weight backpack for each kid with snacks and entertainment, stroller and an infant car seat if its a long flight. In your diaper bag I suggest putting a couple spare outfits for baby and a spare shirt for you. After an unfortunate flight by myself with 2 under 3, that involved a lot of crying and a baby pooping ALL over me, I realized the wisdom in packing spare clothes for mom too! I wish someone had warned me, and I am sure so did the guy sitting next to my beautiful smelling self on the next flight. It is no fun to be in a poopy situation with no clean clothes.
|We love these little comfy, light backpacks|
4. How to deal with Car seats: Most importantly if you plan on taking a seat on the plane with you it must be approved for use in aircraft. It will need to have a sticker on it, saying approved for use in aircraft, or they will not allow you to bring it on. If you have older kids you might want to consider checking the car seat, I never dared to take my kids without car seats until recently and now I wonder why I waited so long! It is such a pain to haul the big bulky seats through the airport and get them strapped onto the plane. SO if you think your kid will do OK staying seated with only a lap buckle I highly recommend checking car seats. On most airlines strollers and car seats can be checked without charge and they will provide a bag to protect them. If you are checking in on a self check in kiosk or online, do not count your car seat as a checked bag or you will be charged. Just head to the ticket counter when you get there and inform them you need to check a car seat.
5. Lap Child: However if you are traveling with a lap child that cannot sit by his or herself, I advise bringing your car seat with you, if it clicks into your stroller for easy transporting. When you get to the gate just tell the gate agent that you have a lap child and would love to be seated with an empty seat next to you if at all possible. Since you did not pay for that seat, there is no guarantee you will get it. But if you do, you will be very glad to have a seat to strap your baby in and free up your hands. If you cannot get a seat, they will gate check the car seat for you at boarding time. It is also really handy to have a sling or baby carrier with you in case you do not get the extra seat. They will make you unstrap him for take off and landing but during the flight you will have your hands free.
6.Consider skipping the PreBoarding: Most airlines give families with small children the chance to board first. But if you took my advice and are traveling light, I recommend boarding more towards the end. If you preboard it can add as much as 40 minutes to the time your kids are restrained. It really does not take long to get situated so use this extra time to let the kids hop around a bit. Make sure if you are checking your stroller or car seat at the gate that you ask the gate agent for a claim ticket so you are ready to go right on board, and when you do get on, move as quickly as possible to get settled in. Also make sure you make all the kids go potty before boarding as it can be a while before that seat belt sign goes off.
7. Dole out your Entertainment: For a longer flight I suggest pulling things out of the kids bags and giving them one option at a time. That way they don’t tear through everything and get bored fast. Save the big guns (electronics) for after they grow sick of the other stuff. When it comes time to watch videos or play games, please for the sake of everyone around you, use headphones! There is nothing worse than being stuck listening to the same Dora episode 15 times when you are trying to relax mid flight. I suggest making sure to buy some headphones that fit your child’s head before you go. We have tried various ones and so far these have been the most durable and best fit for our 3 and 4 year old.
8: Pack snacks and drinks, don’t wait for the inflight service: Last time we flew I forgot to fill my girls sippy cups before we boarded. We were seated near the back on a very full flight, I can’t even tell you how many requests I had for a juice before the Flight attendants were able to make it to my row. Evelynn kept saying her famous “I sirsty, I hungreey!” You are allowed to bring juice, milk and formula through security for babies and toddlers so I recommend packing each child a sippy cup in their back pack. Even if they usually don’t use them any more, those tray table are small and move a lot so you will have a spill if you don’t have a cup with a lid. Click Here for information from the TSA on taking your liquids through security.
I hope you have found this tips helpful. Traveling with your kids does not have to be stressful, in fact it is a lot of fun! I look forward to sharing more tips and stories of our travels with you in the future. Do you have any tried and true tips for traveling with young kids?