by Hannah J. McKay
My Top 3 Tips for Flying with Little Kids
I’m not going to lie. Even though I’ve done it quite a bit, flying with little kids still scares me [maybe it always will?] because: confined space.
Oh, man. There are few things in motherhood more overwhelming than anticipating parenting squirmy/tired/pent up kiddos [and possibly dealing with massive tantrum-meltdowns] in a confined space with dozens of other people watching + listening. We won’t even mention doing that solo, sans my better half, which I’ve done a few times now.
Insert wide eyed emoticon.
No, thank you.
But, yes, tantrums happen. And parenting in a bubble is hard. Yet both have probably happened to most of the people watching + listening, so don’t worry, Mama.
You’ve got this.
Tip #1: Pack as light as possible.
I tend to plan for the worst case scenario [thanks, Dad! Ha]. Which also means that I tend to over pack what I’m carrying on. But two of something is not necessarily better than one. Especially when one isn’t even needed.
I try very hard to be ruthless and only bring exactly what we will need. I carry a back pack, bring the Ergo for Babes, and Bubbs pulls his little pack. That’s all she wrote.
Side note: I’ve never flown with a stroller. I like the simplicity of the Ergo [even though it’s more physical work for me]. It’s easier getting through security, maneuvering around the airport and getting on and off the plane since we don’t have to wait for gate check. Bonus Tip: If you use a soft carrier, they don’t make you take baby off going through security; they just do a simple hand swab test and you’re golden.
Other side note: I’ve also never flown with car seats. I know a lot of people do, but I just check ours. I’ve never wanted to bet on my kiddos sitting happily in their car seats the entire flight [a bet I would not win, I assure you]. And I’ve also never wanted to haul them through the airport or spend money on stroller attachments, etc. This is just personal preference.
I have Bubbs carry most of the activities for the flight, his snacks and his sweatshirt. I also include an extra pair of pants/undies just in case.
In my backpack, I carry an iPad for different activities, a battery pack to recharge the iPad or my phone as needed, a diaper pack, my wallet, and snacks for Babes and me. I always figure, as long as I have my driver’s license and my credit card, everything else I can buy or live without.
Tip #2: Bring plenty of low stress/low mess activities
Like PLENTY. Bubbs bounces from one thing to another like a cute little ping-pong ball. He’s that way at home, he’s that way on a plane. And Babes, of course, is only entertained for short periods of time, too.
My goal with each flight is to have several low stress, low mess activities cued up and ready to go so we can hop from one to another and back again. No prob.
Here are some of our favorites:
– Water Wow
– Melissa & Doug On the Go Magicolor Coloring Pad
– Legos for Bubbs
– Doodle Pro Trip
– KidsDoodle app for IPhone or Ipad
– Play dough [I just bring one color for each kiddo]
– Movies/shows downloaded + ready to watch via the Prime Video app
– YouVersion Bible app for Kids
Also, snacks. Tons of snacks. And, yes, I do consider snacks an activity.
Here are some of our favorites:
– fruit gummies
– yogurt covered pretzels and/or shortbread cookies
– fruit leathers
I figure if all the kids do is eat for three hours, it’s okay. They’re happy, I’m happy.
Tip #3: Roll with it and make it as fun as possible.
I know I can get all serious, focused, stressy and caught up in logistics, but I also know that doesn’t make for a whole lot of fun.
And if mama ain’t fun, ain’t nobody… Wait. That’s not how that goes. Moving on…
But really. If you’ve planned and prepped as best you can, the only thing left to do is roll with it. And have fun!
Here are a few ways I try to do this:
– I grab something for myself in the airport before boarding. A favorite drink, a yummy sandwich, chocolate, just something for me. This helps take care of me, which relaxes me, which in turn encourages me to “roll with it.” Plus hangry has never done anyone any favors.
– I don’t let Bubbs open his back pack until we are at altitude and the tray tables can be opened. This builds some excitement and ensures they spend the first bit looking out the window and not burning through all the activities/food before we’ve reached 30,000ft.
– I’m learning to ask for help if I need it. Especially flying solo with kids. That’s why the flight attendants are there. Most of the time there are literally not enough hands and a couple more make all the difference.
So, Mama. I hope this helps, even just a little. Give yourself lots of grace. Take it minute by minute.
And happy travels!