This post is sponsored by Allianz Global Assistance (AGA Service Company) and I have received financial compensation.
Flying with kids can be stressful, especially depending on their ages and travel experience. I used to work for an airline when I had one child and would fly often with her. I still remember the desperate measures I took when she was a baby to keep her happy and quiet. Now with 5 children, we’re still flying, and we have our system down. Here are our best tips for flying with kids, so everyone earns their wings.
Tips for Flying with Kids
Like the Boy Scouts say, be prepared. I’ve learned that tips are not a one-size-fits-all for all children. My kids are different ages and have different interests. The oldest is a pro now that she’s taken so many flights. The youngest not so much, but I know what she likes. Some of my kids like to read on planes, some like to watch movie, others enjoy listening to music. Choose what your kids like.
Pack a Backpack for Each Kid
I like backpacks, because they easily fit under a seat, and they are usually light enough for even little ones to carry. If they get tired of carrying them through an airport, I can hang them on a stroller or throw it over my shoulder. I’ll let the little ones choose a few of their favorite things like a toy, stuffed animal, or coloring book. Then we load it with their iPod, iPad, tablet or whatever they like to use. I’ll head to the Dollar Store to pick up a few surprises to add to their backpack later. You’d be surprised at how entertaining post-it notes and paper clips can be.
I also pack individual-sized snacks for each kid in their backpack and keep the really good sugar-loaded stuff in my bag for emergencies. You don’t want them chomping on candy the entire flight, because they’re going to hit a sugar high and in a cramped space at 30,000 feet in the air, that’s no bueno. My kids’ favorites are granola bars, pretzels, apple slices, and crackers.
The Twizzlers, Sour Patch Kids, and lollipops stay with me. I can’t tell you how many toddler tantrums I’ve avoided with a Dum Dums sucker. Honestly, I’d rather overpack than under pack when it comes to flying with kids. Just don’t pack large liquids in your backpacks.
Do Not Rely on Airplane In-Flight Entertainment
We often choose airlines for their in-flight entertainment options, but that’s our backup. More often than not, everything is fine, my kids can watch their favorite shows on the screen in front of them, and all is well. However, when you hear over the intercom that the Wi-Fi isn’t working on the plane or the inflight movies aren’t working and you don’t have a plan B, then fuuuuuuuuuuuuudge.
Download movies or shows ahead of time on your child’s device. Netflix makes it easier for you to download ahead of time (you’ll need internet to download), but you don’t need an internet connection to watch. Also research your airline’s entertainment requirements. On some devices you have to download apps before you can watch the airline’s entertainment in the air.
Also bring extra chargers. Some airlines have plugs under the seat, some don’t. Be prepared with portable chargers. They have saved the day for my family many times.
Spring for the Washable Crayons
Don’t underestimate the power of paper/journals and crayons. Between asking your kids to draw their favorite part of the trip, or playing Tic-Tac-Toe or Hangman, there’s so much to do with a blank sheet of paper and crayons. But spring for the washable ones, because sometimes little kids get ambitious and their drawing end up on tray table or the window. One swipe of a wipe should take care of that.
Take baby wipes. I don’t care if you have no children in diapers. They work for everything.
Choose the Early Flight
If possible, choose the early in the day flight. That’s usually when my children’s behavior is the best, even the super early flights. They’re excited, they’re happy, and then if they’re tired a little later, they’ll usually doze off on the plane. Also there’s less of a chance for flight delays if you’re the first of the day! It’s the later flights that usually get the trickle down effect from bad weather and missed connections.
Do Your Research
If you haven’t flown in awhile, things have changed. I fly Southwest Airlines a lot and it breaks my heart every time I see a family who didn’t know they had to check in online 24 hours in advance in order to get a boarding position. There are no assigned seats, and it’s open seating. So if you wait until you get to the airport, chances are you’re going to walk onto a full airplane and there are no seats open for a family to sit together. Then this requires the kindness of strangers to give up seats which sometimes happens and sometimes doesn’t. I’ve also seem families who don’t take advantage of family boarding, probably because they didn’t know about it.
Other airlines charge extra for being able to choose your seat ahead of time. Take the time to research your airline’s rules, family boarding policies, luggage, car seat, and stroller policies. If you have a question, google it or call the airline! Better to be safe than sorry.
Use Travel Insurance
I’ve been starting to use travel insurance recently, because the cost of airline tickets and vacations for a family of 7 is expensive. With kids, anything can happen. It’s especially useful when traveling internationally, as International Travel Insurance can cover medical expenses. When we go on our Disney Cruises and hit those ports, a medical emergency can be pricey. Better to be safe than sorry. Check out Allianz Travel Insurance for different quotes.
Now that you’ve followed these tips for flying with kids and are ready to fly the friendly skies, how about some extra vacay money?!
Win $250 by Sharing Your Best Travel Tips
You can win a $250 Visa or Mastercard Gift Card by sharing your best travel photos and tips on Instagram! Help your fellow wanderlusters out. From July 5 to July 14, post your pretty travel photos along with your best travel tips in Instagram, follow @travelingmom AND use the hashtag #TMOMAllianz to be entered to win a $250 Visa or Mastercard gift card.
Here’s how to play!
1. Post your favorite travel photo to Instagram with the tag #TMOMAllianz
2. Add your best travel tip to the caption (doesn’t have to be about photo but it does need to be specific).
3. Enter as many times as you want from July 5-14.
4. TravelingMom will randomly draw 2 winners and contact them on Instagram.
Good luck! I’ll be traveling with my family to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and Lake Powell this week, so follow along on my Instagram as I share my best road trip tips and pretty red rock and lake pics!