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Flying with Kids: Best Tips and Tricks

Flying with kids can be stressful, especially depending on their ages and travel experience. I used to work for an airline and would travel standby all the time with my kids.  I still remember the desperate measures I took when she was a baby to keep her happy and quiet. As a mom of 5, my kids are now seasoned travelers on planes.Here are our best tips for flying with kids, so everyone earns their wings.

Best Tips to Flying with Kids


Best Tips for Flying with Kids 2023

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. So tips for flying with toddlers may not work with elementary-school aged kids.

Tailoring these tips for flying to your kids’ personalities will help out. Some of my kids like to read on planes, some like to watch movies, others enjoy listening to music. Choose what your kids like.

1. 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. Bring any small comfort items.

Then we load it with their 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 not good. My kids’ favorite airplane snacks are granola bars, pretzels, apple slices, and Goldfish.

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. Also lollipops can help with the ear popping when you’re in the air.

Honestly, I’d rather overpack than under pack when it comes to flying with kids. Just don’t pack large liquids in your backpacks.

Tips for flying with Kids

2. Don’t 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 fuuuuuuuudge.

Download movies or shows ahead of time on your child’s device. Netflix and Disney+ makes it easy 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.

For example, Breeze Airways does not have wifi or screens at their seats right now.

Also bring extra chargers. Some airplanes have plugs under the seat, or USB ports on the screen; some don’t. Be prepared with portable chargers. They have saved the day for my family many times.

Tips to Fly with Kids


3. Buy 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 crayons, because sometimes little kids get ambitious and their drawings end up on tray tables or the window. One swipe of a wipe should take care of that.

Take baby wipes. It doesn’t matter if you have no children in diapers. They work for everything.

4. Choose the Early Flight

If possible, choose the earliest flight in the day to avoid possible delays later. Also, the morning is 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.

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.

Tips to flying on plane with toddlers

5. Do Your Research

If you haven’t flown in awhile, things have changed. If you flew pre-Covid, things have changed. It seems like there are less flights, more packed flights, and not enough employees at airlines. Plus, it seems like almost every airline is charging for assigned seats. There are minimal free seats on flights anymore. 

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.

Many airlines charge extra for being able to choose your seat ahead of time, not just the budget airlines anymore. 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! And read the details on an airline’s website. Some information can be outdated on other sites, Better to be safe than sorry.

Also, check your flight status before heading to the airport, just in case there’s a delay. 

6. Choose the Direct Flight

When possible choose the direct flight. It stinks getting stuck somewhere on the layover and not knowing anybody, scrambling to make arrangements from an unfamiliar airport, and just trying to keep kids entertained.

One time we had a 5-hour delay we didn’t know about until we got to the airport. At least we could make the decision to stay and wait it out or head home or try to change the flight to another day. 

We know direct flights aren’t always an option and they can sometimes be more expensive, but when possible to avoid a delay, it’s the better choice. 

Choose seats ahead of time for flying with kids


Traveling with kids and toddlers can be fun! They are usually excited for a new adventure. And if you’re traveling to the Most Magical Place on Earth, this Disney World with Toddlers Guide will help you out. 

If your little ones aren’t exactly the best behaved on the plane, and you’re doing the best you can, don’t sweat it and ignore and the stink eyes. Many of us have been there. 

Have fun! Adventure is out there. 

Best Tips for Flying With Kids Pinterest