I’ll go ahead and put it out there, I do not like road trips. I’m not sure what exactly I don’t like: maybe it’s because I am more of a destination than a journey person. But I am working on it, as life is one long journey, right? With that being said, flying is my preference- especially now that I am a mother. My children have both flown a fair amount, and we have learned a lot over the past six years about flying with children, mostly thanks to trial and error. Below are some tips that have helped us when we travel by plane.
- Have a credit card that earns miles. We often fly places for free, simply by redeeming our miles. What’s better than that? We also get our luggage checked for free which saves me from mentally packing 837,037,973 bottles of 3 oz liquids to meet the TSA regulations. AND we often get upgraded to first class. This is especially helpful if we can’t get seats together. It is so easy and fun to ask the (lucky) person seated next to my children and myself if they would mind swapping seats with my husband so that we can sit together. When we tell then that he is seated in first class, it always makes said passenger’s day; it’s always fun to gift someone with a little treat.
2. Bring a stroller! If your children are under the age of 6, BRING A STROLLER. We made this mistake for the first time a few weeks ago when we were flying and foolishly thought that bringing a stroller would be more hassle than it is worth. Strollers provide a place to contain your children while you are waiting in line to go through security, juggling backpacks, IDs, tickets, etc. If you have a connecting flight and need to jet, it is easier to run to the next gate or terminal with your children in a stroller than while carrying them along with whatever else you have in tow. Traveling is exhausting for everyone and even your children that do not typically use a stroller may be tired and need a ride. We have strolled through the airport late at night so that our children could nap. Let me tell you that having a child that has not napped before getting on a plane, thousands of feet up in the air with a hundred strangers is something you want to avoid at all costs! Right before you board the plane, you fold up your stroller and it is placed under the plane and will be waiting for you at your destination. EASY PEASY- do not skip this.
- Bring empty water bottles. As I mentioned above, fluids are something you have to watch when going through security. TSA Agents are more gracious to families, especially if you are bringing formula or breastmilk. Since my youngest will be 2 this month, we no longer bring liquids with us; instead we bring empty water bottles to fill up once we make it through security. This helps save time going through security by preventing an agent from pulling you aside to test your liquids. This also keeps your backpack a little lighter until you fill up the bottles. Traveling often leads to dehydration, so bringing water bottles with you will also help you feel better during your journey AND once you reach your destination.
- Do not take the offer of boarding the plane early. Parents with small children are given the opportunity to board the plane first so they have extra time to get settled, but in my mind it is more time that your children have to be contained and quiet in a small space. I always take the opportunity to let my children
walkrun around to get extra energy out, go to the restroom, grab something to eat, etc. I learned this wise tip from a friend who travels frequently (with her three young children) and quickly adapted it as my own. Thank you, Lauren!
- No electronics…. Until you are on the plane. We already have relatively strict rules regarding electronics in our home, so this sort of transfers easily. By limiting electronics to the plane it causes your children to take in the scenery of what is around them (think Love Actually), allows them to engage with others, and increases the likelihood of the electronics occupying them while you are actually on the plane.
- GRACE. Grace for you, grace for your spouse, and grace for your children. Everyone is dealing with something, so patience for the unavoidable journey with situations and people you encounter along the way along with realistic expectations make everything better and can even be enjoyable.