Monday, January 18, 2016

Airplane Travel tips for Families with little kids: From a mom of 3

In the last 2 months the kids and I have taken 18 flights. Half were just the kids and I rolling solo without Daddy's help. In the year 2015 we took 29 flights. Most of these are across the globe flights (10+ hours). Henry was only 5 months old and had been on 3 continents and 5 countries. So, I feel like after all of these flights I have really gotten the hang of the little "tricks" and tips that can help your travels go much smoother, and other areas that are just all in Gods  hands.

Some of the best tips I would say are:

 Look into your airplane

When you book your flights make sure you look at what type of plane you will be flying on. This will help your seating arrangements and prepare for what the best spots will be for your family. Some flights you choose your seat online, but the ones that don't just make a quick phone call to secure seats together, and all in the same row.

Baby bassinet: Many large planes have this AMAZING accommodation of a baby bassinet. There are only a few available so you MUST call ahead and reserve one. They only are there for babies up to 20 lbs so keep that in mind. The large planes we have taken max have had 4 bassinets. They also are in the rows that have the TV monitors in the armrest. Which means that those armrests do NOT go up to allow another child to lay across you or across the seats. ( remember that, the seats with 3, by the window, don't go up. The center 4 seats have 2 bassinets and the center seats the arm rest goes up.) It sounds silly but, if you have a two year old that refuses to sleep sitting up straight, you remember those kinds of things.

This is a picture of my three. (5, 2, 5 months) This is a center row of 4. We lucked out and only 3 babies were on the plane so they let us have the full middle row instead of splitting us up.

Huge game changer for a 13 hour flight where you BEG your children to sleep, and also want to punch the flight attendants in the face when they turn the lights on after 4 hours to serve you "breakfast" when its NOT BREAKFAST!

I have let my 5 year old lay across the floor and cover up with blankets to get to sleep as well as my 2 year old across the seats. It doesn't sound the safest, but of coarse if there was turbulence I get them up.

Don't be afraid you're going to bother someone else. 

While on my 5th flight ( in a row) with the three kids by myself I had been awake for 30 hours and the kids were starting to get crazy an angel flight attendant said to me, " You are paying for those seats too, don't feel like others deserve those seats more than you do." The weight of anxiety lifted from my shoulders and I swear I could have kissed her.

We do pay good money for these tiny humans to fly on the planes with us. There is no child price, it is all the same. I know when that grumpy lady/man is staring you down while your baby screams you forget this but try not to. It's your baby. Their ears are probably hurting and their bodies aren't adjusted to the crazy times, they need you and that grumpy person staring at you will survive without 8 blissful hours of sleep on their flight.


The sweet flight attendants haven't all had kids yet and don't realize when they hand you that heaping cup of apple juice that your stress level just jumped 5 knots as you know your 2 year old is going to spill in the next 5 seconds.

Bring a sippy cup. Bring one for your 2 year old, for your 5, 10, 12 year old... bring one for yourself especially if you're going to be holding a sweet babe on your lap. It doesn't bother anyone to pour your drink into the cup you can safely close and it also helps with the trash that's going to build up around you from all the snacks your kids will consume. I use the Take N toss. They are cheap and are pretty spill proof.

Snacks : Yes, you will make it through security with them.

Many people always think you won't be able to bring food to the plane, or that security is going to make you throw it out. If you have small kids, I swear you can bring just about anything you want (non-threatening of coarse). Each security I have been through is a little different. Some make me drink my water, some make me smell it, some do some fancy test on it and others just look at it and send me on my way. Be prepared for security to take a little longer but besides that you'll be good.

Okay, I know many people promote those tackle box looking things full of snacks. I am here to say PINTEREST FAIL. At least for kids under 3. Three and up it might work out because they aren't quite as clumsy. But really, 2 and below they're going to figure out a way to knock it over and literally waste ALL of your snacks you spent all night on pinterest looking up. I know it's not as eco-friendly but I package everything separate in little baggies. ( No Tupperware, too bulky) Or, I just bring pre-packaged things. PB&J is always a win, especially for kiddos who won't eat the meals on the plane. I also am a big fan of trail mixes, bananas, fruit and fruit snacks for bargaining/bribing the kids to stop staring at the people behind you. Granola bars for momma are especially a win, and a candy bar for when the kids haven't slept and you just need a little pick me up.

Keeping those kiddos occupied.

Older ones: you cannot go wrong with coloring books/notebooks. My 5 year old daughter gets SO excited when I buy her a special new book for her to write in on our travels. When we went back to the states she drew pictures of people we met along the way, the flight attendants, our food, the plane, everything. It really kept her occupied on a 10 hour flight that had no TV's, and no ipad/phones).

The younger ones are a little trickier: I do always say less is more. When we first started we brought SO much stuff to occupy them and I promise you, they won't use it all. It will weigh your arms down in those carry on bags and you'll be surprised what you didn't need. I do think that wrapping presents for them does keep the excitement up (when they're less than 2), but older it's just more mess. You can surprise them without wrapping.

silly puddy
crayons/WASHABLE markers
etch-a-sketch/ magnetic drawing boards
quiet-books ( be sure everything is attached, or else it falls out and you lose it all)
Your childs' favorite toy/stuffy ( try not to lose them though, that's always hard).
Headphones - On long flights the plane supplies them. They won't fit your kiddos head. There are
                      new ones lately about 20$ that will fit and if you use this as a surprise the kiddos will
                      LOVE you.

Babywearing: Get ready

Be prepared my babywearing friends. Be prepared for the flight attendant to force you to remove your peaceful sleeping child from your wrap to put the seat belt on that attaches to yours. I have tried, begged and bargained to not have to do this. But, most planes will make you. I have had my little guy sit up more and put it on WHILE IN the wrap and they've been okay with that. Honestly, I think the wrap is much safer for turbulance that that belt that really doesn't fit so well on them. But that's my humble opinion.

Keep the wrap on during the flight ( unless it's a structured carrier). You can nurse around it and then when your baby seems to be uber fussy and you don't know why you can pop them back in there, take a few laps around the plane and voila, the other passengers will be singing your praises. 

Wear a backpack when wearing your wrap. THAT ZIPS TO PREVENT PICK POCKETING.  A shoulder bag will fall easily.

Extra clothes 

Each child should have an extra shirt and pants (undies/diapers for little ones). Momma should bring another shirt as well. Many kids have accidents because they are scared of the really noise potty (warn them before going in, and flush after they walk out). Stella has thrown up EVERYWHERE, after a ton of flights and shocked us all. In asia their puke bags have rip off tabs... MEGA FAIL. Anyone can have a bout of sickness or spill their drinks everywhere. When your kid pukes on you, you'll want extra clothes. Dark colors are the best, they don't show all the wet spots and boogers quite as much.

Be willing/prepared to need help (if going at it alone with multiple kids).

It is not always easy to accept help but you'd be surprised how many people are willing and wanting to help you.  I am going to expand on the subject in a later post. Also, if you're going alone I think having the carseats make a difference especially during take off and landing you can strap them down and know they won't wiggle their way out and then get tossed around. ( Been there... it's scary)

Some kids are naturals at traveling and elevation change, their ears don't bother them and they can occupy themselves and some are just a hot mess ( no offense, I have one of them). Be ready when you get on the first flight for anything. I do think with more practice they get better, and of coarse age. I would say 18 months was the hardest with my oldest two. But now at 2 he has made big strides.

I always say a prayer that God will get us there safe, and of coarse with as little bumps as possible.

Good luck! 

If you have any questions just ask. :)

Here is the link to my Out of country Travel tips!


  1. For the life of me I don't understand the rule about taking the kid out of the wrap for the seatbelt. It is the stupidest thing ever!

    1. I hid Henry under my big jacket on one of the flights and last second the lady noticed and got SO mad!

  2. Love it. Great tips!!! And yes(!) to all the haters... My child's safety most definitely trumps your comfort. And do you really think I enjoy it when my child's having a hard time? Come on, don't be so dense. 😉