Traveling with Children

22 Dec

Since I just got done traveling with my 2 kids, age 5 and age almost 3, I thought I would share some travel tips I’ve learned over the past few years with my kids.  My oldest took her first flight at 4.5 months, and we’ve gone about 2 flights a year since, and the more recent ones were with both kids.   This will probably be a work in progress, but here a few things I’ve learned along the way.

– Always, and I mean ALWAYS, spend the extra money to get every child their own seat, even if they are under 2 and can fly for free.  Trust me, even if they don’t stay in their car seat the whole time, you will appreciate the extra space.  Plus, with their own seat, you will be able to bring their car seat along in case of bad turbulence or a rough take off or landing.  Also, since the child is used to being in a car seat in the car, it will make the plane seem more like a car.  I suppose this may be a good or bad thing, depending on how well they like the car.  Make sure you know where the sticker is on the seat that says it’s approved for use on aircraft.  It’s usually in red writing on one of the stickers.  There are a few ways to get the seat through the airport to the gate, you can put it in your stroller while your child walks, you can attach it to a luggage carrier, or use a product from Go Go Babyz.  Also, the car seat does not usually count towards your carry on baggage allowance, but double check with your air carrier.

– I really don’t have a good answer for what time of day to fly.  Some people like to fly at nap time or night so the child sleeps on the flight.  I know a travel day can be hectic, so a nap may or may not happen anyway. The only suggestion on time that I have is that if you have connecting flights, try to schedule for first flights of the day, so that if you are delayed, there may be a chance of getting on a later flight and not being stuck at a connecting city overnight.

– Should you fly non-stop or connecting flights?  Well, for non-stop, you only get on and off a plane instead of getting on and off multiple planes.  With connections, you risk a flight being delayed, which may make you late for your connection, which may mean you end up staying a night in a connecting city.  However, if that non-stop is a long flight, like over 3 hours, it becomes a long time to entertain a child, unless they end up sleeping part of it.  The flight we just did and have done a few times now is 2 hour flight, 2 hour layover, 2 hour flight. 2 hours is a nice amount of time for a flight for my kids.  We usually have a potty break about mid-flight to break things up and they don’t get too antsy in that amount of time.

– If you are connecting, I recommend a 2 hour layover.  I know that seems like a long time, but you if you figure that it can take up to 1/2 hour to get off the plane, plus the second flight will board 1/2 hour before flight time, that eats up an hour.  Then, the other hour is taken up by potty breaks, getting some food, if you’re lucky, playing in a play area, and getting to your next gate.  Plus, with a longer layover time, if the first flight is delayed, you have a better chance of still making that connecting flight.  We usually have flown connections through Dallas /Fort Worth International Airport, and I love it for layovers.  They have 2 children’s play areas and my kids love the outdoor train you take to get between terminals.

– How to keep them entertained.  For an older child, a portable DVD player or a game system may do a pretty good job of keeping them entertained.  For smaller kids, some smaller toys or books may do the trick.  I usually will go to the dollar store to get some new toys and books, because there is some appeal in new things for kids.  Plus, that way, if one of them gets lost, I haven’t spent a lot on it.  I try not to take favorite toys, just because I’m afraid of them getting lost.

– If you are connecting, pack extra in case you do get delayed overnight.  I always pack a change of clothes for my kids in case of accidents, but I also pack an extra shirt and underwear for myself.  I take twice the amount of diapers I would expect to need in the amount of time we’re traveling.  It’s easier now with older kids, because I can feed them easier from the food available at the airport.  But, for a baby, pack extra formula and/or baby food.

– I personally like having a stroller to get through the airport with.  It’s nice to have something with wheels to push a child in or to push bags around in.  I have a Maclaren Triumph that has made many trips with us and have been perfect.  It’s lightweight, I can push and steer with one hand, and fold it with one hand.  Plus, it’s held up well to being loaded and unloaded onto planes.  Like a car seat, this should not count in your carry on baggage allowance.  You can take it all the way to the gate and check it at the gate, so it’s last on and first off the plane, and you pick it up as you get off the plane.  I know of one airline that has a weight limit on gate checked strollers, so check with your air carrier to see what their rules are.

– Go with the flow on your day of travel.  Your stress will make the kids stress, so if things aren’t going well, try to take it in stride.  Also, while a screaming child on the plane may upset other passengers, it’s just something that happens sometimes.  Yes, it’s embarrassing, but sometimes there isn’t a whole lot you can do but try to calm them as best you can.  I have also found that most times other passengers have been very helpful, and I know that if I see someone struggling, I try to help how I can too.

That is what I can think of for now.  Like I said, this will probably become a work in progress, so I may add more as I think about it.

3 Responses to “Traveling with Children”

  1. Jenn December 22, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    Another thing about strollers that some people may not know if they haven’t flown w/ kids before is that you can keep it up until you board the plane and then check it at the gate. And it doesn’t count towards your checked items. Then it’s waiting for you when you deboard. Although w/ all of the new fees and cutbacks, who knows if that is still the case w/ all airlines anymore! LOL


    • Jenny December 22, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

      Oh, good point, Jenn! I will get that added in. Thank you!


  2. rose December 27, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    I love all these tips and one that I really like and use is the new toys from the dollar store. The only thing I do differently is I separate the toys and give them one at a time throughout the travel time so it gives them something to look forward to and they get really excited about it. I bring my iPad with me, which gives the kids so much entertainment I usually don’t need much else. They can play games, watch movies or watch TV through my provider DISH Network. I learned about the DISH Remote Access app when I started working for DISH Network and I love it! I have the Sling Adapter hooked up to my account and the kids can access all our subscription channels and DVR recordings. They can watch live TV anywhere we can get a Wi-Fi or 3G connection. They love that they can watch their favorite shows and it is awesome when we are traveling. It keeps the kids busy at the airport and on the flight. I also make sure I have some snacks for them and I usually will pick out some new snacks so they get excited about that too. Those are my best tips I can give and the Stroller tip is a great one too. I make sure I have a stroller for my little one, which helps out a lot.


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