Tips for Air Travel With Children of Any Age

When it comes to travel and parenting, they’re going to intermix at some point in your life. If you’re anything like my husband and I, we like to travel and that means taking one nice vacation a year without the little ones (hey, our marriage is important to us) and the rest of our trips include our now 5-year-old and almost 3-year-old daughters (and this year it will include our soon-to-arrive boy/girl twins). What we’ve learned traveling frequently with kids in the past five years is that you have to do one thing; have zero expectations.

Sometimes they’re amazing and everything is perfect. Then there’s the time you forget someone’s favorite cup/blanket/doll/coloring book and problems arise. You can’t help some issues, but there are a few things you can do to make any flight easier and less stressful with your little ones.


When you’re traveling with kids, it helps to smile. Not only does it make your kids think everything is fine, it helps make other people relax around you. The awful truth is that many people detest flying with children (and many aren’t afraid to make it known). It’s as if they’ve forgotten that age limits don’t exist on planes and that children aren’t perfect – even theirs, whom you know they’re sitting there thinking would NEVER misbehave while traveling (riiiiiiight).

Just smile. It helps people see you as friendly and engaging and it can make people feel bad for their negative thoughts. For the most part, people are understanding and fine. Smiling just makes it easier on everyone in your party.

Be Prepared

Kids are notorious for being antsy. Be prepared for this. Maybe you don’t want to chase them all over the terminal while you wait to board your flight, but do it anyway. Let them get down and run around now before they’re confined to airplane seats for a few hours. Bring their favorite toys, DVD players, movies, music, books, crayons, snacks and anything you know they love. My advice? Buy them each a new backpack and fill it with new toys and games and activities that they’ve never seen before. It keeps them far busier for much longer than anything else they own.

Buy Them a Seat

It’s expensive and it’s not something people want to do when their kids are younger than 2 and can fly free as lap babies, but buy the seat. You can bring your car seat on board and hook it up, confining your kids as if they’re in the car. My husband and I still make our kids sit in their car seats. It reminds them that this is not a free-for-all and since we started doing this with them 2 years ago, they’ve (knock on wood) had near perfect flights.

Image via Thinkstock



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