Traveling with children can feel like an overwhelming experience. However, with proper planning and age-specific inclusions, you can have a vacation as close to stress-free as traveling with children can be.
In this article, we outline our top suggestions and tips for traveling and flying with children of all ages.
Packing for Vacation
Some of the most essential elements of traveling with kids start before you even leave the house. When packing, there are several things to consider for a smooth flight and vacation.
As the age range requires the most items, babies will take up most of your luggage space with all their necessities. Not only do you want to pack the essentials, which include:
Multiple outfits (be sure to pack extra!)
Formula or breast pump (if needed)
You also want to pack specific items for your carry-on. These include pacifiers for take-off and landing, snacks, a change of clothes for you and your baby, diapers and wipes, bottles, and toys.
Toddlers and Preschoolers
When it comes to this age range, you will need to tailor your packing to their particular needs and interests. If your toddler is potty training, packing extra clothes and a portable seat is critical. For those who are not yet there, having all the necessities that come with diaper changes is imperative.
For both groups, packing their favorite stuffed animal can help to alleviate any anxiety about the flight and hotel stay. Letting them pick out special snacks for the plane ride will also help to get them excited about the trip.
When children reach school age, they are typically well-established in their interests. Work with them to pack items they won’t complain about wearing and entertainment options they want to participate in on the plane.
School-age children will also appreciate picking out their snacks for the plane ride. Be sure to pick up a pack of gum or lollipops to help with ear pain.
Pre-Teens and Teenagers
Some may think older children are the easiest to travel with, but that isn’t always the case. This age bracket will have strong opinions on the items they want to bring but may not always think about all the scenarios they will need to prepare for or what the weather will be like. Therefore, it’s best to review what they pack before leaving.
Double-check that you have all their chargers in an easy-to-access spot and encourage them to download a new movie or music before getting on the plane. Pack an assortment of snacks, as you will field many requests for food during the flight.
Packing is the precursor for keeping everyone happy on the flight. However, having various tricks up your sleeve is critical to make the process as smooth as possible.
Planning your flight to take off around your child’s natural nap time can help you. Not only will this pass the time quicker, but you will also arrive at your destination with a happy and rested child.
For some, getting your baby to sleep before boarding the plane may be easier. With this method, your child may sleep through the take-off, and you don’t have the stress of dealing with that if it hurts their ears.
For others, consider the places your baby sleeps most comfortably. If this includes the car seat, consider purchasing a seat for the baby so they can be in their own space for sleeping.
If your child is awake for the flight, have ample distractions on hand. Remember that the plane itself can serve as a new and fun item. Therefore, looking out the window, exploring the lap tray, and pushing the shade up and down can provide a period of fun for a little one.
Toddlers and Preschoolers
When traveling with toddlers, planning is essential, so they don’t get bored during long trips on a plane. Bring activities such as coloring books, sticker books, magnetic boards, small puzzles, and other quiet toys to keep them entertained without making too much noise.
To keep them occupied during the plane ride, including a new toy in the carry-on will be a welcome surprise. Having a tablet prepped with movies, shows, and games to watch can also be a lifesaver.
When considering the various ways to keep your school-age child entertained on the plane, there are a few different items and activities to consider.
Bring a few books your child enjoys reading, or buy new ones before the trip.
Download some games, movies, and TV shows on an electronic device beforehand.
Coloring books and activity pads are great for keeping kids busy and their minds engaged.
Card games like UNO or travel-sized versions of classic games like Monopoly or Scrabble can provide hours of entertainment.
Bring some small puzzles that your child can work on during the flight, like crosswords or Sudoku.
Pre-Teens and Teens
Entertaining a pre-teen or teen can be tricky when it comes to being on an airplane for several hours. Below we list some suggestions that may help alleviate boredom.
Teenagers love their electronics, so make sure to bring along their phone, tablet, or laptop and any other portable gaming devices they have.
Ensure your teenager has their favorite music on their device or MP3 player. You can also download some new music for them to discover.
Podcasts are a great way to keep teens entertained and engaged. Download some podcasts that cover their favorite topics or interests, such as sports, music, or pop culture.
Download some of your teen's favorite shows or movies before the trip, or rent them online.
Traveling with kids can seem daunting at first, but there are many things that you can incorporate to make it a great experience. Following these travel tips for flying with your kids can help ensure a smooth and enjoyable flight for everyone.
With a little extra effort and planning, you can make your next family vacation a memorable and stress-free experience for everyone involved.