In a couple of weeks, we will be boarding a plane for our first time flying as a family of five. I am no stranger to traveling with my children, and I can even boast of experience with LONG international flights and toddlers. My husband is from Greece, and his entire family still lives there. This means as long as we are willing to endure the horrendous 20ish hours of travel, we can vacation on the dreamy Mediterranean Sea with lots of built-in babysitters.
That flight though… the thought of keeping children entertained while trapped in an extremely confined space for multiple hours is enough to cause anxiety for any parent, but we have learned a few tricks over the years that you might find helpful!
Tips for Traveling with Infants (Under 2):
- Request the fixed bassinet—do this AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE! This one is a game changer if it is available on your flight. You get automatically upgraded to the bulkhead seating (with extra leg room and a wall in front of you instead of more seats) and the airline has a bassinet that attaches to the wall. Baby can sleep in their own space, and you can have yours!
- Bring milk with you—most airlines do not have milk available in-flight. Be sure to buy some at the airport, or have breastmilk in a cooler with you that you can put into bottles. The flight attendants can likely keep it cold for you once in flight but will not be able to provide enough milk for you.
- Nurse or give bottles during take-off and landing—these are the times when our ears are most sensitive to pressure changes. Drinking will keep your baby swallowing to relieve some of the pressure building in their tiny ears.
- Baby-wear to use the bathroom. When traveling by myself with young babies, my carrier was a lifesaver! I truly would not have been able to use the bathroom on the flight without it. Even in the airport, a baby carrier will allow you to have both your hands to help carry things.
- Don’t have a lot of luggage to carry—you will not have your hands free like you would without having to carry a baby or push a stroller. Again, the babywearing will help, but it will be much easier on you to not have too much carry-on luggage.
- Bring a stroller that will fit through the security check. Do not check your stroller too early! You can keep your stroller with you and collapse it right before you walk onto the plane. This will save your arms and back walking through the airport. You just have to make sure it is small enough to fit through the security machines.
Tips for Traveling with Toddlers and Older Children:
- Bring a stroller that will fit through the security check—same advice as above!
- Buy an inflatable foot rest. We purchased these and I am so excited to use them! They allow the toddler to straighten their legs because they inflate to the same height as the airplane seats and thus give the child a space to lie all the way down WITHOUT having to lie on you!
- Throw all screen-time rules out the window! Bring headphones and bribe, bribe, bribe! Use all the screen time you can and do not let yourself feel guilty about any of it.
- Wrap small gifts. Go to the dollar store or order some cheap toys online. Wrap each of them and give your child a new toy every hour. This will keep them engaged for a while with something that feels novel and fun. I recommend puzzles, coloring books, clay, or sticker activities.
- Bring your own blankets. The airline blankets are small and not very warm. Especially with long flights, it will get cold! This will also help your child feel a connection to home and encourage them to get some sleep.
- Book overnight flights if possible. It sounds miserable, but it really will be easier on you because they will sleep! The inflatable foot rests will also help with this.
Traveling with children is daunting, to say the least, but it is so worth it to give them the important experiences of visiting family and friends and allowing them to see the world!