I still remember the first time we flew with three kids. We had just moved back to New York and were heading back to Tennessee for the twins to be in their babysitter’s wedding. We agonized over whether we should drive or fly because three kids under three require a LOT of stuff. We were lucky to have friends in TN who were willing to meet us at the airport with carseats and pack n plays so that we wouldn’t have to fly with nearly as much as we thought we would. Our biggest navigation that trip was two 2-year olds who needed regularly bathroom breaks on the airplane!
The twins may have been two before they took to the skies the first time, but before the pandemic hit, my kids were getting to be quite seasoned in the flying department. The kids have clocked in over 24 flying trips apiece and have been the proud recipients of a first class trip home from Ohio last winter. They consider themselves to be pros and absolutely love that they are seasoned travelers. However, we have come a long way from those first tentative flights with car seats and luggage over the last few years!
Flying might not be on your radar for awhile (it’s not our first choice right now with a pandemic and so many regulations), but here are a few things we have learned in our travels! I’ve broken it down by age as I have learned that their needs have changed somewhat over the last few years, and this is what I have come up with!
- If you can get a trusted carseat/booster on the other end of your travels, do it. It makes travel so much easier to not have to drag it through the airport (especially if it ends up being thrown under the plane).
- BRING SNACKS!!! This is a good one for any age. Make sure you have something for them to chew on when you are going up in the air, and plenty to keep them for begging for food during the entire flight. I will usually bring one special treat along to give them part way through the flight.
- At this age they didn’t have their own electronic devices, so I would bring plenty of games, books, and LeapFrog readers to keep them entertained. They also loved the reusable sticker books and would enjoy sticking them to the windows and anything else they would attach to while telling stories all around us!
- I also would download a kid friendly movie to my ipad and would bring along headphones and a headphone splitter so they could all watch something together on the second half of a longer flight or in the airport if we had a flight change. It helped to give them something to look forward to and made the minutes fly by a little faster for all of us!
Elementary School Travelers:
- Now that my kids are a little older, and have their own tablets, our travel looks a little different. We still download some movies to the tablets, but they carry their own backpacks with tablets, headphones, games and books. They have to earn electronic time just like on roadtrips, but they all love reading so this usually isn’t a problem!
- I’m still in charge of rationing out the snacks and always make sure I have a backpack full to keep us well fed! This makes flight attendants happy especially since my children will tell everyone they are hungry every five seconds if they can 😉
Two things I always try to warn people of is:
- Kids sound really loud on an airplane! We try to practice whispering before we get on and I try to remind them that they are much louder on the plane then on the ground. Maybe it is because their ears are doing crazy things in the air, but be prepared for them to shout a lot to get your attention especially if you are sitting across the aisle from them!
- Some kids have anxiety about flying. Luckily even my motion sick child does well on airplanes and none of them get nervous now that we have flown so many times. But we always talk about the plan and where we are going and how many flights and what we are going to do when we land so they are well prepared for every step of the journey!
The most important thing is to have fun! Enjoy the time and don’t let all the delays and inconveniences stress you out! We have missed a lot of flights; had a lot of delays and reroutings. It’s never pleasant, but you can make the most of those extra moments too! Just try to make an adventure out of it! And don’t forget the snacks!!!