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Traveling With Kids: How to Fly With Kids

Updated on June 5, 2007

Are you dreading the travel season? Do your kids drive you insane on the plane? Worse yet, are they bothering other passengers?

Many of us have crumpled in our seats as out of control offspring melted down before our eyes midair. Fear not, weary travelers! It's all in the preparation. Here are a few tips to make your travel more pleasant this season.

Legal Stuff for Less Stress

Don't forget the passports. Maybe this goes without saying, but if you haven't traveled in a while you may not realize that everybody needs a passport these days to go just about anywhere. Remember that the all-inclusive resort in sunny Cancun is still in another country. Passports can take a long time to receive so plan ahead. It's not worth the stress your body goes through if you don't receive the passport until the day before the trip.

If one parent is traveling with children through customs, make sure you have the proper documentation. Many countries require authorization from the absent parent to ensure you are not abducting your own child to a foreign country. Now wouldn't that just make for a lovely vacation!

Before You Fly

Help kids pack their own rolling backpack or small suitcase with favorite toys, books, art supplies, and snacks. Ziplock baggies make great storage for markers and paper, legos, or small puzzles. Add in a deck of cards, disposable camera, and video games. You want quantity. The more diversion the better for younger kids. A soft woobie can go a long way toward coaxing a tired child to actually fall asleep.

Bring your own food. If I hear one more person complain that flying just isn't the way it used to be I might just fling open that emergency door and hurl myself out. I guess the ones complaining now about the lack of food are the same people who used to grumble over the quality of airline meals. Get over it. A flight is transportation, not a restaurant. Pack a lunch and move on. Keep in mind too that you may be delayed. Pack some extra baby food and protein bars just in case.

Wipes, wipes, wipes. Need I say more?

Reserve your seats a day ahead of time if possible. Some people like to sit up front. There are less people to annoy when no one's sitting in front of you. Kids may get a peek into the cockpit. I prefer the back. You'll be closer to the bathroom and all the noise from the engines will drown out any homemade noise your children contribute. Plus, kids like the action of all those people getting up to go to the bathroom. This choice depends on your kids and you're the expert on them.

Review your family's safety rules before going to the airport. I know it seems awful, but if you must, get one of those harness leashes for young children. Traveling alone with kids is stressful enough. If the tether makes you feel more secure there's no shame in that.

During the Flight

Consider having one parent board first to settle in as much gear as possible before adding children to the mix.

Chewing gum can help with changes in air pressure. So can lifesavers or lollipops. Try Charms blowpops for a nifty two-in-one solution! Bring extra pacifiers for little ones. Once it hits the airplane floor it's trash.

For older kids, go educational. Check out some books on flight from the library and discuss the science of it all during your travels. Just make sure you get those books back in one piece!

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Let the flight attendants make your life easier by giving kids freebies or watching them while you take a moment of silence in the lavatory!

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight. Once you're on board, you're that much closer to your destination. Try to go with the flow, resting assured that you've prepared well. What more can you do?


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  • profile image

    PlasticPilot 9 years ago from Europe

    Good list. We travelled couple of time with our baby when she was between 9month and 1.5yr old. What you say about chewing gums and changes in air pressure us true, but not sufficient.

    Any concern about nose / throat / ears is simply a NO-GO ! To make a long story short the Eustachian Tube helps to balance pressure between ear and nose, and any lockage will result in strong pain ! So if the child you will fly with is below 3yr, think of a medical examination if any doubt exist !

    More about this on

  • debinsf profile image

    debinsf 10 years ago from San Francisco

    Great list! We fly a lot. Mostly short trips, but being prepared still helps. Folks without a bottle for the littles or gum for the bigs on landing are my pet peeve. Seems like everyone should know this by now. But we all get caught off guard here and there, don't we? Meltdowns happen! Thanks for all the reminders.

  • Maddie Ruud profile image

    Maddie Ruud 10 years ago from Oakland, CA

    I need this hub just for myself! I'm terrible with air travel. Not afraid of flying (or crashing)... just don't like being closed in with all those people and no way to get out...