If you’re planning a vacation that involves traveling with children, keep this motto in mind: You can never be too organized or too prepared. Luckily, our handy guide to airplane travel with kids will make you seem like a pro as you breeze through security and take compliments from fellow passengers about your children’s behavior. To avoid chaos and prepare for a (semi-)peaceful flight, read our travel tips.
Before You Go
Prepare your family for what to expect. Visit the library to check out books you can read together about the upcoming trip – the goal is to give your kids some background information about traveling and flying. Take a look at a map to provide a relevant geography lesson about where you’re going. Then talk to them about what to expect: the flight schedule, going through a security screening, getting to your gate and boarding the plane.
Designate a carry-on bag for each child to hold favorite items. Younger children will need familiar items such as a treasured stuffed animal or blanket. Older children will want digital devices such as e-readers, tablets and music players. Having a bag at their feet containing their “must-have” items will combat boredom (and tantrums) and make items easily accessible.
Load up your electronics. Download new apps, music, favorite shows and age-appropriate movies. Make sure to bring along comfortable headphones for your child to wear. Pack all devices fully charged, and if the device requires batteries, bring along an extra set or two.
Pack your charging cables in your carry-on bag. Don’t stow them in your checked luggage – you might need them during flight delays or layovers!
Pack entertainment that doesn’t require a screen. Entertaining young children on long flights can be a challenge, but the key is novelty. New books, sparkly stickers, mini notepads, a mini magnetic doodler and washable crayons can help pass the time. Some markers even have an attached cap to prevent caps from falling underneath the seat and rolling two rows behind yours. Make sure you can actually bring the items aboard, of course. The only thing worse than not being able to use something midflight is to have it confiscated before you even get on the plane!
Bring some favorite snacks. Granola bars, individual packs of pretzels or cookies, dried fruit or yogurt-covered raisins will help keep your kids comfortable and well fed. Check government and airline regulations to be sure, but wrapped or sealed foods should be just fine.
Keep it clean. For small spills and messes, pack a “clean up” kit that includes a Puffs SoftPack, a Tide to Go Instant Stain Remover, a small bottle of hand sanitizer and a pack of Pampers Sensitive Baby Wipes (great for cleaning sticky messes). As with all things related to kids, you never know when a mess will strike!
Consider packing carry-on only. Most airlines charge for each checked bag. You’ll save a significant chunk of change if you can manage to pack carry-on only on a round-trip flight.
Use sealable plastic bags to organize your belongings. From snack-size bags to hold batteries, quart-size bags for toiletries and gallon-size ones for spare outfits, clear plastic bags with zip closures are a lifesaver when traveling. Packing some extras also ensures you can contain wet swimsuits during the trip home.
When in doubt, bring extras in your carry-on. Pack extra diapers, an extra change of clothes (or two!) and extra snacks. Once again, it never hurts to be too prepared.
Discover even more tips on stress-free family packing here.
In the Air
Sanitize. Use antibacterial wipes to wipe down the tray table, arm rests, window and other surfaces around your child’s seat to cut down on their exposure to germs. Nothing is worse than a sick kid on vacation!
Make your kids comfortable. Indulge your child with a lollipop at takeoff or landing. Often when a child cries while the plane is ascending or descending, he or she is suffering from the extreme air pressure changes, which can be relieved by sucking on a bottle, pacifier or lollipop.
Disregard your usual screen-time rules. Sometimes air travel is all about survival, and if that means letting your child watch back-to-back episodes of their favorite show or an extra movie, consider it a treat that will save your sanity.
How do you avoid stress during family vacation? Share your best tips in the comments section by logging in or registering at P&G everyday.