5 Tips for Flying with Kids

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

I've had vacation on the brain lately (we had been tossing around the idea of Las Vegas, but the kids really want to go to the beach, so we're back to the drawing board). No matter where we go, I know there's a decent chance we'll be flying (Indiana isn’t really close to the coasts, after all).

We've flown with the boys a few times now, and other than the time I got airsick (that'll teach me to take a massive cold brew on the plane 🙄), it's been a pretty great experience. I know how nervous I was before our first flight together though, so I thought I'd share some tips and tricks we've picked up for making flying with kids as smooth as possible!

PLEASE NOTE: This applies to kids, not babies (though toddlers may be able to go either way, depending on your child's temperament). Nolie was 3 for their first flight, so flying with younger kids is something I haven't done.

All of our flights with the boys have been between Indianapolis International Airport (IND) and Orlando International Airport (MCO). They've flown on both Southwest and Spirit (what can I say -- I like to save a buck 💁🏻‍♀️).

Mom's Got The Noms

Speaking of saving a buck, BRING YOUR OWN SNACKS ON THE PLANE! Even if it's a short flight (Indy to Orlando is generally around 2 1/2 hours, and we always bring a few snacks), snacks are a great way to help keep kids focused on something other than causing mayhem. And they don't need to be sugary carbfests either -- a lot of people pack up little snack tackle boxes filled with things like grapes and string cheese. 

Granted, we haven't actually done that, though I'd love to sometime; we usually do Goldfish and fruit snacks. But there inevitably comes a time on the flight where my kids want a snack, so being prepared is always a good idea.

Southwest does provide pretzels and peanuts, if that's your jam 💁🏻‍♀️ 
It's the Right Time for Screen Time

Everyone has an opinion on screen time for kids. But even if you're one of those people who tries to avoid screens as much as possible for your kids, a flight is the perfect time to relax a bit. We actually finally broke down and bought the kids tablets specifically so they'd have them on the flight. Some of their games worked with our wifi, but they mostly watch movies on them. 

Trust me, it's a much smoother flight when you've got one kid watching Beauty and the Beast while the other is watching Moana, and neither one is kicking the seat in front of them or fighting with their brother because they're so focused on the film.

(Gate) Check, Please!

This is what my kids look like at 3am on the way to Disney 🤷🏻‍♀️

Are you bringing a stroller on your trip? Don't check it at the counter; check it at the gate!

You'll need to get tags for it, but you'll be able to keep your stroller with you until you reach the end of the jetway, which is really convenient when you're trying to herd your family across a crowded airport and someone in your party has itty bitty legs. This would be especially handy if you're running behind!

Break It Up

Do your kids, like most kids, like to bicker with one another? Learn from my mistake and separate them on the plane if possible.

The first time the boys flew, I had them sitting next to each other. It didn't take long for them to start getting rowdy and arguing with each other. This also happened to be the first time I'd ever gotten sick on a plane, so this was NOT a fun trip.

On the way home, I sat between them, and it was a much more pleasant experience for all of us. Separation can be your best friend when it comes to flying with kids.

(Tom normally sits across the aisle from us -- since my hips are so wide, it's more comfortable for me to have the kids sit with me than trying to squish in with strangers).

When Having Little Kids Comes in Handy

Take advantage of family pre-boarding!

Not every airline offers this, but some airlines will allow families with small children to board before the regular boarding groups. This can make it much easier to get the kids on the plane, get your luggage stowed, and get everyone situated. It also means the kids are sitting there longer (which might be rough for some particularly antsy kids), but the advantages outweigh the negatives in my opinion. We've personally done this while flying Southwest, and it was so helpful!

Try these tips out on your next flight with kids!

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