How to Fly with Preschoolers
Our twins' favorite Christmas present? Our flights to and from Wisconsin. Hands down they were the most excited about flying on a plane. (Clearly they are my children!)
Traveling with kids isn't always easy, but it is doable and even enjoyable. The key?
Preparation. Be prepared for things to go wrong.
Assume that your child will have an accident.
Assume that your airplane will be delayed.
Assume that your child will have an allergy attack.
Be prepared and you will feel more confident and if any conflicts do arise you will be able to address them more calmly.
Preparation starts long before you get to the airport. You are used to packing your suitcase and arranging travel, but you also need to get your kids ready and excited for your trip.
We get ready for flights in three main ways.
We do this before most of our trips. It is a simple way to count down the days in a visual way that is more meaningful for young children. Our kids get super excited about crossing off the days.
Reading books is a great place to start. Use these books (our favorites are below) to launch conversations about what they can expect on their visit to the airport and the flight.
When we fly, each of our kids carries a backpack and then each grown up carries a bag. (We use these Monkey Backpacks for our kids and they love them!) We put most of the fun, new, exciting things in our bags so that we can pace them out during the flight.
Clothes for the Day (our flight left at 6am so they wore PJs to the airport)
Complete Extra Outfit in a Ziploc Bag (this keeps the clothing together and can be used to contain soiled clothes if needed)
Travel Sized ISPY Bottle & Guide
Baggie with Cereal
Empty Sippy Cup (to fill up at airport)
DIY Sticker Book (blank book that I wrote their name & sticker book on the cover)
Issue of High Five
Gallon Ziplock with trains, trucks, or Little People
(3) Snack Sized Baggies with Snacks
EPI PEN (for our severe allergy child)
(2) Paperback Picture Books
Portable DVD Player & a movie
I always feel much more relaxed once we get our baggage checked. When my husband and I travel we rigorously avoid checking any baggage. Between the new obnoxious habit of charging people for checking and the even more annoying habit of baggage getting lost, I like to avoid it. However, with kids having free hands takes precedence.
This photo was from our trip home. With all of our gifts we acquired an extra box to check.
My first step after we check our bags is to get through security and find our gate.
From there, depending on how much time we have we might explore a little. I make sure to be at the gate at least 15 minutes before we are due to board, but allowing our kids to move around is helpful in avoiding mid-air wiggles. Some airports have a play space.
We also use the bathroom, fill our waterbottles, and walk around a little bit. Have your kids use the bathroom one more time right before you head to the gate to board.
Once we get to the gate we sit, eat a snack or meal, and play with things in their backpacks, and more than anything - watch the action out thru the windows. Especially after reading books like Five Trucks, our kids are endlessly fascinated by the activity outside at the airport.
We go with the man on man defense approach to flying with kids. We each take a kid and sit in separate rows. They seem to do better with the one on one attention and we avoid the "mama do it" attitude that they seem to have right now. (They do take turns being Mama's travel buddy)
This follows FAA regulations anyways, but we have our kids put their seat belts fairly immediately. They are always curious to look out the window so we give them a moment or two, but then have them buckle up "just like in the car." Unless they have to go to the bathroom, their seatbelts stay on. We haven't flown internationally with them yet. My view on this might change if they needed to sit still for a longer period, but for even a 3 hour flight they can sit still if you keep them busy.
They start with their backpacks and then we offer them a choice of two other things when they start to lose interest or get antsy. You probably aren't going to have much time to read a book to yourself, but I kind of enjoy the one-on-one time that is so rare for a twin mama.
Note! I highly suggest packing a separate set of travel toys for the ride home. Some things (like trains and little people in our case) can be reused, but having new things on the way back makes that flight as entertaining as the first one. We typically use the toys from the flight there to play with at our destination and then have new surprises for the ride home. For this trip we relied on Christmas gifts to entertain us on the way home and that worked out well.
comments powered by Disqus