If you’ve ever flown with little kids, you know what a nightmare it can be. I would probably put it at the top of my list of things I dread in life. My family lives across the country from me, which leads to frequent cross-country trips with multiple children and no husband. It has taken me years, but I finally have flying with toddlers down to a science. If you’re planning a trip anytime soon, read on below for my 4 biggest air travel trips.
1 – I cannot stress this enough – pack ALL THE DIAPERS. You never know when your nicely planned 4-hour jaunt will turn into a 15-hour nightmare. You may think you know fear, but have you ever been stuck in an airport with no diapers and 3 kids who haven’t pooped in hours? That’s what real terror looks like. I’ve never seen diapers sold at an airport. I promise you, it is worth the extra space they take up in your bag. If you’re really low on space, I recommend an airtight bag for the diapers. Once you squish all the air out, they take up a lot less space.
2 – Know your rights. The TSA and flight crew can be your biggest helpers, or your biggest obstacle. Before flying, you should always research TSA guidelines and your airline’s specific requirements for flying with children, but I will tell you a couple of things that should be universally true:
- You can take liquids through security, including baby formula and baby food. I have only encountered issues with this once, but I had to fight hard to get my formula through (I always fly with pre-mixed formula, which can be bought in packs of 6 individual bottles). In that scenario I was well prepared to fight for my rights, but if I had not understood those rights I very easily could’ve spiraled into a panic. Tip: if you buy baby food pouches, look for the smaller ones under 4oz, and nobody will question you. Plus, they’re much easier to use on board.
- If you bring a carseat on board, make sure it is approved for flight. If it is (you can check on the side stickers), they must provide you with a seat that will fit that car seat, even if it is not the seat you paid for. I’ve had to move to bigger rows before, but they always find somewhere that the seat will fit.
3 – Pack extra. You’re probably thinking, “extra what?” Extra EVERYTHING. Entertainment, clothes, and especially snacks. When I get bored you can find me with my head in the pantry or the fridge, and apparently my kids work the same way. My diaper bag on flights usually contains about 50% snacks, and 50% everything else. (I buy all food before the trip because airport snacks are extremely overpriced.) I try to buy special snacks for flights that I know will get them really excited, and in containers that they can hold to feed themselves. You don’t want to be reaching over other kids to distribute snacks from one ziplock bag, trust me. It may seem like a lot, but organization while prepping for the trip will save you a headache on the plane.
Clothes for the kids are a given. You never know who will pee, puke, or just plain spill all over their outfit, so I always pack a lightweight outfit for each kid. However, I never considered that they could do one of those things on ME, until it was too late and I had a lap full of formula from an open bottle. During that same flight, my baby also had a blowout on my pants. Can you say embarrassing?! Now, I pack a light dress or leggings and a thin shirt for myself, and I highly recommend you do the same! Also, did I mention diapers? EXTRA DIAPERS.
4 – Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Flying with kids can be incredibly stressful. Trust me, I know. But almost every time I’ve done it, I’ve had someone offer to hold my kids while we wait for the stroller to be screened at security. I’ve cried on the shoulder of a kind flight attendant. I’ve had a sweet elderly German couple sing foreign nursery rhymes to my baby while I took my toddler to the restroom on the plane. I’ve even had a pilot get out and walk me to the next terminal when my flight was changed. People have always come out of the woodwork to help me when I need it, and it has touched my heart every time. Keep your eyes (and your heart) open for helping hands around you. You’re probably not quite as alone as you think!
Have anything to add? Let me know in the comments!