Are you looking for some packing & travel tips when flying with kids? Well, I have a few to share with you! Over the last 7 years we have learned a few things (some very hard lessons) about flying with our kids (4 yo, and 7 yo). Hopefully, you can learn from some of our mistakes and make your next travel experience with your kid(s) as easy as can be! Are you ready? Here we go:
- Check the car seats as luggage and DO NOT bring on the plane – I have to admit we have never used car seats on a plane and for a few good reason. They are too bulky and cumbersome to carry through security and drag down to your gate and then onto the plane. Some may think that their child will sleep better in their car seat while on the plane…perhaps, but is all the hassle of getting the car seat on the plane really worth it…no! More than likely your child will sleep regardless if they have their car seat or not. Save yourself the trouble and check it with your other luggage.
- Bring a stroller and DO NOT check it with luggage – Our youngest is 4 yo and we still use the stroller when in the airport. Why? Because after 5 minutes of running in the airport he is tired and would want one of us to carry him. Plus the stroller has the extra space underneath that we can put our backpacks, etc. Almost every single airline will allow you to bring the stroller and “gate check” it. You may need to see a flight attendant before getting on the plane to get a special tag if you are going to “gate check”. Gate check means that you bring the stroller all the way down to the end of the passenger boarding bridge. The crew will put it under the plane before take-off, and will bring it back up when you arrive at your destination.
- Limit Luggage by sharing suitcases – We are a family of 4 and we only bring 2 suitcases. My husband and I share a suitcase and our 2 kids share a suit case. This really cuts down on baggage fees (if you have to pay), and makes getting to and from your destination that much easier with less to carry. How do we fit all of our clothes into 2 suitcases? See tip #4, #5 and #6.
- Roll your clothes when packing – You would be surprised how much more room you will have in your suitcase versus folding. Trust me!
- Bring detergent to do laundry – If we are traveling to a colder destination, there is only so much “rolling of clothes” you can do before you have a full suitcase. So, if we are traveling for a week, we usually pack enough clothes for 3-4 days and do laundry at our destination. Once again, it is cheaper to do laundry than to pay for baggage fees.
- Garbage Bags – There is nothing more than I hate when dirty clothes are mixed with clean clothes…yuck! We usually pack 2 garbage bags in our suitcase to help keep the dirty clothes separate from the clean. Plus, it makes it easier to haul the dirty clothes to washing machine.
- Backpacks as carry on luggage for every family member – We love using our backpacks when traveling! There are so many compartments to store everything for yourself and your kiddos. We each have our own backpack and the kids love being responsible for their own stuff. Plus, it is less stuff we have to carry! View my next blog post for specific items to carry in your backpack when traveling with kids.
- EMPTY re-usable water bottles – most airports have a water fountain or water bottle filling area after you get through security. This is a great way to save some extra $$. Each member of the family has their own water bottle and we fill it before boarding the plane. Our kids can’t wait for beverage service to come around so it helps to keep everyone happy.
- Snacks – This may seem obvious if traveling with kids, but it can be overlooked especially with all the other stresses of traveling with kids. I usually pack little snack bags of Goldfish crackers, fruit snacks, string cheese, grapes, apple slices, cereal bars or carrots. I always bring multiple snacks along because they seem to get bored with one thing and want something else. Plus, it is a money saver! Also, someone is always hungry right before bedtime when we are in our hotel room.
- Velro Shoes – Another confession…my kids don’t have shoe laces on their shoes anyways. But, if you are traveling, leave the laces at home if traveling with younger kids. The last thing you want to be doing is lacing up shoes when trying to run to your next gate or trying to hail a taxi cab or Uber ride.
- What to wear? – On most trips, I make our kids wear a t-shirt and a fleece or pull-over their t-shirt. I also have them wear comfortable pants. Our daughter usually wears leggings and our son wears fleece pants or sweatpants. Airplanes are cold but can then get hot with all the people on board. If we need coats, I usually pack them in our “checked luggage”. Dressing in a few layers helps keeps the kids happy. Plus, if the plane gets too warm, the kids use their soft fleece as a nice pillow.
- Seating Arrangements on the plane – As a family of four, what seating arrangements are best? We have found that when all 4 of us are traveling together, we have our oldest sit by the window, our youngest in the middle seat, and an adult in the aisle seat. The other adult will try to find a seat across the aisle or in front or back of the rest of the family. Why? This way the 2 kids are “contained” and won’t bother other passengers. If one of them has to use the bathroom the other adult can take them. Plus, our kids love being together and keep each other occupied when flying. If I were traveling with just 1 child, I usually sit in the middle seat and our child sits in the aisle seat. Why? Because there is usually a few bathroom breaks during our flight. Plus, I hate asking people to get up and move.
There you have it! Be sure to come back and view our upcoming blog post that list all the items to bring in your carry-on when traveling with kids. Do you have any suggestions to improve this list? What are some of your best tips when traveling with kids? Please share your tips in the comments below. Happy traveling!