8 Tips for Surviving a Plane Ride with Kids


Taking a long flight with kids sounds about as fun as having a root canal. You can just imagine all the things that could go wrong, and sometimes it makes the trip seem like it's not worth it. I mean, who really wants to start a vacation that way? I am going to be honest and say it: It isn’t fun taking a plane ride with young children. In the air, you really never know what can happen. Even if they have been great on previous flights, it may not be so great this time. If you are anything like me, you spend too much energy worrying beforehand. Despite this fear, thousands of parents fly with children every day and live through it. You just have to plan, be patient, and do the best you can. I have listed some tips that will hopefully reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with taking long plane rides with kids.
1. Let them pack their own carry ons
Your kids will love packing their own bag, and it will get them excited for the trip. Let them pick out a change of clothes, favorite toys, a book, and a small game. Also, make sure their carry on is small enough for them to handle on their own. If their bag is too big or too heavy for them, guess who is going to be stuck carrying it?
2. Don’t forget a stroller
Even if your child doesn’t normally use one, it would be a good idea to pick up a cheap foldable stroller for the airport. Walking across the airport can be tiring even for an adult. Can you imagine how tiring it can be for someone with little legs? Having a stroller will make those long walks to the terminal a lot easier, especially if you have a connecting flight and very little time to get there.
3. Pack an Emergency Kit
Flights are unpredictable. If this is your child's first flight, you may find out that they get air sick. You do not want to sit on a long flight covered in puke because those little bags they give you are not big enough. Pack plastic bags, two sets of clothes, A LOT of wipes, and paper towels. Also, it would be a good idea to pack band aids, hand sanitizer, moist towelettes, and antibiotic ointment.
4. Bring A Portable DVD Player and Headphones
Long flights generally offer movie options from free to expensive, but they may not be child friendly or what you want to spend money on. If you have room, bring a portable DVD player and two of your child's favorite movies. It will help to pass the time a lot quicker!
5. Don’t Forget The Snacks
Gone are the days when airlines would feed you well on a long flight. Your child is most likely going to get hungry in between the mini-snacks they try to pass off as full size snacks. Generally, the only real food available is food you have to pay for, and it tends to be a bit exotic for kids. Pack your own snacks to minimize hangry or winy children. Try to skip anything that requires refrigeration and I would also forgo anything that has peanuts just in case there happens to be someone with an allergy on your flight. *Especially do not pack peanut butter! Not only is it dangerous for anyone with allergies around you, it most likely won't make it past security.*
6. Take A Night Flight
This may not always be possible but if it is, it may be the best tip ever to surviving a long flight with kids. Night flights are way more relaxed than daytime flights. Plus, by the time you get through the airport and on the flight, your kids are most likely going to be ready to go to sleep. Be prepared though, because the exact opposite could happen. The excitement of being on a plane, and the fact that they are in a strange place can cause some kids to have insomnia.
7. Be Prepared For Panic
If this is your child’s first trip, or they have anxious personalities, this could be very stressful for them. The noise of the plane taking off may scare them, or the feeling of falling backwards while taking off may cause them to panic. There is not much you can do but try to comfort them and ease their fears. During a flight years ago, I sat near a little 3 year old girl on her first plane ride who panicked! By panicked, I mean her fight or flight instinct kicked in and she tried to run down the aisle. Her parents handled it well and didn't overreact.  Once she figured out everything was ok, she was good for the rest of the trip. As parents, we just have to be prepared that fear is a possibility.
8. When All Else Fails
Let’s face it, little kids don't have a very long attention span and boredom is going to kick in. At this point, all the movies in the world may not save you. That is when you break out the tablet or phone and consider buying the internet package. Before you leave, download some kid-friendly games (educational ones are a bonus) and a few shows they like to watch. The kids will get a change of pace and you will have a few more moments of peace (hopefully). plane ride

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18 thoughts on “8 Tips for Surviving a Flight with Kids

  • September 24, 2018 at 9:02 am
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    Two words – DVD players….And lots of snacks – the kids won’t even think about the fact that they’re on an airplane flight…. 🙂

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    • September 24, 2018 at 1:05 pm
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      Yes, we always make sure to bring one. My youngest doesn’t want to watch a movie the whole time though, so we have several other options for her.

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  • September 24, 2018 at 3:06 pm
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    I’ve flown many many times with my kids. Snacks are my biggest savior! We usually have one bag full of just snacks. And they have their tablets with enough games that work without internet. My oldest gets motion sickness so we are always ready for that.

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  • September 24, 2018 at 5:02 pm
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    I just took a family vacation down to Orlando. My kids did well with a morning flight on the way down and the night flight on the way back. They had their moments where it seemed like they may not be good for the last hour but we made it through. We packed tablets, snacks, and small toys. I wish we would have packed books!

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    • September 24, 2018 at 7:24 pm
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      So glad you all survived the flight. Sound like you were pretty prepared. Books are always a great way to mix it up. There is always next time!

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  • September 25, 2018 at 12:45 am
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    I may be many years past this stage but just reading about flying with little ones is giving me anxiety! If only we had had portable DVD players when my children were young!

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  • September 25, 2018 at 2:11 am
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    These are all great ideas. Flying with children can be a real nightmare, but if you’re prepared it makes it so much easier.

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  • September 25, 2018 at 5:53 am
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    This year I survived 18 hrs flight with my three and a half-year-old and trust me I used all 7 tips and it worked very well. But one short flight from NYC to Dallas turned out to be adventurous and I can tell you the last point is very difficult but useful.

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    • September 27, 2018 at 2:18 am
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      Wow, that is a along flight with a toddler. Glad you survived it. It is amazing that the shorter flight was harder. You never know with kids.

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  • September 25, 2018 at 4:12 pm
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    I survived an 18 hour flight with an 18 month old – I’m a super her now. Lol. I do always try to travel at night because he’s such a good sleeper. It definitely makes things easier for me!

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  • September 25, 2018 at 5:04 pm
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    That portable DVD player has saved us on so many trips no matter what the method of travel. These are some really great tips!

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  • September 26, 2018 at 2:36 pm
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    I have always wondered how parents flew without tablets and movies because those are a huge life saver. I don’t have kids but I always have a huge bag of snacks with me when flying!

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  • September 26, 2018 at 5:48 pm
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    These are great tips…flying with kids isn’t the easiest. I find my toddler is the hardest because he just wants to run!

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  • September 26, 2018 at 5:52 pm
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    Wonderful, useful tips! If the kids have their snacks and a few dvd or games, things are always easier for both kids and parents.

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  • September 27, 2018 at 11:55 am
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    These are such great tips! I have a plane ride coming up with 4 kiddos and happy I came across this post!

    Reply

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