We arrived early like everyone said we should…when you are flying with toddlers or young children you should arrive early to the airport….except early to us ended up being 4 1/2 hours early!
This week we took our four kids on their very first flight! We’ve been a full-time traveling family for a year and half, visited 45 different states, over 10 National Parks, and had not flown with our kids before.
Instead, we traveled by RV!
Well, this time around we needed to get back to Minnesota to visit some family quickly, and it was winter. Not a time we wanted to drive the motorhome to Minnesota.
So we booked 6 non-stop tickets from Tampa, FL to Minneapolis, MN and then told the kids. They were thrilled!
Now, if you know me well, you know that I’m a planner. I’m one of those moms that is usually prepared for most things, without bringing my entire bathroom closet. So I figured I was ready to tackle our first flying with kids experience.
Then we had to keep our 3 year old occupied for 4 1/2 hours at the airport Traveling with toddlers can be a challenge, especially when you have older kids that do so well and show you what life will be like in just a few more years when traveling together.
So I wanted to share with you 11 tips that helped our first time traveling with a toddler on a plane and hanging in the airport that made our experience go pretty well….oh and 1 thing NOT to do.
11 Tips For Flying With Toddlers
- 1Plan to spend money on drinks, and keep your little one (or ones) hydrated at the airport and on the plane.
- 2Bring healthy snacks and keep everyone (yourself include) fed throughout your travel day.
- 3Prepare older children to carry their own backpack, and don't expect your toddler to do the same.
- 4Take a walk around the airport to help get the wiggles out before boarding the plane.
- 5Bring an iPad with a new app or audiobook to list to.
- 6Check bags when flying with toddlers or young children, so that you don't have to carry as much while keeping an eye on your little one.
- 7Bring gum (if your toddler or children can handle it) or chewy candy, and give it RIGHT before take off after taxing out to the runway, not when you board the plane.
- 8If you arrive early to the airport, find the information booth and ask for tips on things to do with kids in their airport. We received coloring books and crayons from the Tampa airport booth.
- 9Arrive at your gate early so that you can board in the first group, as they often allow families flying with toddlers and babies to board first.
- 10When boarding the airplane, ask the pilot if your child can see the cockpit!
- 11Double check each of your children's personal item (backpack) before arriving at the airport, so they don't sneak anything in they shouldn't have.
DON'T LET YOUR TODDLER OUT OF YOUR SIGHT IN AN AIRPORT!
We talked about it, prepared her to know to stay by mom and not run off...but that didn’t stop Jasmine from bolting away when I was talking to the nice information desk lady at the Tampa airport.
Luckily, she knew where Tony was and ran directly to him. Even though for that split second, I had no idea and fear started to kick in!
Traveling With Toddlers On A Plane
Overall, my best advise to you when flying with toddlers is to arrive at the airport 2-3 hours early and be patient. Bathroom breaks will be needed, kids will get hungry, and if the flight is long or into the night, they’ll get tired too.
Also, if you have a long flight across different timezones, then be sure to follow these tips to prevent jet lag. You'll thank me later!
If you need to bring a carseat then plan ahead and learn a little bit about how to travel with carseats.
I think it really helped that we made it sound so exciting, talked up our upcoming airport experience, and made the entire thing an adventure.
What are your best tips for flying with kids?