travelling with kidsIf you have kids, you probably want to take them with you to see the world. Traveling with kids can be challenging, but the rewards are worth it. You will not only be building amazing family memories, but you will also be helping them to learn all about the world. While you’re on your adventure, if you plan ahead and bring the right gear you may even be able to enjoy flying with your kid.

Here are a few ways to reduce stress if you are traveling by plan:

1) Pack your carry on wisely

Get drawstring backpacks for each of your kids and load them with everything you need. What do you need? Everything! Here are some things to pack:

  • Snacks! Make sure you have a few healthy choices that your kids will actually eat with you. Whether it’s trail mix, cereal bars, yogurt bites, or crackers, you never really know what kind of food they’ll give you on the plane. Don’t get stuck with a hungry kid on the plane.
  • Antibacterial Wipes! According to The Wall Street Journal, some airlines can take up to 55 days to deep clean inside their planes. Wipe down tray tables, seat backs, armrests, even the wall your munchkin will be sitting next to. Who knows who was sitting there before you?
  • Extra Clothes. Pack at least two entire outfits for your kids. They can be a lifesaver if anything happens to your luggage, and will keep your children dry and comfortable in case of spills or accidents.
  • First Aid Items. From mini band aids to adult Motrin, make sure you pack any personal care products that you might need.
  • A Blanket or A Big Scarf. Or three. You can use them to keep your kid warm, block out sunlight at naptime, or even use them as a pillow.
  • As Many Quiet Toys As You Can Pack. Crayons. Playdough. Paper. Craft projects. Books. Extra headphones for your phone. Bring enough things for them to play with that you can switch them out before each one gets boring.

2) Only Fly When Your Kids Are Healthy

If your kids are sick, they will be miserable in the plane. They will make everyone else miserable as well. According to Orbitz, if you have any of the following symptoms, you (or your little one) are too sick to fly:

  • Fever above 100 degrees
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Trouble breathing
  • Recent surgery

Another time to put your child’s health and comfort over your travel plans is right after your child has been vaccinated. Vaccinations can cause rashes, upset stomach, fever, and just general crankiness. Try to avoid traveling for at least a week after your child gets vaccinated.

3) Make Sure Your Child Has Her Own Seat

If you don’t have assigned seats, get to the gate early to ensure your family is seated together. The only thing worse than being stuck on a long flight with your child on your lap is having your child sitting next to a stranger.

According to Southwest Airlines, children under 2 travel free only when they sit on your lap. If the plane is not fully booked, the flight attendants may look the other way if you put them in the seat next to you, but there is no guarantee that your child will sit on their own if you don’t buy them a ticket.

Southwest has discounted rates for children, and even more affordable rates for children who will be traveling in an infant seat. When you book your ticket, find out what discounts are available for children, and find out how likely it is the aircraft will be fully booked. It may be worth investing in a seat for your child to avoid having a kicker in your lap for the whole trip

4) Book Your Trip When Your Kid Would Be Sleeping

Will your kid fall asleep anywhere? Would they sleep through an earthquake? Consider a flight that will mostly take place at a naptime or at night. Put them in their pajamas, Tuck them up in their favorite blankets, and try to recreate their bedtime ritual as much as possible on the flight. Prep them ahead by letting them know that you will be sleeping on the plane.

Unfortunately, if your child is not a sound sleeper or can struggle to fall asleep, this plan can backfire on you. You could end up stuck with an overtired toddler to deal with.

5) Board The Plane With Your Child At The Last Minute

If the airline will allow your travel companion to board the plane ahead of you to claim your seats, wait in the lounge until the last minute. The unencumbered parent can disinfect your seats, stow your luggage in the overhead bins, and get everything you need ready for the flight. Then, when the plane is finishing boarding, the parent can board the plane with your kids. The less time your kids are stuck on the plane, the better.

6) Take A Walk

If you sense that your little one is getting restless, or maybe a tantrum is coming on, take them for a walk. It is amazing how moving around a little and getting a change in scenery can improve a toddler’s mood, even if you just walk to the bathroom and bad.

There’s no question that traveling with a young child can be difficult. But everybody needs to get out of town every once in a while. There’s no question that some people roll their eyes when they see a family getting on the plane. Don’t let them bother you. Just take care of what you need to on the flight, and enjoy your vacation.

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