Monday, October 13, 2014

Must Haves for Airplane Travel with Kids

It's Must-Have Monday!  I'll be honest, I'm starting to struggle coming up with these "must-have" lists.  But, since we just recently booked our next Disney trip (June 2015!), I thought this would be a good topic.  We have traveled with my son since he was a year old.  Our next Disney trip will be his 7th trip!  All seven trips we have taken an airplane.  It's probably safe to say he's been on a plane at least 10 times.  Each time is different.  Once, when I was traveling with him alone (he was two), we had to make a stop at Dulles.  It was just supposed to be a stop--no changing planes.  The best-laid plans right?  Well, as we were taxiing to our gate, our plane got hit by a fuel truck!  No joke!  There was no real emergency, but they did make us exit the plane and wait for a new one before continuing on to our final destination.  I must say, it's always a fun story to tell.  Definitely one for the baby book.

Since I feel like I'm somewhat an expert in the area of flying with kids, here are my must-haves for airplane travel with children.

1.  A Car Seat.  Don't check it; bring it on the plane with you and have your child sit in it.  Number one, it's safer and the FAA recommends it.  Number two, it keeps your kid contained during the entire flight.  I've been on many a flights (remember, we're always going to Disney) where kids are all over the place; in the aisles, standing on the seats, etc.  Not my kid.  He's always well-behaved strapped in his car seat.  Number three, you have your own seat if you are renting a car when you reach your destination.  Your kid will be comfortable and safe.

2.  An iPad or Tablet & Headphones.  You already know that we are an iPad family.  An iPad on an airplane is a must-have because it helps pass the time quickly.  Even our two-hour flights to Florida get a little long, so an iPad allows your kids to watch a movie, play games, read books, listen to music, etc.  Headphones?  Well those are for all the people around you.  Yes, I have actually been on flights where the children were using an iPad without headphones.  Very annoying.  We buy the kid-size ones, not earbuds, they're more comfortable and your kid is more likely to use them.

3.  Snacks & Sippy Cup.  If you're on a flight that is only a couple of hours, the flight attendants typically only come around once with snacks and drinks.  If you're traveling through rough air, they may not even reach your seat.  Bring pre-packaged snacks (fruit snacks, small bags of animal crackers or chips, etc.) or package your own in snack bags.  DO NOT bring a huge bag of pretzels!  Bring more than you think you'll need, and don't forget about your return trip.  If your child is sippy cup age, make sure you bring one on the airplane with you (and don't forget to pack a few in your luggage as well). I have even spilled those tiny airplane cups before, so you can imagine the damage a three-year-old can do.  If you are bringing a baby on board a plane, TSA will allow you to bring formula or breast milk through security.  They just have to test it first.

4.  Quiet Activities.  Although I think the rules are starting to change, typically electronic devices cannot be used until you reach 10,000 feet.  This means no iPad until you are well under way.  Bring a small book, a few toys, a coloring book or (even better!) a Color Wonder book.  We brought a latches puzzle with us once, and that was great, but it was kind of bulky in the carry-on.  I've also seen those really neat quiet books that you can make.  I'm thinking about making one for the baby for our trip next June.  Remember, any activities you bring can also double as rainy-day or even restaurant activities when you reach your destination.

5.  Blanket & Travel Pillow.  Airplanes are cold!  Chances are, you're bringing your kid's blanky with you on vacation anyways, so you might as well throw it in your carry-on to bring on the airplane as well.  My son loves his little "Nemo" travel pillow.  You know, the kind that wraps around your neck?  It makes for a comfortable airplane ride, and it's also a special lovey to have at your home-away-from-home for the duration of your trip.

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