This post was originally published in May 2016. It has been republished to share with our current readers.
I wrote this post in 2016 while relocating from South Dakota to our current home here in South Texas. Moving can always be stressful, especially when traveling long distances with little ones.
My hope is that these tips will help you to keep your babies happy and you sane while flying across country with your kiddos. Please enjoy and if you have any tips to add, feel free to leave a comment here on the blog or tag me on Instagram (@biculturalfamilia) and use the hashtag #FlyingWithKids.
What to Pack When Flying with Kids
When flying with kids, it’s always better to be prepared. As a mom with a 7-year old with motion sickness and a teething 19-month old, I brought what I thought might help us to avoid any fussy outbursts on our flights.
That’s why I made sure that I had plenty of motion sickness tablets and pain reliever with us. I also brought mint chewing gum (pictured below), since it’s known to help kids to ‘pop’ their ears during flights and also helps to settle an upset stomach.
I split a piece between the two kids at take-off and landing for each flight and that helped considerably. My daughter also had her Dramamine chewable tablets and those were invaluable. She only got slightly queasy and I’m glad we were able to avoid throwing up on a plane. That was a huge success in my book! Especially since I got sick the very first time I flew on a plane.
The trick to the Dramamine tablets is that you take them when you’re boarding or about 30 minutes before take-off. If you take them too early, they may wear off before the flight has even started. And if you take them too late, you risk getting sick before they’ve kicked in.
I gave my daughter one tablet during boarding at each flight. I gave my son 1/4 of a tablet. The label recommends ages 2-6 get a between a 1/2 and 1 full tablet, so I gave him less than the minimum recommended dose, just to be on the safe side. Both kids did well and never got sick on any of the flights. Between the Dramamine and mint gum, most kids can avoid getting sick on an airplane altogether, so don’t be afraid to give them a try.
What to Pack in Your Travel Diaper Bag
As parents, we all know how important the diaper bag is when going out with infants and toddlers. The image above shows most of what’s in our diaper bag. We had a great wipes clutch from Huggies that was an absolute lifesaver and much of the usual…diapers, Desitin, food pouches, snacks and sippy cups. We found a great sippy cup from Munchkin that has a flexible straw and suction system to prevent spills. We also found a big girl “sippy cup” that is 100% spill proof! The Contigo Trekker Kids water bottle is the PERFECT kids drink container for travel. We actually brought three of them with and hubby and I used them too! You can find the links to all of the items we packed in the “Pictured” section beneath each photo in this post.
And of course, we packed extra diapers, baby outfits, more snacks, light blankets and plenty of bottled water in our bag too. It always helps to make a list in advance of your trip so you can come back to it periodically and make sure you haven’t missed anything that your child might need.
Activities and Snacks to Pack for Flying with Kids
Of course, we also had to bring some activities to keep the kids busy. I had my daughter’s little backpack filled with all kinds of things to keep their attention. Take-off can be especially difficult since it’s when most kids get nervous or nauseous for the first time, so be sure to keep your activities bag on-hand after boarding.
I brought both of the kids’ Samsung tablets with and made sure that they were fully charged and that all of their favorite games were installed and working. If your kids like YouTube Kids or online games, I highly recommend getting the airplane wifi so they can stay busy, especially on longer flights.
I also packed some activity books, like Scratch-Its, sticker books, and various snacks. Some good snacks for a trip on a plane are mint gum (for motion sickness), fruit snacks, crackers, pretzels, chips, dried fruit, and basically any finger foods. Also be sure to pack plenty of bottled water as kids and parents can get super dehydrated in-flight and while jetting from terminal to terminal.
I find that salty snacks are easier on kids’ tummies than sweets. So if you have a kid that gets motion sickness, you can go for the salty snacks during the flight and then give them the sweets (like gummies or chocolates) as a reward after you land.
I found that this really worked with my little ones when we had a two-hour flight delay because I had something “special” to give them that would make the wait worth it. They also had plenty of activities to keep them content during the long wait. We were even able to put the little guy down for a nap.
If you have a flight delay or long wait in between flights, be sure to ask around and find out if your airport has a children’s play area near your terminal. I was pleasantly surprised that some airports finally do have play areas to make parents’ lives a little easier.
Flying with Kids – Free Baggage and Gate Check Items
Don’t forget your car seats, strollers, and diaper bags. Most airlines allow one car seat per child and a stroller and diaper bag for each child under the age of two. Check the rules and regulations for your airline to find out what you can bring and check for free.
If you’re bringing car seats and each child has their own ticket, you can bring their car seats onto the plane and buckle your kids into their car seats for the ride. If you have multiple connections though, I don’t recommend this, as you’ll have to drag all of your car seats through the airport and back into every plane you board. In this case, try to book trips with only a single flight or purchase a car seat travel cart that can be used to tow car seats more easily around the airport.
We had 3 flights on our trip, so we decided to take our seats to baggage check before arriving at the gate. This saved us time and so much effort that could better be spent on tending to fussy kids. To keep our car seats safe from damage and dirt, we purchased some extra durable car seat travel bags with padding and weather-proofing. Make sure the bags you get are quality because many have been known to rip or break apart even before your car seat arrives at its destination. Baggage check is rough on your things, so keep that in mind.
For our stroller, we checked it at the gate, which was convenient, since we could put our little guy in the stroller while hustling through the airport or when sitting down to lunch. It was also a great way to keep him from running lose in the airport. With the stroller available, we could walk him around worry-free during rush airport traffic and hectic moments. If you have a toddler, this is crucial. If you’re bringing an umbrella stroller like us, you can easily find an umbrella stroller gate check bag to stow it during boarding.
For parents with infants, you can also opt to bring a baby carrier with you. We saw many families doing this during our trip. Little guy just wasn’t having that at his age, so we took the stroller instead. As a parent, you just have to know what stage your child is at and what to bring to meet their current needs.
I think that about covers it, but feel free to leave more suggestions in the comments below.
Want a quick and easy checklist to help you pack? Here you go!
What to Pack When Traveling with Kids Checklist[checklist_in_post]
- Motion sickness tablets
- Pain reliever
- Chewing gum
- Mint gum or mint candies
- Diaper bag
- Extra changes of clothes
- Bag to keep soiled items in
- Diaper rash cream
- Sippy cup and drink pouches
- Bottled water
- Food pouches
- Salty/crunchy snacks (to settle tummies and pop their ears)
- Mini backpack
- Toys (favorite and new)
- Activity books
- Tablets with favorite and new game apps
- Shockproof tablet cases
- Car seats
- Car seat and stroller bags (in case you have to check them)
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