8 Tips for Traveling and Flying with Small Children

8 Tips for Traveling and Flying with Small Children

Traveling with toddlers and small children can be a challenging experience, especially when it comes to flying. You may think your little ones will be able to handle the flight, but without proper preparation, even a 3-hour flight can feel overwhelming. 

Parents have a lot to consider when traveling with young children, from keeping them comfortable to entertaining them. If you’re planning a trip with your little ones, there are some helpful tips that can make your airport experience smoother and less stressful. In this article, we’ll cover some essential tips for parents traveling with little ones, from choosing the right flight to packing the perfect “airplane bag” and much more!

ZenHotels Blog
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7 minutes read

1. Choose the early flight

Traveling with little ones is tough, and you may think traveling during the day is better, especially if getting them out of bed early is a challenge. However, one of the best tips for parents traveling with little ones is to choose the early flight. This has several benefits that can make your airport experience smoother and less stressful. 

Early flights are often less crowded than later ones, meaning that you’ll have more space to move around and keep an eye on your children.
Photo: VAKS-Stock Agency/ Shutterstock.com

Early flights are often less crowded than later ones, meaning that you’ll have more space to move around and keep an eye on your children. This can be especially important if you have toddlers who like to wander or run around. Many people prefer to fly later in the day, which can lead to long lines at security, crowded waiting areas, and cramped seating on the plane. 

Additionally, early flights are less likely to be delayed, which can be a lifesaver if you have connecting flights or important plans at your destination. Let’s face it: the quicker you get to your destination, the less likely you’ll struggle with tantrums along the way. 

2. Dress them in layers

Avoid fussy, uncomfortable children by dressing them in layers while traveling. This will ensure that they are comfortable during temperature and weather changes. You can easily add or remove clothing as needed to keep your child warm or cool by layering up. 

Finally, top it off with a waterproof, breathable outer layer, such as a rain jacket or windbreaker. This layer will keep your child dry and protected from the elements.
Photo: maxbelchenko/ Shutterstock.com

Start with a base layer of moisture-wicking fabric, such as a lightweight shirt or leggings, to keep sweat away from the skin. Next, add a middle layer for warmth, such as a sweater or fleece jacket. This layer should provide insulation while still allowing for airflow. Finally, top it off with a waterproof, breathable outer layer, such as a rain jacket or windbreaker. This layer will keep your child dry and protected from the elements.

3. Pack an “airplane bag” for the toddlers

If you are traveling with a toddler, then you need to be prepared to keep them entertained. You can do this by packing an “airplane bag” with items to keep them comfortable and occupied throughout the journey. Some essential items you should consider including in the airplane bag are:

  • Snacks: Pack healthy and filling snacks such as fruit, crackers, sandwiches, and juice boxes. This way, you won’t have to spend money on overpriced airplane snacks along the way.
  • Toys: Bring along some of your child’s favorite toys, such as stuffed animals, action figures, dolls, puzzles, or coloring books and crayons. 
  • Comfort items: If your child has a tendency to feel anxious while on flights, comfort items such as blankets and stuffed animals can soothe their nerves. 
  • Headphones: If your toddler likes to watch videos or listen to music, be sure to wear headphones to avoid disturbing other passengers.

Don’t forget to pack the bag with your little one’s interests and needs in mind. And why not involve them in the packing process? Let them pick out a few items they’d like to bring along. It’s a great way to keep them excited and engaged for the trip ahead!

Bring along some of your child’s favorite toys, such as stuffed animals, action figures, dolls, puzzles, or coloring books and crayons. 
Photo: Maria Sbytova/ Shutterstock.com

4. Put kids in the middle or window seat

When traveling with children on a plane, it’s a good idea to consider seating arrangements carefully. One option is to place kids in the middle or window seat to avoid them reaching out into the aisle or trying to get up and leave their seats. 

The middle seat can be helpful, as both parents can sit on either side of the child. This can help keep the child calm and comfortable during the flight and give the child a sense of security and protection. 

Placing kids in the window seat can be a great option if they love flying and enjoy looking out of the window. This can also give them a sense of control over their surroundings, and they can look out of the window for additional entertainment during the flight.

Placing kids in the window seat can be a great option if they love flying and enjoy looking out of the window.
Photo: Elizaveta Galitckaia/ Shutterstock.com

5. Protect their ear from pressure changes

Pressure changes during flights can cause discomfort and pain in children’s ears. To protect their ears, it’s important to encourage them to swallow frequently during takeoff and landing. It’s a good idea to offer your child chewing gum, hard candy, or fluids to help equalize the pressure in their ears during a flight. Make sure to pack these items in your child’s carry-on bag so they are easily accessible.

If your child has had a recent ear infection or is prone to ear pain during flights, it’s important to consult with their pediatrician before the trip.

The doctor may recommend using earplugs or other specialized ear protection during takeoff and landing. By taking these precautions, you can help ensure that your child’s ears are protected and they have a comfortable and safe flight.

During flights, pressure changes can lead to discomfort and ear pain in children. To mitigate this, encourage frequent swallowing during takeoff and landing by offering items such as jelly or candy, for example.
Photo: Irina Kvyatkovskaya/ Shutterstock.com

6. Avoid boarding early

Traveling with young children can be a challenging experience, especially when it comes to boarding a plane. While it may seem like a good idea to board early, it can actually add to the stress of parents and kids alike. 

The rush to get on board and find seats can be overwhelming, particularly for children who may not understand the urgency. Instead, it’s worth considering waiting until the end of the boarding process. This way, you can reduce the amount of time your child needs to spend sitting still and waiting, which can help minimize the risk of tantrums or other disruptive behavior. 

Additionally, waiting until later in the boarding process can help ensure that there is more space available on the plane, making it easier to find seats that are comfortable for you and your child. So, next time you’re traveling with young children, try waiting until the end of the boarding process and see how it goes!

The rush to get on board and find seats can be overwhelming, particularly for children who may not understand the urgency. Instead, it’s worth considering waiting until the end of the boarding process. 
Photo: Odua Images/ Shutterstock.com

7. Bring a surprise toy

One way to keep your child entertained and happy during a long flight is to bring a surprise toy.

This can be something small and inexpensive, but it should be something that your child has never seen before to capture their attention. Consider packing a few different options to keep your child engaged throughout the flight. You can also wrap the toys in colorful paper or a small gift bag to add to the excitement of the surprise. To avoid any meltdowns, make sure to bring age-appropriate toys and activities that are safe for your child to use on the plane. With a carefully selected surprise toy, you can turn a long flight into a fun and enjoyable experience for your child.

8. Put a hold on your screen time limits

While screen time limits are important for children’s health and development, air travel can be a time to relax these rules a bit. Long flights can be boring and uncomfortable for young children, and a little extra screen time can go a long way to keeping them happy and entertained. Just be sure that when playing videos or games with sound, you provide your child(ren) with headphones. This can help to eliminate the risk of disturbing other passengers while en route. 

Long flights can be boring and uncomfortable for young children, and a little extra screen time can go a long way to keeping them happy and entertained.
Photo: KieferPix/Shutterstock.com

If you are worried about your child being glued to a screen the entire flight, encourage breaks. This can be in the form of snacks, stretching, and playing with toys or reading books. Being a bit more flexible with your child’s screen time throughout the flight can make all the difference. 

Ease your booking with ZenHotels

Whether it be for a quick 2-hour flight or a lengthy overnight, keeping kids quiet and happy during the ride can be hard. It is for this reason we have compiled this list into a comprehensive article. We hope that these tips will serve you during your next flight with little ones. Many others have already found success in using these methods to create a much smoother and less stressful family trip.

If you are planning a family trip, ZenHotels can assist you in finding the perfect accommodations that cater to your needs.

We have a vast selection of family-friendly hotels that will ensure you and your whole family a comfortable and enjoyable stay.

Book your next family vacation with ZenHotels and make your travel experience stress-free! 

Book now

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