air travel with kids
Here is a more organized list of things that I bring along when we fly. This doesn’t include my personal belongings but focuses more on what helps me with the kids. If anyone is interested in what I put in my own carryon, leave me a comment and I’ll think about a blog series on traveling as an adult! 😊
A lot of snacks. Snacks that may be somewhat of a treat. Snacks that have some sort of protein content. A good assortment of snacks. We don’t skimp on snacks.
We always pack as many snacks as we can because our kids love snacks. I think most kids do. Having something to munch on is a good way to pass the time and keep kids happy. It’s pretty simple.
Packing tip for snacks: Many airports now require you to take all of your snacks out of your bags for security. This past trip I put all of the snacks into gallon-sized Ziploc bags, then I put all of the Ziploc bags into my “personal item”, which is the purse or laptop case that you’re allowed to carry in addition to a carry-on. This way I knew where all the snacks were and it saved a lot of time that we used to spend digging out granola bars and whatnot. Just grab the Ziploc bags out, put them in a tray, and you’re done!
2) Child Headphones
We bought our kids their own headphones a couple of years ago. The ones they give you on the airplane don’t fit the kids’ heads very well (honestly they don’t fit my head either 😛 ), and they don’t have super great sound quality. Most international flights have free movies available onboard and the kids have enjoyed watching them much more since we got them their own headsets.
3) A Few New Things
I always try to have a few new small toys or a new book/coloring book for the kids to play with along the way. My mom often buys them things like this before we fly and that has been a blessing! You know your kids’ personalities and you might be able to choose something special and unique to them that they could enjoy throughout the trip.
4) A Jacket
I bring a jacket along for my kids because you never know when you’ll be somewhere that the A/C is cranked down to ridiculous temperatures. On one trip recently I decided not to pack jackets and see what happened. Let’s just say I regretted it.
5) Their Favorite ________.
I left a blank up there because some kids are attached to something. For a while my kids were obsessed with having a blankie, so we traveled with it. My son has a bear that he really likes right now so we stuff it in his backpack. If there is something that can bring comfort when they are tired and out of it, by all means, BRING IT.
6) Extra Set of Clothes
For the toddlers/kids, I bring two extra pairs of underwear and a full extra outfit. If they are not completely potty-trained, I bring a couple extra pull-ups. You never know when you might have a spill or even an unexpected overnight layover.
For babies, I bring around five extra outfits. It’s always better to have plenty of clothes when you have a baby in diapers. You never know when you’ll have a mess on your hands.
7) Disposal Bags for Diapers
8) Baby Carrier
I highly recommend babywearing. The three carriers that I like the best and still use are the Baby K’tan, Lillebaby, and Tula. Babywearing has been such a huge help, especially while traveling with multiple kids!
Picture this: Kid on the front, backpack on the back, one hand pulling a rolling-carryon, and the other hand is free for…coffee. Talk about winning!
9) Double Stroller
If you have more than one kid, it is nice to have a double stroller. My husband has a backpack that converts to a rolling carryon, but he usually just keeps it on his back so that his hands are free to push the stroller. Our stroller has a space under the seats that we can put two of the kids’ backpacks into, which is nice for when they are tired of carrying them.
We have had to walk a couple miles to get to another gate. It’s unreasonable to expect a jetlagged toddler to walk that far, and it is even worse to try to carry them that far (unless you are wearing them). On our last layover in Frankfurt, I am not sure if we would have made our next flight without the stroller!
If you have multiple stops, be sure you tell the airline at check-in that you will want to have your stroller at each stop along the way. This way your stroller will not be checked to your final destination. If you get off the plane and your stroller is not sitting right outside the door of the aircraft, ask airport personnel where you should pick your stroller up from.
The double stroller we have is a Joovy. We have had it for almost five years, but I have included a link to the one that seems to be the same as what we have (apart from the color): https://www.amazon.com/Caboose-Graphite-Stand-Tandem-Stroller/dp/B01N4S1U2I/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?keywords=joovy+double+stroller&qid=1566463824&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUFIRkI3QlpSQzJPMzcmZW5jcnlwdGVkSWQ9QTA3OTc5OTVQVTdDQVBFM0FBQ0gmZW5jcnlwdGVkQWRJZD1BMDMwNzc0NTNSRkkwSElQRU1BVTkmd2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9hdGYmYWN0aW9uPWNsaWNrUmVkaXJlY3QmZG9Ob3RMb2dDbGljaz10cnVl
This stroller was gifted to us and it has been a well-used blessing! It folds up easily and isn’t a hassle when we have to collapse it right before boarding a flight.
10) Cleaning Wipes
I try to travel with some sort of sanitizing wipes for cleaning surfaces along the way. Anyone who has flown knows how disgusting the bathrooms can be on planes and in airports. It is nice to have something on hand to wipe off a gross toilet seat before your child uses it.
These are ten things that I consider to be necessities. There are other obvious things that you would also pack if you have a baby, but I wanted to emphasize the things above in order to explain how they have helped us. If you have any specific questions, I am always willing to chat some more! I am also reminded that as the years go by, the kids will be able to do more for themselves as we travel. This is simply a stage of life that will be over all too soon.
Let me just conclude this blog series by saying how grateful I am to the Lord for guiding our travels. I don’t know if I will ever love the long flights, but I know that they have been bearable and smooth by God’s grace alone! He always gives you the strength to do His will. – India
The phrase “less is more” might be overused, but it is really applicable in regard to travel! I used to be the mom who packed every possible baby/kid item in my carry-ons. I wanted to be prepared for anything. While my forethought may have been commendable, it left me with a lot of useless baggage, no pun intended! I would get to my destination and pull out a lot of items while thinking, “Well, I never used this, but at least I had it just in case!” After a while I realized that I was pulling out the same items every time. I was using up precious space and carrying bigger bags than necessary.
Having maxed out carry-ons can be such a drag while trekking through the airports with kids. It is frustrating when you’re in line at security and everything is spilling out every direction as you attempt to take out your electronics and whatever else they want you to take out on that particular day. When you have little kids, it is even more stressful to go through security because you must do everything for them. And you may or may not have a three-year-old who is terrified of security and never wants to give his backpack up to the x-ray machine. 😛
These days I ask myself, “Am I really going to use this? Do my kids really need this many toys to occupy themselves? Will we actually go through thirty diapers and two full packages of wipes in the next forty hours?”
I recommend going through all your carry-on items and making some tough choices. Decide what you can live without during your trip. Do you need your journal, a novel, crossword puzzle book, AND your Kindle/tablet? Does your toddler need to have a rolling carry-on on top of a backpack and their teddy bear?
This year I started packing a lot lighter in the carry-on department and it was the best decision I could have made while traveling with four kids for the first time. You might be thinking, “That works for you, but we had to put extra stuff in our carry-ons because it didn’t fit in our checked bags.” Been there, done that. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that there is always something I can leave behind, and I usually don’t miss it that much when I get to wherever I’m going.
My kids are still little (six and under) and for now I am a mean mom when it comes to packing carry-ons. I collect their backpacks the day before we fly and pack them myself, then keep them in an inaccessible location until shortly before we leave for the airport. That way they cannot stuff randomness into them when I’m not looking.
In my mind, less is more when flying with kids. When you have less stuff, you are more relaxed. You don’t have to worry about leaving as many things on the plane because you know exactly what was in your kids’ carry-ons to begin with.
If you are wondering what I DO pack in our carry-ons, be on the lookout for my next post about the necessities. Now that we’ve flown internationally with babies, toddlers, and kids every year for the past six years (sometimes more than once in a year), I am pretty set on what I need and what I don’t.
As I said in my post yesterday, there are no absolutes and what works for me might not work for you! However, I will conclude with the fact that I haven’t always been a minimalist in air travel. The Lord is continually reminding me that “stuff” is not all that important. Having the latest travel gadgets won’t make us or the kids any happier. I still get stressed about flying, but God’s grace is there every step of the way and that is something to be thankful for.
This past year I have had many people ask me what air travel is like with our kids. Some people give me the look that says “you’re crazy” while telling me how brave I am. Truth be known, I feel more on the crazy side than brave most of the time! However, the questions I’ve been asked have inspired me to write a few blog posts on this topic. Here are my first thoughts:
Don’t Overthink It!
With or without kids, people often complicate air travel more than necessary. I have been flying internationally every year since I was two years old and I feel strongly about the following: Yes, there may be “life hacks” that seasoned travelers can share, but ultimately, flying is about getting from one place to the next. I have learned that you can be as prepared as humanly possible and things you never expect might still go wrong. There are no absolutes with air travel these days, it seems. What works for one traveler might not pan out the same way for another.
We have found that prayer is the best way to prepare for our flights. We pray and ask others to pray long before we fly. The Lord has answered these prayers time and time again by allowing our children to behave and cooperate amazingly well considering the very long flights we take them on!
The first time we flew with Sakshi, she was only five months old. We flew from Florida to India, which takes anywhere between 24 and 48 hours depending on the route. Sakshi was a very fussy baby and I was extremely nervous beforehand. However, she was the perfect baby during each flight and layover! We attributed this solely to prayer. My husband has always said since then, “If God can close the mouths of lions, He can also close the mouth of a baby!” Now that we have four children, ages six and under, flying has been no different in the area of answered prayers.
Yes, we have had a few rough moments. I will not try to say that every flight has been perfect. Once Thaddeus screamed for most of a flight from Abu Dhabi to Frankfurt. It was so bad that as we were heading to the baggage claim, people were pointing at us and saying, “That’s the kid!” The Lord undoubtedly allows some of this to keep us humble. 😛
There have also been rude passengers who didn’t want to sit by someone with kids. On the flip side, I have typically found flight attendants to be kind and accommodating when you are traveling with kids. Beyond that, having kids means you get to be at the front of the lines for security, customs, and boarding 90% of the time (okay, I guesstimated that percentage based on our experiences 😉).
All in all, when I say not to overthink air travel with kids, I mean to put your mind at ease. Your experience will be unique to you and your kids. Never feel like you must “have it all together”, because there is no set way to do that! I can – as can many others – simply share what I have learned and perhaps you can glean something from it. My next post will be about how less is more. I will share more of the specifics of how we travel with the kiddos.
Until then – India