Flying with Kids

Tuesday , 10, April 2012 10 Comments

Flying is stressful with or without kids.  Our first child has traveled domestically many times and although it is not always fun, it got easier as she got older.  The most challenging flights are the ones halfway around the world.  We have traveled to Asia twice with one kid and will soon be taking a trip halfway around the world with two kids for the first time.

NaNa watching for airplanes

Since it’s getting close to the summer travel season and we are starting to prepare for our upcoming trip, I thought I would share what I have learned from our travels so far.

Car Seats.  We use separate car seats that are designated as our travel car seats.  I have heard horror stories of people’s car seats being in pieces by the time they get it back after checking them in that I don’t want to risk it with our everyday car seats. We prefer to check our car seats in with our luggage but we have also lugged our car seat around the airport with us before and gate-checked it.    We used bungee chords to attach the car seat to our carry-on luggage so that neither one of us had to hand carry the heavy car seat throughout the world’s busiest airport.  Make sure that the car seat is FAA approved for air travel if you want to use it on the plane.  Some kids travel better in their car seats.  I have thought about getting the GoGo Babyz Travelmate for the car seats to push the kids around the airport but I didn’t want to spend the money for it.  For in-flight, we use the  Child Aviation Restraint System (CARES), the only FAA-approved child harness for kids 22-44 lbs.

Stroller or Ergo.  We don’t usually bring a stroller with us.  There is usually one at our destination for us to use or we buy a cheap umbrella stroller when we get there.  We use the Ergo baby carrier to carry the kids around the airport.  Ergos are useful whether or not you decide to bring a stroller or lug your car seat throughout the airport.  I always bring the ergo with me whenever I travel.  You can use it when the kids get tired or those times when you just need to keep them contained.  The Ergo is one of the most comfortable baby carriers I have used – it doesn’t hurt your back like some of the others.  It can be used from infancy to pre-school age (the weight limit is 45 lbs though it’s been tested up to 90 lbs).

Carry-On Bags.  Each kid carry their own little bag with some lightweight toys or snacks.  That frees up a little bit of space for us in the adult bags.  We pack our bags with snacks, water bottle (without water), entertainment for the kids, extra clothes, medicine (Tylenol and Benadryl), wipes, lotion, hand sanitizer, grip liner, more entertainment for the kids, lip balm, CARES harness, light jacket for everyone, and entertainment for adults.

The water bottle is for you to fill up with water after going through security.  Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.  Tylenol is for any sudden fevers.  Benadryl is just a precaution.  I don’t want to discover that the kids are allergic to something on the plane without anything to alleviate their discomfort.  I pack the chewable tablets of both medications.  Lotion and lip balm because it is very dry on the plane.  Grip liner is for the kids’ drinks, food, dvd player, or other electronic device to stay put on the tray tables.  Light jacket because it is always cold on the plane.

In my next post (in two weeks), I will post about what we bring along for entertainment for the kids and what types of snack we usually pack.

Do you have any advice for how to make air travel a little easier with kids?  We would love to hear your tips!

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  • Rachel says:

    Great ideas, Chan. I will have to bookmark this post for when we start flying with Eli!

  • Maggie says:

    I’ve flown a lot with my daughter, but not for about a year, and never with BOTH. I’ll be doing that soon. I’ve not yet had problems with my car seat (domestic trips though) coming back in bad shape. I had a special hook/bungee thing to strap a toddler car seat to a rolling bag…whatever happened to that? And I stock up on stuff for her to open on the plane, a new book, and new Color Wonder Coloring set, *ahem* a Sony DVD player..:)
    You did make me think though…maybe I’ll check the stroller…and I’m bringing a grip pad!

  • Amy says:

    While doctors may frown upon this, I always give the kids 1/2 dose of Tylenol while checking in at the airport and once more at 1 hour before landing (if the flight is long) to help ease ear pain due to change in cabin pressure. Kids don’t always want to take paci or bottle or breast right at take off or landing. For older kids munching on crackers or chewing gum helps quite a bit. I do like to use strollers for older kids in the airport because it also serves as a cart to carry jackets and kids’ backpacks that got too heavy for them to carry. With kids in the stroller, the chances of them wandering off is lessened.

  • Chan says:


    I’ve never thought about doing that. But you’re right… it probably does help the ear pain during take off or landing. Thankfully, the first kid was never sensitive to the change in cabin pressure. I’m hoping my second child is the same way. I’ve heard of the controversial use of subduing kids with benadryl on the plane. I haven’t tried that. My luck, my kids will react to benadryl adversely and be hyperactive or irritable. I bring it just for emergencies. I will probably bring a stroller with me when I have to fly by myself with two kids.

    Thanks for sharing your tips!

    • Amy says:

      I made the mistake twice for forgetting to bring Tylenol on board. After 8 hours of baby crying and fellow sleep-deprived passengers fussing at us, I never get on a plane without at least having it in my bag. If the flight is domestic and during the day, I may or may not use it.

  • Julie says:

    Well, I am scared to death of airplanes, so you probably won’t see me on any long flight soon! I hope to not pass this fear along to my children so I know it’s inevitable eventually, even if it’s just a short flight with my husband & the kids. Great tips!

  • Zackary says:

    While I’m in fact not a mom, or from the “peach” state I do read the blog on a regular basis seeing how Rachel is my big sister. My wife and I have two sons, almost 6 and almost 2, and we have flown with them many times. The most intensive was easily our flight when we were moving from Anchorage, Alaska to Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. We had to fly from Anchorage to Minneapolis and then on to Des Moines to visit family. To keep the boys occupied we strapped their car seats right into the seats on the plane. Lugging the car seats around can be a pain but my wife found car seat bags that we were able to put the seats in and then they go on your back just like a backpack. They were great while going from our gate on one side of Minneapolis Airport to our connecting gate on the complete opposite side!! I was able to carry the car seats and walk with my 5 year old while my wife had the carry on and our then 1 year old. They were a lifesaver!!

    We also just took a trip to Disney World last February so maybe I’ll get Rachel to let me do a post on that later because that was an adventure all in itself…..

    • Chan says:

      Thanks for the tip on car seat bags! Some kids do travel better with their car seats on the plane. Yes, going to Disney World is a whole different experience than going anywhere else on vacation. That’s a great idea to do a post on just a WDW trip! WDW is a much better experience when it is well planned out. Looking forward to reading about your tips on WDW!

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