We are just back from a family reunion in Palm Coast, Florida and we survived our first flight with two kids! I’ll add the disclaimer that we were flying with my parents and siblings, so with eight adults to two kids ratio, really… how hard could it be?
All you moms I see flying alone with kids in tow, I applaud you. Even with all the help, traveling with kids involves lugging around so much crap, chasing our restless toddler, and endlessly catering to our sweet 9-month-old.
Overall, we had a smooth flight and the boys did awesome. However, we did make some mistakes that we’ll be sure to correct next time. Here are the five mistakes we made flying with kids…
1. Bringing our own car seats.
Car seats are so bulky and are the most challenging item to lug around the airport until you can check them. Most car rental companies offer a range of child safety seats that are suitable for babies and children. Be sure to ask when booking. The only logistical issue is getting your children from the parking lot at the airport, but if possible have one person drop you and the kids off at the airport first, or you can just strap your kids in for the short shuttle ride to your airline check-in.
If you absolutely don’t want to part with your own car seats, these travel bags are a huge help as you can wear them on your bag so you are hands-free to chase around those kiddies
2. Flying early in the morning.
I know booking flights is often subject to cost and availability, but we found it was so much better flying late at night than first thing in the morning. Our departure flight left around 9 p.m. so both boys slept most of the way, through the airport to the rental car and then transferred into bed no problem when we arrived at the hotel.
On the return flight, we left at 7 a.m., which meant a 4:30 a.m wake-up for the boys and then they were up for the day. They both were really so good on the flight but by the time we collected our bags and got into our car, they were beat.
If you have the option, we found the evening flights worked much better with their schedules.
3. Bringing a small backpack for our toddler to “carry.”
We thought it was such a cute idea to pack our two-year-old his own little backpack with books, toys, and snacks. It ended up just being another thing we lugged around the airport and I don’t think he ended up playing with a single thing we put in there during the trip. Do yourself a favor – just throw a few favorite toys and books in your diaper bag.
4. Trying some cool new headphones.
Our toddler is finally old enough to sit through his favorite movie, “Sing,” so my husband bought these cute kiddie headphones on Amazon. We didn’t think to try them on before the flight and our toddler wanted nothing to do with them on his head once we were in the air. He ended up watching the movie in silence on both legs of the trip and was perfectly happy doing so (I’m assuming he knows every word and song to this movie in his head at this point anyway). If you’re bringing any new gadgets, try them out before your trip.
5. Failing to prepare for a delayed flight.
Our departing flight was two hours delayed, which was not a huge deal other than that it’s an two extra hours to distract a two-year-old in a bustling airport. All he wanted to do was run! We had no problem with letting him burn some energy before he gets on a three-hour flight, but there were times (when I was nursing the baby, for example) when we needed him to cool it and sit for a minute.
Michala at Keeping My Kiddos Busy created this awesome airport iSpy game that you can print out for free. I will definitely bring this along on our next trip.
Also consider putting aside any smaller Christmas or birthday gifts for your next flight. Anything new is sure to hold their attention.
I’ll give us some credit, it really was a great trip with very few frustrations. Here are some things we did right:
- Brought two small umbrella strollers vs. one giant Bob Double Stroller: We went back-and-forth so much on what stroller to bring on this trip, and are so happy we opted to bring two small folding umbrella strollers. First, it was so much easier to fit them in the rental car. We love our double Bob but it is so bulky. I don’t know how we would have fit it in the airport shuttle, let alone the rental. Second, it was nice having the boys separated on vacation to take one for a walk if they had an early wake-up or to settle them down for a nap. I think it ultimately depends on what kind of vacation you’re embarking on, but we will probably lean towards this option for future trips whenever possible.
- Letting our toddler watch the Blippi airplane episode: We don’t usually watch a lot of Blippi in our house, but the episode “Blippi Flies in a Private Jet” helped get my toddler so excited for the flight. It shows all the parts of the airplane and has a catchy airplane song.
- Made friends with the airline attendants: We made sure the flight attendants saw the two adorable kids that were boarding the plane and on both legs they were so kind and attentive to us. They let the kids meet the pilot and gave them little “wings” to show to their friends. On the departing flight, they even gave us a free snack box. It always pays to be friendly and kind (and their cute little faces help too).
I will not hesitate to book another flight with the two boys and know that each experience will be unique and you just need to go with the flow.
What are your best tips and tricks for traveling with kids?
Looking for a new destination for your next family vacation? Check out this post about our four-day vacation in Ocean City, Maryland.