I received product from Stephen Joseph Gifts to help facilitate this post about ‘The Best Flying with Kids Hacks’. As always, all opinions are my own.
Are you planning a summer vacation with the entire family? Does that stress you out? If so, then I’ve got some easy tricks for flying with kids that you will want to hear. As a mom to five kids, we’ve traveled several times over the years. We’ve done Disney three times. Been on three cruises. A few short trips here and there. And even headed out on a 15+ hour road trip a couple years ago too. All of those trips WITH KIDS! I have nothing against the couples who take vacation sans kids, but we haven’t…….yet. Every time we start discussing it, we decide that time goes way too fast and we just don’t want to leave them behind. Making memories with our kids while we still have them is key for us right now. But don’t ever feel bad about getting away with just your spouse! We have done short little weekend trips to help keep our marriage thriving.
Does Flying With Kids Sound Intimidating?
Honestly, the very first time we flew with children was when our first daughter, Hannah, was just 9 months old. And because we were young parents and inexperienced fliers, it WAS intimidating for us. But we learned a lot from that trip. And we had such an amazing time. Not only was it our daughter’s first cruise, it was also ours. The entire experience bolstered our courage though. And just a couple years later, we headed out on another flight and second cruise. This time with two children in tow.
And over the following 10+ years, we flew more. With additional children as they joined our family. So our last flight included all 5 of our kids PLUS four young cousins. And it went amazingly well. How, you ask? Well, because we utilized the best flying with kids hacks.
The Best Flying with Kids Hacks
For most families, the following best flying with kids hacks will practically guarantee a successful trip. So I hope you find them helpful too.
1. Buy Each Person In Your Party A Seat
Start off planning your trip by ensuring each member of your family has their own seat. I know it’s tempting to save some money by utilizing the ‘lap child’ option for the younger kids. However, it makes the flight so much harder. Ensuring that every person has their own seat is a vital hack for a smoother flight. And if your child is under 4, I highly recommend bringing your own carseat along with a carseat travel cart to pull it through the airport with baby in tow.
***Pro Tip: Book a non-stop flight if at all possible. While layovers usually means you save a little money, when flying with kids, it’s just not worth the hassle.
2. Get Your Kids Personal Backpack Ready A Month Ahead Of Time
Ready for one of my ultimate secrets? I actually pack my children’s backpacks, which they use as their personal item, a month before we leave! Why you ask? Well, I start by making a run to the dollar tree and grabbing 3-5 new toys or items I think they’ll love. But then I raid their toy boxes and the rest of the items are actually theirs. This means that when vacation time and travel happens, everything in their backpacks is new again! Since they had forgotten about their little toys and it’s been awhile since they last played, these old toys have new luster and keep them busy again for hours. And don’t forget to pack a compact swaddle blanket for each family member. (You’ll thank me later for that one!)
I highly recommend Stephen Joseph’s Sidekick Backpacks as they are a nice size for kids, SOOOOO cute, and you can customize with your child’s name. Lucy chose the Blue Owl while Sam went with the Blue Shark. Each backpack features a large zipper pocket, small front zipper pocket, side water bottle holder, and adjustable shoulder straps for carrying. We adore these!
***Pro Tip: Send the dads to the dollar store. They are much more creative. My husband actually bought our 3 year old daughter what he thought was a giant shoe toy. (Don’t ask…. WHY he would think a giant shoe toy would be fun is still beyond me. lol.) I can’t even remember exactly what it was. Some sort of window decoration and accessories or something. However, it ended up being her absolute favorite item and she literally played with it throughout the entire trip and for weeks after returning home.
3. Get The Kids Excited About The Trip
Give the kids fair warning about their upcoming flying travel. Talk about what to expect when working your way through airport security. Let them know any expectations about behavior. And finally, make sure you tell them about all the exciting parts of where you’ll be going. Make a count-down chain so they have a tangible way to see when it’ll be time to leave.
4. Pack Snacks In Separate Lunch Bags For Each Child
This one is super important. Get each of your children a fun, special lunch bag. (The All Over Print Lunch Box from Stephen Joseph is a GREAT choice because it can even be customized with your child’s name! Plus, it’s large enough to fit several snacks, features a water bottle pocket on the side, and has a carry handle.)
Packing each child their own lunch bag allows them to feel ownership and as well as control what they want to eat and when. And click for an awesome list of affordable meal and snack ideas to help you get started for loading it up.
Measuring in at about 9” x 4” x 10”, all the extra compartments and mesh pockets allow for space for utensils, napkins, and other necessities.
5. Leave Early And Plan For Delays
Honestly, if you’re stressed and yelling, your kids will start to freak out. So leave early and plan for delays. When things start going wrong, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and just know that you WILL have a good trip if you can let go of the things you can’t control and just enjoy the moment.
***Pro Tip: Attitude is everything. Especially when traveling. Spend some time preparing yourself before your trip. Know that it’s impossible for everything to fall into place and be perfect. And while it’s okay to feel disappointment when something goes wrong, keep in mind that your kids are watching. Show kindness, compassion, and self-control. Also, bring a really good book that you can dive into to help get through stressful times. Sometimes, just sitting back and smiling is the best way to handle a situation.
6. Have Each Child Transport Their Own Luggage Through The Airport
Investing in adorable kid-friendly luggage means that your child will actually WANT to be in charge of their suitcase. Plus, this pint-size means it is a great size for carry-on. Which is important because you never know when your child will need a change of clothes.
And by having their own suitcase that isn’t too large or bulky, each child can easily maneuver through the airport with your group. This worked amazingly well for our family every single time we travel. Each child straps on their backpack, we clip their lunch bag to their suitcase, and then they wheel their suitcase themselves.
Stephen Joseph’s Classic Rolling Luggage has lots to love. They’re just like an adult’s wheeled suitcase, but sized just right for little kids and way more fun. Each design is so bright and colorful, you’ll never lose it on the luggage belt if you do chose to check it. It’s the perfect height for little travelers and has a big main compartment and plenty of pockets to pack all their travel needs in.
Want to make it even more individual? Then why not personalize it with your child’s initials or name? Measuring in at about14.5″ x 18″, these luggage pieces are super cute and extremely high quality.
7. Balloons For Airport Waiting
We all know that space is limited when packing your carryon. So how can you keep your kids entertained without the use of screens and electronics? Simple. Make sure to pack a bunch of un-inflated balloons! They take up almost no space. Once you get to your gate, grab one out and blow it up. The kids will take it from there. (And honestly, we had adults join in the fun too. Including adults that weren’t even with our group!) Play ‘keep it up’, where you take turns bumping the balloon back into the air without letting it touch the ground. We like to have one balloon per child for this but any balloon can be bumped up and saved by anyone during play. Then, when it’s time to board the plane, just throw in the garbage.
8. Utilize Family Boarding
Many airlines offer family boarding now. So while those passengers with First Class and A boarding passes get to load the plane first, family boarding allows those with young kids to board next. Make sure you get in that line once boarding starts so you are able to secure seats together if your airline doesn’t allow pre-selection.
9. Visit The Pilot
One of the best flying with kids hacks is to make sure to request a visit to the cockpit with the pilot. Every single flight we’ve ever taken with our kids, we’ve done this. And it’s really awesome! Plus, many times, the stewardesses will also give them a paper model plane or their very own set of wings to pin on their shirts.
***Pro Tip: Bring your camera or phone along to the front! Although the pilot makes the visit short and sweet, they usually let you snap a quick photo!
I hope you found the best flying with kids hacks to be helpful. And as you prepare for any upcoming trips, best of luck and safe travels!
Buy It: Head over to the Stephen Joseph Website to see for yourself the great selection of products they offer.
One lucky Thrifty Nifty Mommy will receive an amazing Stephen Joseph Prize Pack consisting of one of each of the following: Classic Rolling Luggage, Sidekick Backpack, and an All Over Print Lunchbox. Just enter the widget below for your chance to win!