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14 Smart Travel Hacks for Flying with Kids

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Flying is a great adventure, but flying with kids is a whole new level of adventure with unforeseen hoops and a few curveballs. On one hand, you’re excited about the upcoming trip. On the other, the thought of managing little ones through crowded airports and long flights might be giving you palpitations.

You don’t have to grit your teeth and wring your hands throughout the trip. With some preparation and the right strategies, you can turn what might seem like an intimidating task into a smooth, enjoyable experience.

Whether you’re traveling with a child for the first time or it’s a repeat flight, the key to successful air travel with children lies in anticipating their needs and planning accordingly. Understanding common challenges such as dealing with crying kids, handling tantrums, and navigating security checks will help you stay one step ahead and ensure a pleasant journey for your family.

Here are some practical tips to address common pain points and help you make the most of your travel experience. Ready to take off? Let’s dive in!

1. Choose a Child-Friendly Airline

Smiling mother is looking at her son in cabin
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Selecting an airline that caters to young travelers can make a huge difference. Look for airlines offering kid-friendly amenities such as priority boarding for families, children’s meals, and in-flight entertainment options for kids. Some top-ranked airlines for kids include British Airways, Qatar Airways, and KLM.

Additionally, staff on child-friendly airlines are typically more understanding and accommodating of families with young kids. They can assist with everything from heating baby bottles to providing extra blankets and pillows, making your flight experience more enjoyable.

2. Don’t Overpack

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While it might be tempting to pack everything you think you might need, overpacking can lead to unnecessary stress. Focus on packing essentials and use a packing list. Remember, you can always buy additional items at your destination if needed.

Packing light will also make it easier to manage your luggage, especially when you have strollers, car seats, and other kid-related gear to carry. Consider using packing cubes to organize your belongings and keep things easily accessible during the flight.

3. Dress Them Appropriately

Mother and young little girl with blonde hair are playing in an autumn park on a yellow and orange leaf background. Family is walking in park
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When traveling with kids, convenience is key. Avoiding shoes with laces can save you time and hassle, particularly during security checks (although most airports won’t make your littles take their shoes off). Slip-on shoes or velcro straps are much easier to manage and can help speed up the process of getting through airport security and ensure that your kids are comfortable and safe throughout the trip.

Dressing them in layers will also help you deal with temperature changes in flight. It also prepares you for the weather at your destination. Have extra clothes in your carry-on luggage to ensure you’re prepared for spills, diaper leaks, or any other mishaps.

4. Use a Small Stroller

Mother and son with a stroller
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A small, lightweight stroller is a must-have for airport travel. It makes navigating through crowded terminals much easier and provides a convenient place for your child to rest. Many airlines allow you to gate-check strollers, so you can use them right up until you board the plane.

Compact strollers are also easier to fold and store, saving you time and effort. Make sure to check the airline’s stroller policy in advance to avoid any surprises at the airport.

5. Use Pull-Up Diapers

Mother hand holds baby diapers on a bag, close-up
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For parents traveling with toddlers, pull-up diapers can be a lifesaver. They are easy to change, even in cramped airplane bathrooms, and can help prevent accidents during the flight. Pack a few extra in your carry-on, just in case.

Pull-up diapers also provide an added layer of convenience for potty-training kids. They can easily be pulled up and down, reducing the stress of managing bathroom breaks during the flight.

6. Be Prepared for Cabin Pressure Earaches

Charming kid traveling by an airplane. Joyful little boy sitting by aircraft window during the flight. Child drawing picture and eating snack
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Changes in cabin pressure can cause ear discomfort for children. To alleviate this, bring items like pacifiers, bottles, or chewy snacks that encourage swallowing and help equalize ear pressure. Support your baby by offering them water, nursing them, or encouraging them to drink through a straw.

It’s also helpful to explain the sensation to your kids beforehand so they know what to expect and how to manage it. Teaching them to yawn or gently blow their noses can also provide relief.

7. Don’t Sit a Child at the Aisle

Excited mother with a tablet exchanging smiles with her daughter
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Sitting your child in the aisle seat might seem convenient, but it can pose risks, such as being bumped by carts or passengers. If possible, instead, place them in the window or middle seat, where they can enjoy the view and be safely out of the way.

This seating arrangement also allows you to control when and how often they get up, reducing the chances of unnecessary movement and potential accidents. If you have two children to manage in one row, then choose the older or more responsible of the two to sit in the aisle so you can sit between them and keep the peace if needed.

8. Stay Calm

Happy mother with her son sitting in plane
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A passenger will probably be a little salty about your screaming, seat-kicking child (if they’re having one of those days). Staying calm and composed can help set a positive tone for the entire trip. If things don’t go as planned, take a deep breath and handle the situation with patience and understanding.

Remember, your child’s behavior is often a response to unfamiliar environments and situations. Offering reassurance and maintaining a calm demeanor can help them feel more secure and comfortable.

9. Get Them Surprises

High angle view of little girl sitting on the plane, smiling to her mother while they are traveling together. Family, vacation concept
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Surprises can be a great way to keep kids entertained during the flight. Pack a few small, inexpensive toys or activities they haven’t seen before and bring them out as needed. This can help capture their attention and keep boredom at bay.

Consider items like coloring books, stickers, or small puzzles that are easy to manage and don’t require a lot of space. Rotating these surprises throughout the flight can keep things fresh and exciting for your child.

10. Have Entertainment Apps Set-up

Mother showing her daughter something exciting on a tablet screen
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One of the best ways to hack a flight with babies and toddlers is to bring your own fun. Having a few entertainment apps loaded on your devices can be a lifesaver during long flights. A child will make anything a toy—from seatbelts to the tray to your front-seat neighbor’s hair. Keep them busy with age-appropriate games, educational apps, or movies. Don’t forget to bring headphones to keep the noise level down.

Make sure to download content in advance while you have access to Wi-Fi, so you don’t run into any connectivity issues during the flight. Tablets with long battery life or portable chargers can also be helpful.

11. Be Prepared for Security Checks

Family at the airport
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Navigating airport security with kids can be challenging, so it’s important to be prepared. Have your documents ready, and explain the process to your children beforehand to help reduce anxiety. Keep things that will be removed from the bags at the top.

Being organized and patient can make the security check process smoother. Allow extra time to get through security so you don’t feel rushed and can handle any unexpected delays calmly.

12. Carry a First-Aid Kit

Mother and child with open suitcase suitcase with first-aid kit ready for travel
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A basic first-aid kit can be invaluable when traveling with babies. Pack essentials like band-aids, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medications your child may need.

Having these items on hand can help you address minor injuries or illnesses quickly and efficiently, ensuring a more comfortable trip for your family.

13. Have a Talk with the Kids Before Travel Day

Happy Family Sitting On Sofa In Lounge Talking Together
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Preparing your toddler or child for the travel experience can help set expectations and reduce anxiety. Talk to them about what to expect at the airport, during security checks, and on the plane. Discuss the importance of staying close, listening to instructions, and being patient.

Role-playing or reading books about flying can also help familiarize them with the process and make it feel less intimidating. Watch videos about check-in and in-flight experiences to prepare them.

14. Carry Snacks

Mom prepares a lunch box with snacks lunch for her school child in the kitchen
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Hungry kids are often cranky kids, so having a variety of snacks on hand is essential. Choose healthy, non-messy options like fruit slices, crackers, or granola bars. Avoid sugary snacks that can lead to energy spikes and crashes.

Pack snacks in easily accessible containers, and be mindful of any potential allergens when choosing what to bring. Hydration is also important, so carry a refillable water bottle for each child.


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Countless adults sitting in a therapist’s office today are grappling with the lasting impact of words spoken by their parents during childhood. Regardless of how you perceive yourself, in your child’s eyes, you are nothing short of the most remarkable thing to happen to them since “skip intro.” This underscores the critical importance of being mindful of what you say to your children, as your words become the small but influential voice in their developing minds.

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Do you still remember something your grandparents said that made you uncomfortable? As much as we adore our grandparents, their words (even with good intentions) can sometimes hurt our feelings or are plain embarrassing.

If you are a grandparent, using your words mindfully around your grandkids is as crucial as any other relationship. Words hold immense power and shape our kids’ behaviors and perceptions. 

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