May 23, 2012

Ten Tips For Flying Alone With Kids (Including What to Wear & Carry On)

Gang, I (mostly) stay at home while my husband works.  And we live far, far from family.  This may not be a forever arrangement (both the staying at home or living far from family…) so I'm taking advantage of it while I can.  So Raines and I?  We flew.  Lots. And now that Pax is here…we three fly.  Lots. 

In preparation for our first few flights, I did a ton of research online about flying with kids – what to bring, how to get through the gate, etc.  Most articles were a bit overwhelming and…scary, actually.  I felt as though I was embarking on a fool's mission.  Something only a cah-razy-person would attempt.

Thankfully, I am a crazy-person.

But honestly?  It's not that hard.  I mean YES – kids will poop, tears will flow, flights will be missed…but IT'S NOT THAT DIFFERENT FROM YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE.

My philosophy?  Focus on the fun.

Here are my favorite tips for flying with kids…especially flying solo with kids:

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1.  Find Your Zen

Really, this is all you need.  Decide that NO MATTER WHAT, you will not be rattled.  Poop, tears, crabby employees, missed flights –  you will be CALM.  In fact, you will not only be calm, you will SMILE at this super-funny adventure you are embarking on!  Adventure is fun, people!  Life is fun!!  And chances are, if you are in an airport with your kiddos in tow, you are much luckier than 99.9% of people on the planet.  (Even if you miss your flight and will have to bunk down in the airport.)  A little perspective goes a long way.

WHAT THIS MEANS:  

When you realize that you only have 5 minutes to cover the entire airport to make your connecting flight and your child chooses that moment to have a tantrum….you smile, give a 5 second hug, and then say, "Babe, I SO wish things could be different, but Mum has to do some serious running now.  So I'm going to strap you into this stroller and run like heck!!"  Smile-smile.  And then hold 'em down and strap 'em in (this is just one of those times, Mamas).  Then run like heck.  The shock and novelty of the situation (coupled with your calm-yet-slightly-deranged) behavior will turn your kiddo's tears into squeals of glee pretty quickly.

Which brings me to my next point…

 

2. Connecting Flight?  Don't Make Your Toddler Walk

It's not going to happen.  No matter how much your toddler typically LOVES walking and/or hates the stroller/Ergo/backpack/etc. you will need a mode of transport that doesn't involve you carrying him in your bare arms.  The day you leave your method of kid-transport behind is the day you miss your flight.  Murphy's Law, perhaps?  If I have a connecting flight, I NEVER travel without the stroller, Ergo (or both).

Carrierprocon

ps.  Strollers fly free with plane-side check-in.  

pps.  Large strollers can be used when luggage carts are in short supply. 

Mike's favorite part of travel – can't you tell?

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3.  Getting To The Check-In Counter:  The Hardest Part?

With all of the crap luggage you are taking, getting to the check-in counter is often the hardest part.  Yes, you want your husband to help.  And if he has the time?  Ask for a gate pass* and he can walk you all the way to your gate.  (NOTE:  My husband has never done this.)

*Update: I asked for a gate pass recently and found that most of the time, this request is denied.  It's primarily allowed for kids traveling alone, not for mamas with kids.  They actually let us have one…but let us know not to rely on this option in the future.

My solution to get to to the check-in counter is pretty much shown in the picture above.  It's not pretty, and our car seats have gotten pretty banged up over the years.  But leave it to M (our gear-queen) to come up with the truly elegant solution:

Forgive the graffiti print – it shows the critical zipper the best:

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This is M's favorite luggage.  It's basically two suitcases that zip together (allowing you to wheel it to the ticket counter in a sane fashion)…and then if you are over your baggage limit, VOILA!! Unzip and it's miraculously two suitcases!  (NOTE:  The over-weight bag fee is almost always more than the additional bag fee.)

The bag above is part of the Athalon Double Decker Luggage series.

M also swears by carseat bags that you carry like a backpack.  

He looks happy. 

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Mike and I actually have this bag.  It's the Brica Car Seat Travel Tote. For the record, Mike has NEVER looked this happy carrying it.  This one has much higher reviews.  

Another plus to the car seat bag?  You can stuff it full (in addition to the car seat)…saving you lots of room in your suitcase.  My last flight?  I filled it with our carseat and our shoes.  Awesome.

 

4. Getting Through Security:  Where's Baby?

You are taking off your shoes.  Folding up the stroller.  Pulling out liquids.  And most TSA agents will make you take baby out of the Ergo (or backpack or whatever).  Older kiddos do a decent job of staying close (or, if they are like Raines, they'll take off their own shoes, put them in a security bin, then wander on through the metal-detector like some under-sized businessman.  Usually the TSA agent will make the three-year old wait for his mom…but not always. Lesson learned.)

But what about baby?  

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That security bin?  The one for shoes and laptops?  Yeah – put it on the floor.  Stick baby in it.  Newborns can lie down, pre-walkers can sit…even walkers are usually so distracted by the fuss & noise that you'll get a minute or two to deal with your own stuff before the baby tries to get out.  No promises, Mamas, but it's the best method I've found.

Repeat on the other side, once you are through. 

ps.  Bringing a baby?  You can also bring a drink.  Since I'm nursing, I usually pack a Sigg bottle filled with water so we can all use it.  The TSA folks will need to open it and wave some little strip over the top….but if you bring any pre-packaged drink they'll just let it through.  Truly.

 

5.  Tame Your Peeing & Pooping Fears (For Baby, Toddler and YOU)

Baby

Most Mamas flying with little ones are worried about one thing:  Can they make it to their destination without being covered in some sort of bodily fluid (or solid)?

To combat this fear, one Mama I know always travels with 12 diapers. (12!!)  One Mama double-diapered her poop-plosion prone kid (using one size up for the outer diaper).  Another Mama simply let her (happy) kid sit in a poop-filled diaper for the remainder of the flight, instead of dealing with the in-flight changing options (which admittedly aren't good).   Personally, I've stuck Pax (the Super Pooper) in a cloth diaper (as strange as that sounds) just to make it through a flight without worrying about a poop-plosion getting everywhere. (I like Bum Genius.  That tight elastic waistband contains the poop like no other.)

What you bring really depends on your kid, and what you are comfortable lugging around.  I typically fly (within the US) with 4 diapers (3 if it's a direct flight).  I bring an extra outfit or two, depending on the kid. Worst case scenario, we blow through everything and I end up borrowing a diaper from another mom, or my kid arrives clad in only a diaper.  This has NEVER happened.  Not even close.  Most flights you can make-due with a reasonable amount of stuff. 

Toddler

If your kid is newly potty trained, you may want to consider diapers.  With all of the chaos and stress at the airport, it's almost impossible to get a stubborn toddler to pee when you want them too.  Mine much preferred waiting until the exact moment of takeoff:  "MOM!  I hafta go POOP!!"  

Sheesh, kid.  Not just pee, but poop?  Thanks.

On the upside, people were leaping out of their seats to help.  But, you know…being up and about during turbulence or takeoff/landing is just not safe.  And peeing (or God forbid, pooping) in the seat is embarrassing for everyone (especially your kiddo).  Raines, even after being potty trained, did fly several times in diapers, to no ill affects (and happily, no pooping either).  I think he was relieved that the pressure was off.  And he went right back to underwear as soon as we landed at the airport.

You 

There are all kinds of reasons that peeing is hard:  Babywearing in jeans that you've suddenly discovered are too high-waisted to shimmy down (Me:  NOOOOOOOOOOO), toddler tantrums that took up all of your layover time and you MUST. BOARD. NOW.  Multiple kids that won't all fit into an airplane bathroom.  Etc. Etc. Etc.

Mamas, as I see it, we have three options:

  • Make sure your jeans are low enough to pee while baby-wearing (but go too low and you'll be walking around with carrier-induced plumber-bum)
  • No coffee or fluids before your flight (snort)
  • Get on the plane, then ask others for help

I like the last option best.  You'd be surprised how many stewardesses/other passengers/etc. are willing to read to the toddler, hold the baby, etc. so Mama can pee…or so Mama can take a potty-trained kiddo to pee.

 

6.  In-Air Tantrums?  Dirty Looks From Other Passengers?  Not Really Your Problem

Kids freak out.  For various reasons.  And Mama, if this is your kid, there's not much you can do.  (Of course, you can try comforting them, nursing, playing, blah blah blah – but you know this already).  My point here is this:  Flying, with all of the associated stress and chaos, is a very, very strange thing to do, and it's normal for a kid to, at some point, freak.  For no other reason than to say, loudly, MOM? WTF????

I mean…you can understand, right?  

So do your Mama thing…and don't worry about it.  It happens to everyone. Seriously.  All Mamas everywhere, on every flight, have, at one time, been in your shoes.  And that business guy sitting next to you?  He's been there too (or he's heard the horror stories from his wife).

So give your fellow passengers the benefit of the doubt.  That old lady making snide comments?   "Can't you nurse him?"  (Uh…you can see my nipple.  I'm clearly trying.)  She really is trying to help….but has probably forgotten what it's like and is freaking out for you. That young professional giving you dirty looks?  Yeah, she's thinking that her future kids will NEVER act like that.  Take comfort Mamas…that girl, once upon a time, was me…and yeah.  Karma is a bitch.  Her kids will probably be worse.

Bottom line: Do what'cha gotta do.  If you need passengers to move so you can stand and rock baby more comfortably, then do it.  If you need someone to run and fetch water from the stewardess, tell them.  Ask for more snacks.  Whatever it takes.  Most people are happy to help.  Really.

If all else fails, and you are (all) in for a loooong, painful flight….I'm not above buying my seat-mates a round of drinks or snacks.  Works every time.

 

7. Consider the 6AM Flight

Isn't this horrible?  I know – it's really the most terrible advice you may (eventually) be glad you heard.  And yes…it includes having to get up at 4AM (GACK) to get to the airport. Or even 3:30AM.  As my mother calls it, "a most undignified hour."

But here's the deal: A travel day is going to be crazy (and stressful) from start-to-finish, whether you leave at 6AM or 2PM.  By getting your kiddos on the 6AM flight, you have the following in your favor:

  • They are fresh – even if they didn't get as much sleep as normal, it's the beginning of the day.  Even Raines (who actually LOVES flying) will start to melt down past 3PM.  
  • "they didn't get as much sleep as normal" –> this might be your best chance to get them to sleep on the plane.

The best possible situation

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  •  Turbulence tends to be less.  Even if you are a seasoned flyer, restraining a flopping, screaming  toddler until the pilot turns the seatbelt sign off gets old. FAST.
  • If there is a problem and you miss a flight, you've flown early enough to (hopefully) get re-booked or re-routed easily.  
  • Once you land, it often takes the gong-show (that is you) a while to change diapers, clip into strollers, stuff mouths with food, pee, etc.  And if you happen to land at 10PM in Chicago, and Frontier has determined that you are taking to long to get to baggage claim….they'll lock your luggage – including car seats – up for the night.  (Awesome)

 

8.  The Rest of Baby's Crap Gear 

Car Seats

I have flown with a car seat exactly once.  ONCE.  I don't care how many cool gadgets exist for wheeling your car seat around the airport…once on the plane, it's a total disaster.  Car seats don't really fit down the aisle (they lie, Mamas, they lie!!) and it requires an advanced degree to buckle that thing into the airplane seat properly.  If you are flying with hubs you have a fighting chance, but by yourself? Skip the seat.  It checks for free, anyway.

For Holding a Baby in Your Lap

If you are worried about the baby on your lap, I like front carriers like the Ergo or Belle.  Although, they aren't technically approved for in-flight use because the baby might be in your "crush zone".  

If the 'crush zone' worry keeps you up at night, try the Baby B'Air.  M swears by it, and it is currently approved by the FTA for in-flight use (although not yet approved for take-off/landing…but they are working on it).  The Baby B'Air comes in two sizes and can be found at Amazon.

When To Buy Baby His(Her) Own Seat 

I like to push the rules on this one…but then again, I'd much rather spend my hard-earned $$ on shoes…or jeans…rather than on airplane tickets.  As long as my kiddo was under two, I wanted him on my lap.

Pax, however, is testing that theory.

So here's my new limit:  If you have a wild almost-two, and any leg of your journey is over two hours….that's my breaking point.  Time to buy the little darling their own seat.   

For little ones who look too tiny to be in their own seat (regardless of age), M and I both LOVE the CARES Harness .  While not as comfortable as a car seat, it does allow the kiddo to nod off to sleep and is FTA approved for in-flight use.  You can check out my CARES Harness review here.

 

9. What To Wear

Here's what I typically wear when traveling:

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Marc Jacobs Pretty Nylon Tote | Gap Boyfriend Jeans | Sperrys | Madewell V-Neck Tee | J.Crew Bandana Print Scarf  | Vera Wang Sunglasses

Comfy jeans, a tee I can nurse in, and shoes that are easy to slip on/off.  Sunglasses always, and a scarf tossed into a huge bag.  The scarf can double as a baby blanket, can be thrown on over your tee if spit-up happens*, or be used as a nursing shawl (NOTE: after four total years of nursing someone, I have no shame.  If you like to be a bit more covered, try the Dria – an awesome nursing cover that's perfect for flying).

 

*UPDATE:  On my last flight, spit-up happened.  In a big, HUGE, now I'm topless, way.  I now pack another tee for myself.  Every. Time.  Lesson learned.

10.  What To Pack

I'm not going to go into a litany on the number of diapers, wipes, change of clothes, etc.  Everybody's preferences are different, kids are different.  But there are a few items that have been a big hit – and they are fairly age-independent items.  

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Never leave home without:

  • Lollipops, Raisins, Junk food and Water
    • Lollipops help with ear pain during take-off and landing.  So do raisins and the Sigg bottle.
    • We eat healthy most days…so I tend to use junk food on flying days.  It's novel, it's yummy and even my picky eater will eat it.  Need your kid to buckle-up?  Seat-belt sign isn't off and your kiddo is restless?  Hand over the crappy food.  Happy kid, happy mom, happy plane.
    • For flying with a baby, I think you'll be fine with nothing more exciting than a bunch of snacks.
  • Hand Sanitizer & Children's Tylenol
    • Raines gets an ear infection prior to every flight.  It's like a 6th sense or something.  So we bring tylenol.  Other moms have borrowed it.
    • Planes are gross.  I like Clean Well's hand sanitizer.
  • Ipod Touch, Pong Case and Kidz Gear Wired Headphones For Kids
    • Raines has been entertained by games and movies on his iPod since he was two.  The thing is amazing.  You can find older generation iPod Touches on eBay for about $100.  It's money well spent.  Raines has been using his for travel (and the occasional restaurant) for two and a half years now.
    • Worried about radiation exposure?  Protect your kiddo with the Pong case. It reduces radiation up to 95% under the FCC limits.  Pong sent me a case to review and I love it. 
    • Kidz Gear Wired Headphones come with volume controls to keep little ones from damaging their hearing.  Raines loves these.

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I try to remember to bring…

  • Books
    • The Ultimate Sticker Books by DK  are insanely amazing.  The stickers are made from photos, and they have books in every possible niche:  Space, trains, bulldozers, diggers, horses, animals, baby animals, farm, avengers, Disney, to name a few.  The stickers are so engaging that both babies and toddlers love these.  Once they are finished looking…the fun of sticking begins.  These stickers peel off of surfaces pretty easily also. 
    • Richard Scarry's A Day at the Airport has been a long-time favorite.  The baby likes to see the pictures, Raines still likes the story, and I like that it's small and thin.  I think they both get a kick out of reading a story that pertains to EXACTLY what is happening. 
  • Art Supplies
    • I bring small pads of paper (6" X 9") everytime we fly.  They are great for illustrating last-minute stories to get your kid's attention: "Raines!  Look!  A lion jumped out at this boy!!  What happens next?"  Really, who could resist?  This way I don't need to pack a bunch of heavy books in my carry-on.
    • I always bring some sort of crayon & colored pencil set.  My hands-down favorite (and Raines') is this Xonex Micro Art Set.  It has teeeny tiny crayons, colored pencils, and pastels.  The fact that everything was so small and so artfully arranged into a mini-briefcase totally charmed Raines.  And calmed him down.  He would, actually, sit for a while and draw carefully.  However, the pastels don't always wash off so if you have a kid that wants to draw on the seat, on you, etc….this isn't your set.  Pax is not a sit-carefully-and-draw kind of kid, so for Pax, I'll be bringing washable Crayolas.

Sometimes I'll add…

  • Plasticine
    • This is sometimes called Modeling Clay.  It's AWESOME and never dries out.  Never ever.  Not even in Denver after being left out for months.  Seriously.  I just grab a couple of hunks of different colors and throw them into plastic baggies.  We make snakes (cracks me up when I can get Raines to yell, "Snakes on the Plane!"), guys, whatever.  This works just as well (if not better) than those expensive play scenes you can buy. 
    • You can purchase small packets of Modeling Clay almost anywhere, but my favorite place to get plasticine is at Discount School Supply.  We have the Premium Non-Hardening Modeling Clay.
  • Window Gel Clings
    • You know those window gel stickers that Target sells seasonally for $1?  Stock up.  These are the BEST for flying.  For all ages, really.  The window seat is a must.
  • Maze Activity Books
    • Activity books always struck me as something for older kids, but the Mazes are actually rated for ages two – four.  Raines has really liked them.  Kumon makes both Easy Mazes and a book of more challenging mazes.

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 Any other travel tips, Mamas??

Happy flying!

xo,

S

159 Comments
  • Jill I.
    May 23, 2012

    This is an incredibly awesome article, and just the encouragement I needed to make the upcoming flight with my 1 and 3 year old! We’re flying from South Korea to California next week. Hopefully we do ok!

  • Jess J.
    May 24, 2012

    YEAH Shana! I took all your tips for our recent trip to the west coast and things worked out really well. All the anxiety and pre-planning was worth the relatively calm and as smooth as a journey can be with a 13 month old. We did upgrade to first class on the way home, which depending on your miles and prices might be cheaper then an additional ticket and the little guy could sit next to me (almost) at times. More space, more snacks, very friendly flight attendant. WORTH it. Window gel clings were a hit!

  • Sarah
    May 24, 2012

    As if I didn’t love you blog enough! This is great. Looking at a trip from CT to TX with a 1yr old and 2yr old.

  • S.
    May 24, 2012

    Thank you for this! One of the best posts on flying with kids that I have come across. And I’ve been doing my rsearch as we’re about to go to 5 countries within the next 7 weeks with our ten months old. Granted, we can’t apply some of the entertainment suggestions yet but point #1 on here will be my mentra.
    Thank you again for this!
    S.

  • Vicki
    May 24, 2012

    My Momma and Me group was just talking about this! I shared this article with all of them. Several of us are flying with toddlers this summer…
    I’m flying next week with my 16 month old. I’m good on dressing (I always wear a loose shirt and a camisole for easy nursing) and how to carry him (we actually use a sling, but we use it ALL THE TIME at home, so it is comfortable and familiar). I’m looking for good toys to take for a more active little person (he was 12 months last time we flew, and a very different baby). Clay, stickers, and window clings are a great idea that I hadn’t thought of! HAPPY TRAVELS!

  • Glenny
    May 24, 2012

    Yay for the pic of the colorful tunnel of Detroit Metro!!

  • Kelly
    May 24, 2012

    I love your blog, and I’ve been following you for at least a year, but this is my first time commenting! :) Great article. We love to travel, and we’ve tried not to let our kids (almost 2 and 3.5) slow us down. We are flying to Denver for an extended family trip in July, and I will definitely use these tips!
    One thing we have learned from our experiences is that most airlines have large heavy-duty plastic bags that they will wrap your carseat in when you check it. We did try that JL Childress bag once, but it got all ripped up after just one use. Pathetic; I sent it back for a full refund. So… now we ask the attendant to double wrap both of our Britax convertible seats with their big plastic bags, and they work great. (Not really environmentally-friendly, but it works!)

  • Courtney
    May 24, 2012

    This is perfect timing as I’m taking my 20-month old daughter on her first plane ride tomorrow. My Mom is coming with instead of hubby (could be better, could not…) The actual plane ride is only about an hour and I think I can distract her long enough with a couple books, snacks, and iPhone. My biggest worry was how to transport all her “gear”. Your tips have put my mind at ease, especially #1. Thank you!!!

  • Tysie
    May 24, 2012

    Just did this solo with Lilah Belle on a red-eye from SLC to NYC and then back again (5 hours each way) – STRESS!!! I’ve flown solo with her a ferw times and this age (19 months) is definitely the hardest – Thanks for the tips! I’ve always taken the car seat/roller gadget for fear of not being able to contain her. Next time, we’ll skip it :) And if we happened to pass each other in the airport, we’d be twinners ’cause that is also my “flying uniform” (although I throw in a trench as well for cold planes and cold arrivals at our destination). I’m sooo gonna bookmark this post for future reference!!!

  • JAL
    May 24, 2012

    Fabulous post – thank you!!! I’m flying solo with a preschooler to Iceland next week, and needed ideas. I also like to bring pipe cleaners (small, light, lots of play options). For diaper changing, I just put the change pad on the seat and do it — unless you’ve only got one seat, or have put yourself in the middle of a row (and why would you do that??), you can face the bum away from other passengers. Then no one has to smell/sit in poop for the rest of the trip! If it’s a big plane, I try to get seats on one side, yes for the window, but also for privacy. If you’ve got two seats and there are three seats on the side and the flight isn’t full, the person seated with you will always be reseated elsewhere, and then you’ve scored a free third seat, and lots of privacy.
    Good luck to us all!

  • yasmara
    May 24, 2012

    Love these! I *really* could have used that bag when I overloaded our main suitcase on the way back from FL to Minneapolis. I was frantically re-packing into other bags while the airline worker glared at me & the kids fought & messed around.
    One tip I would add is to invest in a couple of battery boosters for your iPad/iPhone if they will get heavy plane usage. I’ve found the battery always seems to be drained at the worst possible moment.

  • Sarah
    May 24, 2012

    This is a fantastic post!! I’m taking my 2 and 4yo boys from PA to WA this summer. We’ve flown many times before but this will be my first solo flight with them.

  • Juliana B
    May 24, 2012

    We fly a LOT with our three kids (often with me solo), and I must say I do most of those things too! (It’s funny you posted this now; I did a similar type post at urbansimplelife a few weeks ago).
    I would add that the PacBack is brilliant for carrying carseats on your back, and the t-strap carrier is good for larger carseats (they strap on to the roller-bag suitcase).
    Also, with three, or even two, it is better to take the patdown instead of removing a child from the ERGO. I’ve never had a TSA agent insist if I was willing to take the patdown in addition to the scanner. (I mean really, mamas, we’ve all had babies, what’s a little patdown after that??)My rule of thumb is to contain the most squirrely child in the ERGO and put the least in the stroller, with the four-year-old walking alongside.
    We are also fans of early morning or redeye flights, but they do occasionally back fire.
    Also, these days, absolutely do no plan on getting an extra seat for a lap child–we used to be able to count on it, but in the last two years at least, flights are almost always overbooked. Also, we’ve been frustrated many a time by the new policy of no seat assignments before you get to the airport, which has often meant children are seated all over the plane (and no where near us). I’ve had some stinky passengers who refused to move, even when the flight attendants tried to make them. (I’ve also had flight attendants who refused to move people). My attitude now is, fine, if you want to sit next to the unaccompanied four- or two-year old for a multi-hour flight, that is up to you. No skin off my nose! I’ll be having a nice peaceful flight, thank you very much.
    We also avoid taking carseats on planes if we can, as usually we are going to family who has them on the other end, or if not, we rent them from the car rental agency. Costs more, but a lot less hassle during the transit part.

  • Molly
    May 24, 2012

    Now I want to travel alone with three kids!

  • Katie
    May 24, 2012

    wow, this post came at a perfect time for me! I’m packing right now for my first solo flight with my 2 kids and I was STRESSING, but you have helped to calm me down! Thank-you! Lots of great advice here.

  • Boston mama
    May 24, 2012

    I’m a seasoned business traveler, and I’ve traveled with my 3 and 1 yrd old multiple times (domestic only) and found new tips for future travel in your awesome article. Thank you! I have a few additional tips from my own experience (some may not apply depending on your destination, kids, and preferences): 1- I second taking early morning flights…if there are weather related delays, missing crews, mechanical issues, most likely will only affect the afternoon flights. 2- I actually prefer sitting in the middle and aisle seats…grumpy and unfriendly passengers will fell asleep a lot quicker in the window seat, and you can take your active tot to the bathroom/short walks as often as you need to. 3-Fly with an airline who offers multiple flight options to your destination… if there is a cancellation you can easily be reassigned to another flight with the same carrier (less hassle). 4- Show up to the gate early, and befriend the gate agent…if you have especial requests make them known “early”. 5- Sit as far back as possible (seasoned travelers –with no patience with kids- will sit up front) and you’ll be closer to the bathroom/flight attendants/and hopefully other families with kids. 6- Layer kids clothing – soiled clothing can be easily taken off and dump without having to grab another piece from your bag/suitcase. 7- A lot of hotels provide cribs and crib sheets (ask before you travel). 8-Use curb-side check in, and tip the bag guy well, and he’ll make your life a lot easier. No need to use the unfriendly kioks, or carry heavy bags to the check in counter just to be told you’re in the wrong line. 9-Fly direct whenever possible but if you have to connect somewhere… make sure you have plenty of time (more than an hour between flights) to catch your connection. Good luck mamas with your upcoming travel adventures!

  • Rebecca
    May 24, 2012

    I love you! This is awesome. Needed it 3 years ago now feel like we can’t afford to fly anywhere. Bummer. Our daycare teacher also recommended an ice cube tray for our 2 year old which was awesome. We took pompous from the craft store & she sorted them into the tray, put goldfish into the tray and I could see using the clay with the ice cube tray too! I LOVE this blog. Would you consider adding some posts for bigger moms? I love your style but at a size 12-14 I don’t feel cute. Ever. And no one wants to see my love muffin in low rise jeans……

  • Annika
    May 24, 2012

    This is really, really helpful. I’m flying 6 hours with my 10 month old next week! We have flown a couple times, and I would add:
    1) I, too, swear by curbside check in.
    2) You can check stroller AND car seat AND car seat base (if needed) without fee.
    3) DON’T preboard!!!! The flights are long enough- why cram yourselves into tiny, uncomfortable seats a minute longer than you must? I always wait until last boarding call to get on.

  • Janice
    May 24, 2012

    I always bring the portable DVD player with headphones, this way my phone is still for me. I had one incident with an older man who was sitting in front of my toddler and started yelling at us; she was excited and kept singing very loudly and he couldn’t handle it. The flight attendant offered him free headphones and a drink! That was a long flight…

  • Nona
    May 24, 2012

    Did you gate check your Phil and Ted’s?

  • Suzy
    May 24, 2012

    Best post ever! You are a goddess!!

  • Rebecca
    May 24, 2012

    Took an almost 5 hour flight to Mexico with a 6 year old and a just shy by a few weeks 2 year old. Had Mr. Almost Two on my lap, should have gotten a seat. Loved the list. I also love my Swiss Army Gear travel purse. Just big enough for ipod, passports, and a diaper and whipes, with a small pocket for money too! It was handy at my hip when I had my hands/shoulders/back full of stuff.

  • Liz @ Law Mama
    May 24, 2012

    This is great! I’ve only traveled once with a stroller when my son was 8 months, but it really wasn’t useful for me… he wanted to be in the ergo the whole time anyway. So, I just stopped bringing it. I flew to Hawaii solo without it when he was 15 months – Ergo (as a backpack) and otherwise let him run. Then when we went to Australia when he was 18 months I didn’t miss the stroller ever (but that flight my husband was along, so an extra set of arms + ergo). The flight itself was awful, mostly because he contracted some kind of stomach flu (wasn’t barfing anymore, just feverish), and all he wanted to do was nurse. Ugh, I got so dehydrated and sick. But on the plus side, I was so much better about sleep deprivation than the last times we’d flown out that I was able to cope better (we have family there, so we fly to Australia every few years).
    The last time we flew we brought the iPad full of kid videos and movies and it was AWESOME. He just entertained himself with his headphones on the whole flight (only 2 hours). But I actually got to read! Amazing. And since we usually fly southwest, this was great. So quiet!

  • Lauren Roseman
    May 24, 2012

    Another good toy to have along are Tegu Blocks. A bit on the expensive side, but they are magnetized so you’re not constantly reaching below the seats to find a lost piece.

  • Claire
    May 24, 2012

    Omg, perfect timing! Thank you! You really hit it out of the ball park with this article. Suddenly my upcoming beach vacation with the kids seems so much less terrifying.

  • Erica
    May 24, 2012

    Great post. Regular international fliers over here. Often with my now 2.5-year-old and getting ready to embark on my second with said toddler and his 10-month-old brother.
    I’ll second you on the “no car seat for the toddler” rule…but absolutely love having our infant car seat along for the little ones who still fit. If for no other reason that to have some place to put them when you’re eating. But again, I’m used to 8-10 hour flights depending on our connections.
    Last time I prepped like crazy for toddler entertainment – had pre-portioned sticker packs for sticker sorting (planes, cars and animals…drew motifs and told him to sort them…he totally didn’t, but the stickers were still a hit). Also had pipe cleaners and buttons to thread onto them. A button snake (ribbon with a button sewn on one end and pieces of felt to button onto the snake). Playdoh was probably our biggest hit. Crayons, I recommend the triangular ones…they don’t roll off the tray. Travel-sized magna doodle. And our iPad. We also bring a stash of small new toys…when things start to get rough, voila! Look, a new matchbox car! And lollipops are our best friends upon landing. Waiting to disembark is the toughest on the patience for us…lollipops are our friend.
    Best thing I’ve done though was similar to your “mantra.” I accept that my kids are going to be totally overtired and refuse to sleep – for like 16 hour stretches. I resolve not to try to force the issue, and instead accept that my job is only to entertain, entertain, entertain. Our worst flights were when we were trying to get him to sleep, because we knew he was exhausted and were worried about how much worse it would get if he didn’t sleep. We’ve since learned better and just roll with it now.

  • Jen
    May 24, 2012

    Wow! This may be the best travel list I have ever seen.
    We’ve traveled quite a bit with our 5.5 and almost 2 year old. I have to say travel with our older son got so easy around age 4. That was when I started making him bring his own backpack with an activity book, itouch, lunch, snacks, and a few books for takeoff/landing. He is now easy peasy.
    What I used to do for him, and now do for his little brother is to buy a LOT of $1 items from Target, and wrap them up like gifts. Just the thrill of unwrapping is a novelty. The only thing you have to remember it to save some in your suitcase for the flight home.

  • Shelley
    May 24, 2012

    Wow! Thanks for all these tips! Will def use at Christmas! My babe is 11 mos old, & we did 6 (SIX) round-trip x-country flights from 2 mos – 10 mos. in lap – mostly by myself w/o husband. We actually liked bringing our carseat (the infant carrier) w/us – we would snap it into the BOB, & then at each & every gate, we would inquire whether the flight was completely full, & if it was not, they would allow us to bring the carseat on the flight, & give us the seat for free – so it was nice to have somewhere to PUT her about half the time. On the last flight though, she was such a terror that we decided we’re not flying anywhere till Christmas! She’ll be 18 mos then though, so hopefully I’ll get to use some of your tips!

  • Lis
    May 24, 2012

    I’ve done a lot of the same when travelling solo with the kids (almost four and seven-month-old). Put one car seat in the stroller, the other I hung from a hook from the stroller’s handle, the my eldest walked while I wore the baby in a wrap. Security has never asked for me to take the baby out. And all I’ve encountered so far have been very helpful, actually. I have the eldest wear Crocs for easy on-and-off, while I wear my Toms or ballet flats. Pull on and off pants for the big kid also–nothing worse than dealing with buttons he can’t yet master on a cramped airplane bathroom. And I’ve travelled with a bunch of toys and new gizmos for him to be entertained with, but he always sleep. Always! So I end up carrying a bunch of unnecesarry crap. I guess good to have for a what-if, right? We do catch the red eye, just for that purpose, so I can’t complain, ha!

  • Stephanie
    May 24, 2012

    such a great post!! thank you!!! we have flown so many times with the kids, and i can always still use more advice. thanks! Also – i have tried a few times, but have never successfully gotten my husband a gate pass; they have always refused.
    oh, another point – i always opt for skycap to check in my luggage. that extra $10 in tip money goes a long ways in preserving my sanity for the security line. :)

  • Lisa
    May 24, 2012

    Shana you are a total rock star for putting this together! I’ve flown several times with one or both of my kids and still picked up some great tips from you. Thanks!!

  • Thinkingthinlovingfood.wordpress.com
    May 28, 2012

    Thatta girl S! Wunderbar article. The hubs & I are travelers and in Nov we had a lil travelerette. Our guy was very colicky for the first 3 mo and we knew we were rolling the dice when making plans to go to Espana. I was dying to get out and get some normal back in our life so we took the plunge. You know what? He did supa! This includes nursing on the bus over to the plane, crying when I had to take him off to get on the plane, having a complete blow out while up in the air and our carry on being oh so not close to where we were sitting. We were THOSE ppl but we were going to Spain – who cares!? We did have a few family funnies going to keep us sane: #1 don’t look any of them in the eye #2 he’s behaving better than most of the adults #3 teach the baby to smile at a young age so when ppl go to help you the baby smiles = more ppl on your side! haha.

  • Meagan
    June 1, 2012

    Try using a backpack as a diaper bag! We just took our 8 month old son to Spain and Portugal and found this to be really helpful. It’s easier to carry and balances out our Beco baby carrier (similar to an Ergo). My husband was with me, but I could easily see managing the Beco and the backpack by myself. Oh, and the backpack was Patagonia Violeta. Maybe not the most stylish option, but it’s so comfortable and has lots of pockets–the laptop sleeve worked great for stashing diapers and wipes! :-)

  • Jessica
    June 3, 2012

    Great article mamas! I would add the gogo babyz car seat stroller. You strap your car seat on there and magic- it’s a stroller that can be gate checked and rolls like luggage. The only draw back is you have to dissemble it at security to fit it there machine.
    http://www.gogobabyz.com/product-i14550-c26-g6-b0-p0-gogo_Kidz_Travelmate_.aspx

  • Rachel
    June 14, 2012

    This article friggin’ rocks! I’m a military wife and often fly alone with my kids during deployments. I was practically reading this article to my husband because every tip is golden! Thank you, thank you!

  • Mom
    June 25, 2012

    I’ve just spent the past hour or so getting caught up on some of your posts that I haven’t read. You’ve certainly hit this one out of the park: so many clever, useful, and realistic tips for traveling with little ones. I want to gift wrap this post for my next baby gift to someone. Really well done! xxoo

  • Dennis
    July 25, 2012

    - This is fabulous! Thanks Nick for the tip!! I denftiiely need to give this a try. I shoot on AWB and with the Canon 5D Mark II all of my pictures are more on the cool side. Now if I could only remember how Trevor Dayley showed me to view it in video mode so you can see it in full action before you even take the shot that would be fab!

  • Samantha Carr
    July 26, 2012

    Great post. I am flying with a 2 year old and a 6 month old by myself. This was great to read. Thanks for the tips.

  • Sam
    July 28, 2012

    Thank you thank you thank you! :) My husband is deployed, and my almost-1-year-old and I are flying across the country next week. I’ve never flown without my husband, and I’ve never flown with a child. This is the PERFECT resource, and is giving me a lot more confidence in our ability to get through it! I’ll definitely be recommending this post to friends.

  • Aisha
    August 1, 2012

    Great article!
    Is the tote your only carry on bag?
    Do your kids have a carry on bag?
    Do you pack the kids stuff in their own luggage?
    Thanks for this WONDERFUL article!

  • Rosie
    August 13, 2012

    I’m a fairly seasoned traveller with children (or at least I was until I had numbers 3&4 and moved back to the UK) and I LOVE this checklist – I have pinned it all ready for another imminent move abroad, this time travelling with 4 kids under 7 :)

  • Kristine
    August 15, 2012

    Traveling with your child as a lap baby is not worth the risk. Yes, taking your car seat on the plane is in the pain in the azz, but if you’re worried about your child’s safety, do it.
    “Is traveling with a baby in your lap safe? No. It’s extremely dangerous. If there’s any impact or deceleration, there’s a good chance you’re going to lose hold of your kid, and he becomes a projectile. But the government’s logic is that if we made you buy an expensive seat for your baby, you’d just drive, and you’re more likely to be injured driving than flying.” -Patrick Smith
    http://shine.yahoo.com/work-money/35-secrets-your-pilot-wont-tell-you-2399544.html

  • mini baby cribs
    August 20, 2012

    This is a fantastic post!! I’m taking my 2 and 4yo boys from PA to WA this summer. We’ve flown many times before but this will be my first solo flight with them.

  • Nita
    August 26, 2012

    Great article. Loved your first point. I did a trans Atlantic flight last year solo with a 4 year old and 7 month old. Was concerned about the whole having to pee thing. You are right. The people around you will always help look after one child so you can do the bathroom trip.
    Another useful tip especially for the 4 year old it to fill a small backpack with new toys and books from a dollar store. They are not allowed to look Inside until the seat belt sign is off. All new and exciting. When the loose things it’s no big deal as they were dollar store buys.
    Snacks and junk food are a must. I always take lots of food as my eldest has lots of food allergies so airline food is out of the question.
    Gravol is another must. Am not one for medicating my kids but a dose of Gravol just before boarding is a life saver.
    Absolutely going to try the gel stickers.

  • Becca
    October 6, 2012

    These are some of the best tips I’ve seen, and I too travel with my kid lots.
    Number 6 is my favorite. Most people seem to ignore that aspect of traveling in their lists. Sometimes there is absolutely nothing you can do for your child as he melts down. Yes, hour 9 into a 12 hour flight isn’t a convenient time for this to be happening, but when has parenting ever been convenient? I’ve learned how to smile, nod, and ignore.

  • S
    October 7, 2012

    Kimberly – I just deleted your comment. I’m totally OK with you disagreeing, I just didn’t appreciate the disrespectful manner in which you choose to disagree. Feel free to voice your concerns about seat sharing again, but please refrain from accusing anyone of “child neglect”. Child neglect is a horrible offense committed by very sick mothers.
    Ain’t No Mom Jeans is a community of support; disrespectful comments will not be tolerated. Feel free to disagree, but please do so respectfully.

  • Christie
    October 10, 2012

    Thanks for a great post about traveling with kids! So stressed about flying with a 20month old in a couple weeks, but this helped! I’m going to be very prepared and luckily will have my hubby flying with us:)

  • prncesshm@aol.com
    October 12, 2012

    Terrific article! Love your suggestions and commentary! I flew with a 6 week old across the country 1 way with the husb and back without and you are right even TSA agents were helpfull (at MIA). Im about to do it all over again-Cali to Fla with an hr layover in the happiest place on Earth ATL airport NOT! We are doing a 6:45am flight. Last time she slept the entire way-both ways-and im a bit aprehensive this time now that she is going to be 4 months and much more active-we shall see! I bought a DVD player and will buy the headphones you recommend so she can watch her Baby Einsteins. Fingers crossed all goes well!

  • Carolyn
    October 12, 2012

    I have flown lots of times solo with my toddler and baby on 4+ hr flights. One additional piece of advice is to pick seats near the rear of the plane. It’s closer to the bathrooms, to the flight attendants, and it tends to be noisier near the rear. Plus you have a constant flow of people for your baby to smile & wave at (depends on your child’s personality but that kept my first baby occupied for a long time). I bring more snacks than I think I could possibly need and it has saved me. I made the mistake of bring a car seat once and besides being horrible to lug around, it allowed my 2year old to kick the seat in front of her the whole time. I did not need that extra thing to worry about.
    I agree, it’s all in your attitude. Safe travels …

  • Kate
    October 15, 2012

    This is a great article – thank you. I live in Italy and have travelled back and forth to the States several times with my kids (now 2 and 4). I especially like your first tip. Traveling IS an adventure, and kids love an adventure. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that 10 hrs into travel, but it’s true. Flying to Spain tomorrow with both kids and these were all good reminders! Thanks!

  • Heather
    October 15, 2012

    Great article! I picked up some new ideas and reinforced a few that I have always done. I have flown quite a few times with my kiddos and have a few other tips I have used that seem to help. I have picked them up from various places over the years.
    1. When packing snacks I always pack a bag of chocolates (hershey kisses something easy like that) that way if things with your kiddo gets real ugly, you can start passing them out to passengers around you as a little “sorry” I’m trying here. If that doesn’t work then ingest the chocolate yourself and know you are trying your best.
    2. This last trip I had read somewhere about a snack pack someone made up instead of purchasing one so I used the boxes that you get at Papa Murphy’s for the little kid make your own pizzas. I filled it with a variety of snacks according to each kids preference. It kept things organized, easy to find and less crunched etc. Plus it was great for the hotel/ship (we were cruising) I refilled the snacks before our trip home

  • Sarah
    October 15, 2012

    We have five kids under 6, and we LOVE. Our Diono Radian car seats for travel. They fold, turn into backpacks, install very easily almost everywhere, have great safety ratings. I must admit they are still quite heavy, but they are very narrow and the bottom folds up they become 100 times less awkward to carry and fit places. When you have bunches of kids the car seat becomes a necessary evil. We obviously don’t use them for our 6 year olds, and I wear the youngest, but you better believe my two and three year olds are in them!

  • Jaime A
    October 17, 2012

    I never get on a plane with out paper and NO ROLL crayons
    http://www.amazon.com/Crayola-52-4016-16ct-Triangular-Crayons/dp/B001VXNFD4/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1350479935&sr=8-5&keywords=crayola+triangle+crayons
    Also, I travel alone with my son a fair amount and ALWAYS book aisle and window, leaving the middle seat open. If someone does take that last middle seat, they are always happy to swap for either aisle or window and if not, then the extra space is all yours. When he was under 2 and flying in my lap, my husband and I did the same, 9 times out of 10 we had a seat for his carseat, the airline will always accommodate if there are seats available, ask when you check in, don’t wait to get to the gate or get on the plane.

  • Sharon Painter
    October 21, 2012

    We also fly with the GoGoBabyz. It has made traveling so much easier! We always have parents looking at us with envy and ultimately asking us about it. I’ve also noticed that when we do see other parents with it, they appear more relaxed than those without it! I know I am less stressed traveling with it!!!

  • Kate
    October 22, 2012

    I am about to take a international flight (8 hours) with my 5, 4, and 1 year old boys. I will be all by myself as my husband will be deployed. I have bought my very active baby a seat and will be bringing his car seat on board so he will be more comfortable and hopefully sleep. My issues are: there is no 4 across seating on board and I will have to get all our luggage (3 weeks) plus all 3 car seats and the sit & stand to the check in counter. Do you have any extra tips for me?

  • Kate
    October 22, 2012

    I flew internationally with my son at 4 months and he nursed on the way up and the way down and slept the whole rest of the way so there is hope!

  • Shana
    October 23, 2012

    Kate – Wow. That sounds tough. Here’s what I’d try:
    To get to the counter, put one carseat in a carrier that can go on your back. Put the 1 yr old in an Ergo on your front. Use the sit & stand to transport the last two car seats and some luggage.
    The 5 and 4 year old have to walk (it’s just to the counter). Give each of them something to pull. Raines (my 4 yr old) has, in desperate times (which these are, LOL) actually pulled a VERY large rolling suitcase. He responds well to “It’s superhero time, Babe!” LOL
    Also, it might be work the extra $$ to check in curbside. It’ll save you some crazy.
    Also, if there is no 4 across seating, I’d ask them to sit you across the aisle from the 4 and 5 year old, so at least they are together. Call the airline like, now, to try and set this up. They may not do it. If not, try when you get there. If you are still denied (I almost always am) then wait until you get on the plane. Once aboard, the stewardesses may or may NOT be helpful. What works best is this: Figure out where you want everyone to sit. And then ask the people directly to move. General announcements like “can anyone switch seats?” don’t always work (people just look away). But if you are like, “Sir? You right there? Would you please switch seats?” It’s harder for people to say no because they’ll look like an @sshole.
    Also, when you call about seats (again like, now)…if they can’t accomodate you, seat everyone in an aisle seat. Most people are willing to trade for an aisle. It’s typically only kids that really care about window seats. Big adults and old people really like the aisle. ;)
    GOOD LUCK! I can’t wait to hear how it goes!!!!!!!!

  • Shana
    October 23, 2012

    Jaime – love those crayons! And I love your tip on booking the aisle and window. Unfortunately for us, our flights are so often booked solid. GAH! I have the worst airline luck. :)

  • Shana
    October 23, 2012

    Great point! Thanks for posting!

  • Shana
    October 23, 2012

    Heather – these are AWESOME tips! Thank you!
    ps. We pack chocolate too. :)

  • Rachel
    October 24, 2012

    Loved this article we have flown twice from VA to CA with our now 11 month old. We are about to make another flight when our daughter is 13 months. Do you recommend using the stroller or just carrying her in a pack on my chest? She is small probably would only be about 17lbs about then. Grandma has a stroller for when we visit. She will be a lap child on the plane.

  • Shana
    October 25, 2012

    Rachel, I think it depends on the layover.  If its direct, skip the stroller.  But if you have to make a connecting flight in a large airport, or if the layover is long, I always wanted a stroller option.  I'd probably bring the cheap toys r us umbrella stroller.  It's super light and roughly $18.
    Sent from my iPhone

  • Emilia
    October 25, 2012

    Great advice! I’ve so far flown alone with only one child, but our twins just turned two and so I’ll probably be flying with three in the future – we live in Finland and half of the family is in France so it’s always two two-hour flights connecting somewhere enormous like Frankfurt. So my tip is, whenever possible, choose a small airport for catching your connecting flight, as the distances and chaos are much more manageable.

  • Brenda
    October 25, 2012

    Wish I read this a few months back! I would not have brought my 2 year old his carseat what a MESS! I was traveling alone with 3 kid’s and it was a major struggle. Some great advice!

  • lilolme2005
    October 25, 2012

    OMG I love you thanks for the tips . Mum 18month old (at flying date ) and Dad , 4 hour flight , 6 hour flight and 4 hour flight – 8 weeks to go!

  • Rachel
    October 25, 2012

    The layover would be an hour maybe a little over an hour and we would fly out of the same terminal we land in for our layover.

  • Shana
    October 25, 2012

    Well….you're probably fine with just the carrier.   Especially if you are a big baby-wearer anyway, you'll be used to it.  The only reason I *might* consider bringing an umbrella stroller is in the case of delays.  For example, no matter how short my layover is in Chicago (or San Fran, actually) I ALWAYS bring the stroller.  I have the worst luck in those airports and am almost always delayed.

  • Shana
    October 25, 2012

    Oh geez – NIGHTMARE Brenda!  I did it ONCE with just one little guy….AND my husband.  You are a rockstar.

  • Amy
    October 26, 2012

    Do you put those seats on the airplane? I have a soon-to-be 4 and 1 year old that I’m looking at options for. They have never flown and we will be doing a few long stretches.

  • letizia
    October 28, 2012

    THank you. We had many ideas in common…most of yours were pure inspiration for me.
    Thank you do much from my son Rocco too…

  • Tracey
    October 30, 2012

    Good post, but I do have to disagree with a couple of things. Sorry!!! Heads up, though!
    We have been told multiple times NEVER check your car seat. The airline is not responsible if it is dropped or broken. Besides that, you don’t necessarily know if it was, and just like being in a car wreck, it could have micro cracks that put your child at risk without your knowing. We have Radians, and they work great as a backpack with baby in a woven wrap or sling (which also adds padding under the straps for the Radian).
    Second, we fly somewhat frequently with multiple little ones. We always take small bottles of juice that are still sealed, and they make us open them EVERY time. Multiple times they have been spilled by the airport workers, so we always take extra.

  • Rachel
    November 5, 2012

    I just wanted to add that they let me wear my 2 year old in our Ergo through security in Denver the last couple of times. I’ve never flown with a stroller, but we don’t really use them often anywhere. I fully agree with the good food everywhere, crap food on a plane. One of my kids fell asleep sucking away on a ring pop during landing. The other one knows that the only time he gets Pez is when we fly. For kids 3+, I highly recommend a small deck of cards. You can look at the numbers, play go fish, all sorts of things. We travel with those “toob” animal sets, a travel-sized magna doodle. The last time, we were potty-learning and actually brought out baby bjorn on with us b/c it was the ONLY place out kid felt comfortable going (even thousands of feet in the air, with a fresh Fuzzibunz on).

  • Gloria
    November 7, 2012

    You have some great tips but I have to highly disagree with your carseat advice. My son is almost 3 and we have flown probably 12 times, half the time by myself. After he turned 2 and once before at 18 months when we went to mexico we ALWAYS have the carseat. We live in a small town in Montana so we don’t fly direct anywhere. It means 2-3 flights to get where we are going. I buckle him into his carseat and we are good for the duration. No fussing, no complaining, no wiggling. We have the go go wheels for the carseat and it wheels through the airport like a dream. I carry a diaper bag/toy bag that is a back pack and it is my only carry on, leaving my hands free. The one and only time the stewardess confiscated our carseat because she wrongly thought it wasn’t FTA approved the flight was miserable! All he wanted to do was undo his seatbelt and hit the call light. I can’t believe anyone would get on a plane without a carseat!

  • Allison
    November 8, 2012

    Love this site.
    I just realized my boys are exactly the same age difference as yours, only three years older. We’ve done a lot of flying (we’re in the Bay Area, all the relatives are across the country nowhere near major airports) and our main rule is NO LAYOVERS EVER. Flights are always missed or cancelled. This often means paying more, and sometimes means flying to a different and slightly more distant airport. Flying straight through and then driving a longer distance is always preferable, in my opinion. Unlike an airplane, in the car you can always stop for a bathroom or food break when you want, and if your kids are screaming they’re not bugging anyone but you. Plus, noisy toys are an option.
    I also bring extra clothes for both kids, and have needed them on almost every trip, even with the kids now 4 and 7. On the last trip I lent a t-shirt to an eight-year old sitting in front of us who threw up, and received it back in the mail a month later (clean) wrapped around a bottle of wine.

  • Shana
    November 8, 2012

    I love that story!!!  Thanks for sharing, Allison.  Moms are awesome.  :)
    Sent from my iPhone

  • D
    November 12, 2012

    This was a great article. Seriously, wonderfully written. I laughed the whole time! Thank you for bringing the humor out on such a stressful situation for any mother whose been or will be there one day!

  • Shana
    November 12, 2012

    Thanks, D!  Glad you liked it. :)

  • jordan
    November 13, 2012

    Dont sweat the small stuff. I figured that out during our second flight with our twin boys who were 6 months old and screamed the entire flight. Thank God my husband was there, he walked one while Iheld the other. He made light of it by announcing to all the other passengers our return flight info so they could switch their flight… cause it might happen again. He got quite a few laughs, but i am sure they did check to make sure they werent scheduled to fly back with us! Lol great news was they slept the entire return flight:)

  • Kristin
    November 16, 2012

    Where can I get the backpack Raines is wearing in the first pic? Love it.. would perfect for my little guys. I Like the size and the waist belt. I assume for this trip our Dora backpack isn’t going to suffice.

  • amanda
    November 18, 2012

    Great Article! I laughed out loud a few times:) Sooo helpful. .I’m flying alone with my 5 month old tomorrow and was so worried! Thanks for putting my mind at ease.

  • Sarah
    November 21, 2012

    This might be one of the most thorough “flying with kids” article I have ever written. The last time that I flew, I was by myself, 13 weeks pregnant, exclusively nursing an 8 month old, and had a 20 month old. I have no doubt that I was quite a sight. I didn’t have access to a double stroller (have never used strollers anyways), so my 8 month old was carried in her rear facing carseat while I carried my almost 2-year old in the other arm. It was winter so we all had bulky coats on. My kids have always flown beautifully. I think it has to do with the excitement of something new going on. Anyways, you do what you have to.

  • Amy
    November 25, 2012

    I agree with almost everything in this article. Except about the car seat on the plane. I completely agree that it is an absolute beating to get it on the plane and then actually buckled into the seat. BUT, for a kid that won’t sit in you lap (i.e. my 16 month old), the one thing that is nice about a car seat is that your kids knows what a car seat is. They know that once strapped in, they have to sit in that thing. So my only change to this is, don’t skip the car seat, just make sure you know how to use it – before the flight figure out how to get that airplane seat belt hooked up. And my biggest piece of advice, if you can afford it, buy the cheapest, smallest, lightest car seat you can find just for travelli g. I think ours was $75 and I compared extensively to find the thinnest one I could ind and it did fit down the aisle of the airplane. If you are just flying once and aren’t planning on travelling extensively with a little one, skip my advice, hd them in your lap and pack lots of snacks (she’s totally right about the snacks).

  • lyss
    November 28, 2012

    I can only say that as a mother of a crazy, problem solving toddler – DO NOT get the CARES harness for flying if your little one is an escape artist!!!!!! First of all it connects to the regular seat belt and my kid has that thing open in 2.3 seconds, second there is no harness that wraps under them, so they can slide out of the bottom in about the same 2.3 seconds. My son figured out how to slide down and out before take off. The rest of the flight I spent wishing I had just sucked it up and brought the carseat. I have seen other moms mention getting a slimmer/lighter carseat, and I couldn’t agree more. Getting the most travel friendly carseat gets my vote all the way for a wily toddler!
    As for the rest of the post – BRILLIANT – thanks for the awesome tips and reminder to just find your zen – travel is an art not a science – be creative and keep a sense of humor!

  • Andrea
    December 4, 2012

    Dress your children in the exact same outfit. It helped me unite a lost child with her non-english speaking family. When another little girl, clearly her sister, was wearing the same outfit we were able to connect the dots. It wouldn’t hurt to write your phone number with a sharpie onto your child, too. Kids get lost in airports and that is the most terrifying place to lose your little.

  • Shana
    December 4, 2012

    Seriously.  My worst nightmare.  I love the sharpie idea.  Thanks, Andrea!!

  • Lizz
    December 9, 2012

    This is a great list! Flying with/without a carseat is each parent’s own personal choice, lets respect their decisions. I’ve done both and it has been fine either way- my choice usually depends on whether I’m flying with the hubs or not. I have been allowed to go through security with my child in a Moby wrap, but have always been asked to remove my child from the wrap on take off/landing. The wrap is great for little ones because it’s perfect for snuggling them throughout the rest of the flight and keeps your hands free. I always bring snacks and something to drink and security has always opened drink containers and waved the strip over them- no big. Last tidbit- we also use the Brica carseat cover on our toddler’s seat and it has extra room that can be used like a free suitcase (we usually stuff extra pack of diapers or blankets in it). Thanks again for the great list.

  • Stefanie
    December 9, 2012

    We are flying with 4 in a few months smallest a 18 mos old which will be a lap seat do you recommend we check his carseat or bring it all the way to the gate and check there I see that not so good things can happen with the carseats! Thanks for the wonderful advice I look forward to hearing your reply

  • Kiersten
    December 13, 2012

    I just found this via pinterest and I think it’s a great list! One thing I wanted to mention, is that once I was wearing my baby in a mei tai carrier. I took it off to go through security. the TSA agent informed me that I didn’t need to do that and just keep wearing the baby my next time through. I did and they gave me a hard time at first, but they did let me keep it on. It’s such a pain to have to unstrap your sleeping baby just to get through security! It might be different with different baby carriers, though. Mine is made completely of fabric (no buckles or metal of any sort).

  • Liz
    December 13, 2012

    I came across this on Pinterest and I am SO GLAD I DID!!! You’re so funny, and this really made me feel a lot better about my upcoming flight with my daughter. It’ll be the first time we’ve flown since she started walking, I was so worried but now I think we will survive! Thanks for the tips! I’m definitely packing my bag with those cling stickers, I didn’t even think about that! <3 thank you so much!!

  • Ashley
    December 14, 2012

    A checked carseat is about as good as a crashed carseat. They are not careful with them. I will have to fly home to Canada, with small planes and long layovers, and I will never not purchase a seat for my kiddo and their car seat.
    If you HAVE to check your car seat, keep the original box from purchase and put it on that way. Just putting the seat on itself, you may as well just dispose of it when you land and get a new one.

  • Ashlyn
    December 29, 2012

    You make a very good point, they aren’t careful AT ALL. But, I’ve checked my carseats on every flight we’ve ever been on, and we fly quite frequently (every year to Michigan and back, to South Carolina and back, and Disney World and back) and have never had trouble with a broken carseat. Carseats are made to withstand car accidents! People throwing it into the bottom of the plane shouldn’t affect your seat unless you have a seriously crappy brand.

  • Stephanie
    December 30, 2012

    Great article! But when you were talking about the gate passes I was a little confused. They have always let my husband, or father-in-law through with me, no problem. Maybe because its a smaller airport? Anyways, I would still ask every time. It can’t hurt.

  • Stac
    January 1, 2013

    I have used CARES and a car seat. Car seat is nice as it elevates your child. My toddler was upset he couldn’t see out the window with just the harness. I’m all for buying a lighter seat just for travel but check that it is approved for flight first.

  • Stac
    January 1, 2013

    Loved the article, wish I would have read it 3 years ago :)
    Just one thing to add to your take on list, a box of band aids. The kids love to stick them everywhere and they take a while for little hands to get out of the paper. When you are taxing peel them off and throw away.

  • Monica
    January 2, 2013

    Car seats are single use items. Once they are crashed, they are not meant to be used again. Being thrown around by airline employees over and over again could compromise the seat and you would never know it until it failed in a crash. My child’s safety is worth much more than any amount of inconvenience and yes, I have traveled on airplanes with my child and a car seat, even on overseas flights.
    BTW, there is no seriously crappy brand of car seat. All seats pass the same tests. No car seat was made to be abused over and over and still perform as it should. Just because you haven’t had a seat visibly broken yet doesn’t mean that there isn’t hidden damage and it doesn’t mean that they won’t be broken at some point.

  • lulu
    January 3, 2013

    I can’t imagine traveling without using Luggage Forward. All of our bags are at our destination before we get on the plane. We pack only absolute in flight essentials, cuts way down on the “lugging”. http://www.luggageforward.com

  • Macala
    January 4, 2013

    We purchased a sunshine kids radian car seat that folds up, we have put it in a over-sized suitcase and checked it when flying. The suitcase just seemed to offer more protection than the box (and it is much easier to haul).
    As a side-note, I’ve also carried my little guy in our ergo. I was told at security he could stay in it, but that they would have to test my hands for explosives. I chose to undue the straps and continue holding him – that way they did not have to test for explosive residue.

  • Kelly
    January 5, 2013

    Great article! One thing I have always done every year that we fly is go to Target and buy the kids a new toy. I don’t give it to them until we have exhausted our bag of tricks on the plane. Then I miraculously pull it out and the kids are mesmerized while they play with something new. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but the fact that it’s new will keep them entertained. I once bought my daughter one of those purses that you color with markers. She sat there for over an hour coloring. Best $9 spent. Also, if you can’t find modeling clay, travel sized play doh works in a pinch.

  • Kate
    January 5, 2013

    Fantastic article….i’ve got a ridiculous journey (27hrs) with an 11 month old in a few months. Even though we’ve done a few flights already 27hrs is terrifying and these tips are great!! I’d also add that often (not always) they will let you through security with the ergo if you smile REALLY sweetly. Also, I take double pre-packaged cartons of milk as security are supposed to make you open half (but don’t always do this). that way i just dump the open ones at security. Lastly, on nappy changing i have no shame and just change my baby on the seat. No-one has said anything yet but if they do i’ll happily pass them the baby and suggest they try in the minuscule bathroom (he’s still very little so i think i can get away with it, it probably wouldn’t work on a 2yr old). Finally, if flying alone don’t worry about lugging excessive bags off the luggage belt. Stand next to a respectable looking man and if you’re too shy to ask just try and take your bag off and he’ll jump to help (and then usually load your trolley too…maybe i’ve been lucky but this has worked 3x already)

  • L
    January 7, 2013

    Great article, got a tip for your ear infection prone child, there is a product call ear planes, they are ear plugs that help regulate the ear pressure during flights, also works great on kids (or Adults) that are really bothered by the ear pressure/ popping issue. Also a earphone spliter if you have more tan one child and a even longer flight …helps save on batteries on the ipod/ipad if they will watch the same movie.

  • Shana
    January 7, 2013

    Thanks L – love these tips!!!
    Sent from my iPhone

  • Nise
    January 10, 2013

    Loved your article! Am considering traveling back home to the Philippines with my 5 year old daughter, 3 year old son and 6 month old (breastfed) baby. I’m beginning to think I may be able to do it! If I do, I’m definitely requiring standing ovations when we deplane.

  • Shana
    January 10, 2013

    And Nise, I would definitely GIVE you one!! :)  Let us know how it goes!  S
     
    Shana Draugelis, Ain't No Mom Jeans
     
    http://www.aintnomomjeans.com
    Get a signature like this:
    Click here!

  • shannonbrewer35@googlemail.com
    January 12, 2013

    Great article – I fly internationally with my three children and you’re spot on! One thing to note – the drink with a baby only applies in the U.S. I had to drink a (full) 1 liter bottle of water at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, or have it confiscated (it’s stainless steel, so I didn’t want to lose it). This was with a 1 month-old baby in the Ergo and formula in the diaper bag. So just be careful if you’re traveling internationally with small children. The modeling clay would also probably be taken – we’ve had to give up play-doh before…

  • Maria Frazier
    January 17, 2013

    This article was so helpful! My husband is in Navy and our first duty station was Guam. We did the move when our daughter was only 6 months, and have flown back and forth numerous times (Guam to Ohio and back = 24hours). She’s now 4 and much easier but I was hoping to find some tips on just how to make the trip a teensie bit less stressful. You covered everything! Especially with #1!

  • Jennifer
    January 21, 2013

    Can you post a link to the carseat you ended up getting? We fly with our 10 month old all the time! Thanks!

  • Ashli
    January 21, 2013

    I’m not sure if anyone mentioned this yet or not, but one of my travel tips (and I use this with myself as well) is to take a travel pack of disinfecting wipes with you. As soon as we sit down I wipe down the tray tables, arm rests, and seatbelt buckles. Those things are NEVER cleaned and I figure that if my kiddo is going to be playing on and eating off the tray I want it to be clean!

  • Shana
    January 21, 2013

    Genius!  I'm adding this to my list. Thanks!!!
    Sent from my iPhone

  • icebox721@hotmail.com
    January 24, 2013

    FYI- you can take a frozen water bottle with you through security. I did it on accident once and am so happy I did. I never have to pay $2.50 for a water bottle in the airport again.

  • natasha
    January 26, 2013

    Great advice!! My husband & I are very experienced fliers (he flies over 75,000 per yr) BUT we have yet to travel with our little one. The thought of this makes me anxious!! This summer we are traveling to New Brunswick, Canada, which is just above Maine from Atlanta, so it is a longer day of travel. I have already started to purchase things that will make the flight & day of travel easier & your article has given me many great ideas. I bought a little suitcase called “Trunki” by Melissa & Doug. I think they are a GREAT idea for traveling with a little one. My husband actually sent me a picture of 3 children riding theirs in the airport & he said they were all smiles! I also have looked into a product called
    Ride-on Carry-on, which looks brilliant. Anyway thanks again for the ideas :)

  • Amanda
    January 28, 2013

    I love this article! Thank you so much! I’ve got a 6 mo old formerly colicky, presently restless baby boy that will be flying with me soon…alone. Your recommendations will be taken to heart, I can assure you! :)

  • Tara
    February 5, 2013

    I’m not above the in-lap diaper change! I could never leave my baby poopy, and once she got too big to fit on just my lap, I asked my seat neighbors to hold the top half of her so I could change the soiled portion. They’re always happy to hold the non-stinky end! The in-lap change is just one crossed leg, the baby, balance, and prayer (and lots of under-the-breath “Don’t you dare wiggle, don’t you think of wiggling, I will DIE if you move and get poop on me…or fall…stay still…”).

  • R
    February 13, 2013

    For those who don’t travel with car seats what do you use when you get to your destination and have no car seat. We’ve got our first baby on the way at the end of April (or early May, depending) and I may be flying back with our newborn alone for a wedding at the end of May. I’m just confused on if you travel without it how your child can ride safely once you’re to your destination. I don’t want our car seat banged up, but I also think it’s necessary to take it.

  • J Golden
    February 13, 2013

    I recently flew alone with my 9 month old son. The one thing I LOVED myself for having bought ahead of time was this car seat cover:
    http://www.onestepahead.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=538421&cmSource=Search
    It has a plastic base with wheels on the bottom. As you noted on the Brica Car Seat tote, I can’t imagine carrying a convertible car seat would be anything NEAR comfortable. With the wheels on the One Step Ahead bag, I was able to strap baby to me, put the luggage on the stroller and push with one hand, and pull the car seat on wheels with the other. It was the easiest way I could figure out to get us and everything else from car to check-in counter and vice versa when we got home. And it prevents the car seat from getting too banged up while being checked.
    Side note: the steering is AWFUL. The car seat wobbles like no tomorrow so you have to walk slowly while pulling the thing. But still infinitely better than having to carry it and you can leave room on the stroller to carry luggage.

  • J Golden
    February 13, 2013

    You can also ask airport employees to help you take the luggage off the baggage wheel. I flew Allegiant over Christmas, and they had one of their employees grab all my bags and wait with them at the car arrival pickup so I could take the baby to the car. Needless to say, I tipped him REALLY well!!

  • Paige
    February 16, 2013

    I am so nervous I leave tommrrow to go on a flight with my 7 month old and 3 year old daughters. I have a kinderwagon stroller and one carryon but the big thing for me is I have a layover and it’s 3 hours.. what will I do for 3 long hours with my kids.. any tips? I am also nursing using no bottles at all.

  • Shana
    February 16, 2013

    Paige – I always let the kids run around, then we eat, then run a little more.  There is so much awesome people watching at the airport that the kids usually hang out by the gate and watch for a looong time.  Three hours?  I'll bet it goes by fast.  Good luck!!
    Sent from my iPhone

  • C
    February 19, 2013

    R we traveled with our son who was 9 months and didn’t take a car seat- too bulky! With Taxis it is perfectly okay for the baby to sit on your lap (as ridiculous as this sounds. I was shocked but had no choice!). If you rent a car you can also rent an appropriate baby seat. They are not the best quality ones out there but they will do the job. Just note that you need to install it yourself.

  • Jenn
    February 22, 2013

    I am leaving for a flight to hawaii with my 16 month old. We are looking at a flight with multiple stops and at least an hour and half layovers to let her run around, since we will be coming from east coast. I am having a hard time figuring out what do when she will get sleepy. She does not liked to be cuddled when she goes to sleep, we simply put her in her crib with her blankie and she goes to sleep by restlessly squirming her hips. She is going to be riding on my husband and my laps for the flights, and i am seriously dreading this trip. Any suggestions?

  • Laura Moore
    February 22, 2013

    Great article! I’ve flown quite a bit with our kids now as we lived overseas for three years. I flew 9ish hours multiple times with two under three years old. I may have looked like a fool with a car seat bag on my back, a baby in my front carrier, and another baby and car seat in the Phil & Ted’s stroller (LOVE it!), but we always made it!
    I think #1 is your best tip. I find that as long as I can stay calm, the kids do a lot better. The key to staying calm is to build in lots of extra time. I also visualize each step of the trip so I know ahead of time that I’ll have enough hands for everything.
    I never like checking car seats at the counter because I heard of how poorly they are handled. I often use plane side check as a compromise to trying to load/install/unload two car seats by myself. I do prefer to have the seats on the plane for kids’ safety and comfort, but it’s not always an option.
    I also pack all items I will need ON the plane in a backpack that will fit in front of one of the kids’ seats – snacks, activities, a few diapers. Everything else (extra diapers, clothes, more snacks, etc) go in a carry-on up top. It’s there if I need it, but much less hassle if I don’t.
    One other product I wanted to mention is Tig Tagz. http://www.tigtagz.com They are durable little ID bands with your phone number. The kids can’t get them off, and they are weatherproof. We got them for Disney World first, but I always use them when we go busy places…just in case.
    Hopefully these other tips can help me when I start traveling with three kids now!

  • Amy
    February 24, 2013

    I take a picture of my child each morning we are traveling-so IF something where to happen I have an updated picture with current clothes they are wearing.
    I also have got my kids a kids camera–the one we got has games on it too—They love taking pictures of everything and keeps them busy–BUT they eat batteries so keep that in mind.
    Also–I see cute kids luggage, but for our flight I am taking each child a full sized carry on (and checked bag) with wheels! Since we will be living out of it for most of the year I think this might be the best idea. I will have a smaller bag inside they call pull out with all their stay busy items in it.
    I will have about a 20 hour flight–thanks goodness with my hubby–since I don’t speak any language but English and we are going to Korea—My hat is off to you alone flyers! I drive a lot and that is stressful enough in my own space, being able to stop when/where I want!

  • Melissa
    February 24, 2013

    Jenn, we have a timeshare in Hawaii and have traveled with our 2 boys since the time they were born. We go every other year. Flying with them is a breeze. Just remember that no one will fault you for doing a LOT of walking up and down the aisle. My tip for this? Bring a full sized pillow for her to lay on. One of you will need to lay it over your lap(s), but in a pinch, it will work and be soft and comfy for her without laying directly on you.

  • Melissa
    February 24, 2013

    We travel a lot with our 2 small kiddos and we always bring car seats. We buy the car seat carrier here:
    http://www.toysrus.com/search/index.jsp?kwCatId=&kw=car%20seat%20travel%20bag&origkw=car+seat+travel+bag&f=Taxonomy/TRUS/2254197&sr=1
    Check it in, because its free, and we are always good to go. Never had a problem, never had anything broken.

  • Shana
    February 24, 2013

    GREAT tip, Melissa!  Thanks for responding…

  • Shannon
    February 24, 2013

    It may be perfectly legal but in an accident it certainly would not be OK.

  • Heidi
    February 25, 2013

    What a great article. I’ve read so many and this is by far the best. We are getting ready to try out first flight and I’m scared out of my mind but you actually gave the best advice and some relief. Wish I would have found your article earlier!!! Thanks for several laughs and being honest!!!

  • Duncan Faber
    February 25, 2013

    Here’s a tip for traveling with kids. Audiobooks and lots of them! You can fill up your iPod at lots of sites, but we found one where you an download original children’s stories for free. Original is the key word here. How many times can I possible listen to Little Red Riding Hood?! Anyway, here’s the link if anyone is interested. http://www.twirlygirlshop.com/stories-for-kids. Also, chewing gum! Hope this helps.

  • katrinacasteel1@hotmail.com
    February 28, 2013

    Just a comment about putting other non-baby items in the car seat bag….DO NOT DO IT!!
    By putting other things in the car seat bag it makes it no longer a baby item (free) but a luggage item (paid). As an airline employee, I am required to charge you for the item if you decide to try and cheat the system.

  • Angela
    March 3, 2013

    Natasha – small world! I’ve made that trip several times with my 2 young daughters, always alone. Best advice – from ATL, take the early morning flight through Toronto. I know it sounds horrible, but the airport is not busy at that time of day, so check-in and security are very easy.
    Good luck!
    Angela

  • Jen @ After The Alter
    March 5, 2013

    So glad I found this article! Flying tomorrow with my 2 year old. best article on flying with a child I’ve found!

  • Princesse Ecossaise
    March 13, 2013

    This is exactly what I’ve been looking for, thanks for this list! We’re flying with our baby for the first time next week… eek!

  • Lesley
    March 14, 2013

    Totally agree with all of this! We have traveled with our littles (now age 6 and 3) literally dozens of times and your list is spot-on. I would add that traveling with the car seat is a big, fat pain but you and your toddler will be happier (it’s just like riding in the car, right?) and at the airport I just extend the straps fully and hook them on the handles of the stroller. Make sure the kid or a carry-on is in the seat to counter-balance the weight. I’ve also had my kids (starting at age 3) carry their own mini-backpacks. A couple of diapers (always a size too big to buy you a little time….), a small pack of wipes, crayons, dollar store little coloring books, etc. And I carry the electronic gadgets. If you’re due for an iPhone upgrade, keep your old phone and fill it with games and videos. Now you have two sources of kid entertainment. I also bring the “zoo pals” disposable sippy cups. Plane beverages don’t have lids and I DO NOT want to bring dirty dishes along. Unless I need to bring real sippies, then I pack a teeny bottle/ziplock with dish soap.

  • Shana
    March 14, 2013

    LESLEY!!  Seriously great list!!  Love the sippy cup idea, especially!  I can't count the number of times I'm holding my breath as the little one drinks his (waaay too full) cup of apple juice.  Also spot-on with the mini backpacks and iPhone recommendations.  Thanks!!!!

  • Taking Our Show on the Road
    March 19, 2013

    Great article! So many great tips.

  • Kristin Reinhard
    March 22, 2013

    Great list even for a Mom like me who flies between Europe and Australia often with my two kids now 5 and 7. Two things we can’t travel without long distance is for sure our ergo (we had our daughter at three in it on our back to board) and a car seat. Even though its a pain to carry (and I wouldn’t use it on shorter flights) on two long haul flights it takes us to get to Australia it’s been a life saver for us.
    Also ziplock bags are a great thing to have on hand – they are great in case on accidents, back up sick bags and all in all great at keeping the carry on bags prganized!
    I for sure will use some of your tips when we fly in summer and remember them for our third!

  • Gabi
    March 22, 2013

    We have flown with an infant car seat as well as a toddler car seat.
    1. You can pack the car seat into a box with nappies or baby’s clothes packed around it. This way the seat is protected and you’re not breaking the “baby item travels free” law as mentioned in a post above. To do use this method you’ll need to do a trial pack at home if you are using the seat in the car on the way to the airport. Arrive early at the airport, remove baby from the car seat and pack it up before checking in. Remember to take box tape and scissors. Pack the scissors into another hold bag so you can open the car seat box at the destination (wrestling with box tape and a toddler is not fun under pressure!)
    2. Use a stroller bag such as the Stokke PramPack. We were able to pack our stroller/pram and infant car seat together in this bag.
    http://www.stokke.com/en-gb/portable-and-travel-accessories/stokke-prampack/protect-your-pram.aspx

  • Gabi
    March 22, 2013

    I agree with Shannon… We flew via Sydney, Australia and even though we had bought a bottle of water after security we had to drink it/ throw it way.

  • Jenn
    March 25, 2013

    I love you.
    This is by far the best kid travel list I’ve seen. I’ve only traveled a few times with my little crazies, but every single one of these is spot on.
    And I have yet to travel with a carseat. I convinced my family to buy one for our visits!

  • Jess
    March 25, 2013

    Thank you for these great ideas! We are moving from California to Scotland and I will be doing many flights by myself with an 8 month old and 2 year old…I am terrified but love your ideas!

  • susan l.
    March 28, 2013

    …and that is why…among other reasons…that I will never fly again…unhelpful and frankly uncaring airline employees and TSA agents…as a result we have driven rather than flown the 1800 miles from our house in Louisiana to my mother in law’s in Ontario…this time we will take Amtrak…cheaper than even one plane ticket…tons less hassle…plus two checked bags andtwo carryons per person for free!

  • Ashley
    March 28, 2013

    Thanks for the post! Absolutely awesome! A few things I hadn’t heard of so makes me feel extra prepared for my son and I to travel this late spring!

  • Ali
    March 28, 2013

    This was a super helpful post! Love the way you describe having a good and determined attitude about it all. Now I’m feeling less nervous to fly alone with my six month old. :-)

  • Wellness Products
    March 29, 2013

    Nice article, thanks for sharing this information. Good to know that this topic is being covered also in this web site.

  • Krystin
    March 29, 2013

    Great article and recommendations. I have flown several times now with just me and my daughter when she was younger and most recently just me, my daughter (2 yrs now) and my son (8 months).
    I have done so many different combinations to transport through the airport. 1 in ergo, 1 in stroller, 1 in ergo and 7 months pregnant, 1 in stroller and 1 in ergo, 2 in double stroller, etc.. I have never had an issue with security and the ergo, my kiddo(s) have always been able to stay in it without question.
    Attitude is everything when it comes to flying with kids. Most of the time I have found great support/help from airline employee’s, TSA agents (they have actually helped carry stuff to my gate!), pilots, attendants, and other passangers.
    One thing that I read prior to my last solo with kids travel was to NOT expect help from others. Plan to do it all by yourself (unless if physically unable to). This way if you do get offered help you are very grateful, but if you don’t then you aren’t “put off” by the lack of support/help people offer. But, I have always had help offered when needed. (There really are a lot of generous people out there!)
    Another thing that I keep in mind when it comes to snacks and drinks is to plan for just in case. I HAVE been on a plane away from the gate for 2 hours = no fun. (Luckily it was pre-kids!) But I always bring 1 water for each kid (even for my nursling) and 1 extra. They always ask if it is all for the kids, YES, and through security it goes. Same with food, I always bring a little extra, not much, but just in case.
    And like another poster abover, a new toy. I try to find something around $5, so nothing expensive. This keeps them occupied for a long, long time. The last time we flew (a week ago!) my daughter played with her $4 toy for the entire duration of both plane rides. PERFECT!!
    Lastly, if others around you praise you for your “job well done” be sure to pay it forward to other moms as “Great job Mom, you are so lovely to watch and listen to with your children. You do such a great job and are like a pro at this air travel!” goes a long way to boosting our confidence that we CAN and DID do it! (Okay, it doesn’t have to be that glourious but it sure feels good to get that type of praise!!) You never know what other mothers out there could use that breath of fresh air after stressing over the travels with little ones!

  • Amy Bryan
    March 30, 2013

    Oh I wish I would have read this before our first trip with our 5 month old. We just decided to bring as much crap as possible “just in case”! Lol Our flight was wonderful and we didn’t even need any of the crap we packed. :/ Thanks for the tips though. We are planning many more trips home to visit family.

  • Maren
    April 1, 2013

    Excellent post. Best article I have read on this subject, and I’ve read a lot.
    For the same reasons as you (hubby works a lot and we live really far from family) I have traveled cross-country more times than I can count with one, two, and then three kids by myself. Last time I did it they were ages 6, 4, and 2. I have four kids now and have flown with all of them a couple of times, but not by myself yet (contemplating it this summer, though). I think my favorite traveling-with-kids experience, though, was the time my sister and I flew (twice) with 7 boys ages 6 and under. They were short flights, but still, we were a sight to behold.
    Point being, I’ve done this a bunch and I think your advice is spot-on, especially with regard to the stroller, whether to take a car seat, and the 6am flights. The only piece of advice I can think of to add is that I’ve found it helpful to pack smaller carry-on bags into a larger carry-on duffel bag. That way you really only have 1 bag to keep track of when you’re traveling through the airport, but you can break it down when you get on the plane to go under the seat in front of you and your kids’ seats. I’ve also started letting my older boys carry their own backpacks. When they’re in the 2-4 range, they especially seem to enjoy the little rolling backpacks. Plus they are SO cute rolling those down the airport walkway.

  • Kellie
    April 8, 2013

    Seriously, this is the best article on the subject! I recently moved overseas with a (then 5 month old) from the East Coast USA to Australia…I did so much research and I think this is the most helpful. There are a few other tips I used:
    If your baby is young and you are going a long way get a bassinet seat. It’s great for sleeping, playing, or changing.
    Use those lanyards for pacifiers for toys or tethers to keep them from falling on the yucky floor. I use Sophie the giraffe and I hook the pacifier lanyard around her neck and clip it to baby’s shirt. Loosing Sophie while rushing around would be a disaster!
    Those neck pillows are essential for lap seat babies. I used them to prop my arm up for nursing so her head wasn’t on the hard arm rest.

  • aircraft cleaner
    April 8, 2013

    Actually they get cleaned every night. But still bring them! :)

  • aircraft cleaner
    April 8, 2013

    Actually they get cleaned every night. But still bring them :)

  • Sree
    May 4, 2013

    Great tips.We have an international travel in a month. Would you know if we can carry milk for a 19 month old on the airplane?

  • Kathleen Ward
    May 5, 2013

    Do not change your baby’s diet if possible!!! One friend gave her 9 month old gummy bears during a delay before a trans-Atlantic flight, the result was 6 hours of volcanic diaper all over baby and mom. She went through 7 baby outfits! (I never have packed 7 outfits.) I trained my 4 month old nursing infant to take a bottle of formula once a day. This helped me tremendously when getting through customs. Nursing during take-off and landing was fine for her ears. She had her own seat with a car seat. I had the bulkhead reserved for more floor space. She slept on a blanket on the floor for a while. We were moving to Germany and my other 2 kids sat with Dad. They were happy with the toys they packed, some surprises that I packed, a few treats, and their own music players and headphones.

  • karyn
    May 6, 2013

    i also like the day flights….if your kid doesn’t sleep,people are less cranky about it and frankly–you are less tired andbetter able to cope with things.
    i also like bringing little cars and plastic people…..we draw pictures on paper and then have the cars and people move around and tell a story.
    downloaded stories are great.
    i like the idea of gel clings.
    i’ve tried modeling clay—but found it was messy and hard to clean up…..
    lots of snacks–like raisins,nuts,chocolate chips in zip locks.fruit leather is also good.
    i think of these flights like labor—except you know when it will be over…….i’ve done 10 hour flights with 4 young kids alone…….also–i bring along only 1-2 magazines….because there is no way i will be able to read a book

  • Kika
    May 7, 2013

    Great tips! I’d like to add some more.
    1. If you have a layover and use plane-side check-in for your stroller, do not count on having your stroller in between flights. Some airlines give it to you and you re-check it on the next flight, some send it straight to the final destination.
    2. Make sure you wrap up any car seats/stroller you’re checking in to protect them; plastic garbage bags and packing tape is better than nothing! If you use plane-side check-in, remove any trays, canopies, and extra parts your stroller has and take them in your luggage. Security has to take strollers apart to inspect them for contraband and explosives, regularly damaging and losing parts along the way.
    3. If you have an infant that needs a bassinet, make sure your reserve it, confirm it at the ticketing booth, and request it as soon as you get seated in the plane. They only allow the amount of bassinets that are reserved, and once inside, it’s first ask/first serve. YES! Someone without a reservation could take your reserved/confirmed bassinet if they ask first. It happened to me, and I had to carry my baby on my lap the entire 11hour flight!

  • kelly
    May 10, 2013

    You cannot bring milk through security but you can buy it after you get though security before you get on the plane. If you need to keep it cold during your flight, bring a small soft sided lunch sack and a quart size freezer bag, ask the flight attendants to fill it with ice for you. That way the milk will stay cold though out the entire flight. I have been a flight attendant for 15 yrs and I have done this many times.

  • kelly
    May 10, 2013

    Sree, see above, I answered your post but accidentally posted to the name above yours.

  • Lanie
    May 12, 2013

    I am a former flight attendant and have a 3 and 6 year old. Some great, great advice. But, I will tell you that holding your child is very dangerous. All studies done show that in case of emergency, you would not be able to hold your child. Despite the hassle, buying a ticket for all children and carrying a car seat is the safest thing. You would not ride in the car holding your child…. it is really the same thing. believe me…prior to being a flight attendant…I thought the same things you do. BUT, it is just not safe. Accidents are few and far between, but if there is one…the chances of your child surviving are greatly reduced if they are not strapped in to a car seat.
    One more…always, always plan for delays. You can’t buy formula in an airport…extra diapers and extra formula. Put a change of clothes in a zip lock bag. If they soil the clothes, you have the zip lock bag to lock up the dirty ones.
    I love, love some of your fun activities. Looking forward to using them in a few weeks.

  • Melissa
    May 21, 2013

    Hello, great advice! I am flying soon with my 3 yr old and 5 yr old daughters. I am worried about my phil and teds stroller bein lost if we have plane changes. I plan on using it and checking it at the gate but I am very in love with my stroller and couldn’t live without it. I do have to get a cover for it. I was worried about te potty thing too but plan on using pull ups to keep us covered. one more question is what d you do if they have to go mid air. all three of us cant fit in the tiny potty. Thanks for any advice! Mum

  • natalietanner
    July 12, 2014

    Fantastic ideas, especially the clings! Oh, my! Have never thought of it and thanks for sharing! Would be so great in a hotel, too. Adding it to the list of things to pack – lightweight, small, and fun!

    I started flying with mine when they were 11 weeks old for kiddo one and 6 weeks old for kiddo two. Now they are older 8 and 10 and seasoned travelers. The training pays off!

    http://www.theeducationaltourist.com

  • Allison
    July 18, 2014

    The tips here are fantastic and the Richard Scarry book has been a huge hit every time we travel. A new type of book I just learned about is magnetic books that come with a set of magnets so you can read the story, add magnets to the scene, or just play with the magnets on the magnetic pages. Just search for “magnetic book” on the book depository or amazon and you’ll find a bunch. A top toy (from 14 months to 3 years old and it’s still entertaining) has also been a little bike light that can be turned on and off. We also find that a divided snack box filled with little snacky treats is highly diverting. Some ideas for what we put in: goldfish (or penguin crackers), cheerios, raisins, baby cookies (sweetened with juice), animal crackers, bread sticks (broken to fit), other dried fruit. We often take fresh fruit too, but don’t put it in with the crackers and stuff or they’ll go soggy, even if they’re in a separate compartment.

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