The idea of traveling with small children, especially babies can be stressful. So stressful that you tell yourself “maybe next year, or the year after that”. I get it, I was totally you, there was no way I was going to travel with a baby who wasn’t even one, a four year old with so much energy he can put the energizer bunny to shame, and an eleven year old with asd.
For months my husband tried convincing me to go down to Disneyland but I was afraid of everything that could go wrong. My daughter hates the car so an hour drive to the airport plus a two hour flight was a recipe for disaster. What if she cried the whole way? It would have been miserable. What if my boys fought the whole way, or my four year old got scared, or the noise and crowded space caused my oldest freak out? All the what ifs fed my anxiety and had me convinced it would be horrible experience.
After months of convincing and a trip down there himself my husband finally talked me into going for my birthday and guess what? We made it through the flight without a fit and the kids loved the parks. I even managed to take all three kids to Disneyland for 9 hours by myself when my husband was sick.
Being prepared is a must if you’re going to fly with kids. Here are some things I found useful.
Pick your seats ahead of time
You will have to see if this is available for the airline you choose to fly (We fly Alaska) This comes in handy when there is more than three of you and you want to make sure you all stay close together. For Alaska, I downloaded their app and added our flight to the ‘Trips’ section. From there I selected the trip and tapped on our names which gave me the ability to choose our seats.
Take advantage of early boarding
Passengers traveling with small children are given the option of boarding first. This gives you a chance to get your bags put away and everyone settled without worrying about the people who will soon be seated around you.
Bring something to keep them occupied
Before our trip I loaded the iPad with digital movies. You know those slips that come with your Blu Ray you swear you’ll never use but decide to keep anyway? Those are slips of sanity! I spent a good hour entering codes into the ‘Movies Anywhere’ app. If you do this, make sure you download them for offline use otherwise you will need WiFi to watch them. Also don’t forget the headphones, while you may be thrilled to watch Coco for the millionth time, I guarantee you not everyone on the plane will feel the same. If electronics aren’t your thing, playing cards and coloring books go a long way.
Food is offered on the plane but if you don’t want to $10 or an assortment of cheese your kids probably won’t eat anyway I suggest bringing easy to eat without making a huge mess snacks. We brought goldfish, fruit snacks, and fruit bars for our kids.
Something for their ears
Pressure changes are uncomfortable for everyone but children may not deal with it as easily as an adult. If your child is old enough I suggest gum. Pacifiers are great option for babies and for nurslings pop them on the boob if you feel comfortable in doing so. I nursed my daughter on take off and she ended up sleeping for half of the flight.
I think the most important thing to remember is to just breathe. Things might not go according to plan, we missed our flight home and sat in the airport for five hours waiting for the next flight but we survived. Your baby may get fussy, I think most people are pretty understanding, pay no mind to the ones who aren’t. There’s a good chance things are going to go a lot smoother than you think and it will be totally worth it.