Ah, flying. The “luxury” mode of transportation we love to hate. Long security lines, ever increasing ticket prices and being uncomfortably packed in like sardines with 150 strangers. In the rare event your flight goes smoothly, it can be a nice relaxing reprieve from your everyday hustle and bustle. An hour or more to zone out, watch a movie, or read the latest bestseller. That is of course, if you don’t have your kids along.
At the ripe old age of 4, my son has logged more flight legs than a lot of people do during their lifetime. This past summer, with our daughter in tow, our family reached the point of taking up an entire 3-seat row (#goals). Now, I’m not going to pretend to be some sort of flying with kids expert, but I do feel I’ve learned a few things along the way. So if you’re thinking of taking to the skies with your littlest companion(s) in the near future, then perhaps you’ll find these tidbits useful.
Check ALL THE THINGS.
Most airlines courtesy check carseats, strollers, and even a pack-n-play. For the love of all things convenient, invest in a carseat bag. Probably one of the best purchases we made in the kid department. Not only does it allow you to strap your giant carseat on your back so you can also drag multiple suitcases along, it acts as extra packing space for bulky things you don’t want to take onto the plane like coats, your baby carrier, and anything you forgot to throw in your suitcase last minute. The goal is to check as much crap as possible so that as you walk to security it’s you, your kid(s), your stroller (if needed), and your carry-on. Which brings me to…
Your carry-on bag is not for you.
You’re flying with kids now, gone are the days of trying to fit two weeks worth of necessities into your tiny little carry on. You know what has to go into your carry on now? Diapers and snacks. If your child happens to be in that “magical” age range of 15-24 months, you may also be carrying a boatload of toys in an attempt to entertain them during the flight. This is not necessary. Simply grab some straws (bonus if packaged!) at whatever kiosk/restaurant is near your gate. Once on that plane your kid will only be concerned with trying to get down, trying to open and shut every window, and destroying whatever magazines are in the seat-back pocket in front of you. The straws will buy you a small break between these ruthless bouts of energy.
1 out of 10 times you will get pooped on.
Now any good “traveling with kids” advice piece will tell you to pack along extra outfits for the entire family in the event your kid pukes and/or poops all over you. Once again, this is not necessary. Just dress in layers, and bring an extra sleeper for the kid. The layers should consist of a tank top and a light zip up sweatshirt or cardigan. Something you can wrap around your waist and doesn’t add much bulk to your seating space, after all you will have a child on your lap. I don’t care what the temperature is outside, wear a tank-top; airplane + kid = oven. Then on that fateful flight your baby has a blowout and it inevitably gets on you, just unwrap that zip up hoodie and bam, good to go. If you still smell, just blame it on the baby.
Give into the screen.
Once your child reaches the age of being entranced by screens, give in and give in early. You’re not trying to win parent of the year here, you’re trying to survive being trapped in a metal vessel 35,000 feet in the air. If your child is above the age of 2 and requires their own seat, and you can convince them to wear headphones while staring at their screen, then CONGRATULATIONS!! You’ve reached the holy grail of flying with kids. Celebrate by getting a glass of wine to enjoy during the flight!
Do not apologize.
For whatever reason (cough *the internet* cough) there’s this idea that we should “apologize” for flying with our children in tow. Like we’re imposing a huge inconvenience on the others who happened to purchase a ticket (just like we did) for the same flight. “Oh I’m so sorry my kid MIGHT cry …here’s a cute little note and some candy!” Um no. In fact, I’m the one over here sweating while wrestling a small human on my lap while you sleep/read/watch a movie. If anyone is inconvenienced, it’s me! Pretty sure I’m the one that could use a cute “you got this!” note and some candy. Actually, make it a beer. Just buy me a beer.