I’m getting ready to buy airline tickets soon. I fly often.
My parents and sisters live in Arizona, so that means a lot of airplane trips.
My husband had always had jobs where he couldn’t take off for too long, a week at most. I however, being a stay at home mom and homeschooling, can visit for a a longer time. Usually 2 to 3 weeks.
This then means that my husband does not usually fly with me and the kids. Since my first born was 3 months old we have been traveling. She is 5 now and I think my husband has only flown with us twice.
The last trip I took was when my youngest was 4 months. So my three kids and myself flew to Arizona for 3 weeks. My husband met us there a week later.
Many moms have told me that they wouldn’t be able to do it, I am here however to tell you that yes can.
I have never had a truley awful experience. Yes, it sucks. Flights are long, it’s boring and you have a bit of anxiety every time a grumpy looking person gets on the plane because you really don’t want them sitting next to you and your potentially naughty children.
But in reality, my kids have never been a huge issue and I am most always supported by all those around me. It’s usually an older gentleman or grandmotherly type that regales me with their experiences traveling with their wee ones.
For me, I have a flying routine and it has for the most part stayed the same since my first child was little.
1. First and foremost, make sure if you are traveling with an infant on your lap, that you indicate this to your airline. Thy will be super perturbed if they have to add that detail at the airport. And if you don’t add that information to your ticket, security will not be happy. Most airlines allow kids to fly for free until the age of 2. Take advantage of this, we all know how pricey those tickets are.
Make sure you bring your children’s birth certificates. Usually the airline or TSA won’t ask for them. But I have been asked once. So, just in case.
2. You are going to need to check luggage. Most airlines allow either some or all baby items to be checked for free. My husband and I have flyer miles for Delta, so this is who we fly with. I have always been able to check all baby items for free. This includes strollers, car seats and Pack n’ Plays. Make sure to check with your airline.
3. Bring a stroller to the airport with you. You are allowed to bring the stroller as far as the airplane doors. Once there, fold it up and it will magically be put under the plane and magically be there for you when you get off in the next city.
The last time I flew, I brought my jogging stroller. ( I kid myself that I’m ever going to use that thing for actual running.) I had my 3 year old in the stroller, my 5 year old walked and I carried my 4 month old in my Ergo carrier. Then, all backpacks and blankets went in the stroller basket. Pretty easy, especially in the airports you have to travel far to get to your connecting flight.
I once had 20 minutes before boarding to get from one gate at the Atlantic airport to the next and it was literally on the other side of the airport. I luckily had my double stroller and only two kids. I’ve never run so fast or dodged in and out of so many people in my whole life.
4. Once you start having to pay for your 2 year olds to fly, you will realize that this means they each get a carry on. So, along with my checked luggage, I was able to fill 3 large backpacks to take on the flight.
5. Now, this isn’t for everyone, but I do not like non stop flights. I live in Virginia, that flight to Arizona is long.
I like breaking it up into two flights and having at least a 2 hour layover. It gives us a chance to stretch and eat and go to the bathroom. Most airports will also have a small kid play area, that helps a lot.
6. I use to load up on coloring books, playdoh, stickers and anything else I thought would be entertaining. I stopped. It takes up too much room and I quickly realized that my kids only want to watch shows. Yes, I am that mom that brings my Kindle and phone with me and let’s them watch endless hours of movies. While I am praying a rosary for our safe travels, they are glued to the screen. Anything to keep them entertained.
Snacks…this is also a must have. Not a lot of liquids, but lots and lots of snacks. This is the one time I basically let them eat whatever they want.
7. One thing I will never do is bring goodies for other passengers and apologize up front for my kids existence on the airplane. I find this really offensive. We paid for those tickets and deserve to be there as much as anyone. It’s an airplane flight, not a fancy dinner or a spa day, it’s not supposed to be relaxing, you’re trying to get from point A to point B just like the rest of us. Deal with it!
I will however give my kids the run down of rules. No kicking the seat in front of you, no fighting, no screaming. They need to know airplane ediquitte.
8. I always sit in the back of the plane no matter what. People don’t mess with you in the last row.
9. If you have a nursing baby or you are bottle feeding, feed them when you are taking off. It will give them something to do, help their ears if that’s an issue and hopefully they will fall asleep.
10. Be the last person off. Obviously if you are in the last row, this is a given, but if not, make sure you are the last one off. It gives you the time to gather all your stuff and to make sure you aren’t forgetting anything. Also, if you have a stroller waiting for you, you aren’t in the way opening it and trying to get your kids situated.
Now that I have flown by myself with the kids so often, I actually don’t mind it. I have a system and when I stick to it, I have no problems.
If you start out with a positive attitude and you are prepared, it’s not that bad. For the most part people sympathize with you.