Most of us have been on a flight with a child who is uncooperative, loud, disrespectful, or inconsolable. Although these situations are sometimes unavoidable, as an adult traveling with kids, there are things you can do to make traveling by air easier. I, myself, have had my fair share of flights with my own children. My son, who is only three, has been on 10 flights, and my one-year-old daughter has been on 5, most of those without my husband.
I have definitely done some things wrong while traveling, but I have learned many lessons and tips to make my life and my children's lives easier when traveling by air. The following list is one that I consult prior to all my trips:
1. Ask for a temporary clearance
If you are the only adult traveling with kids, ask the ticket agent if someone with you can get a temporary clearance to help you through security until you get to the gate.
2. Research security policies
Check out the TSA's website http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/children/index.shtm before you go to find out what you need to know to make it through security without issue.
3. Skip the big bulky strollers and get yourself a decent umbrella stroller.
Since your stroller doesn't need to be checked, they will check it at the gate. The easier it is to get everything out of your stroller and fold it up, the better. Save the gate agents and yourself some time by asking for a gate-check tag when you first arrive at the gate. If traveling with more than one stroller-aged child, make one walk or wear one in a front pack.
4. Hold off on naptime (if possible).
Your kids are more likely to take their naps during the flight.
5. Keep luggage to a minimum, especially your carry-on luggage.
One diaper bag and a backpack is plenty. If you have responsible, school-aged kids, allow them to carry their own backpack.
6. Make sure you have enough to entertain your kids.
(But remember it has to fit in what you can carry). Electronics are great. There is nothing wrong with a child watching a movie or playing a game to make the time pass faster. If it keeps them quiet and well behaved, all the better.
Other good entertainment includes: stickers, crayons, and paper, books, action figures, and toy cars. Avoid toys with lots of small parts that can get dropped and lost, as well as loud toys that will annoy fellow passengers.
7. Don't forget your child's comfort item.
This includes a blanket, pacifier, stuffed animal, etc.
8. Bring easy-to-eat snacks.
...and fill up a water bottle prior to boarding to take care of any hunger issues.
9. Bring copies of important documents.
Always travel with a photocopy of your children's birth certificates, even if they are over the age of two, just in case of an emergency.
10. Have children suck on something.
This will help ease the ear pressure when taking-off and landing (pacifier, bottle, sucker, etc.).
11. Plan for the unexpected.
Make sure you bring enough of everything just in case you have an unanticipated flight delay.
Air travel with kids should not be something you dread. With a little prior planning things can go smoothly for all involved.