When it comes to traveling with kids, most parents begin to panic. Depending on the age of your kids, there are a ton of uncontrolled occurrences that can pop up, and some that parents simply can't manage. But when a parent is given enough time to plan and research, travel day can become a lot easier.
Traveling in cars and trains is one thing, but air travel is an entirely different ballgame. In the car, there's typically more room to spread out and mom and dad can pull the car over to stretch their legs whenever seems necessary. Families can also stroll through trains. But in the air? There are more rules to abide by (not to mention pesky seatmates). So before you hit the TSA line for your first flight with your child, take a look at these 10 hacks that can make life a little easier for everyone involved.
10 EARLY FAMILY BOARDING
Not every airline has pre-family boarding, but it's worth it to call ahead of time and ask. If you've flown before, you'll notice that the airline workers call ahead for military, the elderly, and families with young kids to board first.
For military members, it's typically out of respect. But for the elderly and parents with young kids, it's to give them enough time to gather their belongings and get situated. Parents should definitely take this if it's given, just to make the boarding time more seamless. TSA also has family lines so you don't need to wait as long.
9 TRAVEL BEDS ARE A THING
Small travel beds are now a thing parents can buy. It's essentially an inflatable leg rest, but with the right height, it makes the perfect make-shift bed for a toddler who needs to get a little shuteye.
You can grab one of these angels online for around $20-30, and then deflate them when you're about to land.
8 CAR SEATS ARE A GOOD IDEA
Depending on your child (and their age), some parents think it's more convenient to have their child in their own car seat when flying. Being in their own car seat can bring a level of familiarity to them and may even be comfortable enough to fall asleep in.
Think about how much support is in a car seat compared to a seat in an airplane. Before bringing your car seat though, be sure it's FAA-approved.
7 MAKE TRAVELING THROUGH THE AIRPORT FUN
Although we still deal with the occasional fussy kid on an airplane, companies and parents really have come a long way to make traveling fun for kids. There's now motorized suitcases, bags with a kid seat on top, and even little seats with wheels, which definitely makes it easier to navigate through the airport!
When a parent is wheeling more than one bag, along with a baby or toddler, there's only so many hands they have. Researching ahead of time to find the perfect 'kid shuttle' for your kid through the airport could make all the difference.
6 IPAD HOLDERS ARE KEY
Whatever your house rule on screentime is, bringing an iPad isn't such a bad idea on a flight. It's a chance to introduce games, shows, and movies to your child, making them feel more comfortable while flying 30,000-feet above land.
If you don't trust your young one holding an iPad, you can always buy an iPad holder that can sit atop of the food tray or even hang by the neck rest. And last but not least, don't forget your child's headphones! Not every airline carries headphones anymore.
5 TAKING RED-EYES
When traveling with a baby or a young toddler, keeping their travel schedule as close to their schedule on land is super important. If there's any way to get a red-eye flight, you should take.
This way, mom can go throughout the whole day normal as usual with their little one, and by the time bedtime arrives, they'll try their best to sleep. Sure, the car seat or airplane seat won't be like their bed at home, but mom can bring their favorite blankie or stuffed animal to make them feel cozier.
4 KEEP EVERYTHING HANDY AND ORGANIZED
Every mom has their own form of organization. What looks like a disaster to one mom, may be an organized mess to the other. This point is emphasized when it comes to traveling because space is limited. Not only will mom have her purse, but she should also have a bag with easy to access things for her kids.
From snacks to diapers to chargers to toys — a parent should know where everything is the moment they sit down on a plane. This way, when their child starts crying because they're bored or hungry, mom or dad can easily grab a distraction.
3 BRING SURPRISES FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR
One amazing thing parents can do ahead of the flight is to bring small surprises for their little one. Sometimes parents will give these small treats to the airline hosts, so they can surprise their kids when strolling through the aisles.
Other times, mom or dad will hide the surprises in their bags to pull out when their kid is being good. The better behavior they're having, the more likely they are to get a surprise. On that note, surprises don't need to be large purchases either, they can literally be a small puzzle, candy, or a crayon to color with.
2 ZIPLOCK BAGS ARE YOUR FRIENDS
Ziplock bags are a parent's best friend. They're the perfect mini organizer for mom and dad. Some parents will put an array of snacks inside so their child can easily go through the bag and take whatever looks tasty.
Other parents will place their child's outfits, medications, or accessories in specific bags, so their day-to-day life is as easy as it can be while traveling. Go to the store and buy a fresh box of Ziplocks so you have one for every day of the trip.
1 ANTIBACTERIAL WIPES
Antibacterial wipes don't sound too helpful to parents or their kids, but they definitely are in the long run. Think about how germ-filled airplanes are. From sneezing to coughing to sweating — people are confined in a tight space for hours. There are bound to be germs and unwanted strands of hair found while traveling.
And considering kids tend to touch and lick random things, it's best for mom or dad to wipe down surfaces before their kids get too comfortable. Wipe down the food tray, armrests, window wall, and TV screen when you first board (and throughout the flight). Doing this will hopefully keep germs and illnesses away so your healthy, happy vacation can continue as planned.