4 Tips For Flying With Kids
What do a root canal and running a marathon have in common? Both are easier and a bit more pleasant than flying with kids. In all seriousness, air travel with kids isn't for the faint of heart, but here are a few tips that just might help a little....or a LOT!
TIP ONE: PACK ONLY WHAT YOU HAVE TO
Sometimes it feels as though you need an entourage just to transport all your children’s gear...car seat, stroller, portable crib, diaper bag, feeding supplies, etc.. But when you travel, bring only what you absolutely need for the actual flight and purchase/rent/borrow everything else at your destination. Most hotels, even many economy class hotels, provide cribs or pack n’ plays free of charge. There are also services such as Babierge or Travel Babees that actually will deliver gear to your hotel or condo. They will bring car seats, cribs, high chairs, strollers, even toys right to you so you don't have to struggle with all your gear through the busy airport. If you do need to bring your own gear, however, be prepared to check it.
Lastly, pack a spare of clothes for your child AND for yourself in your carry on, in case your child throws up, has an accident or a diaper blow out.
TIP TWO: IT IS POSSIBLE TO STROLL RIGHT UP TO THE GATE
If you are like many moms, your child’s stroller is like a second home on wheels. Not only does it keep your kids contained, but it stores a TON of stuff. When traveling, bring a portable stroller (must be collapsible or foldable) to the airport that you can then take right up to the gate and check free of charge. Just keep in mind that you will need to go through security so plan on being asked to take everything out of the stroller (including your child).
Another tip is to purchase a bag for your stroller. Most manufacturers sell stroller check bags specifically designed for your model or you can purchase a general bag like this. Planes can be tough on your stroller, so this is a good way to protect it.
TIP THREE: DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE SECURITY CHECKPOINT – PLAN FOR IT!
This can be one of the toughest part of flying with kids, however with just a bit of planning, it can be pretty painless.
Have just one big bag to throw on the conveyor belt, rather than several smaller ones. Next, wear easy slip-off shoes and no metal jewelry or belts (one less thing to struggle with when you are also trying to keep an eye on your kids). Finally, be sure to check your diaper bag for liquids, gels, creams and put only the essentials (diaper cream, liquid meds, first aid supplies) in a quart-sized ziplock bag. Note: formula and breast milk are allowed....you may just need to go through an additional inspection process.
TIP FOUR: BRING YOUR CHILD’S SAFETY SEAT ON THE PLANE
You are not required to, but both the Federal Aviation Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommend that you use an FAA-approved child restraint device for your child. This requires that you purchase a seat for your infant or toddler. Legally, you may carry a child up to 24 months old on your lap, usually free of charge, but this isn't the safest option.
A couple of other things you want to keep in mind when it comes to car seats on planes:
- Purchase a window seat. That is where the seat must go, so that it doesn't block the exit in case of emergency. Car seats are not allowed in exit rows or aisles.
- Make sure your car seat is FAA-approved. The label should read, "This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft." Flight attendants are instructed to look for the label, and you may run into problems if it's missing.
All high-back and backless booster seats are not allowed for use on the plane.
- The FAA suggests that all infants under 20 pounds ride in a rear-facing seat; 20-40 pounds ride in a forward facing seat and 40 pounds and up use the regular seat restraints. As always, consult the manufacturer’s user guide for instructions on securing the seat.
And as an added bonus, kids generally rest better and feel more comfortable in a seat that is familiar to them. That means an easier flight for you!
However, if you opt to not bring your child’s car seat with you on the flight, several car rental agencies like Avis offer car seats as a rental option and you can also reserve an Uber with car seats in its NYC location, with more locations to come.