The thought of flying with children can seem like a daunting prospect. I know that I was concerned the first time I took my oldest, who was three at the time, on a flight from Pittsburgh to Phoenix. However, through that experience and others of flying with my two children, I have learned some ways to help keep the kids happy (and therefore the parents happy), and I would like to share five of those tips with you.

  1. Bring the Tablets! Do your kids have an iPad, kindle, or another type of tablet? If so, make sure to bring it with you in your personal bag for the flight. Before leaving home, make sure you have downloaded some of your kid’s favorite games, movies, and TV shows to help keep them entertained. Brining ear buds or headphones is a must. Sometimes the flight attendants have ear buds, but they may not have enough to go around. I can remember that when my kids were younger, they did not like the feeling of ear buds so we would bring over the ear headphones for them. Also, check to see what type of airplane you are flying on because some of them will have an outlet or USB port at each seat for charging.  If not, remember to bring a portable charger.
  2. Take Advantage of the Entertainment Provided by the Airline. This past summer, we took our kids on a long-haul flight to and from Honolulu, Hawaii. The large planes for these flights had screens at each seat that had movies, games, and TV shows available for viewing.  When screens are not available at each seat, airlines will often have an app where you can watch provided entertainment on your smartphone.
  3. Bring Activities to Keep Kids Entertained. If you have room in your personal items, pack a puzzle book or two. Word searches, crossword puzzles, and sticker books are all good options. I brought a sticker book on that first flight with my then three year old and when we had landed I was covered in stickers, but I had a happy and calm kid!
  4. Get Your Kids a New, Small Toy for the Flight. Surprise your kids with a new, small toy to keep them occupied on the flight. Ideas include a Rubik’s cube, travel Aquadoodle, dry erase boards, and magnetic games.
  5. Bring Snacks, Snacks, and More Snacks! There are not a lot of options for food during flights currently. On our long haul flights to and from Honolulu, we were given a snack box with about five small items for the duration of the about nine hour flight. On the way home, we were given a sandwich, bag of chips, and a brownie. So make sure to bring plenty of healthy snacks, and a few of your kid’s favorites, to keep them and yourself from getting too hungry and then too cranky!

While flying with children can seem like quite a challenge, I have to say that being able to travel with my kids makes it all worth it. I love seeing our adventures through their eyes and watching them experience new things for the first time. This past summer, as we were nearing the island of Oahu, my youngest son looked at the window and exclaimed, “Isn’t it beautiful!” I admit that I became a bit choked up and I swear I saw the gentleman sitting beside us wipe his eye. It is a memory I will always treasure and it was made possible by taking the plunge and traveling with my children.