Wisconsin in the winter makes all of us question why we have chosen to live in the Midwest. My survival tool is to think about vacations in warmer climates. I love to fly in an airplane, but flying in an airplane with small children brings on other emotions. I have learned over the years that there are several survival skills that help when flying with children.
Make sure that each child has an activity bag for the flight. I always pack washable markers, a blank composition notebook, 1-2 books, a favorite small stuffed animal, and not infrequently scotch tape or painters tape. Kids love tape and even if they stick the tape all over the seat in front of them, it won’t stain and it is easily removable. We always check into the airline we are traveling with 24 hours earlier from our home computer as well as print our boarding passes from home. This saves time waiting in the check-in line and if you are not checking luggage, you just have to go through security. Make sure to follow the Transportation Security Advisor guidelines on what you can and cannot bring for carry- on items (see website below). There is quite a lot of variability on what is required by the TSA so checking ahead can save having your child’s favorite bug catcher thrown away as you start your vacation (happened to my son 2 years ago).
You can bring a stroller all the way to the gate of your airplane and in busy airports is it much safer to keep your child restrained at least part of the time. We also bring our own water bottles and after we have gone through security with the empty bottles, we can fill them at the water fountains (many airports, including Chicago O’Hare, have stations to fill water bottles for free).
As one last tip, although airlines will allow families with small children to board first, I recommend waiting to board the plane. As soon as a toddler has to stay in a small space, havoc begins.
I love to travel and spend time with my family. Making some small changes to keep us mentally and physically healthier during our travel experience is even better.
Websites to check out for traveling with children: