Flying With Kids: How to Avoid Melt Downs

Flying with kids

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Ok, parents, let’s talk flying.  We’ve all been on those flights with screaming children.  And then, when we have children and it’s time for our family vacation, we immediately think of those same flights when we consider flying with our own.  It doesn’t have to be scary to take your kids on board, though.  With a little prep, you can minimize the outbursts and arrive at your destination without being exasperated and hiding your face as you exit the plane.
First, think about the schedule when you are choosing a flight.  Are your kids going to do well being woken up at 4am to go to the airport or will that set you up for full on meltdowns later in the day?  Also consider your lay overs.  The ticket may be cheaper, but a 3 ½ hour layover is a long time to entertain children in an airport.  Consider non-stop flights when possible, or choose a shorter layover to avoid this.  Also, I’ve heard others recommended to fly when the children will normally be sleeping.  If your kid is the kind who will conk out anywhere, anytime if he’s tired, then that’s a good plan.  But if he’s anything but the most perfect of sleepers, I’m not sure I’d choose that route: kids are excited about airplanes, excited about the destination and all that excitement means they have no intention of closing their eyes for their normal nap or night time.  What you may end up with instead is an extremely over tired child, and we all know what that means!

Second, food.  Food works wonders with kids.  Gone are the days where the airlines serve you complimentary everything.  In fact, on my last flight, the flight attendant told me that the cookie I was getting was the last time the cookies were being served on flights – only soda from now on.  Sad!   Feed your kids before boarding the plane, or if a normal meal time is shortly after take off, you can buy some food at the airport and bring it on board.  Pack lots of little snacks in your carryon.  If you have too many, you can use them at your hotel…too few might mean your little one is hungry with nothing left to eat for another 3 hours on the plane.  Non-messy snacks work best, for the sake of you AND the flight attendants.  Consider granola bars, crackers, fruit leather, squeezable fruit pouches, etc.

Third, be prepared with lots of entertainment.  This, of course, depends on the age of your children.  If you have an iPad or similar device, this is a gold mine.  Games and movies can occupy a child for quite a long time and works for a large age range.  Coloring books and crayons will occupy many children.  Small toys can be fun to play with on the trays.  I adore the little sticker books you can get to make various picture scenes.  A  great source for tiny activity books is here:  Many are just a $1 each!  And one of the best tips I received some years ago was to buy a small assortment of toys at the dollar store and stash them in your carry on.  Bring out a new toy every so often and your children will be delighted – something new!

A little prep goes a long way in making the beginning and ending of your family vacation much more pleasant.  Flying with kids doesn’t have to be torture.  Just think carefully about your flight schedule, snacks and entertainment and you’ll be fine!


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