Flying With Small Children!

Happy February! Recently my kids and I had to fly to my hometown (Jackson, Mississippi), and from there drive to Louisiana to attend the funeral of one my college basketball teammates, Latrice Booker. Even as I type that out, it still does not seem real to me. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. She was so full of life, hilariously funny, and just a great spirit. I will miss her infectious smile, and my heart aches for her seven year old daughter. RIP to a great woman.

But I digress. This post isn’t even about sadness and premature deaths! Ugh! *wipes eyes* It’s about the joy of traveling…with small children. At this point, I consider myself a pretty seasoned traveler. Even before kids, I flew pretty frequently to visit Chris while he lived in New Jersey, and I lived in Memphis before we lived together. (Sidenote: If you’re in a long-distance relationship, my heart goes out to you! I know how utterly hard that can be!) During those days, it was me, my purse, a suitcase, and an occasional carry-on bag depending on how long or short the trip was. These days, it’s me, my kids, my purse (that’s the size of Texas), a carry-on bag, a stroller, 2 car seats, and a gigantic suitcase. The phrase “traveling light” no longer applies to me. Ha!

But again, I’m pretty seasoned at this point, so traveling with small children has begun to be a bit of a breeze for me. Ze took her first airplane trip when she was just shy of 6 months old. And that trip was from Italy to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania! She’s since flown on airplanes over a dozen times in her short little life. Vito made his first airplane trip when he was about 10 months old. At that time, Ze had just turned 2. And I have to admit: I was terrified to travel with the both of them…ALONE! Oftentimes I’m traveling alone with the kids because we are meeting Chris in the city that we are flying to, or I am flying out to visit my family while he’s still in season. So again, I’ve gotten pretty used to flying with the kiddos, and wanted to share some things that have helped make the process of flying with little ones a breeze.

1. Bring snacks that the kids wouldn’t normally eat. And here, ladies and gentlemen, is the time where you let the kids indulge a bit. I consider my family to be a household of pretty healthy eaters, so whenever I’m flying on the plane, I tend to pack “fun” snacks for the kids. Cookies, chips, cakes…you name it. I figure hey, the plane ride is a few hours, and the kids will be so thrilled to be eating such fun food  that they won’t have to time to whine. Their mouths are full! (And typically, snacks are allowed in your carry-on bag when you’re traveling with little ones. TSA agents know your kids gotta eat!)

2. Bring toys that your kid has never seen or played with before. This doesn’t have to be some expensive or elaborate toy either. Whenever I have a trip coming up, I go to one of my favorite stores in the world: The Dollar Tree! And I stock up on the most miscellaneous toys ever lol! I mean, really, they have everything. (I probably need to do a whole post on my love for the Dollar Tree, but we’ll save that for another day.)
So for Ze, I’ll pick up coloring activity books, crayons, random figurines, etc. And for Vito, while he typically likes whatever she likes (that older sibling influence I tell ya!), he especially loves dinosaurs, so I made sure to get some dinosaur related things for him on our most recent flights.
Also, Ze is a HUGE fan of play doh. I am not a fan of having play doh in my house, because the kids love to take it apart in tiny pieces, and then up everywhere, and ugh! They just become so annoying! But on an airplane, well, play doh is totally allowed. And it entertains them for long periods of time. Also, Target has their dollar section of random fun stuff when you first walk in the store, so have your way with that section too.

3. Some sort of iPad or tablet. This is almost a no-brainer if you own one of these devices. My iPad has tons of toddler friendly games and activities, plus, I download the kids’ favorite television episodes (i.e., Dora, Yo Gabba Gabba, Bubble Guppies, etc..) ahead of time so they can be ready to view without the need of wifi. I download the episodes from iTunes, and they’re generally about $2 an episode. So about 10 bucks, you can make sure you have entertainment for the entire length of the flight.
And if they don’t want to watch a show, there are tons of free learning apps for kids of all ages that also are life savers as well. If you have a smart phone, this works as well. You can still download kid-friendly apps and TV shows right onto your device.

4. Pack extra clothes for your kid AND yourself in the carry-on bag. You never know if your kid will have a huge accident, or just spill crap all over themselves and you. Also, if you’re traveling with a kid that is still in diapers, just for the flight, consider diapers that you can pull-up, like Huggies’ Little Movers or even pull-ups, because that makes changing diapers in the airplane’s tiny bathroom that much easier. Just stand them up, and change them that way. Of course if they poop, that makes it more challenging, but it’s definitely doable.
Quick story: On my last flight, the bathroom light was out, meaning it was pitch black in the bathroom. And of course, Vito decides he wanted to poop in-flight. So I quickly ushered him into the bathroom with Ze right at my heels, and used my phone’s flashlight to quickly clean him up and change him. In the dark. With a toddler standing right behind me. It’s moments like those that I think I can conquer the world lol.

5. Consider a small rolling suitcase for your child. This was Ze’s first time traveling without having to sit in a stroller. In the past, I would have the double stroller for both of the kiddos, but because she’s so independent and is not particularly a fan of the stroller, I decided to get her her very own rolling suitcase so that she could feel like a “big girl”. She was so excited to wheel that thing from gate to gate. I put an extra change of clothes for both her and Vito, plus a few small toys, making it extremely light and easy to maneuver.

 

We had the whole gate to ourselves almost at the Jackson, MS airport.

 

My little artist

 

Good ole playdoh

 

Waiting to board the plane in Dallas

 

She loved her suitcase!

 

 

 

Waiting to depart LAX

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The more that I’ve flown with the kids, the easier each trip has gotten. The key is to keep them busy and engaged. Before you know it, they may actually just get tired and fall asleep. 🙂

Have a great week Fabbies!

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