Strategies for Stress-Free Travel With Family
Airline stewards have seen everything with regards to plane travel, so who better to go to for guidance on flying with kids? Here are some pressure lessening techniques, all from airline stewards, a few of whom are moms also.
Before Your Flight
1. Book an early morning departure.
It’s your best chance to avoid delays at takeoff and landing, a flight attendant named Patrick explains. “These flights are usually less crowded, too,” he says, “and everyone is basically tired and just wants to nap—kids especially.”
2. Save your mileage upgrades for toddler-free travel.
Traveling in first class with kids can be more stress than it’s worth. Mom Joanna recounts the story of traveling with her loud, lively toddler and incurring the very vocal wrath of her first-class seatmates for the entirety of the flight. “It’s not fair, but you’re just going to get more empathy and support with kids in economy,” says a flight attendant.
3.Pack just enough.
Flight attendants urge parents to pack enough essentials for the flight. “Unfortunately, you can expect there to be zero food on a plane that would interest a kid,” says Lynn. “And we are so limited in what we can offer in terms of comfort items as well.”
On the flip side, parents will struggle if they zealously overpack. “Usually, when it’s one parent traveling with one or more kids, they’ll bring way too much stuff in an attempt to keep their kids happy,” Wendy says. “They forget they have to carry all that stuff off the plane with them, along with their kids.”
4. Do layers, skip laces.
Be ready for drastically changing temperatures when flying. Wendy, a flight attendant and mom, suggests you dress your kids in comfortable layers—preferably without buttons, zippers, or anything that could prevent them from getting to the bathroom in time. The same principle applies to shoes: Avoid laces and opt for slip-ons. “There’s the added benefit of getting through airport screening that much faster,” she says.
5. Bring surprises.
A wrapped new plaything has two advantages: Kids love to unwrap stuff, and a new toy has more attention-grabbing pull.
6. Switch strollers.
Getting through an airport without a stroller is unthinkable for some parents, so consider switching out your regular-size stroller for an umbrella stroller. If you’ve got more than one little traveler with you, consider a kid harness. Wendy suggests. “I was so against them until I saw a woman with three young boys using them in baggage claim. It made so much sense,” she says, “with the exit doors to outside right there. Look, flying is stressful enough. Do what you need to do to protect your kids and your sanity.”