1. Allow A LOT of extra time before your flight.
Leave a lot more time than you would, if you were travelling without the kids. We allow extra time for parking in long term parking and waiting for the bus. You need time to check in car seats and prams into oversized luggage. Your kids may need numerous toilet breaks too. Get to the airport AT LEAST 3 hours before your scheduled flight departure for international, 2 hours for domestic.
2. Get on the plane first
Airlines call family groups first and when travelling alone I like to leave getting on the flight till the last minute. With kids, it’s much easier to get on the plane first. You can unpack supplies you may need, settle the kids, luggage etc. without the plane being full of people.
3. Get off the plane last
You will likely have several bags for children. It’s best to wait until most others are off the plane. You’ll have time to check that you haven’t dropped anything important (e.g. your child’s favourite stuffed toy). You can carry your child, nappy bag, and travel documents without whacking anyone on your way off the plane. If you have given your pram/stroller to staff at the door of the plane you can often get it back straight away. You will usually need to wait till everyone is off the plane until you receive it.
4. Bring LOTS of snacks
Snacks will keep kids busy when they are not sleeping or doing some activities. Snack boxes of sultanas are good, kids tend to take quite a while getting them out of the box. Crackers, dried fruit, cereal, mini muffins, celery and carrot sticks are healthy. Keep in mind that snacks won’t be refrigerated. If you don’t want a mess in the bottom of your bag, don’t pack anything “smooshable”.
5. Take a travel pram
Take a travel pram that will fold up and can either be put in the overhead compartment or can be left with staff at the door to the plane. Most airlines will let you get the pram back at the door of the plane. Airlines are becoming more familiar with the very compact travel prams that can be placed in a bag in the overhead compartment. I personally recommend the ZOE https://www.zoestrollers.com/p/zoe-xlc it’s a lot cheaper and just as good as the Baby Zen or Mountain Buggy.
6. Take a kids travel activity kit
Take a kids travel activity kit such as the Travel Karma “art we there yet?” Kit which has individually packaged kits to keep the kids busy for hours. Your kids will enjoy the travel journey and you can have some stress-free time. Create and play with the kids or take a break and watch a movie!
7. Take lollies to suck on
For take-off and landing to avoid painful ears, bring something for the kids to suck on, like gummy lollies or lollipops. With younger babies’ breastfeed them, give them a bottle or their drink bottle. Make sure you hide some for landing, my daughter would love to get her hands on all the lollies and her Daddy would cave! I have given milk or lollies above on many flights with 0-3-year old’s and have managed to avoid painful ears on each flight (crossing my fingers, so far!).
Kristen is the founder of Travel Karma, a Science Teacher, returned expat, Mum and International Traveller. She first travelled overseas when her daughter was 7 weeks old. She created Travel Karma to help Mums who want to spend time with their children creating, learning and making memories.