Occupying your children while trying to avoid tantrums and tears with 20 tips
I’ve travelled a ton with my kid-os but I’d have to say plane rides are the most challenging. From needing to be at the airport 2-3 hours early, lugging around a ton of bags, sleep schedules getting messed up, ears popping on the plane, and the list goes on… it can be difficult to figure out how to keep the little ones from having meltdowns of the century.
Remember, you will never see these people again.
Before I delv into how to keep your kids happy on a flight, please please please remember that you will never see these people that you’re sharing the plane with again. If they give you the stink eye because the world is ending for your child, then so be it. You will never see them again. Don’t be embarrassed. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.
- Drink Container. I always travel with a water container for each of the kids. Most airport security is lenient with containers that have liquid in them. They’ll usually do a test on the liquid or have you drink some of it in front of them. If you’d rather not go through security with liquid, you can bring the containers and fill them after screening. It’s when you don’t have something to drink that they start screaming, “I’m soooooo thirsty!”
- Airport Play Areas. Do some research on the airport you’re flying out of (and in some cases, those where you have a long layover). Most have play areas for children but they might not be in all terminals so make sure you know the locations. If you find yourself having time to kill, get some energy out of your kids and visit one of these amazing additions. Check out this list of best airports to be stuck in with kids!
- Comfortable Clothing. Make sure both you and your kids are wearing comfortable clothing. I love dressing my kids up in cute clothes as much as the next person but when it comes to traveling, I make sure we’re both comfortable.
- earPlanes. Have you ever heard of these bad boys of have I just been living under a rock? They are amazing! Who knows if they actually work or if it’s just a placebo effect but before we knew about them, Monkey screamed every time we landed. When he had the earPlanes in, he was completely fine – not a peep out of him. Once, we lost them during vacation and didn’t have a pair for our flight home and I’ll tell you, it was murder. As soon as we got home, we bought another pair just so we’d be prepared for our next adventure. Seriously, you don’t want to be without these guys (they have both kid and adult sizes so if altitude bothers you or the spouse, I suggest you pick up a pair too).
- Kid Backpacks. Bring backpacks for your kids and have THEM carry it. You’re already lugging around enough stuff and if you put all of their goodies in it, they’ll feel extra special and WANT to carry it around. And if Plan A fails, at least it’s a backpack and it’s easy to throw over your shoulder with the rest of your gear. Check out these cute backpacks from Zara.
- Bring snacks. Airport food lines can be long and expensive and you can’t always count on when you’ll be served by the flight crew or if your little one will even like it. Get ahead of the game and pack some healthy, non-sugary snacks (see #6).
- Stay away from the sugar! It sure sounds like a great bribe at the time to get your kids to stay seated, be quiet, etc. but reality sets in about 10 minutes after consumption and you do not want to be trapped in a metal container with that wrecking ball! If you feel that you need gummy bears or a sucker for landing, make sure you stick with the original plan and that you only give it to your little one during landing. I speak from experience.
- Limit the new toys. Only put 1 or 2 new toys in their backpack and make sure they’re interactive. This Micro Cubebot Brain Teaser Puzzle kept Monkey busy for an entire 2 hour flight. Know your child’s age and what seems to keep them busy. For example, Sister is 15 months old and she LOVES screwing and unscrewing caps so I make sure I buy a water/soda/juice before my flight so she can have her fun.
- Nothing frustrating. Don’t bring anything “frustrating” for their age level. One flight, I bought a Marvel Super Hero Masher (which coincidentally has become one of his favorite toys) for Monkey but because the pieces are so difficult to pull apart and put back together when the toy is new, he became quite frustrated and some pieces started to fly…
- Nothing messy. Don’t bring anything too messy or that has a ton of small pieces to get lost. You’ll save both your sanity and your child will exit the plane with all toy pieces in tow.
- Crayon Rocks. If your child likes to color, skip the traditional round crayons as they roll off of the table way too easily. Read the tips above about avoiding frustrating items. Instead, check out these Crayon Rocks. They come in a muslin bag, in 16 different colors. Please note that if your child likes to stick things in their mouth, they could potentially be a chocking hazard.
- Lovies. Bring a lovey or two – especially if you’re on a red eye. We always bring the kids’ blankets and a stuffed animal.
- Kids In-Flight Meals. Research your airline beforehand to see if they offer kids meals on the flight. If they do, you’re usually required to request the “special” meal between 24 and 48 hours before your flight.
- Headphones! These Kidz Gear Wired Headphones are great! We’ve used them on every flight with Monkey. They’re comfortable, fit kids’ heads and even with the volume all the way up, won’t hurt your kids ears.
- Movies & Games. Load up your iPad, phone or tablet with games and movie favorites. Although most flights we’ve been on offer movies, Monkey has still requested watching his favorite film that he’s seen over 100 times.
- Walk around. After take-off, walk around the plane with your kid to stretch their legs. If they’re able to, have them walk to be sure to get any cramps out.
- Extra diapers, wipes and poop bags. If your child is still in diapers or newly potty trained, bring extra diapers, wipes and Poop Bags. First, you never know when they’ll get a case of the blowouts or when something will be spilled and you’ll need a fast wipe up. Second, if it’s a stinky diaper, everyone on that plane will thank you for containing the stench in one of those bags.
- Hand sanitizer! The lines to the airplane bathroom can be forever long or flight attendants may be handing out meals or snacks, making it a bad time to get up and after touching their way through the airport, hand sanitizer will help combat some of those germs.
- Keep your child buckled. If your child looks sleepy, make sure you buckle them in before they pass out. Nothing makes me cringe more than to wake a sleeping toddler because the fasten seatbelt light comes on or because you’re about to land.
- Play games. Check out here and here for different activities and game suggestions that you can play (many, using items already on the plane).
Try to relax and enjoy your experience. Monkey has learned so much about airplanes and places we’re visiting and gets so excited to see all of the equipment (even the golf carts in the airport that help move people who need it from place to place), walk on the people movers, get on the escalators, and ride on the choo-choos that transfer people between terminals.