Flying with Kids: Keep Them Comfortable, Occupied, and (Relatively) Quiet


Without children, vacations often start in the airport. A pre-flight mimosa before takeoff. A leisurely lunch or a book during your layover — no big deal! But when you are flying with kids, vacations take on a whole new meaning.

Traveling with kids is not impossible, it’s just different. As with leaving the house to run errands, a mindless task pre-baby, traveling now takes more planning and more strategy than it did before children.

5 Pro Tips for Flying with Kids

1. Set your expectations. Now lower them.

Before you book the flight, assume your kids are going to be a disaster from the second you begin your journey to the airport. Don’t tell yourself “they’ll probably sleep because the flight is so early” or “we’re taking off during naptime, so he’ll he out like a light.” Assume none of that will happen.

Now select your flights. From that perspective does…

  • the additional $100 for a direct flight sound like a deal?
  • paying extra to fly to the airport that’s closest to your destination seem worth it because you don’t want to sit with an overtired toddler in a rental car after you land?

Thinking this way changes your travel strategy. Your kids could be total angels for the entire journey, but in the event they’re not you will want to bring that to a close as quickly as possible. You can’t control your kids moods. You can control how quickly you get to your destination.

2. It’s perfectly OK to be ‘that family.’

Remember that you’re asking a lot of your children. Sitting still for hours at a time is not something that comes easily to them. It takes practice. Try this if your child loses his cool:

  • Think about the large percentage of people on the flight who are parents and who have been there before.
  • Focus on how those people, the majority, 100% empathize with you.
  • Take a deep breath and remember that you can’t control how your child reacts to new situations, you can only comfort and reassure them.

Your child is more likely to calm down if you remain calm. Focus on the travelers who are thinking, “Yikes I remember that stage — poor parents!” and not the handful of people who can’t empathize.

3. Throw screen time limits out the window.

Many families are limiting the amount of screen time their children intake. If you’re one of these families, this lifestyle could pay off when you fly with kids. Since screen time is “special” they should be occupied with either airline TV programming or a device for most of the trip. Some tips for ensuring in-flight entertainment:

  • Call ahead to see if the flight has televisions and whether they are mounted to the back of the seat where they would be easiest for children to see.
  • Invest in comfortable headphones don’t fall off easily, so your kids can enjoy their entertainment uninterrupted.
  • If possible, have a backup. Sometimes flights lose their satellite service, making the wifi and television inoperable. Load your phone with kids games, movies or TV shows. You can also invest in a portable DVD player. Be sure to bring backup travel batteries and chargers for long flights.

4. Stock up on a variety of activities and plan for layovers.

Your child may not have the attention span for 4+ hours of television and movies. Depending on your child’s age, load up on books, coloring activities, card games, or kids magazines. Some other ideas:

  • For the meltdown-prone toddler, introduce a new toy from a dollar store and surprise them with when it feels like they’re getting fussy. For the older set, try a travel-sized game you can play to pass the time.
  • Kids can’t scream (or can’t scream as loud) with food in their mouths. Have an assortment of snacks on hand. Try to stick to no- or low-sugar items as sugar crashes will expedite a tantrum.
  • For layovers locate the child play area your airport. Most airports have an indoor playground for kids to burn energy before the next flight.
Designer Boys Clothes Unisex Gray Pants

photo credit: Bang Bang Copenhagen

Designer Boys Clothes Unisex Gray Pants

photo credit: Bang Bang Copenhagen

5. Choose comfortable clothing.

Traveling with kids is all about ease and convenience. We recommend bringing a change or two of clothes depending on the length of your journey. For early morning or late-night flights, pajamas are perfectly acceptable child attire.

For babies, consider long-sleeved onesies with feet. Bring layers for older children. Comfortable slip-on shoes and socks are a must. The temperatures in planes can fluctuate from warm and stuffy to ice cold. A blanket for them to snuggle into is also a great idea. Some things to consider when packing clothes for your child’s trip:

  • Does the outfit breathe, move, and stretch? Could they comfortably fall asleep in this outfit?
  • If your child is in diapers, would it be easy to remove to change them in a cramped airplane bathroom?
  • Similarly, if your child is potty training, can the outfit or layers be easily removed so they can go about their business quickly and efficiently?

We hope you find these travel tips helpful! For more parenting tips and tricks visit Angelibebe at

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