Top Ten Travel Tips for Flying Families

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Jun 03, 2016 / 0 comments

Flying somewhere this summer? Taking the kids? Flying with a family can be rough if you don't plan ahead - and prepare. Here are our Top Ten Travel Tips for Flying Families - you'll find that these can make your journey less challenging - and more enjoyable!

Top 10 travel tips for flying families

1. Plan Ahead. Buy your tickets early enough so that you can all sit together. Fly out from a close airport, even if it is smaller, so that you don't arrive at the airport from a 5 hour drive, exhausted. If you must fly out far from home, go the night before and take advantage of the Stay and Park programs some hotels have - spend one night, and leave your car there while you're gone.

From an airplane

2. Fly non-stop, or get your tickets with as few stops as possible. The less time you have to while away in the airport, the better.

From an airplane

3. Utilize web services. Check in online, and show your boarding passes on your smartphone. This will save time at the airport, as well as time spent fumbling with papers while keeping track of your kids.

4. Downsize your luggage. Make everything accessible, and don't overpack your carryons. It's one thing to pack the backpack full of activities - and see them spill out over the concourse, as your child is searching for that ONE purple crayon. It's much smarter to pack things in separate see-through containers (or ziplock bags), and have plenty of room in the backpack for rummaging around and finding what you want. Take less luggage overall - who wants to haul a full luggage cart while holding hands with one or more kids?



5. Pack Goodies. Not the food (that comes next). Special treats for your kids - maybe a new coloring book, or stickers, or a sudoku book. Maybe it's some bacon bandaids from Archie McPhee, or a create sushi pack of stickers. Something that is fun, that they love, that can take up some time when your kids might otherwise be kicking the back of seats. Use fun bags - maybe a new backpack, or messenger bag. Fill the pockets with surprises. We always bring art supplies, because our daughter loves art and fills her hours with it. Maybe your kid prefers matchbox cars? travel dominos? 

6. Pack Treats (yes, this is the food one). We eat very well, whether on the road or at home. Buy Bento boxes and fill them with snacks for your family. Freeze some grapes and use them for an ice pack. I personally have made a Chewbacca bento as well as a Hello Kitty one - my kid LOVES bento. The wonders of broccoli and cherry tomatoes cannot be ignored. Don't forget the chocolate - try a few packs of Pocky or Hello Panda treats - they're delicious! As well, if you have your kids help you make trail mix, they will WANT to eat it. Our daughter prefers pecans, Ghirardelli chocolate chips, and dried cherries. My husband chooses cashews, dried cherries and raisins, and pepitos. The night before we head out, we have a trail mix bar where each person can create their own mix (and pack it themselves in their carryon). Travel crabbiness often comes from hunger - and there's no reason for that! :)

7. Bring your own entertainment. Whether it is your itouch loaded with audiobooks, your phone filled with Angry Birds (or other games), or a laptop with movies, you've got your media covered. Be creative - on one trip, we spent at least an hour laughing at a game I made up - what can fit in my tiny pocket? My tshirt had a very tiny pocket on it, and we "filled" it with the craziest things in our minds (3 salad shrimp? one oak leaf, folded strategically? one-third of a kiwi?). Give each kid a digital camera (they are inexpensive enough) and see what they come up with when you ask them to show you what they see. I was really surprised at how much chewed gum was under my seat, I tell you.

From an airplane

8. Explore your surroundings. If you do have a layover, or are waiting for your luggage to get off the plane, play I-Spy. Divide the family into teams and see who can find the most green (or purple, or red) things in your area. See if you can find the most fashionable outfit (and least). Count the number of people in line at each restaurant, and average the amount of money customers are spending to see which restaurant is making the most money. Count the number of black suitcases. Listen to the accents. Come up with your own language based on words you hear.


9. Know the drill and be safe. Your kids should all know your phone number, or write it in sharpie on their arm. Have a plan of where to meet if you get separated. Teach them upon entering the airport who to trust - what their uniforms look like, and what to ask for. Take a photo of your kids when you leave home, so that just in case, you can show what they are wearing. And, you should all know how long you'll be in the air, and what's waiting for you when you get there. Talk about a cab ride (or a tuk-tuk) as if it is the most exciting thing in the world - and then enjoy every minute.

10. Bring patience and a sense of humor! We always try to view flying as part of the journey, not just the means to get where we want to go. Airports can be wonderful places, and approach them anthropologically - watch and learn, and explore the culture. Watch what the workers do, especially in loading the luggage. Jump for joy.  Be patient with your kids as well as with other frazzled travelers. Sometimes, you can change a day for people just by laughing - it's contagious...Ta-da!

In the airport



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