Probably one of the most daunting tasks as a young parent is taking your kids on a long haul trip, and even more daunting – on an airplane. Perhaps you have seen the cute tweets or Instagram posts about parents handing out bags of candy and earplugs to their fellow traveling companions, in a plea to keep them from complaining about a screaming kid.
Sounds good once you have settled into your seat, but you still have the whole airport to navigate before you even get there. Here are a few ways to make your trip through security and down to the jetway a little smoother, even with a toddler or two in tow.
Your Kids Carry On – The little bags and backpacks you see kids carrying on planes and buses, might look cute but they can be a little bit of a liability. Unless you are completely fine with never seeing that adorable little monkey bag and all its content ever again, then do not waste your time.
As a young parent with little sleep, the simplest trick for keeping things easy at the airport is limiting the number of bags you need to carry around. When you know there are only two or three bags, even if they are a little larger than you would prefer, you are less likely to lose one.
Your Carry On – Like we said, if you are committed to not losing a bag, you might be carrying around bags that are slightly heftier than you would have on your own. Most airlines, besides for budget lines will allow for one personal item and one carry-on bag. With a little trick you can expand your baggage allowance every so slightly and also make traveling easier. Pack all passports, ID cards, boarding passes, cash, credit cards and other necessary, but small, items in a fanny pack or a small cross shoulder bag. Travel shops will have super slim models available. By keeping your documents handy, you won´t have to dig around through a purse or bag to find the things that you are going to need most.
Your Carry On Part 2 – Once you’ve got your documents ready to go, let’s talk about your personal items and bags. Keep all items you will need for the flight in your personal bag. This is the one you are going to slip under your seat for the duration of the flight in case you need to grab a sippy cup or wipes. The hack here is to keep this bag neat and tidy at all costs so you can easily access all the things you need, quickly and quietly. Choose a large tote or wide backpack with a large open space and separate items out with pouches or large ziplock bags you can pull out when you need. A refrigerated pouch for milk and cheese snacks, one for dry snacks, another for all diaper needs, one with activities (coloring books, crayons, iPad), and one for you. Fill your bag with a good lip balm, hand cream and something fun to read.
Handling Security – With the line backing up behind you and your kids running around, how things go in the security line can really shape up how the rest of your trip looks. Our hack means thinking ahead for a minute to make sure that things go smoothly in line. While in line, make sure all bags are closed with your clear plastic bag of liquids placed at the top. After showing your documents, put your shoes and jackets in the first bin, send your personal item and document bag next and finally your stroller and carry on last. TSA will likely help you out getting your kids through and they shouldn’t need to take off their shoes. As soon as you are through, your shoes and jackets will have come out first so you can get dressed while the rest of your items come through. Get your bags in order for your stroller so everything is ready to put bag on the carriage as soon as it comes through.
Last Stop Before Your Flight – Find an open area in the airport, it does not need to be right near your gate. An open area with fewer people will let your kids have the chance to stretch their legs before the flight. Let them run a little loose without disturbing the other travelers and tire them out a bit before the flight. This is also your chance to stock up on water bottles to keep your family hydrated at 10,000 feet.
Good luck and safe travels!