When it comes to family vacations, flying with children is likely one of the largest logistical dragons you’ll slay. From toddler tantrums and teen boredom to infant ear pain and stroller storage, the list of potential issues is long indeed. I talked to some of my favorite family travel gurus for inspiration. Here’s what they had for advice.
• Toddlers: Entertainment is the name of the game with tiny humans. As Wise Bread contributor Julie Rains shares, forgetting to factor this in can result in a fidgety flight. Her top tip for avoiding drama? Pack headphones. Says Rains, “The crew ran out of them once on a flight from Arizona, and it was a long ride home.” Thegoodtravellife.com’s Tiffany Karabaich on the other hand, favors low-fuss, easily-packed classics like books, movies and a traditional Etch A Sketch. She also prefers lollipops as a pain management strategy for youngsters too old for a bottle. “It helps them continuously swallow to pop their ears,” says Karabaich.
• Teens: Cooneyworldadventures.com founder Catrell Cooney has successfully circled the globe with three teenage boys in tow. Her approach to flying with teenagers includes fully charged electronic devices such as tablets and music players, double-checking teen packing jobs based on a pre-approved family checklist, and plenty of water. According to Catrell, “Making sure they’re hydrated makes them a little less cranky.” To combat nearly constant teenage hunger, Cooney comes prepared with a significant snack supply.
• Infants: Linsey Knerl, mother of five and founder of Knerl Family Media, is a pro at flying with infants. Because babies are categorized as lap passengers advises Knerl, it’s important to coordinate with the airline ahead of time and make sure that you are seated in a row with extra oxygen mask availability. In the event that the unthinkable happens, you’ll want to be prepared. Her flight plan also involves researching the infant baggage policies of her chosen airline ahead of time. Some carriers allow items such as strollers and supply bags free of charge, while others tack on hefty fees.
• Allergies: According to food allergy awareness advocate Robyn Nickerson Skvorak, preparation makes all the difference. She always packs an allergy response kit and a doctor’s note detailing the severity of her child’s allergies. Communicating with the airline ahead of time, and again at the departure gate typically results in early boarding privileges. She uses this time to wipe down surfaces in the multi-row buffer zone provided by the airline, to remove any possible allergen residue.