No matter how experienced of a traveler you may be, throw children into the mix and it’s a whole new ball game. My 2-year-old is nearing three, and to say he is a handful is an understatement. So when my husband proposed taking our 2 and 6-year-old on a red-eye flight on our latest vacation, I was dubious. Turns out, I wasn’t too off base; my husband said the little one screamed nearly the entire flight (sorry, fellow flyers!). But it did make us realize we needed a game plan for the ride home. Here are our essentials for a happy flight with kids.
1. A Favorite Book: If your child is old enough to read – or loves looking at picture books – a book is a must if you’re flying during the day. This is the time to break out that favorite that your kid begs you to read time and time again. My little one loves the Chickies series while my first grader is into the Magic Tree House series. Helpful hint: Download a few e-books to your tablet or cell phone. I realized I was without a book on our flight and quickly downloaded an e-book right before the flight attendants asked us to power down our devices. Best $9 I’ve spent.
2. Tablets: Speaking of tablets, these are the true superheroes of the flight. Flight attendants are great, but they don’t stop a crying child with the speed of a bullet. My Kindle, however, does. I know, I know. We’ve all read the studies about screen time, but where are those researchers when the entire plane is glaring at your screaming child? We have two tablets, a Sprouts Cubby and an Innotab learning tablet. The 6-year-old got the Innotab for Christmas a couple of years ago and since then, we’ve given him a few educational games to go with it. He can read an e-book, play a math game or just play something fun without even changing cartridges. The Cubby comes already loaded with Sprouts-related games (perfect for preschoolers) and requires a parent password to leave the kid’s area. Once you leave it, it’s a full tablet that can access your own email and whatever else. One caveat: it requires an internet connection for the initial registration, so set this one up at home.
3. Headphones: No one wants to listen to Yo Gabba Gabba for three hours. No one.
4. Chargers, Chargers, Chargers (And Batteries): The Innotab takes AA batteries, so we stay fully stocked with rechargeable batteries. Don’t forget to pack extra batteries or your rechargeable battery charger. And while you’re packing your cell phone and laptop chargers, invest in an external battery for your cell phone and kids’ devices. Trust me on this one. I lost mine at the hotel and had to cross my fingers that the battery would hold up on the way back home.
5. Eats: Your kids are gonna get hungry, and so will you. Stock up on things like granola bars, fruit snacks, raisins and other snacks that won’t make a mess or melt. Be sure to bring empty water bottles so you can fill them at water fountains before you board.
6. Buddies: That’s what we call our kids’ stuffed animals. There’s nothing like a stuffed giraffe to help your kid sleep on a flight.
7. A Pillow Or A Travel Neck Pillow: First of all, the travel pillows for kids are just flipping adorable, right?
These are the essentials I’ve found for my kids. What are YOUR must-haves for airline travel with your kids?