I decided to be wild and adventurous, and take my family to Italy for three weeks. This includes me, my husband, my two-year-old, and four-year-old. Your eyes are probably getting big and you might be breathing heavier now than you were before you opened this post!
It’s okay though. The trip turned out perfect! I am here to give you tips on what we did to make flying with kids easy.
Each kid had a full-size backpack with their name on it. Those are used as their carry-on bags.
Here’s what we packed in their backpacks.
- Extra pair of clothes
- Headphones. Super important for international flights. My littlest has a headband that is actually headphones.
- Tablets. We have the Amazon Fire kids version.
- Miracle 360 Sippy Cup
- A couple of books
Along with that, my husband and I both have backpacks. Mine has my laptop, charger, camera, and wallet. His has all of the passports, boarding passes, chargers to the tablets, phones, and his Surface Pro. It was so easy to categorize each of us and what we individually needed. Everything was easily accessible.
We needed to bring two convertible car seats. The car seat travel bags you can carry on as a backpack are a MUST. We got them on Amazon. A secret tip- if your bag is going to be over 50lbs, you can put your heavy weight jacket or a bag of stuff in the seat in the car seat bag and zip that right up. I have done it every time. If you want to take the car seat on the airplane, then follow along. Along with the two car seats, we had two large suitcases and double stroller. A stroller is an absolute must.
Can you picture it? One parent with a HUGE car seat on their back (like half of their body size), while rolling two large suitcases. The other parent carrying another huge car seat back pack with a second backpack on their chest. All while pushing a double stroller with two kids and three backpacks underneath. You should have seen the looks! All we had to do is make it to the checkout counter.
Once at the checkout counter, we checked the suitcases and car seats. We kept the carry-on backpacks and double stroller with us. After leaving the checkout counter, it was smooth sailing! If the airline you are using charge a fee for bags, they will not charge you for anything for kids accessories, like a pack-n-play, stroller, or car seats.
My husband and I both have TSA PreCheck. If you fly often, it is completely worth it. And it includes your kids! We paid somewhere around $80. It will last five years. TSA PreCheck lines are usually shorter and you don’t have to take off your shoes and jackets. Plus, you don’t have to take out electronics! We also did not have to collapse our stroller. The girls hop out, walk through the scanner, and are done. PreCheck makes flying with kids super simple.
When the girls were younger, we were able to carry any amount of breastmilk/formula as well as water through security and onto the flight. They just have to test the water or other liquids for your children.
If you are into essential oils like me, you can carry those on too. I carried on 32 little bottles.
Once you get through security and get to your gate, you will want to go to the counter nearest your gate and tell them you need to gate check your stroller. They will tag it for you so you can drop off the stroller right before boarding your plane. Make sure to collapse your stroller before leaving it in the jet way. Then it’s time to fly!
On the Airplane:
If you are flying with a car seat, it has to be in the window seat. If you have a lap child, you need to follow their genius rule of taking your baby out of the baby carrier during take-off and landing. In other words, please take your sleepy, warm, cuddled baby out of its safe place so they can scream their heads off during take-off and landing. Enjoy!
Most bathrooms on the flight have a changing table, but it is literally a board. The bathrooms are SO tiny as is. And now you have to change your child’s diaper while it’s basically in your face! To avoid this, we have changed them really fast by having them lay across the seat in between us (or on us.) And no one seemed to judge us for it either.
I like packing my kids their own headphones because the earbuds they provide barely fit in their ears. They have lots of movies to choose from for entertainment for kids and adults. They also provide a fairly decent meal and free drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic.)
The flight crews do an awesome job to adjust everyone to the time of wherever you are going. When we flew from Dallas to London, they served us a dinner (London time) and then turned off all of the lights when we were supposed to all be sleeping. When we flew from London to Chicago, it was light outside the whole time and they kept the lights on. We were served a dinner (London time) and then served another small meal (Chicago dinner.) They made it really easy to adjust to the time and get on schedule. It took us one to two days to adjust to Italian time. Coming home, it took us three to four days. All in all, jet lag isn’t something you should worry about.
Those are my travel tips for you! What travel plans do you have this summer? Do you have any tips for flying with kids?
Originally published June 2018.