I’ll never forget trying to get William’s passport picture at 4 weeks old. His picture had to be taken with a white background, his eyes open and looking at the camera. He was so little. He just kept sleeping and when he was awake he wouldn’t look at the camera. As a first time mom, it was so stressful. We flew overseas when William was 8-weeks old and then we did it two more times in his first nine months of life. Looking back, the most stressful part of it was leading up to his first trip. There is a lot to get in order, anxiety around if your baby will be good in flight and all the unknowns. Once on the plane, it seemed (somewhat) easy. When babies are that age, they pretty much sleep the whole time. As they get older, it’s important to have activities for them to do and you just adapt as they grow. Now, we have two babies and are adjusting to traveling with two little ones; 6 month old Henry and two-year old William! Over the past six flights we’ve taken since Henry arrived, we have a few tips for flying with two kids and answers for some FAQs that many of you had! One on hand, traveling may seem easier now because when I nurse Henry, he falls asleep in my arms and I get a brief break while my husband is busy entertaining William 🙂
We would love to hear your tips for traveling with kids, too! Always looking for ideas to make travel go as smooth as possible!
Tips for Flying with Kids
- Talk about the trip: We pull out our suitcases and I ask William to help me gather things to pack. Making them a part of the “adventure” is so much fun for them and builds excitement for the trip. Now that William is older he is so into the airport and everything about it. He loves to see the buses, look at the airplanes and make friends with anyone around us.
- Pack early and bring extras: Now that I’m packing for two little ones and myself, I set everything aside a few days before we leave. I’ll make sure to have two outfits/day and a pair of pajamas for every night, plus one extra set just in case. This helps me avoid having to do laundry for the trip the night before leaving and then I can pack myself when the boys go to sleep. Since most of their outfits match, it makes it pretty easy when deciding what to bring! PS: One of our favorite clothing brands for the boys is having an additional 50% off items on sale w/ code PINKPRICEPARTY!
- Buy a few toys for the airplane: The day before we go out of town, I’ll take William to Target to pick out 1-2 “little” toys to open on the airplane. I let him pick out anything (within reason) and we talk about how we won’t open until the airplane. He picked out two trains before our last trip and kept telling me “mama, William open on airplane”. We waited until we were in the air to pull out his new toys. This kept him entertained for a while. Then we moved onto the stickers from the Target Dollar section – those didn’t keep him entertained as long as I had hoped!
- Book flights mid-morning or late at night: We try to leave mid-morning on the way to our destination. Usually, this means we leave our house around 8:30 am and the boys will have just woken up. William gave up sleeping on airplanes when he was about 11 months old, so I would rather him be starting the day than already over-tired. I’ve also found that taking night flights on the way home increases my chances of both boys sleeping. I talked up “how fun it is that you get to sleep on the airplane” on our last flight and William was much more relaxed and wanted to snuggle vs. being a busy 2-year-old. Henry nursed during take-off and didn’t wake up until we made it back to Dallas. William finally shut his eyes as we landed.
- Book separate rows: If you have two lap infants, you can’t have both in one row. We learned the hard way!
- Pay for extra space: While I was working, I traveled 3x a month. I got so used to the status perks (ie: not paying for better seats, upgrades, early boarding, etc.). Well, fast forward to stay-at-home-mom and this is my first year with zero status with the airline. Thankfully, when I travel with Caleb or my dad, I still get the benefits of those perks, but if not – I would be paying more for the bulk head. Kids are small, so they can stand and move around in the bulk head without disrupting the whole airplane.
- Bring an iPad or some sort of “special” toy: William doesn’t have regular access to electronics, so for him being able to watch an educational video is a real treat. If we are at the end of our bag of tricks that’s when the iPad comes out.
- The more the merrier: Having extra hands is a huge help! Gigi and GB travel a lot with us – they make for a great distraction/entertainment on long flights. And a nice break for us, too!
- Snacks and more snacks: You can never have enough snacks!
Do you use a double stroller or single stroller and wear Henry?
I’ve always used our UPPAbaby for travel. William just turned two, so he still gets tired walking too far and honestly, I would rather just push the stroller than trying to keep everything/everyone together. Neither of my boys liked to be worn much either. Henry did for the first few months of life, and now I think I’d like to try an Ergo to see if he would still like it! Even if he did, I would stick to the double stroller for the airport/travel for now.
How do you travel with stroller – gate check or check at baggage? How do you arrange the car seat/rumble seat?
I have always gate checked our stroller. Usually my carry-on bag is heavier, so I just put that in the storage bin and can hold a coffee and push the stroller. My aunt and cousin gave us the travel bag (which insures that if anything happens to your stroller while traveling, UPPAbaby will fix or replace it), and I just break everything down at the gate. Since Henry arrived, I’ve always had his car seat on the upper adapters and the rumble seat on the bottom. We will travel with the MESA car seat until Henry outgrows it because it is just easier.
Do you check your car seats when going to a big city? Or do you use a car service that has car seats?
This is something I never thought about until William outgrew his infant car seat. Such a game changer! Do you rent a car and bring car seat? Do you take public transportation? Do you hire a car? We’ve done everything and I think each and every trip is unique and I always have a hard time deciding. Ultimately, if we are going to be in a big city where there is public transportation available, I would choose to not bring the convertible car seat. When we went to Boston, we left William’s car seat in Dallas and relied on public transportation the whole time. When we visited Nashville, we knew that we would be driving a lot, so I opted to check the convertible car seat and leave it installed in our rental car the whole time. On our last trip to Scottsdale, we booked a car service w/ car seat because we knew we weren’t leaving the resort. We’re heading to Europe this summer, so I am still trying to decide. We’ll have a rental car for part of the time, so I will most likely rent a car seat with the rental car. Honestly, this has been the hardest part of travel, lately!
Did you buy William a seat before he was two?
No. We took advantage of “flying for free under two” and we just bought his first ticket for last month’s trip. It was nice having the extra space, but he was in one of our laps the whole time!
How far ahead of your flight do you try to arrive at the airport?
We typically leave our house 2 hours before our flights leaves (we are about a 20 minute drive), park our car and and head through security. We have Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check which is well worth spending money on in our opinion!