Flying with children: Ways to anticipate and make it easier

The holidays are nearly upon us, and that often means flying with children to visit family.  Last month my family flew to Wisconsin for a family wedding and we visited Great Grandma, cousins and aunts and uncles. It was such a sweet time.

Here are a few things that helped us have a positive experience while navigating the airport.

Flying with Children from Albuquerque Moms Blog

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

We’ve all heard this saying, and it makes SO much sense with kids.  Anticipate what could go wrong, and then see how you can prevent it.  Think about what a normal day (snacks, lunch, nap time, etc.) looks like and then see if you can incorporate some of these elements into your travel day.  We were at the airport over breakfast, snack, and lunch so I packed plenty of food. 

Mentally prepare your kids for what will happen.  Zach, my 4 year old, is observant and inquisitive so I imagined him stalling in security, processing and asking a lot of questions.  I’m all for processing and asking questions, but stalling the entire security line is not ok.  To combat this, we prepped Zach about what to expect,  and then asked him to trust daddy and mommy even if it didn’t make sense.  As soon as we got through security he could ask as many questions as he wanted. 

Snacks (and other activities) are a great way to pass the time when flying with children.

Packing Carry-Ons when flying with children. From Albuquerque Moms Blog.Zach said the snacks were his favorite part of the day.  We don’t eat many snacks at home, so the quantity and selection of snacks I packed were a huge treat.   Each kid (and adult) had a quart size bag filled with 4-6 different individually packaged snacks. 

Each child had their own backpack (I like these) with their snacks, some favorite toys and activities (these Water Wow books are fun) and an empty water bottle to fill after security.  It worked out wonderfully!  

{A side note–my 14 month old is sensitive to dairy so I made sure to only pack snacks everyone could have. At home, the 2 bigs regularly eat things she can’t, but this was an “ounce of prevention” to prevent a melt down.}

carry on food ideas from Albuquerque Moms BlogI made the mistake of packing applesauce pouches.  They were messy and had to come out of the carry-on bag for security screening so it wasn’t worth it. 


With a 4 year old, 2 year old, and 14 month old, our kids aren’t much help with luggage so my husband and I wrangled 3 car seats and 2 large suitcases.  Honestly, getting the car seats and suitcases to the check in counter and then from the baggage carousel to the rental car were the hardest logistics.  A stroller was our best friend!  I carried the baby and then made the bigs walk.   The baby and I pushed the stroller, which carried 2 car seats (plus jackets and other misc. items), and my husband juggled the two suitcases and 3rd car seat.  We tried the carts you can rent in the airport once, but it didn’t seem worth it to us.  (Just so you know, those carts cost $5 (nonrefundable) and they accept credit cards.)  


…and finally, don’t despair.

On our flight home we arrived at the airport later than we’d like and I was a little stressed.  But it ended up fine.  The kids did great despite having to hurry through many of the airport hoops.

If your flight doesn’t go as you hoped, make some notes, learn your lessons, and try again next time.  Happy traveling!

What are your tips for flying with children?  Share below so we can all learn!

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