Baby (0-12 months)
- Always bring 2x the food, diapers and formula you think you should need while traveling
- When you check-in ask for a plastic bag to cover your car seat. Some airlines might charge for it, but worth it to keep your baby's car seat clean if they have to check it.
- At the gate always ask if there is an open seat by you where you can bring your car seat on. If they answer is no, ask if they can move your seat around so you can have an open seat for you little one.
- Bring your car seat on the the flight!! Even if they tell you it is full, bring it onto the airplane, once everyone is on the flight, you can see whether or not it truly is full. On 2 of our 4 flights for Christmas we were told the flights were over-sold so there wouldn't be an open seat for B's car seat. Yet, on both of these flights 2+ seats were open. And once we gate checked our carseat they couldn't get it from under the plane. So bring it on. If the flight is full, they can always gate check it at the last minute.
- Feed your baby (nurse or bottle) for take off and landing
- If nursing, wear a shirt that is incredibly easy to nurse in. Like a huge scoop neck or something. Seriously, it makes all of the difference for take of an landing to nurse. Yet if your outfit is too complicated, you will be stressing.
- Bring a change of shirt for yourself. B spit up on our 1st flight of 2 for our way home, and I smelled yucky the rest of the day.
- Bring new toys baby has not seen before, or items that can be played with. On one of our flights I asked for an extra cup. B loved it for 5 minutes, until he dropped it. But hey, 5 free minutes of entertainment.
- If you baby uses a binky make sure it is strapped on. Or it will fall on the floor... and then what? I actually bring 2 binkies on straps, that way if one touches the yucky arm rest I have the back up ready.
- For 2 and 3 year olds, I think that it is worth the hassle of bringing their car seat on the plane. Something about sitting in the big seat with one little seat-belt make for a VERY squirmy kiddo. Yet if they are in their car seat, they are used to being contained and in one spot. Bug cannot sit still if her life depended on it, yet magically when she is in her car seat she sits still for hours! We have a really big bag that we carry the car seat in. It is helpful for getting to and from the gate... it is huge too : )
- Skittles are key! I think they are they great for kids to chew on for take off and landing to keep their ears from popping. I also think that in the world of candy, they are not too messy. You can give them one at a time and it make a bag last a long time. Worth the $.50, I promise!
- Snacks, snacks, and more snacks... have more than enough to eat... most flights are not even giving free pretzels or peanuts these days.
- Screen-time! DVD player, games on phones, shows on the iPod. Any kind of screen is a great distraction when flying... in my opinion : )
- Coloring, no need to bring an entire box of crayons (which would probably get spilled)... We usually just bring 4-5 crayons and a small pad of paper or a coloring book.
- Sippy-cups or re-usable water bottles. I made the mistake once with H, of not bringing on our own bottle/ cup. He spilled a cup of water all over... not fun. I even bring on my own nalgene so I don't have to worry about one of my kids knocking over my drink.
- Run and play at the airport, so they are ready to sit on the plane. Mr. Steady let Bug and H run around with him for 45 minutes before our last flight home, it made ALL of the difference in the world with their attitudes and ability to just chill on the flight.
- Dollar store surprises. Buy a couple of new items from the dollar store and let your kids have (or open if you are ambitions enough to wrap them) gifts every 30 minutes.
- Slinky is another cheep find that offers all kinds of entertainment on the plane.
- This falls into the snack and dollar store categories... one of my friends suggested buying a weekly pill box, and stuff each day with mini-marshmallows or fruit-loops. It takes a little work to open each compartment but the pay off for your kid is a special treat they don't normally get. This was a good 15 minutes of fun for Bug, because I kept refilling the spots.
Have really low expectations! Then anything will seem great!
Get to the airport early, so there is no rush getting through security. As much as possible, don't stress, make the experience fun for your little one(s) and have an extra dose of patience.
And when all else fails... put on your "Whatever Dust." One of my dear friends once told me that whenever she is getting onto a flight, she puts on her "whatever dust," she said, "It is like a coating around me... I am not going to stress because my kid is crying for a few minutes! It will all be fine, we will all get off this plane soon. Everyone on the plane have either had kids or were once a kid themselves! So whatever! Besides, I am doing the best I can here! Whatever you want to think about me is just fine!"
Please hear the whatevers, not as a mean, "screw you" kind of whatever, more like a "brush it off" or "water off a duck" kind of whatever... just to keep the story in context : )