Air Travel Tips

Updated on October 25, 2006
Y.G. asks from Henderson, NV
23 answers

In December my family (husband and twin daughters) will be traveling to Chicago for a wedding. The girls will be almost a year and a half by then. My question is, does anyone have any air travel tips for me. We booked the flight, hotel and rental car all at once as a package. I made sure the hotel provided cribs (i didn't want them to escape when they decide they don't want to sleep). The girls will be flying on our laps, and I booked a non-stop flight so there will be less frustration. I'm hoping the flight won't be full, that way no one has to sit next to us. I'm going to request bulk-head seating so the girls can play on the floor at our feet if they want to. We're going to bring the big double stroller and check it in at the gate. We were going to bring their car seats and check those in too, but decided it would be so much easier if we paid a little extra for car seats at the rental car place. I'll be sure to bring a few outlet cover plugs and i'm asking my friend that lives there if she has a baby/pet gate to babyproof the hotel room a little more. Am I leaving anything out? Thanks for your help.

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A.W.

answers from Boise on

Y. G.
I have traveled many times with toddlers. I took things for them to do like dolls, cars, nondisruptive stuff. Also toddler leashes are great to carry because kids do not sit in one spot very long, that way they can play on the floor or walk around supervised. Good luck!
A. W.

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T.K.

answers from Chico on

Only a coule people mentioned it, but a non full flight is almost non exsistent these days (after 9/11 they had to cut back on flights due to the drop in the number of people who will fly, plus the economy where people can't afford to fly as much). They try to pack the flights full to the brim and often over book flights.
Depending how your kids are, you might want to board before everyone to get settled in. Or if they are movers and shakers, you might want to wait until the last boarding call so they have the maximum amount of walking/moving time.
Water, water and more water. Planes dehydrate adults big time, so kids will need more too. My son is still breastfeeding, and he goes into feeding frenzy mode on planes. Snacks are good if they get hungry and airlines don't really offer food too often anymore, and some airlines charge for the in-flight food/snacks.
The water will most likely cause you to have a couple trips to the bathroom. Try to get isle seats so that you won't bother the other passengers for the multiple trips. Most airlines will let you pre select your seats when you book your flights. A direct flight sounds better at first...but just remember how hard it is for adults to sit in one place for 4-6 hours. It's nearly impossible for children to remain happy for that long. It's usually best to do atleast two legs of 2-3 hours flight with a 1.5 to 3 hours layover to let them strech their legs and do whatever they need to do. It's usually good for the parents as well as they get a moment to rest a bit from wrestling their kids in a confined space.
Some people suggest benedryl to get them to sleep. If your child goes to sleep in long car rides, the chances are your kid will also sleep during the flight. Have stuff handy to entertain them anyway. And don't bring too much, cause you are the one who'll have to carry everything most of the time. Two kids, their stuff, stroller AND your things...even with your hudband there, it will be an adventure. The simpler you can keep it, the better. You'll only be able to check 4 bags for free and they'll need to be under 50 pounds each. BTW, the stroller will need to be folded up and put through the scanner at the security check point.
Not sure, but the "no liquid" policy may still be in affect when you fly. Always check your airport and airline for any funny travel tips to make sure you don't loose important stuff at the security check point. A sippee cup you can bring, but not a full sippee cup. No childrens tylenol or other over the counter liquid medicines (only perscription medicines). I think formula is okay...so breastfed babies/kids are good to go. You can get water/drinks for them from airport vendors, but then have to dump them out prior to boarding. You can get more water/drinks for them from the flight attendants.
If you are a germ-a-phob...the plane is going to be a nightmare for you. The pillows and blankets are not new each flight and lots of times not switched for washed ones...so bring your own. The carpet is pretty nasty, so I wouldn't let them sit on the floor. People have touched everything, so if you want them play with one of the magazines, you'll have to wash it off 1st. A hotel room atleast gets cleaned (maybe not to certain people's standards) each day. Plus the air isn't really "purified" as it recirculates during the flight. It's a great place for viruses/bugs to get passed around.
As much as you try to prepare, there are always situations you'll find you're not ready for. But! You could be a lucky mom and have two kids who love to fly and will be perfectly happy the whole time.
As for the hotel cribs...bring your own crib sheets. Also, a lovey that will help them feel more at home to bring some normality back into their lives is always a life saver. Keep to their routine as much as possible even with the time changes and whatnot.
I love flying with my boy and he's not yet a year old. I have lots of friends who fly atleast twice a month or more with their children since they were 1 month old and have great experiences and horrible ones...you just never know and can only hope for the best :)

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D.G.

answers from Portland on

Hi Y.,
I have one tip that many people overlook when carrying children on your lap. There is a device that fits the child like a vest and attaches to your seat belt for when there is turbulence or taking off and landing. It really made me feel more comforatble with my child in my lap. Here is a good link for one. the price is realy low for the peace of mind.

http://www.onestepahead.com/product/117/323/117.html

Good luck and have fun.

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R.R.

answers from Spokane on

I travel via airplane with my son quite often. He is now two. I found an awesome idea in the Parents magazine. Get a craft box from Walmart. One that is plastic with a bunch of little square compartments in it and a tight lid. Fill each compartment with a different snack (fishies, cheerios, yogos, etc) and pack that with you. My son played with (moving each snack to an empty compartment...)and ate the snacks for an hour and a half. Box costs $5. This has worked the best for me thus far. Also, stickers are fantastic.

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M.W.

answers from Boise on

Yes, something to suck on! Lot's of things to be busy with their hands (colors, stickers, books) The benadryl worked great for me too, but ask your doc. And the one step ahead strap thing is fabulous! Good for you for thinking ahead! No matter how prepared...you'll still find something you want for next time...bring a note pad! Have a great trip!

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C.R.

answers from Salt Lake City on

hey there, i have travelled many times with my babies, and the best idea i have is to use dramaine, its a thing for nausea but it makes them sleepy which does help on long flights, trust me, or childrens benidryl that works too, its just an idea

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M.S.

answers from Portland on

Don't forget the nightlight for your motel room :) I've always packed a few new toys in our special trip bag along with some of my sons favorite toys. When he starts getting bored we get out something "new". I also pack lots of little snacks like crackers, goldfish, those cracker/cheese combo things you can by and other simple snacks for him to eat. And we always remember our special sippie cup and blanket. Hope those ideas help. Enjoy your trip.

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M.K.

answers from Boise on

As a flight attendant with children, let you give me some advice from my experiences with my children and watching others with children.
At this age your children are going to want to move around. Being at a bulkhead seat can be a good choice, but be warned that aircraft carpets are not cleaned regularly, therefore are dirty, germ keepers. Bring snacks with you that they can eat during their time schedules and not the airlines, Also, small toys or books to keep them occupied are a must. Don't count on the flight being empty. Airlines have cut flights back to only what is necessary, so now there are more full airplanes out there. The rest of your plans sound great. I'm sure it will all be a lot of fun. Happy trails.
PS. Make sure to pack some baby tylenol. When my daughter was a baby, my mom and I took a trip to Japan. She started getting a little sick on our second leg of the trip. Luckily, we had to spend the night in LA before leaving for Narita. Having the tylenol with me saved us.

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M.H.

answers from Spokane on

The advice I would give you is to make sure you take sippy cups or bottle or pacifier. Anything that will help with take off and landing. When the people asking you to board asks for anyone with special needs, that includes you! Most of the time they mention anyone with small children, but trust me you'll be much happier if you can get settled before the throng of people. If you have time, I would make an appointment with the pediatrician and let her know that you'll be flying and she can give you eardrops that will numb their ears so they don't hurt when you go up and down. When we flew with the kids that young, mine were 2 1/2 and infant, the boys slept most of the way. And the flight attendent were really nice to allow me to walk them if they got fussy in the very back of the plane. Do they like to draw. I would bring them paper and a couple of crayons.
I didn't try this, but a friend of mine gave her little girl a small dose of benadryl to help her sleep through the flight. I would ask your doc if that is ok.
Hope that helps some.

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D.G.

answers from Eugene on

I have taken my son (now 3) to Mexico and Hawaii. Our doctor said to give him Benedryl before the flight so that it would help his ears and make him drowsy. Of course bring lots of things to play with. I had a rolling backpack with matchbox cars, crayons, stickers, magnadoodle, snacks, sippee cup, etc. One of the best things was a blow up ball. We inflated it and he played in the airport when we had a layover. All the kids joined in. He slept both times on the flights, so that made it a lot easier! In Hawaii they had a business that rented high chairs, etc. and delivered to your hotel. That was a life saver. Everything was there when we arrived. Check on the internet for rental places in Chicago! Don't worry, it will all be fun and people on the plane will love your twins and be understanding.

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C.H.

answers from Provo on

You should take a few sugar free lolly-pops for them to suck on during take off. It will help them with ear popping and they will love the treat. My kids will sit very still when they get one and it last for a while.

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J.C.

answers from Seattle on

I have travelled with both my boys since they were very young - in my experience benedryl rarely works it can actually have the reverse effect, however baby sudafed is a must for my little one - we just flew from Seattle to Boston and forgot to give it to him on the way home and boy did we pay for it. If you are going to give some type of medication be sure to look into the airport security regs - we found it easiest to give it to him at check in and then stick the sudafed in the checked luggage. Stickers were also a great thing with my first, who I flew everywhere with a sticker book or just a sheet of stickers with there favorite character and let them stick them on paper or themselves. Good Luck!

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K.O.

answers from Portland on

Make sure they get naps BEFORE you fly. Also, it's worth the hassle of bringing car seats and checking them. The ones for rent are usually garbage, you probably won't feel like your children are safe when riding in them. Buy a few new toys to entertain them on the flight.

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Z.H.

answers from Norfolk on

Hi Y.- Sounds like you have most of it covered. The only thing that I would advise, which you may have already thought of...is to make sure you have a bottle of milk and/or pacifier at hand for both take off and landing...sucking on something will help with the air pressure. Hope this helps. Good luck! :)
Z.

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S.K.

answers from Portland on

I own a travel agency and I have two kids who I've flown everywhere with. Take lots of toys and snacks. Maybe a dvd player to distract them with colorful images?

If they still nurse or take bottles it's a good idea to have them sucking as the plane descends, to keep their ears clear. Ask your pediatrician for suggestions regarding that. Also, remember it might be a little cold on the plane.

Most of the time planes are really full. Chances are you'll have to entertain the babies in your laps. I don't know where you're flying from, but it's always a good idea to checkin early.

If you have any questions, I'd be happy to be of assistance [email protected]____.com luck!

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K.Z.

answers from Portland on

Looks like others have given great advice so far! I just wanted to warn you that you may not be able to sit next to your husband, even if you have already booked it that way. I was on a flight where 2 parents who each had a lap child were seated in a row with 2 seats and had to be moved. They do not have enough oxygen masks for 4 people in a row with 2 seats! Even in a row with 3 seats, they may have 4 masks but not 5, so you may want to check into this before you are sitting on the plane with all your stuff settled in and your sheet on the floor with your kids happily eating snacks when a flight attendant comes over and says one of you and one child needs to move. Just double check with the airline for piece of mind! It would suck to have to move while the plane is boarding.

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K.

answers from Anchorage on

Honestly, I've never flown without my daughter getting her own seat (even when she was 4 months old). I have friends who are airlines employees and I've heard too many horror stories about turbulance and injuries to kids.

If you have to have them in your lap... I'd really recommend looking into the harnesses that keep them attached to you. That way, if you do incur unexpected turbulence, you have the ability to keep them from impacting against the aircraft.

I wouldn't recommend letting them play in front of you. I'd forcus more on keeping them happy with a dvd, or crayons and paper on the tray. Anything to keep them close.

If you have the ability to get them their own seats (where they can stay in their carseats) my daughter did fabulous with puppets and the portable DVD player.

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C.S.

answers from Las Vegas on

Hello Yvonee,
You have your hands full with two, but you can do it! I have flown with my daughter twice and taken a 5 hour rode trip with her too. On the plane, you want to be sure they have a bottle at take off and landing to pop their ears caused by the change in air pressure. My daughter fussed a little, but people commented on how good she was. I think the noise from the overhead air blowers must have blocked her fussing. As for the stroller, I did have to run the stroller through xray screening and they did not offer much help while I struggled to hold on to baby and put the stroller on the belt. One trip I did bring our own car seat and one trip I rented. Renting was much easier. There are also some services available that will rent all the baby equipment you need. I found them by googling 'destination' 'rent' 'baby equipment'. On our trip, we did not spend much time in the room, most of our time was out exploring and that kept baby occupied. The only thing I might suggest taking are perhaps favorite instant meals/cereal in the event you don't want to pay for room service for a couple of small nibbles for late night snacks. Wishing you the best!

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P.D.

answers from Las Vegas on

hi you seem to have dotted your i's and crossed your t's thy only thing I think you should bring is a special blanket orpillow or a few toys they can not live without cause when they get really annoyed with sitting down. they are going to need thos things to relax them.ASlso extra snacks ,paci, milk or whatever they may just want to snack or cuddle with whatever so they can feel at ease. A few books if they love their stories.last but not least cause I am such a germaphobe wet ones for hand face and lysol for the hotel room and one for the rental car so you can try and keep some of the germs away. germa away from the little ones. Have a great ttip.One more thing try and keep things together so you are not all unorganized. like put some things in bagies so if they spill it's ok and just toss it. so that way everything is not ruined.

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A.J.

answers from Honolulu on

When my daughter was only 7 months old I took her to Philippines. She did okay because She slept almost through out the way. It was a connecting flight to Korea, two 5 hours flight. When she was 9 month old we took her to California & at that time she wasn't into just sleeping. We took the red eye flight and I made sure she played all day & just gave some power nap & not her normal 1-2hour naps. Our my was only 2yr old when we started to bring him along on our trips too & we made sure we took the red eye flight. Maybe consider the red eye flight. Some Airline provide basinets, & baby food (appropriate for their age)if you request ahead of time. And also If available you can also request to sit in the front row, where theres more leg room and also room for your girls to play.

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S.M.

answers from Salt Lake City on

HI Y.,

I just got home from a flight to Hawaii from Salt Lake (5.5 hours) with my 14 mo old Son. I entertained him with small new toys, and snacks on the outbound flight and I walked with him up and down the aisles to stretch both our legs. He of course is mobile now so wanted to crawl under the seats and into the aisles. I pretty much let him so long as he wasn't bothering others in the neighboring seats. The flight was in the middle of the day so the hardest part was just getting him to cuddle up for a nap while there was so much else to see and do. However, our return flight was a Red-eye and I gave him Benadryl to help him sleep and he slept all but the last 1/2 hour of the flight. (I know there was at least one woman across the aisle that was surprised) HA. Just call your pediatrician and they can tell you the correct dosage for their weight. Both Flights were extremely full, so the chance of the empty seat is rare. However, you can always ask at the gate if it's a possibility. Also, we flew with Delta and they've gone to a Zone boarding system. Children, and disabilities are allowed to bored with Zone 3. I didn't have any problem getting baby food on the plane but whole milk was hard to find. I bought some from the starbucks in the airport after getting through security. The airlines usually have plenty of milk on board the flight but look around while your boarding a large number of children and they may not pack enough. There are places you can rent baby supplies from in the new destination. I got a crib from the hotel and I have a stroller attachment for our carseat which you may want to consider.. it's from Go Go Babyz. Find it at the store on babycenter.com It works with your car seat and converts it to a stroller. It was VERY nice to not have to pack a stroller and the car seat, We just wheeled him through the airport in his carseat. He went from Car to plane only having to get out of the carseat to go through security. I checked the car seat at the gate with the other strollers. As for the hotel, I didn't worry about securing cabinets or getting the plug covers because there just aren't enough of them to worry about. Hotel rooms aren't that big so they aren't going to be far our of reach anyway. You might just want to consider buying a few small toys while your there and donating them to charity when you leave. Women and Childrens Shelters love toy donations.

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R.T.

answers from Honolulu on

I've traveled with my son as a lap child up until he was 23months old. Bring a sheet to put on the floor, you CANNOT wear the baby harness while in flight. You can only wear it boarding or leaving the airplane, but you can't have you child strapped to you while you fly. Bring new toys and don't show them to you child until the flight takes off. I personally prefer lay overs because it gives us time off the plane, room for the kids to run around in the airport, and time to stretch your legs and walk around (it gets cramped with lapchildren). However, since you already have a staight flight, try to keep your children up as long as possible before the flight, bring cotton balls for their ears (reduces popping), and pray the flight moves quickly!

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J.

answers from Salt Lake City on

You've done a great job! My only addition would be to make sure the travel times are conducive to their nap schedules. I found with my 2-1/2 year old, that if I can schedule any car time around his nap, he goes to sleep almost right away. I wouldn't try to schedule the plane time around their nap at this age--they will be too excited to sleep. Oh, also, don't bring too many toys, as they will be very interested in the plane, the people, the snacks, etc. Since there are two of you, you can manage to bring some things, but don't overload yourself. Bring some new toys (or toys that you hide for a few weeks before the trip) and also some fun snacks. The Color Wonder pens and pads are great because you don't worry about them marking up the seats, etc. Otherwise, you are in great shape! Just relax and enjoy it--they will pick up on your cues. Have fun!! Oh--another thing on the hotel room--if you can tuck their cribs in a corner or even in the closet, the girls will sleep better and you will be able to watch TV in the same room (better yet--get a suite, but that's probably not an option with your package). Also, get your crib as soon as possible because sometimes the hotels run out (there are usually local baby furniture rental places you can rent from if that happens--they will deliver and pick up from the hotel).

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