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The daddy packhorse: Tips for air travel with kids

When traveling with kids, it’s almost impossible to over-prepare. Think ahead, make a travel plan and make sure you give yourself plenty of extra time — the most valuable asset for any kids-included excursion. Below are 10 packing tips that are geared to making travel time easier on you and enjoyable for your little travel buddy.

Family in airport

Check with the airline

Check out what your airline has to say about flying with children. Typically, tips and information that will help to make your adventure a little easier are available online. If you are flying with an infant, you may even be able to pre-book a baby bassinet rather than waiting to see if one is available.


It never hurts to ask

When you check in to your flight, it doesn’t hurt to ask if it’s full. You may be able to snag the option of sitting next to a vacant seat for a little extra wiggle room. This is especially helpful if you are flying with a child under two who does not have their own seat.


Try the bag-within-a-bag strategy

When traveling with a tyke in diapers, pack one small diaper bag in your carry-on. It should only contain one or two diapers, a few wipes, a trash bag and diaper cream. Once you get on the plane, grab the bag from your carry-on and slide it in the seat pocket in front of you.


Pack for mealtime

The day before departure, take your kids to the grocery store to pick out snacks that they’d like to have on the trip. Not only is this a fun way to build excitement for the upcoming travel time, but it sets the stage for you to make the in-flight snack time an event that will keep them occupied. When traveling with a baby, make sure you pack all of the mealtime essentials — bottles or sippy cups, an infant spoon and baby food.


Prepare for the
inevitable spill

Always pack an extra change of clothing for yourself and each child. Speaking of spills, wet wipes are another must-have for air travel. They will help to alleviate sticky fingers and faces, while wiping away the inevitable airport and airplane germs.


Travel with presents

Purchase a few new toys for your kids to open during the flight. Activity books, stickers, coloring books and games that can be played without disturbing other passengers are perfect. Hand them out one at a time, moving onto a new one when the current, in-play toy begins to lose its appeal.


Feed their sweet tooth to ease an earache

Get through the uncomfortable ear-popping stage of the flight with lollipops or chewing gum. Infants can get relief during the pressure change through a bottle feeding.


Bring a little piece of home

If your travel time coincides with nap time, then be sure to pack a comforting object like a favorite blanket, pillow or stuffed animal.


Consider toddler travel accessories

Pack a special carry-on for your very special jet-setter! A personal favorite is the Trunki. Your toddler can actually ride on the suitcase while you tow it along. It’s lots of fun, plus it lightens your load and helps to alleviate the irresistible toddler temptation to run off and independently explore the airport.


Pack Tylenol

This one’s all about you. Travel is stressful. Traveling with a child is an extreme sport. Stay calm and even-tempered to help your child manage any airplane or airport-related anxiety she might be feeling.

More on dads with kids

New dad’s toolbox: What you really need
How to rock a sling like a real man
Dad’s guide to diapering

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