It's no secret, we love to travel! In just her four short years Aria has flown on over forty flights and visited California, Florida, D.C., Charleston, Memphis, Maryland, Hawaii, Paris, Germany and more! Her first flight was to Los Angeles at six weeks old and she now considers herself expert-status at all things airport-related. According to many flight attendants, she's also the best behaved airplane baby (now kid) in all existence! How did we get so lucky?! She may just be a natural but I do have a few tips up my sleeve!
1. Stay Calm
My hubby and I are extremely chill parents, especially when we travel, and I'm convinced the calmer and more relaxed you are when traveling the happier baby or kiddo will be. If you're frantically trying to pack at the last minute and stressing out trying to rush to the airport, your child will feed off of those vibes. If you and your partner are shouting at each other over something or if you're really nervous about flying, baby will know. Take a deep breath, smile and try your best to stay calm.
2. Don't Overpack
I've noticed the more I worry about packing every little thing we could possibly need the more stressed out I get. It's also more stressful to have to carry a lot of stuff with you in the airport and then have to dig through big tote bags trying to find something on the plane. Make an essentials list ahead of time and stick to it. Bring the bare minimum with you onto the plane, 1-2 small toys, a favorite blankey, pacifier, snack, tablet, medication, and call it good. The first time I flew with Aria I remember packing a full-sized diaper bag with 15+ diapers, two full packs of wipes, her emergency kit, multiple full bottles, outfits and so much more as my carry-on! I was prepared but it was heavy, completely unnecessary and all she did was sleep the entire flight! Now we've learned that less is best on the plane and it's much easier to just buy things at your destination if need be.
3. Bring a Busy Bag
Aside from her tablet, Aria's favorite thing to bring on the plane is her Busy Bag tote. It's a small pink bag with crayons and multiple baggies filled with learning activities. We hosted a busy bag swap play date party when she was one and to this day she's still playing with a lot of the same busy bags! It has everything from color-match activities, to popsicle puzzles, button snakes, memory cards, counting games, a mini coloring book and more. I love it because it's compact, educational and keeps her occupied so I can relax. We usually toss in a pony or two and one of her travel Brain Quests. If you're flying United Airlines, they offer a great Kid's Snackbox for around $5 that includes some healthy snacks and an activity. Aria loved when they included Wikki Stix!
4. Give Them the Window Seat
If you're flying domestic and your kiddo is under two, they can fly for free in your lap, but if your child is flying in his or her own seat, be sure to give them the window seat! This was a tough one for me because I have always loved having the window seat for taking photos and sleeping more comfortably, but it's also the perfect way to keep kiddo contained if they're not in a car seat and they'll be more comfortable. I'll let Aria use my phone to take pictures out the window now and most flights she'll end up just curling up with her blanket and falling asleep against the side of the plane. (If you're traveling with more than one kiddo have them take turns and swap seats mid-flight!)
Every flight should be an opportunity for your kiddo to learn. Take out that safety insert when the flight attendants are going over safety measures and explain to kiddo what to do in an emergency. Get some airplane books beforehand and teach kiddo about the different parts of the plane so they get excited when they see the real deal. Play I-spy when walking in the terminals or waiting to board. Talk about your destination and show them on the map where you are headed. Get them involved in making decisions. Once we're through security, Aria always checks our gate number on our ticket and I ask her which way we need to go. She loves being responsible for finding our gate! When we're in line to board, it's always her job to hand her ticket to the agent. When boarding, I always let her enter first, not only to be greeted by the flight crew first but so she can locate our proper seat numbers. Turning travel and flying into a learning experience helps boost your kiddo's confidence and independence and makes it so much more fun!
This is a photo Aria took as we were landing in Honolulu!
So whether you're planning your first flight with your little one(s) or looking for some advice on making traveling easier, I hope these tips help! Feel free to comment or contact us with any other questions you may have about flying!
Tips from Aria:
"Stay in your seat when the seat belt light is on." (She knows all the lights and signs!)
"There are no guns allowed on the plane." (Ha! Random. Apparently she's reading the TSA signs too!)
"I like riding on my pink suitcase!" (If your kiddo is light enough they can totally ride on top a 4-wheel carry-on suitcase through the airport! People always tell us this is brilliant. Just watch out for any bumps!)
"Don't drop your toys or crayons on the floor. If you do, it's ok you can just climb under the seat to get them."
"Tell your Mommy to book flights with tv!" (Yes, having DirecTV on a flight is definitely a perk! Daddy will appreciate it too.)
"If there is a line for the potty just tell everyone 'I need to go NOW!' so you can go first." (Not gonna lie, we've been on some flights where the bathroom line was 5 people deep. If you kiddo's gotta go... don't be afraid to let the world know!)
"Dunkin Donuts is my favorite airport snack!" (A small box of munchkins to keep kiddo happy is ok in my book. It's the only time we get donuts!)
Update - Just as I was working on this post I had a friend that's taking her first flight with her daughter next week ask me a good question!
Q: Do I need to bring any identification for my child on a flight?
A: If you're flying domestic with your child, no! The only time I've been asked for any documentation was with Southwest Airlines when Aria was under two and flying for free in my lap. They require proof-of-age (bring a copy of their birth certificate) and will issue a Boarding Verification Document. No other airline has ever asked me for any ID or proof-of-age, but always check your airline's website to stay up-to-date on their policies. If you're flying internationally, your child will need a passport!
Hope this helps! We're headed to Maryland and Pennsylvania in a few days for some fall fun! Happy Travels!!!
Aimey + Aria