Essentials for a Stress-Free Flight With Kids

Kids often get a bad rap when it comes to flying — and let’s be honest, sometimes it’s well-deserved. But with a little advanced planning, flying with kids can be a relatively relaxed experience. The key? Thoughtful preparation.

While it’s tempting to run around the house stuffing your carry-on with everything you could possibly need — Legos! UNO! Every Eric Carle book on the shelf! — lugging a heavy overpacked bag through the airport is a pain. Whether it’s a short flight to grandma’s or a long haul to Europe, there really are only a few essentials you need to keep your brood happy in the air.

SIX Must-Haves for Flying with Kids

boy watching on iPad

1. Media: As airlines move away from seatback in-seat entertainment, a phone or tablet pre-loaded with kid-friendly games and movies is a must. Many airlines now offer free onboard entertainment streamed directly to your personal device, but you have to download the airline’s app before the plane leaves the ground. Just don’t forget the headphones, and be sure to charge your devices to 100 percent.

2. Activity books: The seatback tray is a great place to spread out an activity or coloring book to keep your child’s mind occupied for hours. It’s wise to buy a new book and surprise your child with it after takeoff.

little girl coloring

3. Something Snuggly: Whether it’s a favorite stuffed animal or a soft scarf, having something to cuddle can help soothe anxiety. This works surprisingly well for older kids, too, so bring their favorite oversized hoodie.

4. Snacks: A couple of faves can go a long way toward keeping everyone content, as will a pack of gum or bag of Skittles reserved for take-off and landing. Bananas and other fresh fruit are often easy to acquire at airports.

boy with snack

5. Water Bottle: Prevent annoying spills by bringing an empty water bottle or sippy cup that can be filled with juice from the trolley cart.

6. Antibacterial Wipes: Sticky fingers, sticky tray tables, sticky armrests. Need we say more? These are more about keeping you happy rather than your children, but a happy parent equals a happy child, right?

Ready to plan a family trip and try these tips?