Traveling Tips for Children: Flying Domestically

Spring weather has arrived here, how about you? If you are traveling this spring or summer this traveling with children series is for you. Previous weeks I posted general traveling tips with children and road trip tips. International flying is next week.

Buy It There

New moms make this mistake sometimes. They pack all the diapers they need for the duration of their trip. Save luggage room, especially now that you have to pay for luggage, and buy diapers when you get there. Pack enough to last you until you get to the nearest grocery store when you arrive at your destination. Same with few other toiletries and gifts around the holidays.

Altitude Adjustment

Sucking helps young children and babies to pop their ears. When I was nursing, I would wait until we were ascending to nurse my baby while I was in my seat. I asked for the window seat and had Nathan sit next to me holding up a blanket or covered up with a blanket for privacy. You can also give them a bottle, pacifier or a lollipop (make sure they are old enough). Yawning also helps ears to pop, but that will take talent to get your kids to yawn on demand.

Practice Changing Diapers

Airplane bathrooms are notorious for being small. And not all bathrooms have a tiny changing table installed in it. So I mastered the trick of changing diapers on my lap. I would put the toilet lid down, sit on it and change a diaper. Don’t forget to put a diaper changing pad on your lap then put the baby on top to protect your clothes. Got a squirmy child? I do too. Distract them with a toy or a baby book. Practice a few times at home.

Open Seating

If you have a lap child (2 years and under), ask if the flight is full. If you are traveling during their busy season, chances are it is full. But if you’re lucky, they might have a few open seats. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Then ask attendant to switch you next to an open seat, free of charge.

Slip Through Airport Security

I been through enough airport security in my life where I have the whole routine down. Wear snap, velcro shoes or slip-on shoes. Avoid shoes with laces because it slows down the process as you or your children will need to sit and tie.ย Wear clothing without metal embellishments on it. Avoid belt buckles. Do wear clothes or pants with pockets and keep your planet tickets and ID there for easy access when going through security and boarding the flight.

Strollers and car seats will need to go through the x-ray machines. So be prepared to collapse them and put them through. Also, most airport in the U.S. have a handicap and family accessible line at security for those within little children, strollers and car seats. Take advantage of it and avoid waiting in long lines.

Pack the Stroller

If you are taking a stroller and checking it in at the gate, learn to pack it well. When I travel with kids, solo or with husband, I prefer having a stroller and checking it in at the gate. Kids in general walk slow. Toddlers are too heavy or doesn’t want to be carried. So I strap them in the stroller so I can hurry to the gate if I’m late or when switching flights at a layover. And if you are also taking car seats and checking it in at the gate or using it on the flight, figure out a way to hook the car seat to the stroller using the latch belts or additional rope/string. I usually hook it to the handle of the stroller. And dump any hand carry luggage or purse in the basket at the bottom of the stroller.

Watch the Meds

You’ve hear parents say it. “I give my kid Benadryl before our trip and they sleep through the whole thing.” Be careful about Benadryl. I am not recommending giving prescription, even over-the-counter stuff, to your kids to make them sleep during travel. Please talk to your pediatrician or family doctor before giving your child any medication. Medicine dosage for children are given to children according to weight, not age. And lastly, Benadryl can have the opposite effect on kids. Sometimes rather than making them drowsy, it can make them hyper.

Last In Line

Flight attendants allow families with little kids to aboard the plane first. I always do the opposite. I let the kids run around as long as they can before I confine them to a small space where they have to sit still for long periods of time.

ยป Tell meโ€ฆ What are some of your domestic travel tips for flying with kids? Do you have any good or bad experiences traveling on the plane with children?

19 Responses to “Traveling Tips for Children: Flying Domestically”

  • Ally

    I 100% agree with getting on the plane last! The least amount of time on the plane–the better! The person at the ticket counter asked me if I wanted to pre-board about passed out when I declined.

    Great tips–thanks for sharing!

    I just got back from a trip with my 19 month old and am writing a post about my experience and what I learned. Mind if I link up with you?

  • Jillinda

    These are all wonderful tips. We’ve flown with our 2 small children several times and follow all of your tips. We also have a little backpack for each of them with a few new fun surprises and some of their favortie snacks or a packed lunch if we will be flying during mealtime. I think you touched on this in one of your earlier posts. We also bought one of those bright red gate check bags for our strollers. It keeps them clean and the bag folds up really small and hooks to your stroller.

  • Lorinda

    We are planning to fly with a brand new infant later this spring. I am hoping that I can “wear” my baby through the airport. I’ve been told that if you have your child in a stroller or car seat even if they are asleep, you have to take them out and collapse the stroller to go through the x-ray, but that if you are wearing them, you don’t have to take them off. Do you know if that is true? also, a major issue will be water to drink for me (nursing, still recuperating from birth). I don’t mind buying water after security, but that has worked for me sometimes and not others. I’ve actually had it taken from me at the gate (in Mexico). How do i know if that will work? oh, and how do i”wait until take-off to nurse my baby”? You seriously have nursing babies? and this works? i’ve done this 6 times previous to this baby and I have had no luck trying to schedule nursing.

  • emily

    they made me take my daughter and son out of the sling to go through security. made me even take the sling off and put it through the xray.

  • jenjen

    Great tips Tiffany! Traveling with small children is tricky. I found the same thing with sucking and babies when taking off. Great tips!


  • Cara

    The last in line tip is the best. I got this advise from a friend who travels with her kids a lot and I can totally see why it’s a good idea.

  • Robin

    I JUST got back (today) from a trip. I was stranded in the snow in Denver along with 5000 other people. The one thing I must disagree with (that I also did)… packing diapers in checked baggage. I brought ten diapers with me for the flight. If you are snowed in for two days,… clearly not enough. I found ONE package of two diapers in the airport and I went to EVERY store. Thankfully, we were able to catch an earlier flight and changed our poor little one sparingly with our two precious diapers. We got home, soaking wet, but we made it home. I was searching for other moms to “bum a diaper” off of. What an awful trip… three flights to get home, and one almost flight that included sitting on the runway for 3.5 hrs with no water and no air conditioning!!! Awful, awful. My mother said “pack your diaper bag as if you might be stranded for two days.” Followed this advice on the way out, but not the way home. That’s my suggestion!

    A good tip though, is there is no limit to baby food, formula, etc that one can take on a plane. You just need to tell security you have it. Then remove it from the diaper bag and send it through separately.

    • Tiffany

      i think you just lived through all mom’s nightmares. oh man. so glad you made it back. thanks for sharing your experience so we can all learn from it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Kassie

    When my oldest was a toddler I would fly home to visit my family with her. I made her some cheerio necklaces… they can get a little bit sticky but she loved them and it isn’t anything a baby wipe can’t handle. The nursing/bottle/pacifier works miracles on take off & landing for babies. We are flying to Mexico in a week and a half with a 7 year old, 4 year old & an 8 month old. I’m not sure if I can wait for your international flight tips! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Tiffany

      the international post will be next thursday. hopefully that’ll be in time for your trip!

  • Tiffani

    100% agree with all the above! When my husband has to go to California with his unit, I have traveled with the kids BY MYSELF to go and see him. When changing diapers…I never changed them in my lap…not that talented! I would take a blanket with me and change the babies in the back in the flight attendants area. They were always more than happy to help me out since I had a baby.

  • Tam

    Make sure you bring an extra change of clothes for your LO, especially if they are potty trained. Accidents do happen. I found our portable DVD player to be a lifesaver! I also by some new small toys for them (cars, colors, coloring books, etc) that I can surprise them with to keep them occupied.

  • Nicole Robinson

    Thank you so much for this, and all the advice from everyone else! I have flown with one, but never 2. This Summer’s trip will hopefully go smoothly thanks to your tips. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Ilene

    Thanks for the tips. We’re going on an international flight in May with a 9 and a 7 year old but am always looking for tips. We do the backpack filled with toys, books and a few new things for each of them. They are champion car trippers so I am hoping they will be okay with the long flight. My fear is the long wait at the airport itself. Now I hear you need to be there 3 hours early. For a 7:55am flight that means 4:55am. That’s mighty early.


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