Updated: November 29, 2022
By Robyn Parets, founder of Pretzel Kids
Planning to travel with toddlers this holiday season? If airplane travel is part of your vacation plans, you may already be worried about how you’ll handle your plane flight with your young children.
Indeed, airplane travel with kids can be disconcerting, especially long flights. There’s no way of knowing whether your children will have a complete meltdown, or two. Yet, there are steps you can take to prepare for the flight. This will free up your time to focus on planning your vacation rather than worrying about potential temper tantrums. At Pretzel Kids yoga, we are experts on helping kids – and their parents – learn effective ways to relieve stress.
Here are our top 8 tips for traveling with toddlers. Your peaceful and calm vacation with your kids awaits!
1. book the earliest flights available
Why? The earlier the plane leaves, the less likely that there will be delays. In fact, early morning flights often originate from your local airport so you won’t be dependent on the plane flying in from another airport before your flight can take off. By booking the first flight out, this will also mean you’ll arrive at your destination earlier and get a jump-start on your vacation.
2. Fly Non-Stop
If possible, fly non-stop. This means you will only have to deal with two airports instead of three or maybe even four. Not only that but changing planes can result in missed connections and delays, flight complications and disrupted naps. This is enough to make most adults cranky, let alone a toddler.
3. pack a backpack for kids
Pack a backpack with small toys, books and hand-held electronic devices loaded with their favorite educational games and movies. Filling up the backpack with your toddler becomes an activity unto itself and your child will look forward to unpacking the contents on the plane. Continue the fun by having your toddler wear his backpack while in the airport.
4. Get to the Airport Super early
By super early, we mean at least two hours ahead of time for domestic flights and three hours for international travel. This way you’ll have plenty of time to leisurely move through baggage check and security lines. To make things even easier, check your bags at curbside if this is available at your airport. You can also minimize security hassles by wearing slip-on shoes and traveling sans jewelry or belts – or at least removing these items prior to going through security.
5. Tucker Your Toddler out
With that extra time at the airport, you can play yoga games, walk around and even duck into a play space. You can usually find out if your airline or airport offers a toddler play area ahead of time on the airline or airport website.
6. Board the plane early
Most airlines offer early boarding for families with children under two or young children. Take advantage of this and stow your bags in an overhead compartment right above your seats, organize your area and get settled in. Another tip: Don’t take your toddler out of your stroller until you absolutely have to and roll it right up to the airplane door. A flight attendant will gate check your stroller and it will typically be waiting for you immediately after you walk off the plane.
7. Bring Plenty of Snacks
Pack lots of healthy snacks for kids. This way you can parcel out the surprise snacks throughout the flight.
8. Practice Calming breathing exercises
Pretzel Kids yoga breathing techniques – such as balloon breath – are perfect to do while in flight. You can also try asking your young child to close his or her eyes. You can then tell a visualization story to help calm your child’s nerves.
Final Words when Traveling with Toddlers
Even after following these 8 tips for traveling with toddlers, your kids may be having a bad day and act out on the plane. If this happens, try to remain calm as your stress will make things worse. Keep in mind that airplane passengers are usually understanding when children are on board and many of them wear headphones that muffle out sound.
Also, it’s good to keep things in perspective: the flight will be over soon and you’ll be at your vacation destination where you can hopefully relax and do yoga with your kids! Bon voyage!
Robyn Parets is the founder and CEO of Pretzel Kids.