Updated January 16, 2017
A couple of years ago I wrote this post on air travel under 2. Kennedy, at that point, had been on seven roundtrip flights at 20 months old. Lots of my readers back then found the post very helpful.
Three years later, we have another kid who’s under two, with one who is 4. We still love to travel, and we enjoy flying – kids don’t get in the way of that! We have been on 4 roundtrip flights with the both of them, and it’s definitely more challenging. I seriously have no clue if I could do it by myself. However, Greg and I have found a few things really helpful when we fly with the both of our girls.
My advice for flying with multiple kids under 5:
Make a big deal about the plane before you leave. Talk it up the whole week leading up to the trip. Tell them all about how the plane goes really high in the air, how we have to sit there for a few hours, how we get to eat snacks and play on the iPad, point out planes outside when you see them, etc. I’d like to think this helps getting the kids excited about the trip and a little more prepared on what to expect, even if they’ve been on multiple flights before.
Get TSA pre-check. If you fly frequently like us, it’s completely worth getting TSA pre-check. No need to take off shoes, take things out of bags, or go through that weird body scanner. The TSA pre-check line is also way faster. It may not sound like a lot, but when you are dragging two kids through security with a stroller and carry on bags, it makes a huge difference. Greg and I both have Global Entry (we got it for our upcoming Europe trip), and it comes with 5 years of TSA pre-check. Pretty good deal for a little over $100! You might as well do both if you think you’ll travel internationally in the next five years. Just do it, and thank me later.
If you don’t have TSA pre-check, look for the family/medical security line. I am not sure if airports still have a lot of these, as TSA pre-check seemed to take their place, but look for it, and go through it.
Always have copies of the kid’s birth certificates, just in case. If you are flying with a child under two, you will need it anyway to prove their age so they can fly as a lap child.
You have to go through the full service check-in line if you are traveling with a lap child. If you have kids over 2, bypass that line and just do bag drop. Most airlines will check car seats for free, so make sure to check.
Car seat backpacks / straps are a life saver. Seriously. Managing two kids, the luggage for everyone, and a stroller is impossible with two able-bodied adults. You should have seen us some times just trying to get from the car to the check-in counter. Do yourself a favor and purchase a car seat back pack or strap that can attach to rolling luggage.
Don’t forget to gate check the stroller. Right when you get to the gate, walk up to the counter and ask to get a tag for the stroller. You’ll then leave it on the jet bridge as you board the plane, and it will be waiting for you when you leave.
Get some headphones for the kids. It can get irritating to other passengers when a young child is playing on their iPad at full volume during a flight and they are old enough to wear headphones.Get some cheap ones off of Amazon. They’ll really enjoy having them, and they’ll be able to hear their games/movies better.
Don’t rely on the plane’s wifi. Honestly, plane wifi can really suck. Make sure your kids’ episodes are downloaded to your devices and can be accessed without being connected.
You’ll need more snacks than you think. And don’t be afraid to ask the flight attendants for more.
If you want more tips for babies and toddlers, be sure to check out this post I wrote back in 2013! It’s still applicable and helpful! What helps your kids when you travel by plane?