Little kid on planePhoto Credit: Frans Persoon via Compfight cc

By: Desiree Miller

The thought of flying with small children is enough to make even the most adventurous parents opt for summer staycations. Herding little ones through busy airports, dealing with fussy babies during take off and entertaining toddlers in confined spaces during long flights just doesn't seem worth it. But it can be, especially when a hot sun and cold beverage awaits.

We asked some experienced moms to share the tips and tricks they use to get their family to a vacation destination happy and in one piece.

Do Your Research

Find out what aircraft you have in advance to get a better idea of what you will need. For example, not all flights have in-seat entertainment, so plan accordingly.

Tactical Seating

Go in person to check-in and ask for a row with an empty seat. If available, the airline can block a seat beside you to give extra room. If they won’t, book your seats with one seat in between. There is a good chance it won’t be filled so you can enjoy the extra space, and if it is occupied you shouldn’t have trouble getting the person sitting between you to trade for a window seat.

Buddy System

If possible, select seats so that each parent can take a child, for example, with a family of four, select two rows with a parent and child in each row. If you aren’t so lucky, try to sit in between your kids to avoid sibling fights.

Cheap Seats

Ask at the gate if you can take your car seat on the plane. Some airlines will allow this, and it gives you a place to put your baby down that you don’t have to pay for.

Kiddy Carry On

Give each child their own soft covered small bag that will easily fit under their seat. If your little one is interested, have them carry their own backpack with personalized items like a small pillow, book, activity and stuffie.

Clip In

Keep track of essential items that can be lost easily—like soothers—by clipping them to your child. Take off with a screaming baby is not the best time to be searching under the seat.

Don’t Pack Too Much Stuff 

Rooting through a big bag of small toys will be frustrating in the confines of your seat. Instead, choose larger items that are easy to hold onto and don’t slip through and behind seats.

Pressure Relief 

Breastfeed, bottle feed or offer a soother to help soothe your baby during take off. The sucking action helps equalize the pressure on their ears.

Snacks!

Good snacks are always a lifesaver. Bring out something new you’re your kids haven’t tried before or a special treat they love but don’t get very often.

Sustenance

As well, pack some substantial food, like good ol’ PB&J sandwiches. You never know when you’ll have a flight delay or only have access to snack foods in the airport.

Cheerios Playbook

This is a fun and interactive game that combines snacking, reading and playing and doesn’t take up much space. Check it out here.

PJ Time

For night flights, dress the kids in pajamas as they are more comfortable and give your little ones a cue that it’s time to rest. Pack two extra outfits in a Ziplock in case of an accident or spill.

Stay Organized

The Ziplock is a mom’s best friend. It doubles up as a way to organize items in your carry on (there’s nothing worse then having to unload every single thing in your bag to find one little sock) and it also becomes a place to store dirty clothes.

Diaper Overload

Pack as many diapers as you think you’ll need. Then pack two more.

Goodie Surprise

Surprise bags are a perfect tactic when you feel a meltdown coming on or want to give an incentive to sit quietly during take-off, landing and buckling up during turbulence. Fill the bag with individually wrapped toys and games. Spread out the opening of the goodies so kids can have something to look forward to throughout the duration of the trip.

Colouring Kits

Crayola mess-free colouring kits are awesome because they don’t make marks beyond the designated books. You can refill new pages here.

Plugging In

We’d like to say we can do it without electronics but let’s face it sometimes having access to a movie or game can really help in a pinch. Portable DVD players, iPads, laptops or LeapPads are good when there is no access to TV or if the inflight system doesn’t work properly. Preload them with some learning games, TV shows or a movie that they haven’t seen yet.

Toddler headphones on airplaneShannon Klipa

Charging Up

Make sure all aforementioned electronics are charged and/or stocked with extra batteries and a headphone splitter jack.

Ask for Help

From booking to landing, the airline staff is getting paid to help your family and all your travelling companions to have the best flight possible.

What saved you on a trip with your little ones? Let us know! Share your story here.

Come travelling with us!
Insider guides to everywhere, win trips to exotic locations, exclusive travel deals & discounts and more.