What To Expect – Air Travel With Small Kids

We’ve done our share of traveling with our kids, especially with our oldest Esperanza when she was a baby. This was because she was born during our time as international students in Australia. So we made many trips back to Canada to introduce her to family and friends. Then once our second little one Izabella was born, we took a trip back to my home country Trinidad.

Traveling with only our oldest Esperanza didn’t seem as hard as when we travelled with both kids. It was after all two against one. But it was a whole other level when Jesiah and I each had one child to deal with. We anticipated it might be hard and met with my mother half way to Trinidad so she could take the last eight hour flight with us. And this was still very difficult.

I’m not going to make myself look like a topnotch mom that knows the methods and tricks to having the perfect flight with two small kids. Honestly I was a wreck on our flights there and back. On the way there I lost my phone on the plane and only realized after we got off. We had to wait 20 mins for the cleaners to look through everything. Then on our way back I lost my wallet on the flight and didn’t notice at all. I got a phone call after we had gotten our luggage and was about to leave. The cleaners found it on the plane.

Anyway, all I can do is give you ideas of what to anticipate so you’re better prepared. As a side not, a cool feature of my FitBit Charge 3 was that it actually sent notifications of flight updates and reminders of when it was time to get to departure. This was so helpful when we got distracted by coffee shops in between flights, haha.

What Can You Bring

Liquids

I’ll start with great facts about travelling that most parents don’t know about. You’d be happy to know that you can bring water bottles or bottles of formula through security for the kids.

I brought bottles of Pediasure and a water bottle for my three year old. The Pediasure was for if my daughter refused to eat the food provided on the plane.

I brought a water bottle for myself that I claimed was for the baby. It technically was because I was breast feeding and would need to drink a lot more water than those little sips they give you on the flight.

I also brought food pouches for the baby, which count as a liquid as well. When you get to security you have to put all of the liquid items into one container to pass through the scanner.

Car Seats and Strollers

I’ve travelled a total of five times on an aircraft with children. And with every airline, (Quantas, West Jet and Air Canada), car seats and strollers are free to check in. Strollers you can even take with you all the way to the door of the aircraft and leave it for the staff to store for you. Then once you’ve arrived at your destination and are leaving the aircraft, the stroller will be there waiting for you. Makes life so much easier when rushing to a connecting flight with kids.

Luggage

Every airline we’ve traveled with, (Quantas, Air Canada and West Jet), has allowed the same number of bags for the baby as for the adults. So the baby gets her own carry on and her own free checked bag along with the free checked car seat.

Things To Prepare For

Messes

Of course your kids will be just as messy on a plane as they are at home. Except it’s trickier because you’re in such a small space.

I bought multiple packs of antibacterial hand wipes. This was the best item I packed because airports can be so germy. Everyone’s carry on got a pack of these wipes so they were easily accessible.

We packed an extra change of clothes for the kids in each carry on. Again this was so it can be easily accessible. This way we didn’t have to take ten minutes to search for a change of clothes for the kids; we knew everyone’s bag had something in it.

My daughter is potty trained but we still put her in pull ups. This is so helpful for those awkward moments she’d suddenly insist she has to use the toilet and we couldn’t get there in time. Like during take off or landing.

Bursts of Hanger (Hungry Anger)

I brought my Victoria’s Secret Tote with me and most of what was in there was snacks for the kids. I packed Gold Fish Crackers, Arrowroot Biscuits and like I said before baby food pouches and Pediasure.

What I didn’t account for was my husband eating the kids’ snacks. He had hangry moments just as much as the kids haha. And he didn’t want to eat the airplane food.

I tried my best to pack foods with as little sugar as possible so my daughter didn’t get too restless on the long flight. What I didn’t account for was the sugar content in the fruit food pouches. They were meant for the baby, but Esperanza wanted to eat them too and she got so energetic which turned into a tantrum when we didn’t let her run around the aircraft.

Long Layovers

Thank God I packed everyone’s carry on with their tooth brush, extra underwear and warm clothes just in case we got stuck in a cold city unexpectedly. We were on our way to a hot climate country and passing through Toronto which is colder than where we left from, British Columbia. So I packed warm layers of clothes in case we needed to go to a hotel in Toronto. This turned out to be the case on our way home when we ended up with a ten hour layover and needed to get the kids settled in a hotel room.

As a side note, we stayed in Best Western Hotel 10 mins away from the airport in Toronto. They allowed us to check in at 7am and check out at 3pm on the same day. Upon arrival they escorted us to a free breakfast buffet where they had food made by a chef! This wasn’t your average continental breakfast. We paid the rate of one night, which was just over $100. This was honestly the best hotel stay I had ever had and we had a much more relaxing time there than we would have had staying in the airport with cranky kids for 10 hours. It was such a blessing!

Conveniences

I’ve noticed airports typically do their best to make travelling with kids as easy as possible. So you can expect to be placed in the shortest lines or escorted to the front of lines through security and immigration. (It’s for their sanity too. No one wants to stand ini a long line with the sound of crying babies).

I’ve experienced airlines inviting families with small children to board the plane after business class and those that need assistance. It’s always a good idea to ask someone at the desk when they will be boarding families with small children, so you don’t lose your chance to go before the rush.

Everyone in general are pretty helpful when they notice you’re a family with young kids. So don’t be afraid to ask for extra help. I’ve had flight attendants hold my baby at some point on each flight and they were so happy to do so.

Be sure to check with your airline on all this information. And the most important trick to surviving a flight with small kids is… coffee!

Here are some photos of our time traveling:


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