Traveling with kids is different for everyone. Some trips are a breeze that make you feel like a super parent because your kids are charming to other passengers and well-behaved. Other trips, not so much. I am still a relative newbie at traveling with a small child, but each trip, I learn a little more about how to make it doable.
Also, it is kind of frustrating that almost every time I have traveled with Fox, he is a different age, so there is always something new to learn. This is not even close to a comprehensive list, but here are a few tips for traveling with kids.
For the parents of an infant:
1. For infants, pack as many changes of clothes as you think you will need on the plane for your baby, then add one more. When we took Fox to France last year (he was 4 months old), I had 4 outfits packed in case of blowouts or leaking diapers. The night before we left, we had dinner with some friends, and the husband gave me this advice. I listened to him, added one more outfit to the diaper bag, and we ended up using every single one.
2. Bring a lightweight blanket. Planes are cold. Plus, if you breastfeed your baby, you want to be able to create a nursing cover, and I am all about the multi-purpose nursing cover. We took this muslin blanket with us to France, and it worked perfectly.
3. If you are on an international flight, see if you can reserve a seat in the bulkhead that has a baby bassinet. On our flights to and from Europe, we sat in the bulkhead (the spot right behind the bathrooms and food prep area, where there is a blank wall in front of you), and they attached a bassinet to the wall for infants under 20 lbs (I think). It was the BEST! I got to sleep, Fox slept, and we were all happier for it! It made the flight so much better, and I didn't drop my baby when I fell asleep! Success!
For the parents of a toddler:
1. Go for variety. Kids get bored kind of easily, so if you have a few different kinds of toys, you can keep them happier for longer. A few examples might include coloring, reading, a quiet book that has snaps, zippers and stuff like that, ect. Basically, just bring a few different kinds of things to do.
2. We don't usually do snacks, but I am absolutely willing to bring all the snacks for flights. I try to do things that are not sticky, or really crumbly (crackers are absolutely out!). On our last flight, we brought pretzels, an apple juice squeeze pouch, raisins, and some little pouches of teddy grahams and nutter butters.
3. Use your phone. This is a no-brainer. We try to limit our screen time around Fox, and his time playing with our phones so he doesn't become an addict from too young an age. When traveling, I am totally willing to throw the rules out the window. One issue that we ran into is that lots of kid apps require wifi or they have sound that is essential to the app, and if you are a small toddler who won't wear headphones, you need something that is engaging enough without sound (unless you are willing to have everyone in a 15 foot radius hate you by the end of the flight). The favorite was Peekaboo Barn. We got the lite version (meaning, it was free and only had 3 animals), but Fox was obsessed regardless, and kept mooing along with the cow.
4. Just remind yourself it is only X amount of hours you have to do be on the plane. I always start getting loads of butterflies as we get ready to fly, and worse case scenarios tend to race through my mind. If I remind myself that it is only 3 hours, or 9 hours, and then you will get off, and hopefully never see any of those people again, so if your baby was really terrible, it is okay! It just helps remind me that this trip will be a tiny portion of my life, and if it doesn't go exactly how I want it to, life will go on.
5. Pack for accessibility. This way, if you have to get out liquids for security, or grab a snack for babies, you can actually find them.
One more tip, because I can't resist:
If your baby will let you, wear them in a baby carrier as much as possible. We flew 5 or something times this summer, and having a baby carrier was a life saver! I almost never check a bag (it is so expensive!), so I almost always have a rolling suitcase to cart around, plus a backpack, and I brought my computer every time, which you have to take out of its case through security. The idea of having to cart a baby around in a stroller or put them down on the floor while you find your liquids bag, or pull out your laptop is more than I can handle. So, an infant carrier has been a lifesaver. I have 3 Lillebaby carriers (I have the essentials, the embossed and the all-seasons) and love them all. They are comfortable, easy to use, and carry up to 40 pounds.
You probably have better ideas than I do, so I want to hear them for our next trip!