This past weekend, we made our annual journey down to Florida where my kids are attending day camp with the kids of some of my best college friends. It’s a great tradition that we all look forward to all year. The flight down and back have probably been the toughest point of the trip for us in years past. This time, we had our ups and downs on the flight here and we certainly learned from our mistakes. Here are 5 Tips to Flying with 5 Kids, or to plane travel with kids in general.
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1) Everyone carries his or her own bag. This year each of my kids touted their own backpack, complete with lunch, snacks and books and activities. Marielle is so anxious to keep up with the pack that she wanted to carry her own loot. This is KEY because think how much less is in Mommy’s bag that way! When packing your kids backpack, make sure it’s not so laden down with goodies that your kid makes YOU carry it.
For Mom, the rolling suitcase was a savoir. It limited my hand-holding potential, but for much of the trip one of the boys was pushing or pulling it anyway, which they thought was fun. Otherwise, I had Marielle or Annaliese hold onto the bar the way they do the stroller.
2) Pack your most ESSENTIAL items first. This year, I got so into the idea of everyone having their own backpacks that I decided to say adios to our traditional diaper bag. Problem was, I forgot to check how many diapers we had stowed away in Marielle’s Dora backpack. Pulling up to the departure gate, I look into her backpack and see she has ONE diaper. How funny that this happens to me, the Queen of schedules and packing lists for babies and kids — serves you right, Ms. Know It All. Fortunately, I found these Huggies diapers at the airport, but boy were they pricey at $4.99 for four diapers and a few wipes. Ouch! That’s more than a nice Starbucks coffee!
3) Have a Family Plan in Place for Airport Security. My boys tend to race up to first position and plop their bags down on the belt, and then run through, leaving me stuck with the heavier stuff, the baby, the stroller, and worst of all worried about them being alone on the other side. This year, we taught them to wait to load their backpacks onto the belt until we were all ready. Then, they passed through and kept an eye on the stuff that was coming through. Even though Marielle was annoyed that she didn’t get to take off her sandals (because she is slightly shoe obsessed right now), it was our best airport security experience yet. Only mistake we (transition: Mommy) made was putting water bottles into their lunch bags, which we had to chuck. (duh!). Here are the boys searching through their backpacks for the water bottles. They felt like little TSA agents.
4) Prepare for a Camping Trip, Not a Flight. On your essential list are food and snacks for the kids and plenty of books and activities because flying these days isn’t really flying, it’s camping out in the airport and then boarding a plane with no food. In our case, that often means we’re sitting on the floor since we rarely can get enough seats together. Here were camping and snacking and killing time:
5) But Don’t Overfeed Them. The biggest mistake I’ve made on planes is feeding my kids too much. This happens mostly with Marielle who wants to eat, eat, eat and then she throws up, all over herself and usually all over me. This year, I said enough is enough. She cried and neighboring passengers were disgruntled, but at least we weren’t covered with vomit. Sometimes you need to put yourself first, sorry.
And there it was. We took off, we landed. And we ended up having a wonderful celebration for Father’s Day the next day that included something Mommy really needed by that point: a nice tall drink. Happy summer and happy travels, love Melissa XOXO
You might also like:
- How I Survived Flying with Five Kids
- Handling Stress When Packing for Kids
- How to Fly with a Baby
- Traveling With Kids: Why Can’t It Be Easier