8 tips for flying with kids

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Traveling during the pandemic has become a delicate balance of spending just the necessary amount of time at an airport and being aware of every possible safety measure to ensure good health during and after the trip. This becomes especially tricky when traveling with kids. While we are all navigating this new reality, there are several tips that our readers and team members have suggested for flying safely with kids during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve collected those ideas here to share with you. 

Plan flight times accordingly

While flights have typically been less crowded with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, airlines have also reduced the number of flights that they are offering. This can make planning your flight to match your schedule a bit more complicated than it used to be. But if you have a routine at home, try to keep your family travel experience as consistent as possible.  

When traveling with younger children, work to schedule your flight around nap time. This will help both you and your children relax on the plane. For longer flights, planning a red-eye or matching your flight time to when your family would typically be sleeping can help to minimize jet lag and maintain a synchronized schedule when you land. 

Utilize airport lounges

Traveling with a family while attempting to stay safe and healthy, especially given the current pandemic, can feel hectic. Spending time in an airport lounge before your flight is a great way to relax and make your pre-flight experience less stressful. Lounges are great for families traveling together; here you will find free snacks, wifi, bathrooms, and often a bar (for the parents). Airport lounges often offer a day pass option, but your best value is to sign up for a rewards card that offers lounge access as a benefit. 

Take regular bathroom breaks

This tip is especially relevant to those traveling with younger kids. But everyone can agree that using the bathroom at the gate before you board is much more convenient than doing so on the plane. So try to remember to take your child to the bathroom before boarding, which may alleviate the hassle of using a squinchy airplane bathroom.

Board early

Those parents with young children understand the value of boarding early. Boarding the plane early allows you more time to settle in and get your children situated. It also often means that you end up with more overhead bin space. In the pandemic, boarding early also means that you are in a less crowded space as you walk onto the plane. 

Certain credit cards, like the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®, offer early boarding as one of the perks for being a cardholder. If you fly on a specific airline, check out the best airline credit cards to see which holds the best perks for the way you and your family travel. The information for the CitiBusiness Platinum Select has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.          

Carry on entertainment 

No parent wants to hear those dreaded words “are we there yet.” For this reason, many parents opt to treat travel as a special circumstance that transcends the normal rules around screentime, snacks, and other entertainment. The night before your flight, have your children pick out a few of their favorite books, toys and movies to bring on the plane. This helps generate excitement around the flight. And don’t forget to bring your own entertainment, too! 

Bring snacks

Airplane food isn’t for everyone, especially children. While you might have rules at home about trying everything on your plate, it can be tough to maintain those guidelines while traveling. Additionally, after loading up on chips and crackers in the airport lounge, you might want to bring some healthy snack options in case they get hungry when in flight. For longer trips, avoid potential meltdowns by packing enough extra snacks to supplement the meals that they might miss while in the air. 

Treat travel like an adventure

If your children seem nervous about flying, treat the trip as a new and exciting adventure. Take the time to talk with your child(ren) about where you’re going and how you’ll get there. It’s not every day that they get to peer out the window from 35,000 feet in the sky! Just wait until their friends hear about their journey on an airplane. 

Review the airport map

Do you know which terminal you will be in when your plane arrives at the airport? Will you need to take airport transportation to the baggage claim, the car rental area, or the pick up area? Is someone meeting you in the terminal where you’re landing, or do you need to navigate across the airport to a different spot?

When you land, you’ll want to know where you’re going to avoid confusion and delays. Study the arrival airport map ahead of time to familiarize yourself with your route. If you are traveling internationally with your children, this will be especially helpful as you might not know the language. 

Bottom line

Although traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic can have its challenges, the more prepared you are ahead of time, the easier your airport experience will be. There are a few easy tips you can follow to help both you and your children feel safe and comfortable while traveling. 

Featured image by Prostock-studio/Shutterstock.

Erin Lizzo is a contributor for Million Mile Secrets where she covers points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. Her work has also appeared in the Matador Network.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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