The following ideas are not limited to an airplane, they can be used in any situation such as in a car, train, bus or even on a cruise. There are a few ways to travel with kids and here are my suggestions/ideas I have either tried myself or have seen others do.
As far as transporting a child/children through an airport, the stroller approach seems to be the best one for travels in the states. However, some international airports such as Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport, don’t allow strollers. I have also found out the hard way that the stroller is not always waiting for you on the other side whether because it was lost or you’ll be picking it up with your baggage. In Paris, they do have some sort of strollers that they offer free of charge while you roam the terminal, but that’s after about a mile of walking! While passing through London Heathrow Airport, I have never been given my stroller back until my final destination, although strollers are allowed there. Those are the 2 airports I know most about since I usually fly Air France or Virgin Air. I will definitely update when I have experience with any other airports.
Please share with us your experiences to help out for those searching for unanswered questions.
Strollers best for traveling when you need to take a car seat too:
When traveling with more than 1 (you could actually squeeze 3 on this one):
If you have twins, a side by side is not the best option because of it being wide, go for one long in length. This
I’ve seen these wagons carted through airports like strollers carrying 2 children, they fold like an accordion. Of course you’d have to keep an eye on them, I’d be afraid of a child standing up and falling out, but I’ve seen many parents using them.
Now that my youngest is 4 and likes to walk by himself, I use my Graco car seat carrier that is also a great idea if your taking a car seat, but I now use it to carry things in it. It also works great if my little one gets tired, he can just climb in it and sit on top of our things.
For toddlers ages 3+, a fun way to get through the airport is on a traveling suitcase such as this one.
I have made a homemade roller using a rolling backpack, here is my son showing you how it works: (note it must be a durable backpack). The images are bad, I know sorry, I just wanted to give an idea of how he likes to play/ride in/on it. The backpack was half filled with soft items so when he sat half way up the backpack and rested his feet at the edge of the backpack, if you can imagine that?
Then you could always try the less desirable approach for your arms and let your child ride on YOUR carry on (my kids always loved this but after about 1/4 mile in, my arms and neck would hurt. But is a way to make due with what you already have.
If you click on the photo, you’ll be taken to this families post on luggage riding, very nice.
For older kids –
Kids who have outgrown a stroller can get tired too. I’ve seen kids in airport terminals riding razor scooters. My concern with that would be that they go only the speed that people are walking around them and be curtious to the other people and watch where they are going. They shouldn’t make it obvious that they are riding one, or become a nuisance so they will ban them from airports.
The plus side is that they are small and can fold nicely.
What do you think about harnesses for kids? Before I had kids I was a little judgmental about parents who used them, then I did my first international trip when 2 of my boys were 1&2! I bought harnesses for the trip home after talking with a mother who explained why she had her daughter on a “leash”. I did get some horrified looks from people, but they were probably not parents and I just thought to myself “just imagine how they’d look at me if I had lost one of them!” That is really a call that each parent has to decide, if your thinking about it, buy one and take it for a “spin” somewhere local like in a shopping mall to see how comfortable you feel. They are very inexpensive at around $10-20. The plus side, besides having a handle on your child is the backpack space for kids toys and activities.
Another way to carry your little one hands free is by using a wrap around baby carrier up until about age 10 months, depending on the size of the baby. If you are breast feeding that is the best way you can be mobile and discrete. Throughout my 5 children I have tried the following and loved them all.
At The Airport
While waiting in an airport, you can keep kids contained in a few different ways.
For infants up to before crawling, a travel pod works great. It also works great for nap time for about age 2 and smaller, you could lay a blanket (that is strictly used for laying on the floor and store in a gallon size zip lock between uses).
For crawlers and toddlers this one is great, it is a portable bed and playpen with a 15 second set up. This would be a good investment if you plan on using it many times. Total weight 13 lbs and the good thing about carry on (at least internationally) is that you get 22 lbs carry on and with children most airlines are very accommodating.
Entertainment and Keeping Kids Busy
- This really takes careful planning. It’s best not to let the kids see what you pack unless they are older. If they know what they have, they could get bored faster. I really like Melissa and Doug toys, they are my favorite.
- No matter what age, a thin floor blanket should be used so your child/children know their boundaries and keeps them off a dirty floor, store it in a gallon size ziploc bag and know which side you used on the floor so you can keep using that side until it’s washed.
- While waiting in an airport, I try to use electronics as a last resort, but it works and can definitely keep kids occupied, especially older ones who could care less about toys. I have games and videos on my iPhone along with headphones for little kids and ear buds for the older ones that I let the kids play with when it’s getting to that melting point. Of course on the airplane they have access to their own electronic screen where they can watch movies, listen to music and play games. A good book for the older ones is always encouraged.
Babies – anything that they can put in their mouth and is soft, just like any other situation.
Depending on what your child likes, this is a hard age to please because they want to roam around and explore. I have found that this age likes to sort things such as the following toys (remember not to pack too heavy or bulky, maybe just one sorting toy. They also like chunky puzzles and books, designed for babies of course (like very thick or cloth) so the pages aren’t easily torn.
Keeping toddlers busy is much easier, but they can get bored fast and want something new. I really like magnet toys and puzzles for them because there is something new to discover that will keep them occupied for hours sometimes. I also like to take activity books that we can do together, favorite reading books with pictures, coloring books and crayons (just 4 colors to keep it simple), cars and a floor mat and homemade play dough although it can get messy sometimes.
The good thing about this age is that they can communicate well (usually) and are able to sit still longer. This age will also enjoy the same activities as 2-4 year olds. They might enjoy action figures, barbie dolls, dolls, and bring along some books for reading at their age level, workbooks, water paints, coloring books and any activity that they normally enjoy that is portable. If their are kids who can comprehend board games, that may be something you can all do together to pass the time at an airport, just bring 1 and try to leave the box at home; take it in ziploc baggies if possible.
You could also check out Melissa and Doug’s website for affordable products for older kids, they can help in choosing 🙂