Flying can be stressful when it’s a solo trip – making sure you don’t forget anything, arriving early enough but not so early that you’re sitting in the terminal for hours, getting the perfect seat by the window or aisle, dealing with layovers, etc. It’s not always a dream come true, and it can be even more stressful when you have your children with you. Here are a few things to do to make those family trips easier.

Take advantage of early boarding. They’ll ask, as they begin the boarding process if anyone traveling with small children would like to board first. Do this! Those few extra minutes can help you sort through your bags, get the kids buckled, and make sure anything they need to be comfortable during takeoff isn’t trapped in an overhead bin.

Be aware – the flight attendant will be having a chat with you. Just like those seated in the emergency aisle, they will stop and give you special instructions on how to hold your child (if they are under two) during takeoff and landing. Just in case you were going to stow them under your seat or in your pocket.

Activities and snacks are essential. You know this already. It’s just like taking them anywhere for an extended period. Make sure to pack their absolute favorites, especially if you think they may be nervous during the flight. The more distractions, the better. Bonus tip: wrap up a new toy for them to open if things get particularly dicy!

Throw out your dreams of them sleeping on the plane. You may get lucky, and it might happen, but there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve got a wide-awake buddy for that entire flight.

Dress in layers and slip on shoes. You never know if the plane is going to be too cold or too hot, and you don’t want your kids to be uncomfortable. Dress in layers you can quickly add and remove, and don’t forget slip-on shoes to make security a little more comfortable for everyone.

Keep your composure. It isn’t much you can do if your child is having a meltdown and an adult on the plane has an issue with it. The only thing in your power to do is to ignore them and worry just about your child.

You may run into some bumps along the way – but as long as you plan and pack ahead, you’ll be able to ensure you get from Destination A to Destination B with as few issues as possible!

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