Traveling with Small Children


We’re quickly approaching our first overseas trip with TWO children. I’m not sure that I’m feeling super confident about how well it’s going to go, but I thought I’d at least share what we’ve learned in flying with one child and what we’re hoping for while flying with two children.

When our first son was 4.5 months, we flew to Northern England to see family, and overall, he did quite well. He was so little at the time that most of the passengers on the airplane with us were quite sympathetic to any crying he did. We were also able to get the bassinet and sit in the front row of the economy class seats so he spent most of his time playing or sleeping. That worked nicely. I also met fellow travelers who have flown a lot with infants, and they were always quite informative and helpful. Things I learned on that trip:

If your child is a pacifier sucking baby, then make sure you can strap it to his body somehow. We had so many instances of the pacifier rolling down the airplane aisle that it became embarrassing and stressful. Not to mention the fact that we had to wash the thing after every time that it hit the floor.

Never change your child in your seat. We asked before we did, but we found out that the flight attendants DO NOT want you to do it at your seat. The changing tables in the bathrooms are tiny, so it’s very awkward but it’s all there is.

If your child is a formula fed baby, be prepared for a lot of hassle. And always buy the water for the bottle after you get through security as they will absolutely harrass you if you take a premade bottle through security. I was amazed at how the TSA agents treated me for carrying formula. They made me drink it, they yelled at me, they harrassed us, and they just used no common sense when it came to realizing that some babies are formula fed and no baby can make a 9 hour flight without drinking a bottle. It was almost infuriating.

Carry a few extra baby blankets as they will get very dirty. I recommend taking just the light, swaddling blankets as they’re not so bulky. The blankets managed to get dropped and drug through all kinds of dirt so that they were black by the time we made it to England.

Lastly, don’t overpack and do plan on having your stuff ruined or at least coming home battered. Any books that we took ended up getting wet either by leaking bottles or spills. Any toys that we took got very dirty. So I now only take books and toys from the dollar store so that we don’t care if they come home with us. And taking a zillion toys is just stressful as it’s too hard to keep track of it all. Just take a few things and rotate them.

We did survive our first overseas trip with an infant, and it was a struggle for him to adjust with jet lag. But we made it and had a great time with family. It was well worth the hassle of traveling to introduce him to aunts, uncles, and cousins.

When our son was 9 months old, we took a family vacation to California. To me, this was the ideal age to travel as he was so easy!! He didn’t love the flight going and he cried a lot. But we survived. He was much more flexible and easy going than we anticipated, and he was so enjoyable. I recommend traveling with infants this age as they’re happy in the stroller and happy to go wherever you go as they just watch and observe everything around them.

We traveled again when he was 14 months, and this was probably the most stressful traveling experience in that he was not flexible. I learned to always have food on hand, to just endure the tantrums without worrying what other passengers/travelers might think, and to not stress as it just made it harder on my husband and me. We’ve learned that traveling with children really tests the marital relationship and teamwork between husband and wife. It’s a good idea for both parents to stay flexible, to help each other, to be willing to drop whatever to help the other spouse with the child, to not get offended if one spouse gets stressed and snaps at the other, to speak kindly and patiently when at all possible, and to just realize that it’s not the ideal way to travel, but to just make the most of it. And take the chance during layovers to let your child walk, run, play, and get all of their energy out. That helps so much with getting the child to tire out and be ready to relax on the plane.

We’ll soon be flying to the UK with a 3 year old and a 16 month old. I have no worries about the three year old as he’ll be quite happy with an ipad and just being on an airplane. I have lots of worries about the 16 month old as he’s in the tantrum phase and he hates to be restrained. He’s not a good napper either, so I have no idea how he’ll adjust to the time difference or to being on a plane for 9 hours. We’ll be holding the 16 month old as well, but thankfully, he LOVES Daddy and he loves eating. So I’m hoping that between sitting on Daddy’s lap and eating lots of snacks, we’ll be okay. I’ll let you know how it goes!!


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