1.) Get the right gear. The right gear will make the trip much more enjoyable for your kids and you! We always travel with a stroller and our own travel crib(s)… because there’s nothing worse than not sleeping!
2.) Get the car seat on the plane. Before our oldest was 2 (and had to buy him a plane seat), we would always show up at the gate as soon as we could to ask if we could bring the seat on. If there are at least a few empty seats on the flight, the gate agent can let you bring the car seat on. It’s interesting that it seems that it’s always up to the agent’s discretion to let it on or not. Some agents (particularly those who are new) will just say “no” without giving it much thought. Or, sometimes you can get an initial “no” and come back later when there’s a different agent and get a “yes”. It helps, too, to phrase the question very specifically: “Are there any available seats on the plane so we can take on the car seat?”. This prompts the agent to see how many seats are available and is phrased in such that the answer should be “yes” if there are any available seats. Of course, it’s not as foolproof as that, but it helps to prompt them a bit. After all, having the car seat can make a world of difference. At least it did with us as our oldest nearly never slept in our arms, whereas he would fall asleep right at takeoff when in his car seat. Really, it’s for the best for everyone around us that the car seat make it on 🙂 Oh, and when Jessica was pregnant again, we would make sure she was the one asking the gate agent if it was ok to bring on the car seat. It’s just a little harder to say no to the pregnant lady.
3.) Bring a tablet. Jessica’s parents got an Amazon Fire tablet kids’ edition for a Christmas present for Bash when he was a little over one. This was too early, but by the time he was a year and a half, he could watch cartoons or what not when needed. By the time he was two, it was absolutely necessary to have on the plane. As of now, Bash being a little over two, he’s still not patient enough to listen to a show with headphones for more than a minute. I still believe that it’s better for the people around us to hear the sound of Blues Clues rather than him crying, so he gets to listen to the tablet with the volume at the bare minimum such that he’s not crying. Typically, he gets more and more restless as the flight goes on, so I turn the volume up as his attention span shortens. Oh, and it’s reasonably priced at $99, especially if you wait until the holiday season when it dipped to $75 in 2016. If your kid is a little older, then the $50 normal edition should do the trick. It dipped to $33 around the holidays. That’s just awesome!
4.) Snacks! Kids can be tough. Hangry kids are terrible! We keep them content and pre-occupied with peanut butter and apple, Larabars, bananas, and frozen apple sauce pouches. You can bring a liquid through TSA if it is frozen, which helps with the frozen pouches or breast milk.
5.) Roller bag car seat strap.
We get a lot of comments when we are walking through the airport with our toddler in his car seat strapped to a carry on roller bag. He’s super happy and strapped in, and we’re also happy because he’s happy and strapped in. This is a neat little $15 accessory. (The picture is not of me. I just couldn’t find one with us using the seat 🙂 )