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  • Writer's pictureLeslie

5 Mistakes We’ve Made When Flying With Babies, Toddlers, and Kids

flying with kids flying with toddlers how to survive a flight with baby
Our daughter boarding the plane for our latest international flight

We pride ourselves in being savvier about flights with our kids now, but in the early travel-with-baby and child days we made some key errors... ones we hope you don't have to make, too. Some involved booking flights with layovers to save money (not realizing the extra headaches that would come along with that) or choosing flights that left super early in the morning (we thought we'd get more time on vacation that way, not realizing that our kids would be way too exhausted!).

Read on to see our five big mistakes we made when flying with babies, toddlers and kids (and how YOU can avoid them!). Cheers to a happier, more relaxed flight (hey, we all can dream) with your little ones. 

Mistake 1. Not calling to reserve the bassinet seats for an international flight. Did you know that you often have to call the airline to reserve these seats? It’s annoying, but the bassinet seats are worth it for the extra space. Your baby gets to relax and sleep in a special, designated place, and you get some extra leg room (considering these seats are in the roomie "bulkhead" area of the plane).

Even if you're not sure your baby will sleep much in the airplane bassinet, you'll probably want to reserve these seats just in case. On one flight, our daughter didn't want to sleep in the bassinet, but she was happy to just hang out there awake while we ate our dinner. And having that quiet moment over dinner was so nice, considering she was otherwise in our arms for most of the flight.

Some international airlines will let you make the bassinet seat reservation online, but it's typically rare. So make the call (and bonus, these seats are usually free!).

Mistake 2. Booking flights with layovers. OK, so sometimes they’re unavoidable, but we do try to book direct now whenever we can. Nonstop flights mean fewer headaches boarding and deboarding, plus you get there faster (which is ideal when traveling with babies and toddlers). Nonstop tickets do typically cost more, but we save in other ways on our trips, like fewer dinners out. Instead, we typically do takeout or cook ourselves at our apartment or condo rental (which is less stress anyway -- fine dining and toddlers just don't mix well in our case).  

Mistake 3. Not packing enough snacks. The inflight food can only take you so far. Ample snack options are key for survival. We try and pack a few go-to favorites for our kids, but also some "new" and "exciting" snacks they've never tried before, that will pique their interest for at least a few minutes on the flight.

Mistake 4. Not looking ahead of time for airport playgrounds. Playgrounds are a great (emphasis on great) way for your kids to burn off steam before you board. A quick Google search before your trip may turn up some unexpected options, and it’s worth doing a search before you head to the airport. For example, we loved the playground at LAX Bradley International Airport, and had we done an online search ahead of time, we would have found it sooner (instead, we just stumbled upon it as we were looking for something to do).

LAX Bradley International Airport playground fun with kids at airport
The awesome playground at LAX Bradley International Airport

Mistake 5. Booking flights that depart too early. Waking our kids up at 3 a.m. is not ideal when they’re already in for an exhausting travel day. It also throws them majorly off schedule (which is also not ideal, especially if you're going on an international trip with different time zones and other changes). We try to avoid early morning flights now when we can.

Have you made any of these mistakes when flying with kids? Or any other mistakes not on this list?


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