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La Jolla Mom - Flying With Kids: Tips For Air Travel With Babies Through Preschoolers

Flying With Young Kids: Quick Tips By Age Group

flying with kids

On Wednesday, La Jolla Girl and I leave for 2 weeks in Asia. It’s Tuesday and I haven’t packed, but transpacific travel was a huge part of early motherhood for me, in case you didn’t know. She was born in Hong Kong (click for everything I’ve written about HK) and I had to schlep her back to the US by myself more times than I can count between her birth and age 2. That’s 26 hours door-to-door, as we often had to connect in Tokyo.

I wrote initially an eBook including every tip I have about surviving short and long haul flights with young kids. I even included the jet lag advice we received from a sleep clinic that worked like a charm. Fox News found the book and just called for a phone interview about flying with babies. That was cool. I’ll get to the point: Flying with Kids is now available in Paperback.

Anyway, if you’re flying with young kids this summer, here are some random tips by age group.

All Kids

Kick your ADHD into overdrive. Take an antibacterial wipe and/or spray and wipe down every single surface that you think your kid might touch. Germs stay alive for several days and airplanes are perpetually in the sky. The one time I didn’t do this, La Jolla Girl wound up with a virus that almost landed her in the hospital. You’re going on vacation (or coming home from one) so why risk it?

Flying With Babies

Plan your flight, if possible, according to your baby’s schedule. If your baby naps at 1:00pm, try to make sure you’re in the air during that time. That is, if you want them to sleep on the plane. I always did.

If you’re flying overseas, get the interior bassinet measurements. La Jolla Girl was a long baby and grew out of the bassinet length-wise before she hit the weight limit.

Toys that light up, without batteries, entertain babies. Like spinning globes. You’ll have to distract them with something, multiple times, especially if they’re about to fuss.

Bring scented diaper disposal bags. It’s just polite.

Flying With Toddlers

Bring tons of snacks. If they’re off the bottle, then munching on something during take-off and landing will help their ears. High protein is best, so that they are full and not just eating empty calories.

Strap everything you can to the seat or seat belt. Bring straps for sippy cups, stuffed animals and whatever else you can prevent from falling on the floor. This keeps the toys from getting contaminated.

Consider kid-safe headphones for DVD player or iPhone apps. Technology is going to be your best friend, when keeping this age group entertained. Do not rely on the in-flight entertainment, because there might not be anything they want to watch or a glare on the TV.

Flying With Preschoolers

This age group is slightly easier to manage because you can set expectations and they’ll understand (most of it). Tell them exactly what’s going to happen from the time you leave your house to the time you land. Remind them along the way. Especially important is reminding them that their prized stuffed animal is going to have to go through security screening separately. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Remind them that on take-off and landing there will be a period of time where they can’t use their electronics. Plan ahead for what they can do instead and tell them.

This age group is interested in coloring. Invest in some triangle crayons or pencils that are less likely to roll off a tray table. And, of course, electronics. We plug kid-safe headphones into the LeapFrog Tag reader, iPad and more. Some airlines just don’t offer much of any kid-friendly entertainment so it’s better to be over-prepared.

Also, get a Trunki. This suitcase, footrest, ride all wrapped up into one has been an amazing travel companion

Lollipops are amazing for quieting meltdowns and distracting kids.

Where We’ll Be

We spend 10 days in Hong Kong at my two favorite hotels: the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong and Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong. Then we’re off to Tokyo to stay at Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi for 4 days. We’ll tour both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea parks. Stay tuned!

  • Gillian Rowley - April 9, 2015

    Do you think road trips or flights are easier with kids? Of course, road trips are much more limited. Nevertheless, the ability for frequent stop prevents the jitters that long plane trips can create.

  • Jeremy@Hotels Bundoran - June 5, 2012

    It is though a typical experience of traveling with the kids. However its one such experience to remember your whole life.

  • Casey - May 29, 2012

    Good stuff. I reposted on my Facebook business page. We’re not going overseas, but will be going cross country to Seaside. Long flights!

    -Casey from

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I'm Katie Dillon, a freelance luxury travel writer who lives in seaside La Jolla, CA. This is where I document my recent trips around the world, the latest San Diego happenings and other fun lifestyle topics. Thanks for stopping by!

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