Tips for Flying Alone with Two Kids
Picture this: A two-year-old, a six-year-old, a 4.5-hour flight, and you.
That’s how I spent the day recently — flying alone with my two kids and no grown-up help. (To add to the fun, my husband had been away all week, but was meeting us at our final destination.) Single parents must do this all the time, but the adventure looked to be a bit daunting to me.
I was worried my kids would both get tired of being on the plane at the same time. I was worried they’d both need my help with different things at the same time. I was worried about answering the call of nature. I mean….dragging the two of them and all our carry-ons into the airport restroom, let alone into the airplane restroom, seemed complicated to say the least! And I think the thing I was most worried about was being so short on sleep, patience, and focus after flying solo on the ground, that it would be more difficult to manage myself than the kids when flying solo in the air.
But I digress…whether you’re flying solo or you’ve got a co-captain, this advice will hopefully be helpful on your next adventure.
TIPS FOR SUCCESSFULLY FLYING ALONE WITH KIDS:
Remember the snacks and toys. Snacks and toys. Snacks and toys. (You get the picture.) Gather supplies. Ideally, you do this on your own so the new toys and snacks are surprises to your kids as they’re revealed one after another on the flight. I wasn’t able to shop by myself this time, but doing the shopping with the kids turned out to be fun for all of us. Consider including some special snacks you might not normally allow. Check out the $1 store (or children’s dept of your favorite store) for some new toys that won’t break the bank and won’t be a loss if they’re left on the plane.
Another budget-friendly tip? Don’t forget your local library for some fun books to bring on the plane. My kids enjoyed doing this one, too.
Check out the in-flight entertainment, but don’t depend on it. I prefer to limit my kids’ screen time so we don’t allow tablet use in the car — but all bets are off when flying. I fully expected to use our airline’s in-seat TV screens. Use caution, though. As far as I could tell, there was no parental control setting on our flight’s entertainment console. Most of the options in the range of TV channels weren’t too risque, but I often find the commercials on adult-centric TV can be more inappropriate for kids than the shows themselves. And, of course, you have no control over what the passengers around you are watching. But for the most part, the reality is this: even with Spongebob or the latest Pixar story on screen, the kids aren’t going to want to stare at those screens for the entirety of a long flight.
Bonus tip: Make sure to grab some kid-friendly headphones if you don’t already have them. They’re not only comfortable, they have built-in volume limiting to protect those little ears. And they’re fun – my boy chose Avengers and my girl chose My Little Ponies. They were very proud of their style.
Pack carry-ons for your kids…(You get a carry-on bag! And you get a carry-on bag! Carry-on bags for everyone!) Each of my kids had their own carry-on bag filled with a combination of stuff they chose and stuff we chose together. I packed my son and daughter’s lunch box full of their special snacks and placed them in their own carry-on bags. They had a sense of control, not only because they’d chosen their items to bring, but because they had access to their own stuff when they wanted it.
I’m so happy to say that our long flight was a piece of cake. No tears were shed, no one went running up and down the aisles, and we all landed happy and ready to reunite with Daddy.
So, there you have it. I hope these quick tips will make your next trip as smooth and fun as possible. If you have strategies that have worked well for you, please share them in the comments!
I’m Rachel, a corporate marketing professional, and mom whose days are fueled by music, podcasts, dark chocolate, and just a smidge of bad TV.