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Traveling with more than one child

Posted by on December 8, 2011

I only have one child so my advice for traveling with several is based on my observations as a flight attendant. My sister, however, has 3 kids: ages 13, 9, and 3 so she has a lot of experience. Here are a few tips she shared with me about traveling with more than one child:

E. and her cousins who also love to travel.

Booking tickets

  • If two adults are traveling with 2 or more children, try to book the window and aisle seats in rows directly across from each other. There’s a slight chance that nobody will buy the middle seat and you’ll have more room for your family. If someone does arrive to take the middle seat, you can always offer to let them take the window or aisle so you can sit next to your child.
  • (With many seats blocked for frequent fliers with status,  it’s often hard to find seats together when booking your tickets. Agent friends recommend selecting ANY available seats, even if they are not together. Grab the best seats available: aisle and window whenever possible. If they are spread throughout the aircraft it at least gives the agents something good to work with when you get to the airport.)

Before leaving home/Arriving at Airport

  • Do everything you can ahead of time. Print your boarding passes at home and bring snacks from home. If there’s anything you can do to eliminate having to stand in a line at the airport, do it.
  • If you’re checking bags, it’s usually quicker to have a skycap help you instead of waiting in ticket counter line inside the airport. You’ll need to tip him or her a few bucks, but you’ll be on your way much more quickly. 
  • Airport food can be very expensive and adds up quickly when you’re feeding a party of four or five. If you have a layover at a mealtime, come prepared with snacks like nuts and fruit and see if you can get by with buying one or two meals for everyone to share.

Getting through security checkpoints

  • The security person who checks your ID and passes will ask your children their names. Prepare them for this ahead of time. If your child answers to a nickname, tell them to say, “My name is Elisabeth, but I go by Lily.” For my kids, this is easier than remembering to tell their given name, and it can eliminate that, “Ummm, it’s…..” response which I’m always sure marks us as suspicious travelers. 😉;)
  • When going through security, don’t feel rushed. Take the time that you need and keep your sense of humor. If you act stressed out, your kids will pick up on it.
  • Children under the age of 12 no longer need to remove their shoes before going through security, so that’s one less hassle.
  • Tell older children to remove their own liquid baggies and place them (as well as other small belongings) in a bucket.
  •  If you are the only adult in your party, send the oldest child through the scanner first and go through last yourself.

On the aircraft

  • If you’re planning to put a child’s bags in the overhead bin, make sure you remove some entertainment items (handheld game, pad of paper, book) and put them in your purse before boarding. You don’t want to be trying to remove them from suitcases while people are waiting behind you on the plane. Do everything you can ahead of time so that boarding is quick and easy.
  • Before the flight attendant begins serving drinks, go over the beverage choices with your kids so they already know what to request when their turn comes.
  • Bring gum for older children to chew upon descent (chewing and swallowing helps with pressure changes). Gummy fruit snacks might work for younger children.
  • Talk to your children about turbulence and tell them it’s like a little roller coaster at the fair. 🙂:)

In the airport

  • Many airports have family restrooms available. Seek them out if you’re the only adult traveling with more than one child. It’s much easier to use a family restroom than to have children wait for you outside a stall or outside the bathroom itself.