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First time on airplane: 4 and 5 y/o; any tips?

Melbourne, Florida
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First time on airplane: 4 and 5 y/o; any tips?

Looking for some tips on traveling with a 4 and 5 y/o on a plane for the first time. We unfortunately will have 2 layovers both ways (melbourne FL to Bozeman MT)

What is your go to carry on packing list?

Here is what I'm thinking:

wet wipes

disinfecting wipes


gum (for the ear popping)


coloring books/crayons

books to read

electronic device ( our 5 y/o has a kindle and my husband is suggesting we bring an old ipad for the 4 y/o but i'm nervous about losing these plus we have to lug their charging cords with us but if worth it will make it happen) OR video game system (they also have a mobi go)

blankie or comfort toy

Does anyone swear by any travel gadgets (like a travel pillow, ear plugs, etc)

I'm also nervous about all the walking they'll be doing in the airports. They tend to be like lead weights when they don't want to cooperate and are WAY too big to carry, so I've seen these ride on carry on seats (like a lawn chair that straps onto the carry on) and was considering getting 2 for them; any thoughts or anyone with any experience with these?

I'm not planning on packing booster seat/car seat as we aren't renting a car and the coach service we are using allows for car seat rental. From What I understand everything we need will be onsite so we won't be travelling/driving around the area too much.

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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1. Re: First time on airplane: 4 and 5 y/o; any tips?

Get small backpacks for your kids - put their own stuff in their own small backpack. There are lots of fun/cute ones out there that are perfect for that age. Make sure they have one favorite toy and then I would buy some little things that you wrap just for the plane - toys, books, whatever, that they only get to open when you are on the plane. My kids always looked forward to knowing that they would be getting a new book when we got on the plane. Think of some little things that will really surprise them.

I would add (to your already good list) a shirt/top for each kid into your bag. Kids are great at spilling, and it would be nice to have a clean shirt option.

When you do have those layovers, unless they happen to be napping, walk them around - they will be sitting plenty on the plane, so get them out and moving. You are doing them a service by teaching them how to travel successfully when they are young. Happy travels! :)

Charlotte, North...
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2. Re: First time on airplane: 4 and 5 y/o; any tips?

Talk to them before the trip. Tell them what to expect. Let them know they may have to stand in lines. Explain to them how their behavior and help is important to you. Tell them it will be at least a little stressful and difficult for you. The older one is old enough to understand many of these issues and be helpful to a point. Even the younger one to a degree. Explain to them that while the trip will be fun, it is also not play time.

I would prefer to focus on the positive side during this conversation. The kids need to know their good behavior benefits you and them. Build up the excitement of the trip and the adventure of the airport. The 5 year old is old enough to walk in the airport. I think you can probably get the 4 year old on board, but it will be harder for him. If you are not sure, gate check a stroller for him before you buy something new. Try a practice run at the shopping mall and see if he can do it, if needed.

As far as "things" to make the trip easier, the above list is good. Do not overdo it though. On a short flight, there will be limited time. On a longer flight, there is a good chance they will sleep. Choose quiet activities that will keep them interested, but not motivate them to get silly and loud.

Do not buy drinks until past security.

Bangkok, Thailand
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3. Re: First time on airplane: 4 and 5 y/o; any tips?

In addition to spare shirts/tops you may want to carry spare pants/skirts, as well as plastic bags for soiled clothing.

Our youngest had dealt quite well with short flights but on the first long one he started throwing up as we were landing and constrained with the seat belts. As a result we were less than successful in catching the ejecta into an airsickness bag. Luckily we had spare clothing.

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4. Re: First time on airplane: 4 and 5 y/o; any tips?

I'm a fan of the "less is more" philosophy when it comes to travelling with kids. Mine were 4,4,2 the first time we flew with them, and each kid had a little backpack with things to keep them busy during the flight and waiting in the airport. I included coloring books/crayons, a stuffed animal for each kid, a few little toys...like Matchbox cars. I didn't mess with bringing any electronic gear (just more stuff to haul around and keep track of, IMO), and we just had the kids walk in the airport. I'm sure we had to carry the 2 year old once or twice.

I had a backpack as well, with the camera and wipes in it, and a few other items. Our flight included a breakfast on the way out (and lunch on the way back), so I didn't bring any extra food other than gum for their ears.

5. Re: First time on airplane: 4 and 5 y/o; any tips?

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Helsinki, Finland
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6. Re: First time on airplane: 4 and 5 y/o; any tips?

Explaning beforehand is always good, and engaging the kids with planning and anticipation. When they know what to expect and know to look for different types of airplanes (like you do with cars) and captains walking around, they feel happier already at the airport (we've played all sorts of games like FA spotting when queuing). I have used Youtube to help kids to know what to expect. This obviously works only for the first few times. But from a kid's point of view, airports can be very exciting places!

For the airplane I used to pack little surprise gifts for them. Small piece of candy, raisins, odd-looking pens, puzzles, nice little unexpensive things wrapped so that it feels like a birthday or christmas. Kept them really quiet and co-travellers happy!

In addition I bought plenty of food from the take-away shops at the airport.

I've never had problems with vomiting or such, so I probably forgot all the spare clothes. My challenge was overly active kids, who would get cranky if hungry or tired, so I concentrated on that.

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7. Re: First time on airplane: 4 and 5 y/o; any tips?

Instead of a collection of pencils and crayons I always give my kids one of those chunky biros which have numerous colours on to slide down. When we reach our destination I find them small enough to keep in my handbag for evenings out. I also take a combined colouring and sticker book each as this also seems to last long enough to cover the journey home too.

Vancouver, Canada
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8. Re: First time on airplane: 4 and 5 y/o; any tips?

Translation: biro=ball point pen :)

The on board entertainment is often good and you should be able to find an all kids channel. That should entertain them for a bit, depending on the length of the flight.

I also like the idea of little surprise gifts. I would buy a new game for the DS. Surprise snacks are good too.

Washroom breaks! I would explain to them that there are times when they just *can't* get up and use the bathroom and its really important that they try to use the bathrooms when they are available. Make a point of doing this before they start serving the meals, because you are stuck in your seat during meal service and the bathrooms are very busy after the meal.

Also explain to them that the person can feel it when they kick the seat in front of them and they must try not to.

Planes are really neat, so take some time to explore. The bathroom with all its strange buttons and pockets, and perhaps ask the flight attendant during a quite stretch if your children could see how an airplane kitchen is different from the kitchen at home.

Looking for shapes in the clouds takes on a whole new meaning, and if you have a chance, you might want to spend a bit of time playing that game from the ground before you go, just to highlight how different it is looking at the clouds from the top.

Also warn them about take off and landing, what it feels like and sounds like, so they are not scared. Just let them know the engines have to be really loud on take off and they get pushed into their seat because the plane has to go really fast. And let them know about the seat belt sign and how important it is to keep it on snugly when the sign is lit.

Happy travels!

Toronto, Canada
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for Family Travel, Honeymoons and Romance
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9. Re: First time on airplane: 4 and 5 y/o; any tips?

Thanks for the translation Vancouverite..........I was wondering what a ``biro`` was...............

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10. Re: First time on airplane: 4 and 5 y/o; any tips?

Cannot recommend well charged electronic devices enough! I know it's great to think that kids will entertain themselves with crayons and raisins but with a long trip you have to be practical and the key to a successful trip for all of you is to keep the kids entertained and happy. Plug them in on the plane and run them around while you wait at the airport. Also, my children have never eaten food on a plane so I recommend a good meal before you leave and during layovers and to pack snacks.