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Anyone ever fly/travel with small children on your own?


HappyLady
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I want to bring my kids to see their grandparents (DH's parents).  We live in NY and they live in FL.  My children will be 6.5 and just-turned 4 when I'm thinking of going.  I found really cheap flights, which is hard to do these days, it seems.  The problem is my DH doesn't have the vacation time left to go.  My kids ask almost everyday to see their grandparents.  It makes me sad that they only see each other for a week out of the year when we go down to visit them.  My ILs aren't in any physical condition to travel to see us anymore.  It's important to me that my children see and remember their grandparents because they're really the only family that seem to honestly care about my kids.  I just don't know how many more years we'll have with them (they're both in their mid 70s and are just going downhill).

 

I've never traveled by myself, much less with two young children.  I know traveling with my oldest wouldn't be a problem, but it's the youngest I'm worried about.  He has behavioral issues so I worry he'll have a meltdown over something silly and I won't have my husband there to help me.  Plus it's obviously easier to deal with everything that's involved with flying when you have another adult with you.

 

The whole trip would probably cause me a lot of stress, especially seeing as my ILs live almost 2 hours from the airport and I am NOT good with directions and get very flustered when driving.  And as much as I love my ILs, after about 3 days with them I'm ready to pull my hair out.  At least when my DH is there I have him as a buffer or someone to vent to.  :)  But, my kids seeing their grandparents is important enough to me to want to attempt it all.

 

Am I crazy?  Is there something I should know about traveling with young kids that maybe would make this trip impossible that you've experienced?  Any helpful hints or advice?  :)

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I do the reverse trip (FL to NY), and I have done it with young children. By "young" I mean an infant and a toddler! (which is what I thought you meant when I clicked on the thread) It wasn't easy, but do-able.

 

At 6 and 4 it would be no problem whatsoever! You just take them into the bathroom with you, etc.

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I do the reverse trip (FL to NY), and I have done it with young children. By "young" I mean an infant and a toddler! (which is what I thought you meant when I clicked on the thread) It wasn't easy, but do-able.

 

At 6 and 4 it would be no problem whatsoever! You just take them into the bathroom with you, etc.

 

 

It's funny you mention that, because the bathroom is one of the things I thought would be an issue.  In the airport isn't a problem, but on the plane both kids are afraid of the bathroom.   :glare:  So what happens is I have to squeeze myself in there with whoever has to go and literally hold them down on the toilet to force them to go.  And oh, my DS screams the whole time.  I can obviously still do that by myself, but that would mean the other child would be left alone and I don't think either kid would be willing to sit in their seat all by themselves.  So I'm not sure how I'd handle all that.

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My kids didn't care for the bathroom at those ages either, so I'd have them go right before we boarded the plane. I guess if I were in there with one of them I'd ask the flight attendant to stand right outside with the other one.

 

Re: driving, I'd MapQuest the directions ahead of time, not rely on the GP's directions.

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I find that in those situations that seem like such an effort (but with a goal that you really want), it is usually worth it!  I would feel a lot more comfortable with a 4 and 6 year old than an infant and toddler.  You can at least kind of reason with them and do things to keep them occupied.  I'd think that the flight itself would be so fun, that they would behave.  I think it's about a 3-hour flight.  Can you download a movie onto a computer or something?  That would take up a couple hours.  Bring snacks and some activity book, and you should be good to go!

 

Would you rent a car at the airport?  Or maybe there's an airport shuttle you can take to the town they are in.  That's probably what I would rather do if I had that option.

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Would you be willing to have your kids wear UnderJams on the plane? Basically pull ups for big kids--the idea being that if they still wet the bed, they can wear them under their jammies. Have them go to the bathroom just before boarding, and change into UnderJams at that time (or just wear them that day). Hopefully going before they get on the plane will mean they don't need to use the bathroom on the plane, but if they do, then the UnderJams make it a little less panic-inducing--of course you'd still try to get them on the toilet, but if you don't make it or if they only have to pee, it's not too much of a big deal. My almost 4yo is pretty well daytime potty trained, but I still intend to put her in UnderJams on planes as long as she'll let me ... with my luck, she'd need to go potty while we're confined to our seats for security or turbulence reasons.

 

I've flown alone with my daughter when she was an infant--twice, transatlantic, under extremely stressful circumstances (evacuation for security reasons when my husband was required to stay at post and dependents were required to leave, and then again three months later when we were allowed back). I've never flown alone with a preschooler, much less two. I'd think that would be more difficult, but if your older is ok and you're only concerned about the younger ... pack special treats that he doesn't usually get to do. My daughter loves to watch movies and play games on Daddy's iPad when we fly. We also allow her to pack a small backpack of toys--no balls, nothing so small it'll get lost, nothing noisy, but she fills it up with her Leap Pad, some books, some stuffed animals, crayons and paper ... if I had to fly alone with her now, I wouldn't like it but I wouldn't stress overmuch about it either.

 

For the driving ... rent a GPS to go along with your rental car. Those things are lifesavers. I'm good with a map and with following written directions, but nothing is easier than following the voice prompts or glancing at the display to see that your turn is exactly 1.2 miles away--or to see that it's the first of those two roads that are really close to each other! And it's great that it lets you know immediately if you've taken a wrong turn.

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I flew with dd when she was much younger.  I did have to go to the restroom while on the plane and she was still in diapers.  The flight attendants were more than willing to hold her for the minute or 2 that I was in the bathroom.  I am thinking about taking dd in the fall and she will be 4.  She is used to car travel and I am pretty confident it won't be too challenging.

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I have flown with my kids overseas since birth, usually with two parents, but I moved by plane to England with a 1 and 3 year old by myself.

4 and 6.5 is not that little: they are able to walk on their own feet onto the plane, they can carry their own belongings, they can use a bathroom and do not need diapers, they can eat normal food. Much easier than babies/toddlers. You should be OK.

Take plenty of entertainment for your older one to do independently so you can devote your attention to the younger one if needed. But then from FL to NY is not that far, that's only a few hours on the plane. The most important thing for me was to adjust to the mindset that travel will not be relaxing for *me*, but rather that my full-time task is to entertain my kids. Once that is internalized, things are OK.

 

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I find that in those situations that seem like such an effort (but with a goal that you really want), it is usually worth it!  I would feel a lot more comfortable with a 4 and 6 year old than an infant and toddler.  You can at least kind of reason with them and do things to keep them occupied.  I'd think that the flight itself would be so fun, that they would behave.  I think it's about a 3-hour flight.  Can you download a movie onto a computer or something?  That would take up a couple hours.  Bring snacks and some activity book, and you should be good to go!

 

Would you rent a car at the airport?  Or maybe there's an airport shuttle you can take to the town they are in.  That's probably what I would rather do if I had that option.

 

 

I'm not so much worried about the actual flight as they've always been good with that part (minus the whole bathroom thing).  

 

I'm still debating on the car issue.  I started looking at shuttles to get us from the airport to the ILs, but it just seems like it would take forever to get there.  I haven't fully researched it, but a few sites I looked at mentioning door-to-door service, but there could be up to 10 people on the bus and I wouldn't know the order in which we'd be getting off until that day.  I wouldn't want it to end up being a 4 hour trip, you know?  Plus again, I worry about the bathroom situation with the kids.  I don't know if these buses have one or how many times they make bathroom stops.  It's something I'm going to inquire about, though.  I'd much prefer to have my own car, though, and if my DH doesn't go with us we can get a much smaller car and it wouldn't really cost that much compared to what we normally pay.

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My SIL flew from CT to TX by herself about a year ago (maybe a year and a half ago?) with their 4 small children. Their ages were around 1, 3, 4, and 6. I thought she was a crazy mix of insane and super woman! :-) She had a lay over to deal with too. She put movies on an i-pad that helped some. I think it was fine (or at least as good as one could expect). She was able to get the older 2 sitting on the row in front of her so they were close together. The one big catastrophe I remember her telling about was the baby having a terrible blow out diaper while sitting on her lap. She had a change of clothes for all the kids but all her clothes were in the checked luggage. She was covered in poop and had to settle for rinsing her shirt and turning it inside out until they arrived at thier destination. 

 

With the ages of your kids I'd say go for it. :-)

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Would you be willing to have your kids wear UnderJams on the plane? Basically pull ups for big kids--the idea being that if they still wet the bed, they can wear them under their jammies. Have them go to the bathroom just before boarding, and change into UnderJams at that time (or just wear them that day). Hopefully going before they get on the plane will mean they don't need to use the bathroom on the plane, but if they do, then the UnderJams make it a little less panic-inducing--of course you'd still try to get them on the toilet, but if you don't make it or if they only have to pee, it's not too much of a big deal. My almost 4yo is pretty well daytime potty trained, but I still intend to put her in UnderJams on planes as long as she'll let me ... with my luck, she'd need to go potty while we're confined to our seats for security or turbulence reasons.

 

 

 

 

 

I was thinking of maybe doing something like this for my DS.  On our flight home the last time we went he decided he had to use the potty as we were descending.  We weren't allowed out of our seats and I figured he could hold it.  Nope.  He peed his pants and he shouted it over and over so that the whole plane knew.   :glare:

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Yes, I have traveled alone with young children and younger than your kids are both via longer road trip and plane.  But no, I would not do it to visit my inlaws without my DH.  I love my inlaws and they're mostly fine, but ugh, I could not muster up the courage for that.  So if you it, you should get a DIL of the year trophy from someone! 

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I've flown with my two little boys several times (since they were 1 and 3), but I have a lot of experience traveling on my own and truly enjoy airports and airplanes. 

 

Is the flight direct? Our only problem has been making connecting flights. My youngest gets motion sick during landing, so dragging a sick, cranky preschooler through an airport to make it to our next flight has been a little stressful at times, especially if the first flight is at all delayed or if we have to go through customs. 

 

Direct flights have been very painless. 

 

When one kid has to use the washroom on the plane, I would try to leave the other in his seat. My boys are usually watching a movie and don't want to get up anyway. When you get up by the washrooms, you could ask the flight attendant to keep an eye out for him in case he gets out of his seat or needs anything. 

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It's funny you mention that, because the bathroom is one of the things I thought would be an issue.  In the airport isn't a problem, but on the plane both kids are afraid of the bathroom.   :glare:  So what happens is I have to squeeze myself in there with whoever has to go and literally hold them down on the toilet to force them to go.  And oh, my DS screams the whole time.  I can obviously still do that by myself, but that would mean the other child would be left alone and I don't think either kid would be willing to sit in their seat all by themselves.  So I'm not sure how I'd handle all that.

 

You sound concerned about your youngest. Maybe it would be easier to wait a year or two. Many people have done this and many wouldn't think of it. Only you know how you and your chldren will tolerate the travel. It won't be fun for anyone if you are too stressed out.

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You sound concerned about your youngest. Maybe it would be easier to wait a year or two. Many people have done this and many wouldn't think of it. Only you know how you and your chldren will tolerate the travel. It won't be fun for anyone if you are too stressed out.

 

If this would be an issue that would stress you out, maybe you should wait.  I would ask to be seated NEAR a bathroom when my kids were younger on a plane, and we just crossed bridges as we got to them.  Even as toddlers, my kids would have most likely sat with an iPad or game boy or whatever while I helped the other in the bathroom.  At 6, my oldest would have been fine going on his own and I just would have had to remind him about hand washing.

 

My dd barfed on an airplane once when she was 2.  That was fun!  Dear Stewerdess, please don't bring me like 1 paper napkin when someone barfs, look like this is the worst day of your life, and then disappear. 

 

The travel portion of this wouldn't stress me out at all.  It's spending a week with the inlaws alone that sounds unpleasant to me.  ;)

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I have flown alone with four kids around that age. My only advice is tablets for movies or ds game. Gum to help their ears equalize. And the biggest. Do not give them five million ounces of drink before the flight or you will live in the lavs and since they are the age they are, they'll love the lavs because they have cool buttons and tiny like they imagine a space shuttle would be (ask me how I know?!)

 

Totally doable at that age!

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Think through the possible problems and prepare for them.  Have them drink only water (so spills aren't an issue).  Pack a change of clothes for everyone in your carry on.  Have multiple simple things to entertain them - for example, there are a lot of games you can play with dice, which are very easy to carry in your purse.  Do not assume the airline will feed you, so pack food accordingly.  Assume you may end up with a delayed or diverted flight, and plan accordingly - again, pack food and entertainment.  A toothbrush and toothpaste can be very refreshing if you are stuck somewhere.  A fleece pullover can be worn or used as a pillow or blanket.  Pack minimally, so you can wrangle your own luggage.  Most things can be purchased when you arrive if need be.  

Involve the kids in the trip.  Show them on maps where you are going, learn about some things to see or do when you are there.  Scope out local playgrounds and other ways you and the kids can get out in the afternoons to give both you and the grands a break.

You can do this.  It will stretch your parenting skills, but that's a good thing.  

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How long is the flight? I've been flying with my first two their whole lives and we've never had to use the bathroom on the plane. Just have them go before you board and don't give them tons to drink. I just had number 3 and we will be planning our next trip in the fall. My kids are 6, 3, and newborn. I guess I would be more worried about a long flight, but I wouldn't think that NY to FL would be that long. The flight we take is only about an hour and a half, but we have had times where we were stuck sitting there while they de-iced the plane or had other delays.

 

For us it is a little different because we are traveling to see my parents (instead of my inlaws) and they are able to pick us up from the airport so we don't have to rent a car.

 

You can do this! Take something new for the kids to entertain them. Mine like sticker books. Make the airport part exciting, walk around and see everything. Buy some overpriced junk food that they never get to have (unless food causes the meltdowns!). Watch the planes taking off and landing. Seriously, my experience is that the kids find all of this lots of fun.

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At that age, I would definitely go. Those ages are not that young. I thought you were going to say you have a newborn and a 2 yr old, which would be rough. I have travelled with my husband, while pregnant, with 4 children (4 already born children, not pregnant with 4, LOL). I have travelled alone with one toddler. I also travelled with 5 children, one which was a newborn and two others also still needed car seats, with my husband.

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It happens.  I used to carry a change of clothes.  Once one of ours peed his pants in a train station.  He screamed his head off.  I just thought...I'll never see these people again.  LOL

 

You just pack for emergencies and do your best.  It's not the end of the world and I'm pretty sure stuff like this happens on planes across the world every day.  It makes for funny family fodder later on.  ;)

 

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In addition to the great suggestions you've gotten above, why not practice?  Since your kids seem interested in seeing their grandparents, you could talk through some of the challenges and "practice" some things.  Obviously, it's not all going to sink in, especially with the younger, but it ought to help.  Maybe if you make a game out of "Flying to Grandma's house" it would help.

 

Anne

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I want to bring my kids to see their grandparents (DH's parents). We live in NY and they live in FL. My children will be 6.5 and just-turned 4 when I'm thinking of going. I found really cheap flights, which is hard to do these days, it seems. The problem is my DH doesn't have the vacation time left to go. My kids ask almost everyday to see their grandparents. It makes me sad that they only see each other for a week out of the year when we go down to visit them. My ILs aren't in any physical condition to travel to see us anymore. It's important to me that my children see and remember their grandparents because they're really the only family that seem to honestly care about my kids. I just don't know how many more years we'll have with them (they're both in their mid 70s and are just going downhill).

 

I've never traveled by myself, much less with two young children. I know traveling with my oldest wouldn't be a problem, but it's the youngest I'm worried about. He has behavioral issues so I worry he'll have a meltdown over something silly and I won't have my husband there to help me. Plus it's obviously easier to deal with everything that's involved with flying when you have another adult with you.

 

The whole trip would probably cause me a lot of stress, especially seeing as my ILs live almost 2 hours from the airport and I am NOT good with directions and get very flustered when driving. And as much as I love my ILs, after about 3 days with them I'm ready to pull my hair out. At least when my DH is there I have him as a buffer or someone to vent to. :) But, my kids seeing their grandparents is important enough to me to want to attempt it all.

 

Am I crazy? Is there something I should know about traveling with young kids that maybe would make this trip impossible that you've experienced? Any helpful hints or advice? :)

I do it. I drove to visit family at spring break because renting a car, with gas, was cheaper than flying all 3 of us.

 

I've also traveled on my own plenty, and camped with the kids without DH. With planning, it's all doable.

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I almost always fly cross-country by myself with 3 kids, including a SN one. Not because I want to, but because DH can't take 2 or 3 weeks off to go visiting East Coast relatives. I've learned that it is actually easier to take the red-eye because it means the kids will sleep for most of the flight. My oldest is now old enough to watch a younger sibling while I take a kid to the bathroom, but I used to ask a flight attendant to help.

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At those ages, you will be fine.

 

Fwiw, I flew NY to FL alone with ages 2, 2, and 4. Challenging, but the flight goes fast when you are busy.

 

Last summer, I took my six kids (then 4, 5, 7, 10, 10, 12) on a 4 hr flight back east without dh, rented car, hotels, ferry, etc. Having some older ones helped, though it was still busy. I strategically placed the 10 y.o. sitting by himself in the seat in front of dd4, as she tends to kick the seat if I'm not paying attention.

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Since my kids were born (15 months apart - now 11 and 12) I've done 4-6 multi leg trips per year and mostly (95%) solo. It's really not a huge deal and absolutely nothing you should worry about. :-) You can do it!!

 

My tips -

More is less. A few crayons and paper, a couple silent toys, etc. Mine have never watched TV or movies - they read the magazines, looked around, read... Now they have tablets and they can read or play games. With younger ones boredom leads to naps and I'm all over that. I'd also let them know nap time is on the plane ahead of time.

 

Food - take a few snacks but keep then for an emergeny. For my kids the wait, snack, and clean up were highlights of the flight. I always had food, but would build up the in-flight cookie and coke (a HUGE treat) as the Ritz. I also bribe good behavior with froyo between flights in the terminal. ;-) We usually go early (6:00 departures) so ice cream for breakfast is a family tradition.

 

Your kids can carry or drag their own carry on bags. Maybe not the 4 yo - but definitely the 6 yo.

 

Check everything you can. Pack, then take 25% out. You won't need it and you'll do laundry there. :-)

 

I rarely used a stroller after about 3. I needed them to walk to get some energy out and get them tired. Less is more.

 

Your kids are older - but 4-5 $5 Starbucks cards to give to nice flight attendants/gate agents are awesome.

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I wouldn't go so far as easy peasy, but you aren't taking that long of a flight and they are not little babies.

 

It probably depends on your kids too.

True. I imagine traveling with MY now 4 and 6 year olds and it would be a piece of cake. I'd be able to relax! A certain one of my older kids at age 4? Another story. So, yes, totally depends on the kids.

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I've flown with 2 on my own a few times. I have twice been able to bring a non-ticketed person with me to the gate to help with the kids. Not all gate agents will allow it, but if you are polite and confident they will. You may also be able to call the airline ahead of time to arrange it, I'm not sure I they can pre-authorize it though. At Cinci, they even allowed my husband back to the gate when we returned, I was really surprised to see him there, but he has no trouble because the gate agent had remembered him from the week before.

 

As far as the bathroom issue can you coach them ahead of time and whoever has to wait, wait right outside the door?

 

Even if the younger one melts down, it will be ok. Do what you can ahead of time to help prevent it and have an action plan in place if he melts down anyway. When I traveled for my grandfathers funeral my then 6 week old had a meltdown right as all the emotions of the week hit me. A couple flight attendants stepped in to help me out, it was much needed and appreciated. I was embarrassed, but it all worked out.

 

As far as driving in an unfamiliar city, plan your route ahead of time ask people familiar with the area for easier routes or landmarks you can watch for. Rent a gps if it will help.

 

Even if your inlaws drive you crazy your kids will always appreciate the effort you went through so they could see their grandparents.

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At that age, if the 6 year old doesn't need to go potty while on the plane, I'd leave him/her in the seat while I took the 4 year old. I would also leave both of them together while I went. I've done that many times. No problem at all. Flight attendants might be available but you cannot count on that, it really depends on what else is going on. Note that mine are about the same age difference as yours, 2 + years, and the younger has mild autism. It really can work.

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We live in Orlando and fly one or twice a year into the Syracuse area. I've done it alone with a baby and two year old (during which the two year old got a virus and puked every 20 minutes for three hours, while the baby cried because he got woken every 20 minutes . . . ). Every flight is easy after that one! Seriously! Last year they were 6 and 4 and I couldnt believe how easy it was!

 

You can survive a 3 hour flight. For the car trip, pre-print yourself maps and stopping points along the way. That will take some of the stress of a drive out of the way. Don't let the fear of a couple travel hours stop you from fun . . . If the trip sounds like fun!

 

My best friend just flew from Indonesia with SIX kids under 11, by herself! 36 travel hours, 24 of them flying, I always tell myself that if she can do that, I can certainly handle three hours with my kids!

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For the first time in 13 years of marriage, DH and I flew on the same flights this past Christmas.

 

Yes, I've done a lot of traveling alone, with children to visit my family in another country. Both driving when we lived 3 hours away and flying when it's a 36 hour drive.

 

The only problem I ever had was one time when DS was only 6 weeks old. I flew with the kids to see my family, it was a late night arrival - DD was 3.5 and fell asleep. I could not get her to wake up to walk off the plane!! I had DS in the sling, had to carry DD, and got help from some good samaritans to help carry DDs backpack and the diaper bag off and hand the stuff to my family. :)

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Direct flights are so much easier when traveling with kids without another adult! I've traveled to visit grandparents alone since my firstborn was a couple months old. Make the trip without my husband at least once a year. It's rough, but completely doable. I also drive half a day with the kids and without DH to visit other grandparents fairly regularly. I don't think it's crazy at all. At that age you won't be lugging diaper bags. The hardest part is always trying to get bags, car seats, and little ones down the aisle alone.

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Yes, I don't think 4 and 6 are too difficult. Three and under? Another story.

 

Things to pack:

* Check your luggage: DH and I are masters at packing light. At one time, my two eldest and I could pack our combined clothes in a roller-board that would fit into an overhead bin. However, I always check my luggage when I'm traveling alone with the kids. It's too much hassle otherwise. 

* Small carry-on backpack for each child: Don't overstuff! One small toy, a new pack of crayons, a coloring book, a small book, etc. If there's room for the six-year old, change of clothes.

* Easy-on, easy-off shoes: the kids don't have to take them off to go through security, but you don't want to fumble around with shoes while trying to exit the plane.

* Backpack for you: Leave the purse at home (or pack it in your checked luggage). All electronics, snacks, treats, and a change of clothes for the younger. If you must carry a child, having the backpack (as opposed to a shoulder purse) makes the job easier.

* Electronics: charge everything the night before. Bring the chargers. Take a game device. Load a movie onto an iPad. If you have headphones, get a headphone splitter if you can find one so they can watch and hear together.

* Gummies for ears (I don't like gum for young kids)

* Snacks: Low mess snacks. Dry cereal, goldfish, crackers, etc.

* Small packs of special treats: I'm not a fan of bribery, but when flying in a tin can with other people, I will do nearly anything to keep my kids content.

* Small water bottle for each child or big water bottle that you carry and share. Fill up once you get past security. Watch out for spurting water when you're in the air.

* Lightweight umbrella stroller: if you have one and if you have a connecting flight. Check it at the gate. Little legs get tired walking long distances and if you have a connecting flight, the stroller really helps.

 

Things to do:

* You will probably have to entertain or monitor the kids the whole flight. It's tiring, but doable 

* If the kids take the shoes off, put them in the respective backpacks so you're not scrambling around for them at the end of the flight.

* As the plane starts to descend, start gathering up everything and putting it away. Again, so you're not scrambling at the end.

* If you have time between flights, let the kids walk around. It's hard for them to sit for long periods and they may need to get some energy out.

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I have flown with my kids and no dh a lot. In fact, I flew with no dh when youngest was a baby, middle was 2 and eldest was 4.

 

My typical routine was to get them up early, feed them a big breakfast, give them Dramamine (they get car/air sick), then they would fall asleep for a bit. Once they woke up, I had snacks ready for them and new books/crafts to play with.

 

It has always worked out pretty well.

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I do a 24 hour door-to-door trip with my kids a couple times a year, without DH, which includes about 14 hours of air time.  It is not "easy", but it isn't impossible either.  I would not let a 2-3 hour plane trip be the deciding factor here.  And definitely rent a car with a GPS!!! 

 

For the plane:

 

- lots of prep work.  Lots and lots of talks on how to behave at airport and in plane.  Make buying a special snack after security the reward for good behavior in security line.  Talk to them ahead of time about taking shoes on and off, etc, so they know what to expect.

 

- Lots of bribes.  Lollipops will keep kids busy for 20 minutes at least!  I ONLY give my kids lollipops on flights or train trips longer than 2 hours, so they are a very special treat. 

 

- A few Draw-and-Tell stories (google it!)- rehearse these secretly before you get on the plane, so that you can surprise your kids with this little activity during the flight.  

 

- We travel with a portable DVD player that has jacks for two headsets (you can also get a splitter that allows two headsets to plug into one jack)- 1 dvd would see you through the whole flight! 

 

- Salty snacks.  They help with any air sickness, they are not too messy, and they help reduce the number of trips to the bathroom.  lol.  For potty trips in flight, just try to reserve a seat near the restroom, and then you just stand at the (unlocked) door and hold it closed for your child from the outside while they go.  No biggie.  If you need to go yourself, you can buzz a flight attendant to come and stand guard over the kids if you feel you can't leave them. 

 

Once you get to the ILs, I would plan 2 days with them, 1 day out and about at a local attraction, and repeat this pattern for the whole visit. 

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I have flown by myself with children many times.  Now my kids aren't little so it is easier, but when they were little I flew many times with them.  California to South Carolina and back, Hong Kong to Charlotte, NC (over 20 hours of just flight time, plus layovers), California to Michigan, and a few others I can't think of at the moment.

 

I always made sure I had a stroller (single or double depending on age, etc...) because they would be too tired to walk around in the airports.

 

We didn't have iPads when the older ones were little, but one loved to draw and would be quite content with a drawing pad and pencil for hours.  

 

Snacks

Books

Toys

Coloring or drawing pads

Games

Naps

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