Flightplan: Tips for Travelling with Kids (not the forgettable Jodie Foster movie)

Full disclosure: I am not a good traveller. You know that person behind you on the plane complaining that the flight attendants never leave the entire can of Diet Coke and sighing dramatically when you don’t get your overhead luggage out fast enough? That’s me. I do not like line ups, taking my shoes off, being told where to sit, line ups, food in a box, people asking me questions, line ups….pretty much everything involved with modern travel. Going through the Chicago airport several years ago, my husband pretended he didn’t know me after overhearing a TSA officer mutter “B*tch” under her breath when I went through her lane ahead of him. He loves me unconditionally, just not in airports (and most ferries)- then I’m on my own.

So here are some tips for travelling with kids from someone who probably shouldn’t be allowed to travel at all.

1. Don’t travel with your kids.

Seriously- just don’t do it. It can be terrible. Tears, lost toys, forgotten essentials…even if you have fun once you get there, you still have to get back home.

I (obviously) was never given “The Rule Book to Adequate Parenting” but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t say you have to take your kids outside of your municipality for vacation. Everyone sleeps on the floor in one room and eats overpriced bagged snacks- boom, you’re in a hotel. Throw some garbage bags on the lawn, drench with dish soap, start the hose- boom, you’re in a water park. Boom clap- you’re on vacation.

Okay, that’s probably not realistic. You are going to have to endure.

2. Pack healthy snacks.

I always neatly organize a snack pack complete with several days worth of healthy snacks attempting to factor in all possible delayed flight and layover scenarios. Then those non-GMO brown rice flour flax seed quinoa bunny cookies stay right where they started until we get home because a donut with sprinkles and some jelly beans are far more effective to get my kids to “Just sit in your seat. PLEASE SIT IN YOUR SEAT AND KEEP YOUR SEATBELT ON. They are going to make us get off this plane and you won’t see Grandma ever again if YOU DON’T SIT DOWN IN YOUR SEAT RIGHT NOW”.

3. Lighten up on the electronic devices.

Consider the extra weight and time through security and leave the electronics at home.

Luggage gnomes

A dangerous infestation of luggage gnomes…

Hahahahahahahaah! This is the worst advice ever. It might make you feel like a technology Sherpa and increase your time through security ten fold, but pack the iPhone, iPad, iTouch, laptop, calculator, circa 2006 Blackberry, flashlight…anything that might hold a charge and your child’s attention- when you get two minutes without anyone asking you how much longer the flight is, it will be worth it.

4. Time the Temper Tantrums.

There is no good time for a full on level 10 kid meltdown, but if it’s going to happen, use it to your strategic advantage. Nothing will get the “families only” express lane open through security faster than a toddler who has just been told they have to give up their juice box.

5. Don’t be afraid to lie.

Sleeping Airplane

I swear I did not drug them (much).


There are almost 3 years between my kids- the eldest will be 5 in 3 weeks and the youngest turned 2 in February.  However, when travelling, they are just 4 and over 2. Appearing to travel with two young children close in age is a sure-fire sympathy winner from airline personnel and fellow travellers. I wouldn’t usually advocate lying but when there are extra bags of pretzels and stickers involved, all bets are off- the truth is flexible.

The youngest dreams of travel and adventure...we didn't tell her we were going to Winnipeg.

The youngest dreams of travel and adventure…we didn’t tell her that we were on our way to Winnipeg.




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