How to Make Flying with Kids a Heck of a Lot Less Stressful!

Jun 9, 2021 | Baby and Kids, Travel

Summer travel season is kicking into high gear, and SO many of you have reached out to ask for help! If you're getting ready to travel with kids by plane, then this post is for you. Here are a few of our best tips and tricks for flying with kids or a baby!

family with kids waiting to board plane, from Fun Cheap or Free

If you're getting ready to travel with kids for the first time in a while, then take a deep breath. You've got this, and we've got a few tricks up our sleeves that just might help you fly the friendly skies with a little more confidence and a lot less stress!

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From what to pack to how to get your littles to sleep, we've got you covered! We'll even share our take on whether you should check your bags or not. Are you ready to learn our best tips and tricks for flying with kids?!


family with young daughter at airport, from Fun Cheap or Free

If you're flying with a kiddo who's three or older, then these tips are for you! Travel with kids who are a little older is easier in some ways and more challenging in others. So, if this is your first time traveling with kids over the age of three, keep this advice in mind.


Okay, hear us out because we know what you're thinking! Isn't it easier to just check the dang bags?! Well, maybe, but it's also dang expensive! Like, up to $50 per person expensive. You can do SO much more with that money on your trip! We pack a backpack, tote, or the like for each person (with things to entertain, snacks, etc.) to go under the seat and a carry-on suitcase with wheels. Once we get to the gate, we ask if we can gate check them! Then they take our bags away, and once we arrive, they are waiting for us as we exit the plane (and, it's FREE!). It means we don't wait for luggage, and we can get our trip started as soon as we're off the plane! Less time waiting for bags = a huge win when you've got kids in tow.

Pro Tip: Find out how we pack for trips with kids. We've got tons of hacks you need to try!


Traveling can be a long and boring ordeal for kiddos. We pack each of our kids an “Activity Backpack.” Inside these magical backpacks are all sorts of entertainment — coloring books, stickers, a cozy blanket, you name it! Also, don't forget headphones so they can listen to a movie, music, or whatever they want without the entire plane hearing it too! Invest in a splitter!! What is this magical thing? A way for your kids to SHARE a device, which is a literal miracle. Invest in one of these, and you will thank us later!

Pro Tip: If you're traveling during the school year, ask for homework BEFORE your trip, so your kiddo can stay caught up and not be overloaded with homework when you get home! It will keep them busy on that flight, too. #JustSaying


If your flight or trip is long โ€” pack a snack bag! We like to fill a gallon-sized bag, per kiddo, with his or her favorite snacks. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, fruit snacks, granola bars, pretzels, an apple, whatever they like. It gives them a variety and keeps bellies full and happy until you arrive. #SCORE!


Even if your kids are potty trained, when they gotta go, they gotta go, and no fasten seatbelt sign is going to change that! We have ours wear a pull-up on the plane or in the car, knowing that we won't have an accident if an emergency strikes. We pack an extra pair of undies, too, just in case.

When those wonderful drink-carts come through the airplane aisle, we don't ask for a cup of apple juice; we ask for the entire can. You are less likely to spill from a can than a cup if the plane hits some rough air. Oh, and you get double the juice that way. #Winning


Buy your kids a neck pillow! It makes it so much easier for them to snooze in a small space and keep them from getting slumpy neck (you know, when their chin drops down to their belly button, and you have NO idea how they can even breathe?!). They are comfy and nice to snuggle when nap time hits. Just don't buy it at the airport! Hello, markup! Snag one on Amazon before you hit the road!


mom and baby on plane, from Fun Cheap or Free

Are you getting ready to take your first flight with a baby? We know how nerve-wracking it can be! Give yourself plenty of grace, get to the airport early, and follow this advice for a smooth ride.


So, you know how most airlines allow families with children to board the plane early? Well, don't do it. Wait. Say what?! Sounds crazy, we know, but here's the thing. The boarding process can take forever, and the longer you. have that baby on the plane, the more restless he's going to become. Save yourself the headache, and divide and conquer!

Have one parent board early with all the gear, and then the parent who stays behind with the baby can board last! That alone can shave a good 20-30 minutes off the time baby is stuck on the plane.


Takeoff and landing are both tough on a baby's ears. The changing air pressure and altitude are hard on everyone, but especially the little ones. You know how they tell grownups to chew on gum? Since the littles can't exactly do that, bottles are the next best thing! Make sure you pack twoโ€”one for takeoff and one for landing. Most flight attendants will help you heat the bottle if you ask. You can also use a little warm water in a pinch or pack your own bottle warmer.


If you're worried about how you'll get all your gear on the plane, we've got some good news. You can gate check it for free! So, bring a lightweight travel stroller and car seat if you have one. It will save you from having to pay rental fees when you land. As you're boarding the plane, you can check those items on the jet bridge, and they'll be waiting for you when you land. Having a stroller handy makes navigating a busy airport SO much more manageable.


an airplane flying through clouds, from Fun Cheap or Free

Okay, this needed to be said: ignore the haters. We've learned that no matter how prepared you are, something won't go as planned. Your flight might be delayed. Your baby might skip a nap, and someone will give you a dirty look or two. Ignore them! You're doing the best you can, and so are your littles. Flying with kids, babies, or toddlers is NO joke, so go with the flow, take a few deep breaths, and remember that this is temporary!

And that person giving you all the dirty looks? Well, you'll probably never see them again, so don't even sweat it!

We hope these tips help you on your next flight with the kids! Know someone else who could use the help? Please pay it forward and share this post!

What advice would you add to the mix? Drop your best tips for plane travel with kids in the comments below!

Image with text that reads "travel essentials for flying" from Fun Cheap or Free

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  1. Adam Chronister

    Great post. I’m going to steal the Activity Backpack idea. That seems so obvious but somehow I never thought of it. Thanks. Regarding skipping the checked luggage there is a motto we used when traveling with the kiddos. Buy It There. This has saved us a lot of unnecessary time and trouble

  2. sd

    These are awesome tips.

  3. Celeste

    Great tip waiting to board with baby. I’ll let my husband go first with older kids, save our seats and I’ll board later with baby! Also, invest in a Slumberpod! Thank you

    • Fun Cheap or Free

      Love those tips! Thanks for sharing!!

  4. Krista

    I make sure to have an extra outfit and easy access to a diaper/wipes in case of a blowout. ๐Ÿ™‚ also keep a light blanket on hand to help cover your little one so they can sleep with it a bit darker

    • Fun Cheap or Free

      Great ideas!

  5. Vladi

    Thanks for the tips, traveling with our toddler is really quite challenging. Because of him we are trying to avoid more distant destinations. Next month we will have a 5-hour flight, the longest for him so far, so we’ll see…

    • Fun Cheap or Free

      You’ve got this…hope these tips help you feel more prepared!

  6. Melissa Beth Gluzband Escobar

    Regarding gate checking your bags, check with your airline first! I usually fly JetBlue and gate checking is NOT free. It’s actually more expensive, so you would need to plan this ahead.


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