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Are you planning to fly to Walt Disney World with your children? Here are tips for making the trip go a little more smoothly.
Flying With Little Ones
If you have a trip to Walt Disney World planned, you might be considering air travel. This is especially true if you live more than a few hours from the magic.
If you have kids, and you have never flown with small children, the prospect of getting there might feel daunting. In fact, it could turn into an area of stress for some adults, even those who are experienced in air travel. However, air travel with children can be a smooth experience. It might even provide memories that you cherish forever.
Here is a list of tips for eliminating the stress of flying with children. Hopefully, your journey to the magic will be a breeze.
1. Be Particular About Your Bookings
When I (Katie) travel solo, I will do all kinds of inconvenient things to save money. However, when I fly with babies or small children, I will absolutely spend more to put myself and my children in the smoothest air travel situation possible.
You do not need to book the most expensive seats in first class to have a successful flight. Still, there are some particularities to keep in mind.
If you are able, try to book a direct flight. This will minimize the hustle and bustle you will experience and eliminate stress.
You might also consider booking the first flight of the day for your travels. Taking the first flight will generally lessen the odds of experiencing a dreaded delay, which could prolong the amount of time you are stuck in the airport occupying your little ones.
2. Book Seats Next to Eachother
Additionally, book your seats in advance so that you can sit next to each other, even if it comes with an upcharge. You and your little one will not enjoy being seated separately.
Unfortunately, while it is reasonable to think that people will kindly swap seats with you once you are on board, in reality, people are not always so willing to offer up a switch, especially if they have paid for their particular seats. Also, flight attendants are not obligated to try to find someone to switch with you. It is best to go into the situation prepared.
If you are flying on an airline like Southwest that does not allow you to preselect seats, take advantage of family boarding so that you can select seats together once you do board. You might even try to check in early enough to get in that “A” boarding group.
3. Consider Bringing a Stroller
Some parents cannot fathom the idea of a stroller in an airport. However, I cannot fathom the idea of taking my kids through the airport without one. My journey involves departing from one of the busiest airports in the world. So having my kids safely tucked away in a stroller makes the airport infinitely less stressful for me.
Additionally, most major airlines will allow you to bring your stroller all the way to the gate and then gate check it for you. When you arrive in Orlando, it will be waiting for you on the tarmac. Then you can work your way through the airport with them nicely contained.
An added benefit is that you will not need a stroller rental while you are in the theme parks! You will have your own.
That said, there is no guarantee the stroller will not get damaged. I bring a second-hand one that I found at a yard sale instead of a fancy one. It has never been lost or damaged, but it will not be too terribly devastating if anything ever does happen to it.
4. Familiarize Yourself with Both your Airport and Orlando International Airport
If you have a good idea of the airport’s layout, you will have an easier time navigating it. This can save you time in the long run. It will also prevent unpleasant surprises such as the sheer size of the airport you are navigating.
For example, it will be important to know how to get from the gate to baggage claim or ground transportation once you deplane. Even though there is signage available, having a general knowledge of what to look for will help you to orient yourself quickly.
5. Walk Your Children Through What To Expect
If your children have never been on a plane, it may be helpful to walk them through what to expect at the airport. You could make a fun game out of this.
Preparing children helps them manage their expectations. It can also make a new situation seem a bit more familiar, comfortable, and fun!
6. Wear Slip-on Shoes and Socks
Going through the airport means that you will be going through airport security. Many airports require everyone, even children to remove their shoes as a part of the security process.
If you find security stressful when you fly solo or with adults, you will find it even more stressful when you fly with little ones. This is where having slip-on shoes will be helpful. The easier everyone’s shoes are to get on and off, the more smooth your security experience will be.
You will probably also want socks. Bare feet on an airport floor is its own special kind of ick.
7. Make Sure You Are Following Security Guidelines
Speaking of security, making sure you are following security guidelines can get you and your little ones through the process more quickly and smoothly. TSA has specific guidelines on what can and cannot be in your carry-on luggage. Be sure to note allowable quantities for formula, breastmilk, and baby food if you need it for a little one.
Also, airports are particular about what needs to come out of your bag and what stays in your bag. Be sure to pay attention to all signs and instructions. If you have something in your baggage that needs to be removed, it can prolong the process and even cause you to go through an additional security check.
Lastly, it is a great idea to pack things you know you will need to remove from your carry-on luggage in an easily accessible place such as on top or in a side pocket. It will save you some time, and it will help you keep from forgetting something.
8. Bring Refillable Water Bottles
With limited exceptions, you will not be able to bring more than a very small amount of liquid through security. This includes unopened water bottles.
One solution is to bring empty refillable water bottles, especially if your children have leakproof ones that are difficult to spill. Many airports have water bottle filling stations available once you clear security.
Alternatively, there will likely be bottled drinks for sale at newsstands or shops once you clear security. However, this is an instance where I prefer to save money and opt for the free option.
You will also find that refillable bottles are handy for touring Walt Disney World. There are several bottle refill stations in Disney World and you can get free water at any quick-service restaurant to refill your bottles as well.
9. Wear or Bring Layers and Changes of Clothes
The temperature on an airplane can be unpredictable, especially if you are traveling from one climate to another. Bringing or wearing layers will help you to stay comfortable.
You might also want to pack an extra set of clothes for your kids in case of a spill or an accident. Speaking of accidents, there is also no shame in putting a potty-trained child in a pull-up just in case.
10. Bring Snacks
Bring all the snacks. You will have limited options if any at all on the airplane. While some airlines do offer crackers, pretzels, or cookies, there is no guarantee that a snack service will happen.
Be sure to bring something your little one will enjoy eating, especially if you have a longer flight. Prepackaged snacks generally are allowable in security lines, so they are great options for plane rides.
11. Save Screen Time for the Flight and Bring Headphones
If you allow your child to use electronic devices such as tablets, save up your child’s screen time for the plane ride if possible. This way, the device will feel fresh and interesting for longer.
Also, be sure to check on the plane’s wifi and in-flight entertainment situation. Not all airlines offer it. If there is in-flight entertainment available, be sure your device is supported and updated. If there is no in-flight entertainment or wifi available to you, you will want to download videos and games that your child can use on the device without wifi.
Lastly, bring headphones that your child likes. Some airlines do sell earbuds, but it is best to bring your own that you know your child will willingly and happily use.
12. Bring Activities
Regardless of whether you allow your, child, to use screens, it is also a good idea to bring portable activities. Something as simple as a coloring book and twisty crayons could be very entertaining. Stickers, water wows, dry-erase activities, and magnetic sets can be fun too.
13. Bring Something New
Sometimes novelty is fun for little ones, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. If you wrap up a small toy or book or one of the activities mentioned earlier, it could be very exciting for a child to get to unwrap it and play with it on the plane!
Stores like Dollar Tree or 5 Below often have inexpensive Disney options. Don’t forget about Big Box Stores and Warehouse clubs as well.
14. Prepare for Their Ears to Feel Funny
Your children may complain about their ears as the cabin changes pressure. Be prepared for this.
If you are traveling with a lap baby, I hear it is helpful to nurse or offer a bottle during takeoff and landing. We tried it when my younger child was a baby, and while I do not know whether it helped, it certainly didn’t hurt, and she wasn’t super fussy.
15. Go ahead and decide on transportation from the airport to Walt Disney World
Unless you are planning to have someone pick you up at the airport, you are renting a car, or you are utilizing a rideshare service, you will absolutely want to prebook your transportation to your Walt Disney World Resort. Spots fill up in advance!
Sadly, Magical Express is no longer a complementary option for Guests of the Walt Disney World Resort. However, Mears still offers the shuttle service for a fee.
Regardless of what you select, make the selection before you travel. It will make heading to the magic that much smoother.
Even the best-prepared people have travel days that aren’t great. Things beyond your control might impede your plans. But, give yourself grace.
The fact that you are even reading a tips list shows that you are the type of person who wants to plan and be a step ahead of the game. You are doing a great job! Hang in there, and have a magical time!
Have you ever flown with small children? What tips would you add to the list? Your ideas might help a fellow Disney goer. Let us know in the comments or start up a conversation on Facebook.