Getting Ready for Vacation: Preparing to fly with children

In just under 2 weeks, my husband and I along with our 2 daughters will be flying to LAX to visit my father and his wife.   Our daughters are 3 and 6 years old.  Flight time to LAX is 5 hours and 17 minutes. Coming home,  it is 4 hours and 33 minutes.

Checking Luggage vs Carry On:  I learned the hard way that trying to carry everything onto the plane just isn't worth the $ savings when traveling with small children. 

  • What we'll be checking:
    • $25 - 1 large suit case - with mostly only my clothing, shoes etc.  But this will also hold all of our toiletries.  Full size shampoos, conditioners, tooth pastes, hair spray/gel, and so on.  All those little bottles of liquids add up, so instead of buying lots of little bottles, we pay the $25 baggage fee to check one bag and just use what we have on hand at home to pack.
    • Free - Car Seat Bag - I will only need to take 1 car seat bag this time which is great!  Both of the girls booster seats should fit in the 1 car seat bag.  It's free to check car seats and I can sneak a few extras in the bag if I need some extra packing room.
    • Free - Stroller checked at the gate - We have a double stroller that has 1 seat in the front and then a platform/ledge on the back for our oldest daughter to stand on or sit on.  This is also a great thing to have since we can pile all the carry on items onto it and just push everything instead of carrying it.  We take the stroller all the way to the gate.  When we give the airline attendant our ticket to get on the plane, they give us a tag to put on the stroller.  We then collapse the stroller and leave it by the door on the plane.  Someone gets it, stows it under the plane and it's waiting for us when we get off at our destination.  We've done this many times and have never had a problem. 
  • Carry Ons -
    • Each girl gets a small back pack to put toys and entertainment items in that she can stow under the seat in front of her. 
    • They also each have their own small suitcase for their clothing, they can carry on and we'll stow in the overhead compartments. 
    • Mr. R might need his own suit case in which he'll carry on or else he can share mine.  We'll have a lot less luggage now that both the girls are out of diapers so hopefully we can limit the amount of actual carry on suitcases needed.
    • I also carry a book bag with anything else we'll need (this replaces my purse for the trip).  Snacks, magazines for Mr. R, my nook, antibacterial gel, lotion.  It seems like we still carry a lot on but we can stack everything in the stroller and push it right up to the gate.

Entertainment - If we have a plane that has the tv screens in the back of the headrest of the seat in front of us, we may purchase the TV for Mr. R to watch.  I don't remember how much this was last time, I think around $5.  For the girls:

  • Our oldest daughter just got a nook for Christmas and a V-reader that she's had for a while.  Both devises have plenty of books and games for her to play.  She has some Christmas money so I'll help her pick out some videos, books and games to download before we go.  Plus I can add lots of books for free to her nook through the library.
  • Our youngest got an Innotab for Christmas so I will use some of her Christmas money to download games, shows and books for her.
  • The girls can pick out some small quiet toys to put in their book bags: little figurines, or a barbie.  I pack toys that have a couple pieces to them in ziplock sandwich bags so we don't loose pieces in the bottom of their book bags.
  • The girls got to pick out some new items at dollar store with some of their christmas money so they'll have a couple new toys to keep them busy. 
  • I'll have my nook and Mr. R will probably bring a book and a couple magazines.

Food, snacks and beverages:

  • Drinks are free which is great!  We'll let the girls get pop or something special that they don't normally get to drink instead of making them drink water.  This will hopefully make the trip more fun and enjoyable.
  • I'll also be taking gum to chew on to help with ears popping.
  • Because our flight is over 3.5 hours, we will have the option of purchasing food off the snack menu or bistro menu.  Here's some examples of what is on the menu: 
    • Haribo Gummy Bears $3.99
    • Classic Snack Box $7.49 includes applesauce, gold fish crackers, cheddar cheese spread, pepperoni, crackers, candy and oreos
    • Ham and Cheddar Baguette and other sandwiches - $8.99 each
  • We'll probably pick up burger king sausage, egg and cheese croissants on the way and get the girls French toast sticks.  We have an hour drive to the airport.
  • I also pack a gallon sized zip lock bag full of plenty of different type of snacks to have on hand.  I try to buy fun things that I don't normally purchase.  It helps keep the kids satisfied and the husband away from buying lots of food at the airport and on the plane.  I'll pack things like honey roasted peanuts, fruit snacks, suckers, animal crackers, gold fish crackers in fun flavors, dried cherries, beef jerky, etc.

It's a lot of work flying with young children, but with lots of planning it will hopefully go smoothly and be an enjoyable part of our trip for the girls.  I hate flying, but driving from Ohio to California is not an option.

 Mrs. Ripples


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