Issues to Consider When Traveling by Air with Children

Keeping certain recommendations in mind is key when traveling by air with children and doing everything possible to ensure a smooth trip.
Issues to Consider When Traveling by Air with Children
Sharon Capeluto

Written and verified by the psychologist Sharon Capeluto.

Last update: 10 February, 2023

Traveling by air with children can be a marvel or it can feel like martyrdom. The experiences are varied: Sometimes little ones sleep through the whole trip, sometimes they entertain themselves with a tablet or other games, and, in the worst case, they maintain a restless and annoying attitude that disturbs all the passengers around them.

Travel always involves a certain level of stress. The paperwork, the bags, the paperwork, the layovers, the schedules. Even when it’s a vacation, getting on a plane as a family brings with it more than a few worries. The truth is that for long flights, it’s better to anticipate this situation and do what’s necessary to make the experience as pleasant as possible. Here are some recommendations.

Traveling by air with children

We know that most children enjoy being on the move, so spending eight hours on a plane may seem like an eternity. If for us adults, sitting for several hours in a rigid seat is an uncomfortable situation, imagine what it’s like for a child who’s not yet able to regulate their energy or emotions.

What’s more, if this is one of their first trips, they’ll probably be nervous, excited, and afraid. As a result, the experience can be quite intense, so it’s to be expected that children’s moods will be somewhat unstable. Of course, everything will depend on the personality traits of each one, their temperament, and how they live the new experiences.

Recommendations when traveling by air with children

Take note of the following recommendations for traveling by plane with children.

A family preparing to travel by air.
Organizing the trip in advance is key to avoiding the stressful situation of having to resolve bureaucratic issues minutes before boarding time.

1. Organize the trip

Leaving things until the last minute almost never works out well. Even less so when we’re talking about situations involving minors. For this reason, it’s important to organize the trip plenty of time in advance and thus be able to take care of all the details.

The first aspect to consider is everything related to the formalities required by the airlines to travel with children. In addition, a few weeks before the day of the flight, you must make sure that all of your documentation is in order.

2. Anticipate what will happen on the flight

Information reduces uncertainty and, therefore, anxiety. There are children who are very nervous and stressed by unfamiliar experiences. Also, some of them may feel fear once on the plane: Take-off, landing, and turbulence may represent a strong threat.

In this regard, it’s essential that the child doesn’t have any big surprises on the day of the flight. We can anticipate what will or could happen. If this is their first trip, we can show them videos of airplanes, tell them about the sensations when taking off, and explain that the plane might move a little, reassuring them that this isn’t risky. In short, the idea is to prepare them so that it will be an enjoyable experience and not one of suffering.

3. Having a basic entertainment basket

Generally, boredom makes children fussy. To avoid this situation, it’s essential to carry some entertainment elements so that they can make use of them while in flight.

Although most airplanes have screens to watch movies or play games, it’s more than convenient to bring alternatives designed exclusively for our children. In addition to electronic tablets or cell phones, we can have on hand some small books to read or color, white sheets of paper, and a good set of colored crayons. Also, talking games like peek-a-boo can be a great help to break or avoid boredom in little ones.

A child drawing while traveling by air.
Bringing a coloring book or some white drawing sheets and some crayons or pencils is a good option to keep the children entertained during part of the flight.

4. Ensure children’s comfort while traveling by air

It’s essential that children are comfortable on the plane. This aspect can make the difference between a wonderful flight and one you want to forget. Bearing in mind that your little ones won’t be able to move around much for a few hours, it’s important that they wear comfortable clothes that allow them to feel at ease.

Cotton T-shirts, jogging pants, and even pajamas are the best options, as well as comfortable shoes. It’s also essential to have a change of clothes in case something unexpected happens. Finally, we can also prepare earplugs, travel pillows, and some snacks that the children like.

Remember that you’ll do your best

You should know that, even if you take all the necessary precautions, you can’t guarantee that your child will enjoy traveling by plane or that they won’t be a nuisance to other passengers. You’ll do everything in your power to ensure that the trip goes smoothly, but not everything depends on you. Therefore, it ‘s advisable that you try to take it easy and not be so self-demanding.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Valiente, R., Sandín, B., Chorot, B. (2011). Miedos en la infancia y la adolescencia. Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Madrid.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.