More Sane Family Plane Trips: Tips From A Mom Flight Attendant

Who knows better about keeping kids calm, entertained and tears-free during a plane trip than a flight attendant who’s also a mom?

Abigail Valencia is a JetBlue attendant based out of New York City; she has a toddler and a new baby—and lots of smarts on traveling with them! Her proven strategies for stress-free plane trips with the kids this holiday season:

1. Have everything ready to go the night before you leave. “This is my top travel tip!” she says. Who wants to kick off a trip with a mad scramble to find the plane tickets or reservation number? Answer: nobody!

2. Review airport and airline etiquette with the kids ahead of time. “When kids know what to expect, they are more willing to cooperate,” she says.

3. Bring light busy toys. “Leave the bulky toys at home,” urges Valencia. “Small doll play sets, magnetic play sets, tablets and art materials won’t take up too much space. JetBlue has 36 channels of TV at every seat, so Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network can entertain your little one in-flight.”

4. Check all your bags except a carry-on. ”Leaving your luggage behind can help you relax and free you up to keep a better watch over your kids,” says Valencia.

5. Don’t wrap the presents. “Often, the Transportation Security Administration will need to have you unwrap them,” she notes. “Better still, don’t travel with presents–ship them all to your destination ahead of time.”

6. Pack light and pack smart. “Plan outfits for your family for the length of your stay, and only one or two more for unexpected wardrobe changes,” she says. “Compress fluffy sweaters and jackets in space-saving compact travel bags from The Container Store or Flight 001.”

7.  Next year, consider traveling before official school vacation. Over the years, we’ve pulled the kids out of school for trips, and we’ve considered the stress saved worth it (besides, the day or two right before vacation aren’t typically heavy-learning days at school). As Valencia says, “Everyone travels as soon as school lets out for vacation. Beat them to it.”

Image of child with juice on airplane via Shutterstock

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  1. by Sue Spence Daniel

    On December 11, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    What great advice! Traveling with a youngster can be very difficult. Being prepared before hand and telling the kids what to expect is crucial!