By: Idries Abdur-Rahman, MD, FACOG, Father, and Flyer


Take it from a frequent traveler and a father of five, it really is possible to travel with children and not pull your (or their) hair out. So, what can you do to not only survive but actually enjoy a long trip with the kiddos?

#1). Time things for success:

You would be surprised how much of a difference something like the time of your flight can make to your travel experience.

  • If you are traveling with an infant, consider very early or very late flights. Either, will greatly increase the likelihood that your little sweetheart will sleep most if not all of the flight.
  • If you are traveling with a toddler, on the other hand, go for a mid-day flight. Very early or very late flights increase the likelihood of a sleepy toddler and we all know what a joy they can be.
  • If you have a long journey, consider breaking it up with a connection. While a connection will prolong your overall journey, it will also give all of you a break from the cramped confines of an airplane cabin. And, if you want some true parental extra credit, look for a connecting airport with facilities for the kids. Airports know for having kid-friendly activities include Singapore Changi, Chicago O’Hare, Munich, Hong Kong and Paris (DeGualle and Orly airports).

#2). Seat yourself for success:

Where you choose to sit can actually make a huge difference to your travel experience! Three tips to consider:

  • If you are traveling with an infant under 25 pounds (11 kilograms), ask for a bassinet seat when you first book your flight. These seats are usually located in the first row of the cabin which means more legroom for you and they allow the baby to sleep comfortably in front of you.
  • If you are flying with a toddler, get a window seat. There is nothing more appealing to a toddler than jumping out of an aisle seat and trying to run up and down the aisles.
  • If you are flying with an infant, get an aisle seat. You will likely spend a lot of time walking up and down the aisle and an aisle seat makes it easier for you to get up and get moving.
  • Sit behind people you know. If you traveling with a large group, place any toddlers behind people that you know. Despite a million and one warnings, your little one will still kick the seat in front or play with the tray table. Better to annoy someone that you know instead of a perfect stranger.

#3). Pack for success:

Pack as lightly as you can, less stuff=less stress. But, still be sure to pack anything that you will need.

  • Keep them distracted: Be sure to pack coloring and game books, they take much longer to complete than story books. Pack card games, small board games and of course don’t forget to pack electronics. Just make sure that the electronics are charged (and don’t forget to pack the chargers).
  • Pack snacks: When all else fails to keep us entertained, humans love to stuff our faces. Pack lots of small, healthy snacks that are individually packaged. Remember, liquid won’t get passed TSA and security, so pack empty water bottles and fill them up after security.
  • Pack a change of clothing: Pee, poop, and spills happen. Make sure that you have a change of clothes packed in your carry-on and make sure that you have extra diapers and wipes. If you have a toddler, don’t be afraid to put them in a Pull-Up. Even if they are well potty trained, situations frequently arise that may prevent a needed bathroom run.
  • Pack Medications: Be sure to pack liquid Tylenol or Ibuprofen for mid-flight aches and pains that might arise.

#4). Keep it moving:

I have spent countless hours walking up and down the aisles of an airplane trying to quiet a fussy child. You may not get as much rest as you would like but it will keep your little one quiet and it will keep your neighbors happy.

  • When booking your flight, choose a wide-body if you have that option. Wide-bodies gives you way more walking room.

#5). Keep your seatmates happy:

Despite doing everything right, you still may end up with a fussy, inconsolable little flyer. Consider arming yourself with a few little goodies to give people seated in your area including:

  • Earplugs
  • Letters written by the baby explaining that this is their first flight (even if it isn’t) and apologizing for their fussiness.
  • Candy and other goodies. Sweets make everything go down a little bit better.

6). Just take a breath and relax:

This one is easier said than done, I know. This is Idries after five kids and almost 20 years of experience saying this, but getting worked up doesn’t make you or your little traveler feel any better. Take some deep, cleansing breathes, close your eyes and remember, this too shall pass. And no matter how many sighs or cold stares that you get, you will never see these folks again after you land!

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Want more tips to stay healthy while flying, check them out right HERE!

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About The Docs


Idris is the creation of twin OB/Gyn Doctors Jamil and Idries Abdur-Rahman. Jamil (Dr. J) and Idries (Dr. I) were inspired to start after participating on season 22 of CBS’ ‘The Amazing Race’.

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