5 Essential Items for Airline Travel with Young Kids

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Baby waiting to travel looking out window at airplane at the gate

A packing list for a flight with kids is bound to be extensive, whether international or domestic. However, in the trips we have taken with our little ones, there were 5 items that made all the difference. These were essential in providing ease, convenience, and/or safety for our travel. Consider these for your next trip.

Car Seat Travel Cart

If you need to bring a car seat with you and your child has graduated from the infant carrier that clicks into your stroller or you are not bringing a stroller, then you need a way to transport your car seat through the airport. In our next post I’ll cover additional tips and share why I do not advise dropping the car seat at baggage check but instead taking it to the gate.

We have a Britax convertible car seat so we use the Britax brand car seat travel cart, but it is compatible with some other car seats and there are other options out there also. Whatever you do, I would not advise trying to strap your car seat to your rolling luggage like we did before buying this cart.

We thought we were pretty slick when we saw this hack described online and did the same. That was until we were rushing to our gate in the middle of the airport during our layover and the weight of the car seat and child irreparably bent the luggage wheels. They would no longer turn and so Kevin ended up dragging it the rest of the way. And then we ended up having to buy a new suitcase and the cart anyway. Save yourself the trouble!

Car Seat Travel Bag

We use this car seat travel bag to protect our car seats when we gate check them. With the handle and strap it provides a convenient way to pick it up and carry it for both us and the airline workers. It helps protect it from damage, and most importantly in my opinion, from getting rain, snow, dirt, fuel or any other gross substances on it.

Once the car seat is in the bag, you can put the car seat travel cart mentioned above inside. Then stuff the rest of the space with things you won’t need on the plane, like heavy coats for instance.

Cares Safety Restraint System

The Cares harness is designed specifically for airline flights. It is lightweight and small so you can easily bring it in your backpack. By using this harness you can either gate check your car seat if you are bringing one, or instead opt to rent or borrow one at your destination. It gives me peace of mind that my child is strapped in securely before they are big enough for the lap belt alone.

Make sure to know how to install and adjust it before you get on the plane. I found it extremely straightforward. Also be aware that this harness is also FAA approved for use on a plane. Several airline attendants were aware of this and familiar with them, but one woke me to chastise me about using it. She did realize her mistake and thankfully admitted to it and apologized!

Child in airplane seat secured with Cares harness

Travel Cloth High Chair

We borrowed a travel cloth high chair from a friend the first time we flew on vacation with Klara. It is a lifesaver to have around when visiting at friends’ and families’ homes that do not have high chairs. Additionally it comes in handy at restaurants. Most will have their own high chairs. Every once in a while you come across one that doesn’t, or the straps are broken and don’t latch anymore. Thinking about it, you may just want to permanently keep a cloth high chair like this in your car if you still have a little one!

Mama wants to get a few hands free minutes at a meal as well as opposed to trying to hold baby all meal long. So strap that little one into one of these lightweight cloth high chairs and take a quick breather!

Inflatable and Popup Travel Cribs

Giving your child a safe and comfortable place to sleep is absolutely essential. You have enough to drag with you so anything needs to pass size and weight considerations. The smaller and lighter the better! We’ve luckily always been able to borrow cribs when we fly on vacation. You can always see if local friends or family have a crib you can borrow. Additionally some hotels have a few for guest use. Always double check on this and try to get one earmarked for you ahead of time. If those two things aren’t an option then inflatable and popup travel cribs are the way to go. There are lots of options out there!

I hope that these suggestions make your next trip be even smoother and more enjoyable. You can read about our past trips to Germany with kids in 2016 (Germany with Kids Part 3 – Animals, Castles & Caves), 2017 (Germany with Kids Part 2 – Escape Room, Rosenberg Fortress, & Nuremberg Trials Memorial), and 2018 (Germany with Kids Part 1 – 90th Birthday, Playgrounds, & Rotenhan Castle). We survived international airline travel with kids using these essentials and you can too!

Baby looking out airplane window
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