As I was sitting on the plane on my way to Walt Disney World this past August, I realized that many children would experience flying for the first time while heading to Disney World. This trip, I was traveling on a plane with my four-year-old cousin for the first time as well so I learned some new insight on flying with kids. So sit back, relax, and enjoy these tips (peanuts and pretzels not included).
#1 – Be Sure to Pack the Essentials Before Your Leave Home
These type items are the ones which you absolutely, positively can not do without and might not be able to purchase once you arrive at your DVC resort. Prescription medications, cell phones and even your son or daughter’s favorite stuffed Mickey or Minnie might make your list.
Even experienced travelers can fall victim to a forgetful mind. After carefully packing, checking and rechecking, Paul Little, the founder of the DVC Rental Store once realized that he had forgotten his wallet. He was half way to the airport which is an hour from his home! Knowing that an, “I forgot my ID” would not bring a smile to the TSA agents face, he made a harried trip back home. After a sprint through the airport, he arrived at the gate just before they closed the airplane door. Needless to say, this did not make for a Magical start to his Walt Disney World vacation!
#2 – Arrive Early
Plan to arrive at least 2-2 1/2 hours early to check in for your flight, check your bags, go through security, and walk to your gate. No one wants to start his or her vacation by rushing through the airport, especially with little kids who want to look at every single store and restaurant you are running past.
#3 – Choose Your Seats Ahead of Time
If you absolutely must sit with your family (which most families with kids need to) then you need to pick your seats ahead of time. (Southwest Airlines: Add Early Bird Check In). Now, this cost extra for some airlines but having the peace of mind of sitting with your kids and family should help sway your decision. I cannot count the number of times I have seen or heard about a family in crisis because of poor planning and not choosing their seats ahead of time. I understand that little ones should not be separated from their party, but airlines honestly are not concerned with this. To avoid a headache on the plane, buy and or choose your seats in advance.
#4 – Bring Activities
Toys, books, electronics, stuffed animals, or coloring books are just a few off the top of my head. Anything that will keep your child entertained and occupied throughout the entire flight. For my cousin we bring a portable DVD Player and she watches a Disney movie during the flight (You do not hear a peep out of her for almost the entire flight).
#5 – Watch Videos Beforehand
Especially for first timers and little kids, it is important to show kids exactly what they will experience when flying. Find videos online that show how security will work, how the plane will take off and land, and also show them pictures of the inside and outside of an airplane. You might try Reading Rainbow’s video, “Sai’s First Flight” (see above). My cousin is an experienced flyer so we do not have to worry about this, but some kids (and adults) may be scared. Showing videos and pictures could be of great help to make them feel more comfortable.
#6 – Pack Essentials in your Carry-on Bag
Bring any essentials or important items that you or your family may need with you on the plane, especially if you are taking Disney’s Magical Express. This includes medications that you may need and other miscellaneous items. (You will not receive your bags right away if you are letting Disney handle the luggage. If you think you will want to swim when you arrive, don’t forget to pack your swimsuits and sandals).
Side Note: Do not expect to do a whole lot on your first day of vacation. Traveling is exhausting, especially with children (as I was yawning on that 6AM flight). Plan a light day on arrival day and start fresh the next morning at rope drop!
Safe Travels and we’ll see you at the parks!