Traveling can be a challenge. Traveling with children during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year can be borderline insanity. But, it doesn’t have to be. If you’re wondering how to fly with kids for Thanksgiving with kids the week of Thanksgiving, it all comes down to planning and packing. Here are some tips to minimize your stress and be on your way to a hassle-free Turkey Day with the kids in tow.

Book Flights for During Naptime/Bedtime

How to fly with kids for Thanksgiving when they're sleeping

Booking with a little bit of strategy for your trip ahead of time can go a long way. One of the best choices you can make when booking cheap flights for Thanksgiving is if you pick flights during your children’s normal naptime or bedtime. After all, you’re the most familiar with your kid’s sleep schedule. This means you’ll know the times when they’re most likely to doze off and leave you with a simple and stress-free flying experience. Of course, this tip requires your little ones to be able to fall asleep on the plane. So, if they’re normally light sleepers and are awaken by the even slightest of noises, this may not necessarily work for them.

Fly on the Right Day

If you can swing it, fly out on Tuesday or Thursday as these are the least busy travel days. Plus, flights should be less expensive. If you can get a flight early enough on Thursday, you’ll save cash, avoid the crowds, and make it in time for dinner with the family. Flying home on Saturday rather than Sunday will also be to your advantage.

Bring on the Distractions

How to fly with kids for Thanksgiving and distract them

If you’re traveling with older kids, you’ll need to keep them busy. You also can’t plan to rely on everything going to work or match their tastes, which includes in-flight entertainment. Take some time to assist your kids in packing their luggage, especially helping them with what they want to bring on the plane. Consider the items you and your children use regularly; these are the things you’ll want with you on your journey. When it comes to learning how to fly with kids for Thanksgiving, there are tons of options out there that will entertain your kids. You can bring an iPad, a camera-equipped smartphone, and even a laptop. Or, treat them to something new just for the flight — like a game, TV series, or book — to provide some novel amusement for your restless kids.

You may also like: Six Tips Every Young Parent Needs to Know About Traveling With Kids

Pack Snacks

How to fly with kids for Thanksgiving with snacks

Food and kids go together, and the last thing you want is to be in line for a meal and hear that whiny voice coming from two rows back: “I’m hungry, Mommy!” If your child isn’t the type to try new things, you might want to pack some favorites. The last thing you need is having to deal with what your picky eater will eat when they become hangry (hungry+angry). Even if your child does well at mealtimes, snacks are still important. Growing bodies need fuel to keep them moving. Plus, they help keep distractions at bay so you can get some work (or napping time) done.

Put Everything You Don’t Need in Your Luggage

How to fly with kids for Thanksgiving After Packing

There’s nothing worse than trying to wrangle little ones through crowds of people at the gate or on the plane while dragging suitcases filled with all the items you need for your Thanksgiving trip. Sure, most trips for the holidays are short enough that you can lower the travel costs by bringing all your clothes and toiletries in your carry-on, but save yourself the unnecessary headache. Pack everything you’re not going to need on the flight or in the airport into a big separate suitcase and check it. You’ll be amazed at how much of a difference it is to just have the essentials in a light backpack and not have to deal with anything else.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

How to fly with kids for Thanksgiving at Airport

This one is common sense, but it’s incredible how easy it is to get caught up in the day and forget that. Between checking in online (which can save you time), traveling with carry-ons only (less chance of lost luggage), and making sure that your entire family gets fed before you head out for the airport, you’ll find plenty of ways to give yourself extra time! Leave enough buffer room in your budget for taxis, unexpected delays, and canceled flights. If possible, book flights that allow enough time for your kids to get up and use the bathroom right before boarding. This way, they won’t have to go when you’re in line trying to find space for your carry-on luggage.

Also, set aside some extra time to have an enjoyable meal with your family before you board the plane. Keep in mind that dinner service may be limited depending on when your flight takes off. You’ll want to leave enough time for your kids to get settled, but you don’t want them to eat too early or too late, or else they’ll get cranky (and hungry) on the plane.

Do Online Check-In the Night Before You Fly

Pretty much every airline has this feature and there’s no reason not to self-check yourself in 24 hours before your flight. It will save you time and keep you from having to deal with any bored kiddos while you wait to check in at the counter. Most airlines also have a self-check kiosk for baggage at the airport these days and it’s best to use that for the same reasons. If you’re following the right instructions pertaining to how much you can carry or what you’ve prepaid for, it should all be a breeze. But if you realize you need to check an extra bag or bring an essential bag that wasn’t in your initially booking, it’s better to call the airline to update your reservation a day or two before.

Do you have any more tips about how to fly with kids for Thanksgiving? Tell us in the comments section below!

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