One Thing You Shouldn't Forget To Do The Night Before Flying With Kids

The idea of traveling with your kids is undoubtedly exciting, but the reality of actually doing it is a whole other story. It can drive you — or any parent for that matter — to near insanity if you're not prepared enough, considering how children, especially toddlers, aren't exactly the calmest and most patient traveling companions. More often than not, they're bound to be as cranky as you are mid-trip, and you definitely don't want to spoil one of their first major life experiences by exacerbating their grumpiness. 

While you can't realistically expect to have a completely fuss-free trip, you can at least do everything in your power to keep it as smooth sailing as possible, starting by ensuring that they are entertained during the most uncomfortable part of the journey: the long-haul flight. The last 24 to 48 hours leading up to the flight can leave you frazzled, as you have an almost endless list of things to prepare and double-check. You have to ensure that they have spare clothes, extra milk and diapers, some snacks, their safety pillow or blanket (if they use one), and that their car seat is airline-approved

You also have to ensure that your boarding passes are all set, along with passports and other necessary documents. With so much to consider, some things may fall through the cracks — things that you may not realize are just as crucial. If you're traveling with small kids, it's crucial that you ensure their tablets are pre-loaded with shows, movies, and apps.

Pre-load their tablets with entertainment options

Since everyone is extra busy and prickly in the hours leading up to the flight, it can be easy to overlook some things written on your checklist. But if you're headed off on a trip with your kids, the one thing you mustn't forget to do the night before the flight is pre-loading their tablet or smartphone with shows, movies, and kid-friendly games and apps, so your little ones can have something to fill their time with during the flight. 

After all, you know how fussy they can get when they have to sit still for way too long, so your best bet is to provide them with something you're sure will catch (and hold) their attention. Sometimes, that means prolonging screen time a little longer and allowing them to play with your electronics.

It's also worth noting that not all airlines offer extensive in-flight entertainment options, so your gadgets must be viable alternatives in case their favorite Disney films aren't available for streaming on the plane. Sure, it's a hassle having to devote time to downloading shows and films when you could be double-checking luggage instead, but you'll thank yourself later when you find that your kids aren't tossing and turning in their seats due to boredom.

Consider bringing toys your kids aren't familiar with

If you don't want your kids to be too dependent on electronics, you can also keep them busy by packing different toys. One parent wrote in a Reddit post that this trick did wonders in keeping their toddler preoccupied during a flight. "When I traveled with my son when he was 3, we went to the dollar store and bought approximately 15 or 20 dollars worth of 'stuff' ... we never showed him what it was," they shared. "After the plane took off, we start to pull little games / puzzles / action figures, etc ... out, if it looked like he was bored, we pulled another one out. worked like a charm."

If you don't have the time for a quick run to the store or don't want to spend any additional money on buying toys prior to your trip, Christine Sarkis, the deputy executive editor of SmarterTravel and a mom of two, told The New York Times that another foolproof trick is to wrap up cheap toys and give them to your kids sporadically so they always have something new to unravel. 

"This strategy kept my kids endlessly entertained," she noted. At the end of the day, you know your children best, so you just have to get creative and devise ways to keep them engaged throughout the flight. Whether that means prolonged iPad time or having to carry a bulk of coloring books and art materials along with you, so be it.