You don’t want to be “that family”: the one everyone glares at throughout the flight because your kids are acting up. While there’s nothing you can do to guarantee your kids will have a positive experience, there are many steps you can take to maximize your chances of a smooth travel experience. Check out our top tips below.

Plan ahead before you get to the airport

In the days leading up to your trip, sit down with your kids and explain the entire airport security process to them. Let them know they may be asked to remove their shoes, that their stuffed animals and toys will have to go through the security belt, etc. If you’re traveling with more than one child, make sure you know which parent is assisting which throughout the security process.

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Bring plenty of healthy snacks for the plane ride

It’s tempting to give kids treats during the flight, but giving them too much sugar can increase their nervousness, cause them to be irritable, and disrupt their sleep routine. Be sure to also avoid giving them sugar in the hour before their flight. Pack some veggies, healthy chips, or fruit treats without added sugar.

Take bathroom breaks before they’re completely necessary

One of the biggest mistakes parents make is to wait to take the kids to the bathroom until they’re asking for it. By the time they need to go, it could be too late to make it there in time. The fasten safety light could be on, someone could be in the bathroom, or it could simply take a while to get your fellow passengers to get up and let you out. Try to time breaks in advance of when you think they’ll need them.

Prepare your kids for their first flight

If it’s your child’s first flight, tell them in detail what they’re in store for. It’s especially important to describe what it feels like to talk off and land. If you’ll be sitting in a row with a stranger, let them know that. Educate them on the “fasten belts” sign and make sure they understand they must be belted in when it’s on.

 

Make sure they have plenty of distractions

Of course you’re going to bring their favorite toy that’s easy to travel with, whether it’s a doll, an iPad, or a handheld game. However, make sure you don’t just stick with a tried and true favorite but also bring many other options for them to play with. The last thing you want is for them to get bored with their selection and be restless the entire flight. You may want to purchase a brand new toy for them to discover while you’re in flight.