S2, E21: A Flight Attendant’s Tips on Flying With Kids—Without Losing Your Mind

In this week’s episode of Unpacked by AFAR, Delta flight attendant—and parent of two—Andrea Davis shares her tips on flying with children, from how to cope with jet lag to what to pack (and what not to pack) on the plane.

Is it possible to fly with kids without losing your mind? In this week’s episode of Unpacked, we speak with Andrea Davis, a Delta flight attendant and parent of two. She shares her tips on packing, jet lag, crying babies—and why it’s worth it to travel with little ones, even when things go sideways.


Michelle Baran, host: Hey there, I’m Michelle Baran, senior travel news editor here at AFAR. And this is Unpacked, the podcast that unpacks one tricky topic in travel every week. Today, we’re tackling a subject that hits close to home—flying with kids, something that can bring as many challenges as it does excitement and joy.

I have a daughter who’s four, and a son who’s six, and I absolutely love traveling with them. But it definitely isn’t always easy. It’s always an adventure, that’s for sure. You know the person with a baby that just had a gnarly diaper incident on the plane. That’s been me. The one with the toddler who’s having a Level 10 meltdown? I’ve been there. But I’ve also been the one with two kids who are super excited to be flying, to get settled into their seats, going someplace new. The one with two kids quietly eating an endless parade of snacks (so many snacks).

When it comes to bringing babies, toddlers, tweens, and teens on a plane, flight attendants have a front row seat to all of it. In this episode, we’re going to be hearing from one such flight attendant: Andrea Davis, who has flown for Delta Air Lines since 2019 and has two daughters of her own. Andrea knows the value of getting kids out into the world and making lifelong travel memories. And she also knows the realities of what it takes to get there.

So she joined us between her busy summer flight schedule to share her tips on how to navigate the flight process with kids—and keep your sanity intact. Here’s what she had to say.

Michelle: So first, just wanna thank you for joining us. Um, and before we launch into some of the questions I have for you, I just wanna admit that I’m selfishly very interested in the topic of flying with kids as a traveling mom of two kids, a son age six, and a daughter age four. And we’ve definitely had our fair share of challenges, in addition to, of course, amazing adventures.

Um, we’re getting ready to head out on our first big international trip as a family of four this month, so I will definitely be taking notes. But before we get into all that, would love to get a little more background on what it is you do and what life is like for a flight attendant who’s also a mother.

Andrea Davis, Delta flight attendant: Yes.

Michelle: Because we all know that the juggle struggle is so real for all of us working parents. Um, and when you add travel to the mix, wow. It’s a lot to manage. So first off, when did you first become a flight attendant and what prompted you to become one?

Andrea: Well, thank you for having me, and I, um, hope I can give you some insight [in]to this world. So I, uh, am originally became a flight attendant back in 1999 with another carrier. And, um, I’ve shared a couple times that it is, it was a career that I didn’t really even know much about. You know, I come from a family of six kids and two adults, and so traveling on an airplane wasn’t the primary mode of transportation. So, um, in my early 20s, it was a friend of mine that was recommended for the career and so she didn’t wanna take the chance and interview so, I took the chance and interviewed, and so I went through the process kind of blindly, but willingly. And once I got with the first, uh, airline, I was so blown back or surprised on what it all afforded as far as the opportunities, the flexibilities, you know, all the things that I was seeing in that first couple of years of flying. And during that time with the other company, we experienced 9/11, you know, September 11th, you know, and what happened to the transportation and the aviation industry at that time, it was a a slow decline, and so I had gotten into a situation where I was furloughed from the company and I had started living and doing some other things because I wasn’t working or flying. When they did callbacks, I had already gotten involved in some other career opportunities, and so I wasn’t able to go back to flying.

Fast forward, now we’re going into, so this was about 2003, 2004. So then I just kept living and doing my regular thing. I didn’t go back to flying, but it never left. You know, once you get a taste of, uh, the experience of on-the-go packing, hotels, people, connections—

Michelle: Oh yeah.

Andrea: —it, I missed it. And here it is, 2019. I missed it. At 40 years old. I said, “I’m going back, I’m gonna go back to flying.” And, you know, at the time there was a lot of major carriers and other carriers that were hiring, but I remember being in the airport and always saying, “There go the Delta girls.”

They were the most polished. They moved with such confidence. They just seemed to have just a different way that they approached the career. And I said, “I’m going for Delta. I’m going to go work, I’m gonna apply there cuz if I’m gonna come back to this, I want to be a part of the best team.” So I missed it. I came back and here I am. And, um, best choice, best career choice so far. Certainly.

Michelle: So what is it that you love so much about the job?

Andrea: What I like the most? If I had to say anything, and it may seem like a cliché thing because we’re always surrounded by people, but it really is meeting the people. It’s connecting with people. It’s taking care of people. By nature, I am a helper, so to have the experience to now do this globally, and I’m meeting people from different types of communities, different countries, different dialects, different, you know, socioeconomic backgrounds, children, adults, elderly, you know, every, every walk of life from newborns taking their very first flight to, you know, the mature age group. I like to people-watch and so I do enjoy seeing how people interact with each other. Um, seeing families on their very first trips, sending their children away to college.

You can, once you’re in this career, you can kind of see the flow in the airport of what’s happening in the world around you and the society around you. And so, I just love the people. I love being around them.

Michelle: Absolutely. And you’re also a parent too, right?

Andrea: I am. I am a proud mother of two girls. Uh, they’re age 10 and 8.

Michelle: And so how does that, is it challenging being a parent and also a flight attendant?

Andrea: Oh. Yes. I say that without hesitation, but just like any, any parenting career, uh, and and I can’t make it seem like it’s too much more different except the travel aspect. But people are also in different careers that do require travel. I, as a flight attendant, traveling and coordinating a school schedule, extracurricular schedules, their friends’ birthday party schedules, you know, coordinating that with also being present for any special moment or just our downtime.

You know, you have to be strategic and you have to be, uh, intentional and you have to plan, plan as much as possible. Uh, sometimes I’ve had moments where the teachers have sprung something at the last minute in the week of, and then I’m going to my work schedule, seeing how to adjust. But the career provides lots of opportunities for flexibility. And it works.

Michelle: Oh, that’s great.

Andrea: It can happen. Yes. And so I do, I have found that this career has afforded a lot more flexibility. I’ve not missed first days of school, birthdays, holidays, special events. I’m grateful.

Michelle: That’s so great. That’s so great. Um, so do you travel a lot with your kids too?

Andrea: I do travel a lot with my children. When I first started, you know, they had to get accustomed to “Mommy, why are you not here for work?” You know, as traditional jobs. But they’ve gotten used to it cuz I’m like, “Well, this weekend we’re going to Philadelphia, let’s go. We’re gonna go to the museums. Or we are gonna go to New York and get pizza or we’re gonna go see your aunt in Atlanta.”

When I first started, uh, prepandemic, you know, our travel to different countries and places were the agenda. Again, I started in 2019, so the first year I had to get used to everything, but we did short trips to family and out of town, you know, close locations.

Um, and then the pandemic just shifted how we traveled quite a bit. You know, you have to navigate around their school schedule because I can’t just fly them around the world all time.

Michelle: Of course, of course.

Andrea: Um, but you know, when the summertime comes, it’s like, “Let’s make a plan. Let’s do—” I remember one of our most memorable trips, uh, they had a four-day weekend at school. And, I said, “You know, let’s go somewhere.” And, uh, just took ’em to the airport and we, we just went to Paris for the weekend. And I’m like, “What do you know about Paris?” And they said, “Eiffel Tower and croissants and macarons.” I said, “That’s all you need to know. Let’s go.” And so we took a flight, we went one day, we’re on the ground for about 24 hours and we just flew back. And so it was just a sweet little perk for their four-day weekend to just get away.

Michelle: Yeah, absolutely. And so as you know, it can be challenging to travel with kids. So your kids, I feel like are in the sweet spot. Um, my kids are just getting there. My four-year-old obviously still kind of on the cusp, just getting out of those challenging toddler years. Um, but what, what do you, do you think are the benefits of traveling with kids? Why is it worth it to get out there in the world with them?

Andrea: So I would honestly say travel is probably one of the top most important pieces of education you can get. For children, they’re gonna learn in school, they’re gonna learn in their textbooks about the world around them.

But for them to actually get out there and see it and touch it, it makes it more real. And it gives them a sense of ownership and a sense of belonging. And so I believe travel is extremely important for everyone. And as early as you can do it, you should do it. Get the children out there. Experience it. Let them taste it, taste the food, hear the sounds, see the sights, just whatever’s out there and available, go see it. Take those children, they need to see that.

Michelle: Absolutely. I, and I also say, you know, it builds character. I actually love when we run into challenges on the road because, um, you know, at home it’s, it’s easy, it’s comfortable. We have our routine and, you know, they know what they’re gonna eat and they know what they’re gonna do. And I love that travel forces us to improvise as a family because I feel like that’s also a really important life skill, for kids and for parents and caregivers to be like, “OK, this is not how it is at home. Like this is, you know, the food isn’t what we normally eat at home, or this, you know, setup in this, uh, hotel or apartment is different, you know—”

Andrea: Completely different.

Michelle: “—and just gotta make it, and we just gotta make it work.” And I just feel like that’s a really great skill in addition to obviously being exposed to other cultures and other people and, and just getting out of your, your comfort zone. You know, I, I agree. I, I definitely think it’s one of the most important forms of education for kids. So in your opinion, what’s the ideal age for kids to start flying? So, for instance, many people argue that babies and younger kids don’t even remember the trip, so why bother? Um, with the real little ones, what, what do you think?

Andrea: So, precious, um, so, so precious. You know, when it comes to traveling with children, uh, sometimes you just don’t have a choice. You gotta bring them and it doesn’t matter their age, and that’s OK. Bring the children as early as you’re comfortable with traveling with the children is what I would say. I am grateful that I had an opportunity to represent Delta at a career day, and kids were asking, “If I traveled as a baby, does it count if it was my first flight?” And I’m like, “Well, it counts. Yes, it does count.” And so they were so excited about that idea.

Traveling with children as early as babies is so, such a welcoming experience. Like for instance, on Delta, when we, uh, travel on our international flights, if you’re traveling with a baby, there’s an option to request a bassinet to assist you through that travel. Um, we accommodate children from any age. And so there’s a lot of things that, uh, that we have that we offer for children to feel comfortable on airlines.

You know, we give children coloring books. They love the wings, they have special meals that could be just for them so that they could feel a part of the travel experience, not just being told, “Get on the plane.” Bring the kids as early as you are comfortable with traveling.

Michelle: Absolutely. And so what advice do you have for parents [who] are sort of overwhelmed by the prospect of flying for the first time, maybe with a baby or a toddler or a young child? Especially because the pandemic, you know, put traveling on hold for a lot of families.

So for some families, um, you know, this is, their first time kind of getting out there, and some of them might be feeling a little bit overwhelmed by the prospect, especially since travel is so now it’s, it’s really busy in the airport.You know, there’s long lines to contend with and crowds and, and, and the kids on top of it. Just what advice do you have for those parents doing it for the first time?

Andrea: Well, for the first time, I would suggest that preparation is key and understanding, what does it really take to travel with the child? They don’t need the crib. They don’t need everything at home. They just need a few essential items to get them through the process of travel and less is more because you also do not want to be cumbersome with the children and the stroller and the carrier and, you know. You, you kind of gotta, I would say minimize to the essentials of what you need to travel with: the baby’s formulas, blankets, special things that help them feel comfortable in that space.

I would say if you’re traveling with a little bigger kids such as the, uh, three- to eight-year-old window of age, uh, we have a Fly Delta app and something that I like to help children see is the type of airplane they’re gonna be flying on. And you get the child excited about the experience too. So you’re saying like, “Oh, this is the plane and these are the seats.” And you, you kind of show them, you’re preparing them for their experience as much as you are preparing for the experience as well.

So they become excited about being there instead of “Mommy’s taking—or your daddy, or, or someone’s taking—me somewhere else.” No, get involved, get the child prepared for the experience as well.

Once you get to the airport. You know, I can’t say a lot about TSA PreCheck, but if you can get TSA PreCheck, that helps you get through the security lines with a little bit more ease. A lot of airports have, uh, lines for parents traveling with small children, so that also removes you from the larger group of passengers, so you can ease through there.

Take advantage, once you get to the boarding door, of early boarding, preboarding. We offer preboarding for families with small children, and so if you feel like I need a little bit more time—“I don’t wanna feel rushed when I get on”—flight attendants will be onboard waiting for you. Come on a little bit early, get the car seat settled, get your younger children settled, get everybody settled before the, the major group of passengers come on board.

There’s a few things that you can do to prepare for the experience. Like I suggest for parents, again, you don’t need a lot of things, you just need the essential things. I’ve seen parents seem like they’ve had quite a bit of bags and things of that nature. Feel comfortable with checking your bags. You could even check ’em at the gate if you could get ’em through security so that it just takes a little bit more pressure off of you as you travel.

Michelle: Totally, totally. And I know where I stand on this, but when it comes to traveling with kids, arrive at the airport early or get there a little later so you don’t have too much time to kill with the little ones?

Andrea: Get there early, get there early, get the—

Michelle: Absolutely, that’s what I’m talking about. I will say the airport play areas are a godsend. I mean, I am always looking in advance at the airport map to see where are the play areas so that once we do get through security, we have somewhere to go to get the wiggles out and we’re not getting under everyone’s feet.

Andrea: Yes. Get there early.

Michelle: I am Team Early. Abso—I totally agree. I get that some people get nervous about spending too, you know, too much time with kids at the air airport but what’s the then the alterna—you don’t, you wanna be running to the plane with your kids?

Andrea: And I’ve seen the parents running to the plane. I’m not sure of their situation, but I’ve seen it and I know that it’s stressful. That, and that’s one thing, once you’re stressed, then it transfers—the children are stressed and then the situation is shifting the experience. Get there early, the airport is also a wonderful learning experience. And there’s, um, things that they can see there, get to a seat that looks out the window so they can see the planes taking off and landing.

The internet works there, so if you wanted to watch television and have them watch their devices. Get to the airport early, bring snacks that can get through security. And enjoy the experience. Take the pressure off. You’re already gonna have enough with making sure they get there, get there early. Yes. Team Early.

Michelle: Also Team Early, all the way, all the way. Leave that, you know, unnecessary stress behind. Absolutely. And it sounds like you’re also Team Board Early if you can, if your family, if your kids are young enough for early boarding, take advantage, get in early, get settled, all of that.

Andrea: Yes, I agree with that a hundred percent. If I can make my children smaller so we could continue to be in that group, I would, because it makes a difference.

Children, um, have the wigglies, they have the shakes, they stop, they walk a little slower, and you need that little extra time to, you know, get them going in the right direction towards their seat. Board early. That benefit is there for you to support you and your family.

Michelle: So what are some sort of important in-flight safety considerations parents should keep in mind when they travel with their kids? Obviously, it’s a all different depending on the age. There’s always the option to travel with a car seat or no car seat when you’re with a baby because the car seat’s bulky, but it can also be more comfortable. So what are sort of the considerations [for parents] in terms of safety?

Andrea: The most important thing that I could say is when you’re interested in bringing a device such as a car seat or a safety uh, seat strap for the child, be sure that it is FAA-certified to fly and be attached to the aircraft. Uh, we do have guidelines and we have certain coatings and things that we’re gonna look for on that device to be sure that it is. I would be really, uh, sad for a parent if they brought this device, they were ready to go, and then we have to tell you that you can’t use it because it’s not verified as a piece of safety equipment that can be used for your child.

And we, we know, we want to make sure your child is safe and comfortable as well. But if you are, if, if all that is approved and everything is a go, bring the car seat if it’s gonna help make the child be safe and comfortable. If you do the preboarding, it takes away again, a little level of stress because then you can get all that verified before you get settled. When you’re waiting to board later, now we have other passengers around and it may be a little cumbersome or a little bit more, uh, of a challenge to move the car seats and make changes. Work with your flight attendants to make sure that the child is in the proper seat, cuz you, you know, bring on a, a car seat but it needs to be in the right positioning.

Make sure that if a child is using a safety harness, making sure that it’s properly adjusted to fit the child. I’ve noticed that recently a lot of parents are bringing on, like, inflatable comfort leg space items. Uh, again, get with the flight attendant to make sure the proper time during the flight to use those items. Perfectly fine. Just make sure you’re communicating and also have done your research to make sure that your device is compatible with our safety responsibilities.

Michelle: I will say, even in the last few years since my kids have been babies, I feel—I always feel jealous when I see sort of the new innovations, like the car seats that have a little handle that pulls up and you can just roll them. Genius.

Andrea: Oh, I’ve seen, recently, this stroller that goes straight down the aisle of the plane. It’s just as narrow and perfect ’cause sometimes it’s easier to just keep pushing the kid to the seat. And when I saw this aisle stroller, I was like, “Is that gonna fit?” And it just helps with the child, get on and yeah, they didn’t have that when my kids were little.

Michelle: Yeah, some of the innovations are amazing. So, you know, parents should definitely take advantage. Um, so let’s talk about tips or advice for parents when things go wrong on a flight. For instance, if the kids make a huge mess, they have an accident, they get sick or throw a tantrum. And I have to admit, I have had my fair share of these, honestly, mortifying and extremely stressful in-flight experiences, and what struck me most was that for every passenger who flashes you and your noisy or, honestly, just crazy-sounding kid, the stink eye, there are all the others who give you that “I feel you” look of, of empathy. I’ll tell a quick little story and then you can sort of give me your, um, your advice. But a couple years ago, on our first flight to see family mid the pandemic, my daughter was only two years old, and she had a truly epic tantrum. She fell asleep, which is great, during the flight, but then I had to wake her during landing so that—to get her in, you know, properly into her seat buckled and she was not having it. Um, she proceeded to, basically physically assault me and yelled during the entire descent.

I mean, it was so bad I had to take my glasses off and hand them to my husband so that she wouldn’t break them. Of course, she was fine as soon as we touched down and pretended that, you know, it never happened. It was just like, “Oh, we’re here.” And I had multiple passengers as they were disembarking ask me if I was OK.

One father jokingly asked if, like, he could buy me a drink at the airport. And those little acts of kindness are everything for a struggling parent in those situations because you, you know, every parent’s different but I’m definitely the type of parent who just gets so self-conscious in addition to, you know, struggling with the situation at hand.

So in that truly challenging—where you’re, you know, you’re in this challenging situation and you have nowhere to go, there’s, you cannot run away you, you’re, you’re on this plane. Um, what advice do you have in that moment that can be such a struggle for so many parents?

Andrea: Well, let’s, let’s just take this moment to just honestly admit something can go wrong. And with children it can go left, it can go right, something will go wrong, and we just have to take the pressure off that it’s out of our control, OK? So parents, something can go wrong. It’s OK when that happens. Um, I say this, this is my motto when I’m at work. First of all, at Delta, we’re safety professionals, and then after that we provide wonderful Delta hospitality. That’s a statement that I work from. We are prepared to assist, we are prepared, and we’re open, and we’re willing to assist a parent, a traveling child, through whatever it is that they’re experiencing.

I personally, at work, take on, I guess you could say, like an “auntie” role to all the children on the plane. I don’t know you personally, however, I, I work from empathy because I’m a parent, so when I see you coming on, I wanna say hi to your child. I wanna let you know that it’s OK. We’re here to help.

When I see things go wrong for parents or when they have a challenge that arises from the child, [I ask myself] how can I help? First I’m gonna listen to see, do they look like they really need some help? Is it medical related? Is it, you know, is a child being nauseous? Are they nervous? Is a child doing something that’s safety related that I need to really step in and really kind of help guide the situation?

If a child is just having an emotional moment, this is where auntie kicks in and, “Hi, little friend, what’s going on?” You know, and mom is, is like, “Oh, thank God, someone else.” And I’m like, “What do you need? Would you like some cookies? Well, you have to do this to get some cookies.” And they’re looking like, “What do I have to do?”

“Put the seatbelt on, it’s time to take off.” And they start falling in line cuz they’re like, “I would like a cookie as a reward.” “Yes, you did great. High five, I’m gonna come back and check on you.” And so the mother or the parent or whomever’s traveling with the child is like, “Thank you for that small sense—” Like you said, the sense of kindness goes a long way.

When dealing with the difficult situations, we are ready and prepared. Say if a child is, like I said, experiencing nausea or ear issues. We share our tips and tricks on how to deal with ear issues for children, such as the swallowing, chewing of the gum, massaging the ear area to help that. If a parent has a crying child and young infant, “Hey, if, if, if the seatbelt sign is off, come take a walk. Come walk around.” Cuz sometimes you just need to get that stretch and that bounce for the baby to feel a little bit more settled and comfortable.

Things can go left. You know, a child may knock over their, you know, goldfish cup. It’s OK. It could be cleaned up. It’s OK that things may not go as perfect, or the children may not seem like the textbook storybook traveler, but that’s OK. We’re here to help you through that process and make you feel comfortable as a parent. And if you, and if we don’t see you, it’s OK. Hit the call bell, we’ll come to you.

Michelle: Well, speaking, speaking of the call button, what advice do you have for travelers who aren’t with kids but their flight is being disrupted by a crying baby or a kid kicking on the back of their seat? You know, it’s so funny because people always assume that if you’re a parent like you, you know, you’re fine with a crying baby. And it’s like, just because I’m a mom doesn’t mean I like that sound.

Andrea: No, no, no.

Michelle: Obviously I have empathy and I’m not annoyed. But of course, it’s not the most pleasant sound, and you, you are, you know, a, as a passenger, if it’s not your kids, of course you’re hoping both for the family and for everyone involved, but, and for all of your fellow passengers that the sound will eventually die down. So what advice do you have for passengers who get frustrated or, you know, even those ones who see a baby and they’re like—

Andrea: Oh baby.

Michelle: —“Oh man, here comes a baby.”

Andrea: Yes. And, and you see the faces. I will honestly say that since I’ve been here, I’ve very rarely have ever had an adult passenger have an outward discomfort about a child crying. However, in the small opportunities where I’ve seen it, you know, comfort is for everyone on the aircraft, for the child and for the adult.

And so we do our best to first diagnose what the situation is. Is the child, um, having a, a hard time maybe for whatever reasons? You know, that’s something that has to be delicately handled cuz you have to figure out what’s going on to determine how to intervene and how to step in and how to assist. If I had to deal with a passenger that may be a little bit more, um, annoyed and, and outwardly expressive about how they feel about it, then I’m gonna have a conversation with the passenger to get them to understand that we’re gonna do our best to assist for the comfort of the child because something may be happening that we’re not aware of. “But how can I best assist you in this moment? So that I can do my best to take care and make sure you’re comfortable as well. I hear you’re concerned. I’m gonna let the passenger know, I hear your concern. I hear what you’re saying. Let me see how best we can problem solve.” Because it becomes a, a process. It’s not just an automatic go over to the child and say, “You know, you have to do this, and you have to do that.” It’s not that easy. So if I have a passenger that expresses their discomfort or displeasure, you know, we, it becomes a problem-solving task. Maybe another flight attendant’s gonna go talk to the family and another flight attendant’s gonna talk to the passenger. And we work things out. If there is a child or an adult kicking the back of the seat, that is something that, you know, you, you gotta go in and gently explain, “Oh, please don’t do that. We wanna make sure that everybody stays comfortable.”

Michelle: Absolutely. And what I always say is, if you know you’re the type of person who doesn’t love the sound of a crying baby: noise-canceling headphones.

Andrea: Well, it can happen. Not everybody has their noise-canceling headphones and, you know, we don’t always know who our seatmate is gonna be, but—

Michelle: Of course.

Andrea: —know we’re there to help do our best to make sure everybody’s comfortable on the plane. Definitely.

Michelle: Absolutely. Um, so let’s talk about long-haul flights. Especially, you know, again, selfishly since I’m about to board one with my two kids, uh, later this month, uh, any tips on surviving them with kids?

Andrea: All right. My favorite thing as a parent to do when I travel with my children on long-haul flights is to pack them a bag that they can be responsible for and get them a part of the journey. So if they’re old enough to hold their own backpack, or push their own roller bag, help them put in their essential fun things for them to enjoy on their journey: coloring books, art supplies, video game devices, charging cords, headphones, snacks, whatever could fit in that book bag. Not too heavy, but just enough. And it’s their things, and they got involved in putting it in there like, “This is what you would need. This is how long we’re going on the plane.”

Surviving on our flights with children has been very successful. I mostly fly international trips. I, you know, long-haul flights, coast to coast, that’s like my perfect route. And when I see children being most successful, and what I’ve done with my kids, is make sure that they have their types of snacks, but if they don’t, know what’s on the aircraft. You said you were traveling, uh, long-haul with your children over this summer, which will be great.

So, throughout the flight on a long-haul flight, I’ll give you a tip that there’s snacks in the back of the plane as well. That’ll be available for you to get, for them to nibble on and little juices and beverages and things like that so they can survive the flight. If they have a favorite stuffy, uh, their own personal—not their bedspread, please don’t bring their bedspread—but there’s a travel blanket you can bring that or whatever makes them feel like it’s a sense of home and a sense of self bring that to survive the long haul, their special little socks, you could do like cute little compression kids socks and they could feel like they are, you know, cuddled up on their seat. Whatever makes them feel comfortable on that flight.

Michelle: And what about jet lag when you get there?

Andrea: Jet lag. Tip for jet lag: When you’re going east, when you get to your destination, when you get to your hotel, Airbnb, grandma’s house, wherever you’re going, take a nap.

Take a nap, you’re gonna wanna go out and immediately start. But I would say you’re trying to get into the time of the day that you’re arriving. Most of the time you’re gonna be arriving early, so I would say take a nap once you get there. Two, three hours. Do not take a very long one because you’re gonna throw off the clock.

So once you get there, that’s how you fight the jet lag once you arrive. You’ll be able to sleep on the aircraft, but once you get there, take that nap. And so that will help you survive going eastbound. If you go westbound, jump right into the day, get off the aircraft, hit the ground running, participate in the time of day that it is so then by the nighttime, you’ll be ready to go to sleep. And so that’ll help you with shifting your body clocks during different timeframes. If you spend more than two, three days outside of your normal time zone, those are some of the immediate tricks to do once you get there. And I will say this, let me just put this out there as a reminder: Stay hydrated when you’re flying. Please drink water, juice, something to keep you hydrated at that elevation of travel. That’s a, a pretty important thing to remind for children and adults, please drink water.

Michelle: Yes, I am very curious to see how we get through the jet lag later this month. It will be an adventure. Though, I will say, you know, kids, yes, they like their routines, but they also bounce back. I feel like one good night of sleep and we are back in business, so—

Andrea: Yes. I will say when we, when we did our Paris run—and I say a Paris run because it was, hit the ground, sleep, go see, go to sleep. And I will say, once we did this, the nap, got into the day, by the time it was bedtime at night, they were ready.

It was, they were ready for when the sun set and it’s bedtime and our normal, and it was in the normal timeframe that they would go to sleep. So the nap when you get there is very crucial. All crew members, for the most part, take that first nap. If you want our tips, that’s what we do.

Michelle: I love it. I love it. Any last words of wisdom from your experience as a flight attendant for families gearing up to head into the skies this summer?

Andrea: Summer is our busiest travel season. And so you have an opportunity to meet all kinds of people while in your travel journey from everywhere.

And with that being said, I would just say enjoy the experience. Take the pressure off. Everyone is there trying to accomplish the same goal, which is to get to somewhere, take the pressure off of yourself and, and be ready, ready for the adventure. Bring out your camera. Take pictures.

Uh, let the flight attendants know if it’s your first time. Tell us where you’re going. A lot of times we’ll give you tips on what to do when you get there so that you can have a wonderful experience on your journey. Maybe something you hadn’t planned on doing. And, um, a lot of us have quite a bit of experience there.

There’s things that are outside of our control, such as weather challenges, and a lot of that seems to happen over the summertime. However, uh, there’s a lot of personnel on ground that will be able to assist you for any of those types of delays. So stay flexible. Stay flexible if, uh, something were to happen and know that we have teams available to assist you, such as if there’s a weather delay, I will highly always recommend, if you’re flying on Delta. Please, please, please download the Fly Delta app. Because if there’s something that happens with your flight, the communication will get to you faster than we can get the information to you. So download the Fly Delta app. It will help you navigate even through airports.

So, uh, enjoy the journey. Take lots of pictures and uh, let your flight attendants know and uh, cuz we’re here to help you throughout your process.

Michelle: I love it and yeah, you know, I always say flying is such a privilege, right? It’s such a privilege to be able to travel through the world. So I feel it’s, uh, of course it can be frustrating sometimes if, you know, there’s long waits or crowds or flight cancellations and delays. But at the end of the day, remember why you do it in the first place.

Because it was something amazing that you wanted to experience together as a family. So, you know, at the end of the day, if it wasn’t worth it, we wouldn’t all do it. We wouldn’t wanna do it.

Andrea: Right? And so, and understand this, your, your flight crews do this more than you. So if you get through a delay and you have a cancellation or a challenge, we’re in this with you to support you through that. And we will share whatever knowledge that we have so that you can be at ease through any challenges that may arise through your summer travels this year.

Michelle: Well, thank you so much, Andrea. This has been so amazing. I really appreciate you bestowing all your great knowledge, both as a flight attendant and as a mom. Thank you so much for all your tips and advice.

Andrea: It’s been a pleasure talking with you, Michelle. Uh, thank you. And, uh, hopefully some of this can help many parents during the travels.

Michelle: Wow, so many good tips. And honestly, as a traveling mom, one of my biggest takeaways is that I don’t have to feel overly guilty and stressed during a difficult child moment on the plane. This summer, I’m flying to Europe with my kids, and if things go sideways, I’ll remind myself that the in-flight crew is there to help. I hope you also find these tips useful for your next flight.

If you want to hear more from me, you can find me unpacking daily breaking news and travel intel stories on AFAR.com. (Be sure to sign up for our free newsletter to get travel news delivered straight to your inbox at email.afar.com.) And you can follow my travel exploits with my two boisterous young travel companions on Instagram @michellehallbaran.

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This has been Unpacked, a production of AFAR Media. The podcast is produced by Aislyn Greene and Nikki Galteland. Music composition by Chris Colin. And remember: The world is complicated. We’re here to help you unpack it.