I’ll warn you right now that this post isn’t necessarily crunchy. There’s really nothing natural about it. However when I mentioned it on The Pistachio Project’s Facebook page many of you showed an interest in hearing about it. I’m hoping that it was because you wanted to learn how we did it and not just to read a hilarious story of some insane family.
When my husband first told me that we should fly down to California this year to visit my family because it would save us so much money, I cringed. Flying with four kids? Are you kidding me? I knew that we would probably be alright on the flight as my kids are pretty well behaved and the flight is only 2 1/2 hours so I wasn’t worried about that. What I was worried about was getting through the airport. I just knew we were going to be that family that all the other passengers watch in horror as this mass of suitcases, kids, car seats, and double stroller go by.
Thankfully I worry too much apparently as our trip went just fine. Both in flight and through the airport. Although I know we probably shocked quite a number of people, we also got tons of compliments on being so brave and having such wonderful kids.
How We Flew With Four Kids (ages 6 years – 2 months)
Getting Through the Airport
We bought 4 seats for the 2 adults and 2 older kids. The 2 younger kids were seated on our lap.
We pre-printed our tickets.
We had an early flight (7:00am) from a normally busy airport on a Wednesday. This meant that we had less crowds to deal with. Our return flight was later (6:00pm) which I don’t actually advise as that means you will probably need to eat in the airport but was also on a Wednesday and from a much smaller airport. So we had no crowds at all to deal with.
We borrowed 2 car seats from friends down in California so we only needed 2 car seats for my older kids and those car seats they sat in during the flight (I would almost die if I had to gate check the car seats and I’d probably rather walk to California than check them in with the rest of the luggage. I think airports are too rough with car seats.) Borrowing 2 car seats saved us a lot of grief as I can’t imagine trudging through the airport with 2 more car seats than what we had!
I became an amazing suit case packer. We could have used one normal sized suit case and checked it in when we first arrived at the airport but I’m cheap. I had no intention of paying $40 round trip for one measly suit case. I was going to pack everything we needed for a family of 6 for 4 days (we stayed 7 but I was able to do laundry) in just 1 carry-on and 4 personal items (and the personal items were really just laptop, diaper bag, activities, and some hybrid diapers). You read that right! 1 carry-on!!! Don’t believe me? Here’s the proof! The key is rolling your clothes.
In order to transport all our stuff through the airport, we used our double stroller. I was able to put my middle two kids in the double stroller, leaving the 6 year old to walk, and the baby was in my Ergo baby carrier. We also fit one car seat into the basket of the stroller and the personal items as well. The remaining items (1 carry-on and 1 car seat) were pulled around by my husband; the car seat was placed upside down on the carry-on so we had less to hold. Yes I’m sure we still looked insane with all that gear but it really wasn’t that bad. I had the baby in the Ergo and I was pushing a freight train of a stroller and my husband had the carry-on with the car seat. Not bad for a family of 6!
We took advantage of the fact that we had kids. This meant going through the “family line” in Security and pre-boarding the plane so we could get a head start with installing our car seats.
Kids under 12 years old do not have to remove their shoes for Security. Hooray!
On the Airplane
We gate checked the double stroller. You pick up tags for the stroller at the gate in case you don’t know. I knew I needed to get tags but it was hard to find out where to get them. Turns out they have them at the gate so you don’t need to bother with the front desk at the very beginning of the airport.
We explained the rules: no putting feet on the seat in front of you, quiet voices, etc. Since the boys were already strapped in their car seats they couldn’t do much of anything anyway. They treated it like a car ride.
We brought food. For our first flight we had breakfast on the plane (muffins) so that we didn’t have to pay an outrageous price in the airport and it gave the kids something to do. We also took advantage of the in flight snacks. Sure they aren’t the world’s healthiest snacks but sometimes you need to cut some slack and ignore your preferred way of eating. Of course, we also brought some snacks of our own but I don’t think we touched any of them except the organic lollipops which worked great for landing. Normally people choose gum for helping with air pressure but I don’t let my kids have gum and my two year old couldn’t have use it properly anyway. Lollipops kept them sucking and swallowing which was just enough to help their ears. The lollipops also had 100% of their vitamin C which on an airplane full of germ carriers is always a good thing.
We used disposable diapers. This isn’t’ really necessary for the plane ride and cloth would be just as easy. However, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to bring all my cloth diapers (I have 2 in diapers right now). Enough cloth diapers for two kids requires quite a bit of room. So I “borrowed” a few diapers for my toddler; just enough for the plane ride and then we bought a normal package of diapers once we got to our destination. I could have done the same for my baby but I already had some gDiaper biodegradable liners so I decided to use those but with GroVia shells as gDiaper shells are not waterproof like GroVia. This did require me to use one of my personal items as just a carrier for the liners but I didn’t mind and they worked great.
We planned on having the kids watch a movie but we forgot our head phones so we couldn’t play anything. Instead we used the activity books, coloring books, and reading books. We made sure to bring never used or seen books for the kids as this meant they would be interested in them.
The baby slept through the entire flight pretty much. Fed her right before we boarded and then fed her again as we were landing. You’d think flying with a baby would be hard but no, it’s the older kids that can make it challenging.
We were first to board (again, mainly so we could get all our kids, stuff, and car seats on before the poor kid free people) and we were last to leave. I gathered up all our personal items while my husband unbuckled the car seats.
As I said, I’m sure for the most part we looked insane. However, overall the whole trip went great. My kids were well behaved, we got in and out of the airport very easily, and the whole ordeal was over with in 2 1/2 hours instead of 4 days of driving (which we did 2 years ago with just 3 kids).