A child with airplane arms at the beach with his family
A child with airplane arms at the beach with his family

Travel is so awesome for kids. They get to expand their horizons, learn about new cultures, and meet Great Aunt Tilly for the first time. What’s less awesome is the whole airports-and-flights part of the deal, especially as we all try to avoid COVID and flight cancellations.

When traveling with kids, hectic airports and claustrophobic planes create a perfectly calibrated environment for unprecedented meltdowns. So while you’re planning your itinerary and packing up your kids’ sandals and snorkel gear, remember to do another kind of preparation. A little thinking ahead can be the difference between “Ok, that flight wasn’t actually so bad” and “That flight was so horrible I’ve decided to leave my child in Orlando with Great Aunt Tilly.”

5 Ways Happier Flights Start With Shoes ;)

1. You (yeah, we’re talking to you, parents) should wear shoes that easily slip on and off through security. Anything that makes it a tiny bit easier to shuffle your one million belongings onto the conveyor while also holding a toddler = a good idea. (Here are a few KEEN travel shoes we always reach for when we’re getting out of town: Howser Canvas slip-ons, women’s Elle Strappy sandal, and men’s Eldon Slip-On shoe.)

2. Luckily, your kids don't need to take their shoes off at TSA, but you might wanna dress them in easy-off shoes anyway. That way, kids can take off their shoes once you’ve reached cruising altitude. (You may be shocked to learn we have a couple ideas for kids’ travel shoes as well: Stingray sandals are super easy to get on and off, and Knotch River sandals adjust easily with a big strap they can undo themselves.)

3. Even if they’re wearing sandals, put some socks on ‘em (or just bring the socks along in your bag). That way they can go shoeless and still keep their little feet warm in the chilly cabin air (also, tiny bare feet all over the naugahyde = ew, no!). (This applies to you too, by the way: KEEN has some cozy socks for grown-ups, made with American wool.)

4. And those shoes they’re wearing? Better be comfy. There’s nothing worse than dragging a kid to gate 83 while they whine about their feet hurting. Dress them in their comfiest slip-ons and you can make the most of your layover time. They'll also happily get the wiggles out before boarding the next flight, and working out that cooped-up energy always bodes well for a happier flight.

5. Speaking of feet, some kids just love to bang them on the seat in front of them. Apparently it's just a hoot. So, have a few surprises up your sleeve. Pack some toys or treats that your kids don't know about. Then divide the length of the flight into increments of 30 minutes or so and give them a surprise at the end of every set. This way, the surprises will last, they’ll have something to look forward to, and they can get rewarded for good behavior (or... not). Think things like origami paper, sticker books, magnetic checkers, or treats like fruit snacks.

But the most important thing to remember is this: airplane time is a no-parent-judgment zone. From sugar-laden snacks to way (way) more screen time than usual — what happens in the air, stays in the air. Just do what you gotta do, and always keep in mind that, eventually, the plane will land. It just has to.

Socks and sandals, the perfect combo for air travel

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