Thinking about traveling with a toddler can make your nerves/anxiety shoot through the roof!! Having flown four times so far with my son at 9 months, 18 months, 23 months & 26 months and anticipating another flying adventure in our near future, I thought a “refresher” with tips when traveling with a toddler would help calm my already increasing nerves.
- First tell yourself that all of the bad, worst case scenario’s floating around in your head will NOT happen.
- Then tell yourself that you aren’t the first person to ever travel with a toddler and that some people do this ALL THE TIME.
- Start preparing a list (that’s the OCD in me) with everything you wish to bring for your toddler on the trip.
- Then cross out HALF of what’s on the list, you don’t really need it and it’s a waste of precious carry-on or checked luggage space. Less is more in this case!
- I start packing early, I make sure all the outfits I wish to bring are clean in advance and I pack everything we can do without until the trip as early as possible.
- DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT bring your child’s loud and obnoxious toys on the plane. Simple toys that make no or minimal noise, books, coloring books and small items are best. The other passengers on the plane are already thinking in their heads “great, a baby, this is going to be a long flight”. I know this because I use to be one of these people, but proper preparing is key to proving them wrong!
- Make sure your carry on diaper bag is packed only with necessities and a few play items. You need to be able to access diapers, a paci, snacks/drinks, etc easily. If your child needs a blanket or something special to sleep, that would be considered a necessity. You want them to sleep! A change of clothes for the child, yourself and your spouse might not be a bad idea either……accident’s happen!
- Try to plan the flight around your child’s nap time (I know this is hard). A sleeping baby is the best baby on a plane ride.
- SIT IN THE BACK OF THE PLANE – You get to board first, do yourself and everyone else a favor by sitting in the back. If the flight isn’t full, you just might get the whole back aisle to yourself!
- Try to make the flight fun, talk about the airplane, the people, the clouds, the sky, and your surroundings. Engage your child in learning something new.
- Ask for help (especially if you are traveling with a child alone). In my experience of flying with my son, I’ve had my husband with me, but the flight attendants have still been very receptive to our needs, often asking if we need anything extra and allowing us to move seats to be more comfortable.
- Be very careful what you bring in your carry-on luggage. The 3oz rule does not apply to baby formula or breast milk, but you will be taken to the side and it will be screened. When my son was on formula, I pre-measured the formula in the bottle’s we needed and then bought bottled water at the airport after we went through security. Now that he drinks plain milk or juice, I bring an empty cup and buy the item after I pass through security. This way I don’t have to be pulled aside for screening. The 3oz rule does apply to diaper cream, toiletries, lotion, etc. Purchase a small set of the trial size stuff and save yourself some room and a headache at security!
- While waiting for your flight, let your child roam (with you right next to them of course). They will be sitting for an extended period of time, let them walk around with you, talk to them about things they might see, wear them out so they will sleep 🙂
- What to bring; a diaper bag with what you consider necessities for you/your child, an umbrella stroller (you gate check this for free), car seat and pack n play (if needed these are checked at the counter for free), I combine my son’s clothes with ours. Surprisingly, I can fit all 3 of us into one checked bag. Like I said before, less is more. If you have a washing machine where you are going, plan on using it and pack less. How many times have you overpacked and then not used half of what you brought?? I know I have and I learned the hard way.
- RELAX….your child can sense tension in you and may act out because of it, the airport is a stressful place for most people, try to remind yourself that things will be out of your control and go with the flow. Remind yourself of where you are headed, why you are going there, and the reward once you get there. In my experience, I stressed so bad about my son’s behavior on the plane, and he’s always proved me wrong and was an angel. That doesn’t mean there was the occasional cry or struggle in our seat, but overall he was great. He slept the majority of the time and by following the suggestions above, we were prepared and ready to meet his every need. We’ve had fellow passengers telling us how good he was and that they were surprised at how quiet he was. I couldn’t help but smile and give myself and my husband a pat on the back 🙂
Instead of liquid hand sanitizer, bring hand sanitizing wipes. I sanitize the area my son will be touching on the plane as soon as we sit down. No, I’m not a germ freak but think of how many people have touched those area’s and how quickly planes are cleaned…..yeah….gross!
Download children’s books/games on your phone/tablet and have your child try them before the flight. I don’t know a toddler that doesn’t want to play with anything techy!
Change their diaper right before you get on the plane (if possible), the changing tables on the planes are a joke! Overnight diapers are great for long trips/overnight.
Keep them happy! Whether it be snacks, games, toys, etc…..keep them happy! The plane is not the place to suddenly start disciplining your child. I’m not saying you should let them get away with things, but don’t make a scene.
I bring an empty ziplock bag for trash and stick it in the back seat pocket, this makes it easy to hand to the flight attendant. We usually have quite a bit of trash.
These ideas are based on my experience flying with my child who is now 2 1/2. Cade now sits in his own seat and no longer takes a pacifier so suckers are great for helping him pop his ears. He loves to look out the window and talk about the clouds, the plane and anything else we come across in the sky. I’ve updated this post several times, adding new things I’ve learned. I’d love to hear your suggestions. Does anyone have tips about traveling while potty training? I’m sure that will be a hurdle for us to jump here very soon!