Tips for Flying with Toddlers

I would consider us seasoned travelers at this point. We lived away from family when our daughter was young, and between my husband and I, we have close relatives in 4 other states. Being a numbers guy, my husband has tallied the number of trips taken to a whopping 15.

While traveling with a two year might cause anxiety, there are some things you can do to make your trip a little easier. There are lots of blogs about traveling with kids, so I’ll spare you the obvious tips. Like, get to the airport early, bring a change of clothes, plan for chaos, etc…

Here are some things people did not necessarily tell us; we just figured them out the more we flew.

What to Pack 

Make a list the night before.

I don’t consider myself the most organized person, but I’ve learned to make lists. Pack your luggage the night before with things you don’t need that night or morning. Make a list of the other items, such as baby monitor, white noise machine, and refrigerated items.

Pack lots of snacks.

This might sound like common sense, but I want to emphasize the amount of snacks you will need. Bring a variety of cut fruit, crackers, pouches, and maybe a bribe snack (perhaps some candy). This will be ammo for convincing her to do something she doesn’t want to do. And when the flight attendant offers pretzels or peanuts, ask for a stash! You will need them even when you get to your destination.

Prepare your devices.

If you’re an electronic family, devices can be very helpful on a plane. Download the videos the day before you leave. When you are taking off and landing, you will not have WiFi; therefore, the videos will need to be saved to your device. I recommend purchasing some toddler headphones such as these if you want to play the video with sound but don’t want to disturb your neighbors.

Pack your own goodies.

If you have a hard time feeding yourself on a normal day, forget about eating a full meal on travel days. Even if you travel with your spouse, chances are you’re lucky to eat some salted peanuts on the plane. Bring some protein bars in YOUR carry on to avoid your little one stealing your food. I also recommend bringing a reusable filtered water bottle. You will not be able to bring a full bottle through security, but you can fill it at any water fountain for free while saving time standing in line.

Bring a small blanket or pillow.

If your flight is longer than an hour and/or coordinates with your toddler’s nap, sleeping *might* be an option (it’s happened twice since she turned 1). But she will be much more likely to fall asleep with some cushion and warmth.

Toys

After overpacking the wrong type of toys, I’ve finally found some favorites that actually keep her occupied for more than 2 minutes. We love water pens and reusable stickers.

Gear

Bring the stroller.

Even if she is not the type that stays in her stroller the whole time, take the stroller. For two reasons: A) You can use it to hold your carry on items and B) when you’re tired of chasing after a toddler on the loose in a sea of hazards, you can strap them in even if they don’t want to be strapped in. Trust me.

Leave the car seat at home.

I know this might be a controversial topic since it has to do with safety. And it is strictly our opinion. But, we don’t bring the car seat because our child will not stay in a seat. She will hardly sit with a loose belt around her legs because she would rather be looking out the window or standing up bothering other passengers. Therefore, we spare ourselves the hassle of lugging a seat through the airport. But, again, this is your call.

Logistics

Be the last to board the plane.

I know airlines let families with children, board early as a courtesy, BUT my husband and I decide to board last simply because it minimizes time on the plane. As long as you have your assigned seat, it will be there waiting for you when you board.

I know what you’re thinking. She didn’t mention those cute little “thanks for putting up with us” bags that people give out when their baby cries. That’s because we’ve never used them. For one, I don’t have time to put together cute bags with a typed note. Secondly, I don’t feel bad enough about disrupting someone else’s flight in the instance she screams too loud or pushes someone’s seat. We’ve all been on flights with kids. Most adults are understanding, and the ones who aren’t probably don’t have kids. Just my opinion.

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