It’s that time of year again, when everyone’s travel schedules are full. If you’re not traveling for Spring Break, chances are you’re traveling for the summer since most people have some time off work! I’m starting to get mentally prepared for all of the traveling we have to do with our toddler. It’s a different and new challenge each time we fly with him, but the more prepared I am, the smoother it all seems to go.
The first order of business is booking your flights. I’ve traveled a lot with my baby (now toddler) and I personally like to book non-stop flights. The idea of taking everything off the plane, and having to get on another plane, just sounds awful to me. It’s hard enough getting on that initial flight, why would you want to do it again? I prefer to get it all over with if that’s an option. DIRECT flights people, DIRECT!! I can’t express that enough, even if it costs more. What’s your sanity worth??
Picking the right time to travel for your kid(s) is KEY. You know your child best, and I realize some kids won’t just sleep anywhere… But most kids will reach their limit at night. So red eyes are my favorite! Nap time also works, as long as I can plan it so he will be tired at some point of the flight that’s when I’m booking. Nap time is risky though, since flights can get delayed and things don’t always go according to plan when traveling especially during the holidays. However, so far, he’s always managed to fall asleep on the flights we’ve taken and in turn I’ve been able to watch a movie or enjoy reading a book. With that being said, 95% of the time we’re on a red eye so it’s way past his bed time.
GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
I like to go early, that way I’m not rushed and acting crazy. Trust me on this, I’ve arrived super early and super late, barely making my flight…. When I was early, calm, cool and collected, Greyson was much better behaved. Children can feel your stress and the last thing you want to do is stress your kid out before flying.
PLAN FOR THE SECURITY LINE
Slip-on shoes for you (toddlers don’t have to take off their shoes), you don’t want to deal with tying up shoes when you have a toddler on the loose, and while you gather all of your things as it comes through screening. A light umbrella stroller is your best friend when going through security — it will be easy to fold up at the last second and place on the X-ray’s conveyer belt. I suggest the Uppa Baby G-Luxe as it’s lightweight, has a basket, cup holder, a travel case (add on), shoulder strap, and reclines in case your little one falls asleep. I can’t imagine traveling without one! You can leave it at the plane’s door before you board for gate check, and it will be waiting for you at the door upon landing. Or, if you have a baby, I suggest a super compact baby carrier like the Ergo Stowaway, as it folds really small and can fit easily in any purse or diaper bag.
I always go buy some snacks, drinks, and a new toy if I see something cool. If there’s a play area let them run free in there before you head to your gate if you have time. The more energy they let out preflight, the better! I usually put out a spare blanket on the ground, this is when I bust out all the fun new toys I bought to entertain him. I save the iPad for later. He usually eats a snack, plays on his blanket with new toys while I pack up the umbrella stroller and get it ready for gate check. I always change Greyson’s diaper right before boarding and put him in his pj’s or super comfy clothing so he knows that it’s almost nap or bed time. Use the family room, bring your stroller, use the bathroom yourself, change your child and pray that you don’t have to deal with a bathroom trip for either of you while on the plane. Remember, if you’re traveling solo you won’t have anyone there to watch your things and you’ll have to squeeze both you and your child and all of your bags with valuable/important items into that tiny bathroom. Granted, I always end up having to make a trip, but usually only 1.
I always pre board, it gives me a little extra time to set Greyson up in his seat before the person next to us shows up. I always pick a window seat for Greyson, he enjoys looking out the plane window. Also, I feel like it blocks him in and he doesn’t notice all the people walking up and down the aisle and tempt him to want to do the same thing. Although, if you know your child won’t stay still and will need to walk, an aisle seat might be your best bet.
I always have the iPad filled with brand new episodes of his favorite show, whatever that happens to be at the time of travel. In flight is the time to let loose on some of those parenting rules you may have, screen time, candy, whatever works! What I tend to do is as soon as the flight attendants are able to, I get them to fill his cup with milk, give that to him while he watches his show and he usually passes out pretty fast. It’s also a good idea to have new toys that they’ve never seen before in case your child is restless. But as mentioned above, I usually go through all of those while waiting to board. Since I go to the family restroom before boarding, change his diaper etc we usually don’t have to make too many trips to the bathroom on the plane. Depending on the length of your flight, it’s nice to minimize those trips as those tiny bathrooms are not ideal conditions for changing a child.
EXITING THE PLANE
Don’t rush off the plane if you’ve gate checked any items, usually those items take a while and you’ll just be standing in the way. Just pull out one of those new toys or talk about the things you see out the window and try to patiently wait for everyone to exit. I like having space to take my stroller out of the bag and get everything organized anyway and it’s much easier to do so with less people around.
I hope these little tips help ease the stress of traveling with your little ones. I know it can seem daunting but the more prepared you are, the less stressed you’ll feel and in turn the less stressed your child will be. You got this!
I’m getting a list together of my favorite items to travel with, check back soon for that post!