Traveling with a toddler… the words nightmares are made of! The actual art of traveling for a trip isn’t usually super fun for anyone. Dirty airports, long security lines, delayed flights, cramped planes… or maybe you’re driving. Traffic, weather, construction… Ugh. My approach to flying with a child/toddler for the first time was to make sure we had lots of entertaining things.
I asked for help on Instagram and got lots of fun tips. (Thanks, guys!) I followed them all and our flights out to California were seamless. I felt like a toddler traveling pro and imagined that we’d start flying Blaire all over the place. She’d be such a little jetsetter. Let’s just pretend our flights home were as perfect. Just kidding. They were terrible. I’ll tell you about it later. Well we lived and learned, and we’ve been successful on all of our other flights. All 10 of them. Do 10 flights classify Blaire as a jetsetter? ;) Here are our tips for traveling with a toddler.
- Bring a fun mix of toys!
I recommend you bring a mix of toys you know they love, as well as new toys that will be fun and exciting for them. For us, we knew Blaire loved playing with the iPad. (More on the iPad below.) For new toys, we brought a new book, the magna doodle and the reusable sticker pad (these stickers are basically like window clings and can be placed on the pages of this book, and removed, and restuck). If you can’t find this reusable sticker pad, then bring regular stickers. Blaire loves sticking them on herself, us, the seats, the arm rests… basically anywhere. Also remember – the bigger the stickers, the easier for your kiddos to play with. If you purchase this magna doodle – maybe leave the stamps at home? On our first flight, Jason kept them in his pocket so we wouldn’t lose any. (Reason #129408124 he’s the best!) But Blaire loved it just as much without the stampers, so they’ve stayed at home on our other trips.
- Bring something to soothe their ears.
Whether it’s a binky or something to drink out of. For us, it’s both. Also – don’t count on the airline to have juice or milk for your child. We did and it was our worst flight EVER! For us AND the rest of those poor souls on that small plane. Be sure to grab what you need before boarding the plane even if that means you aren’t the first to board. And while you’re at it, BUY EXTRA! Your connection
might be 40 gates awaywill probably give you less time between flights than they stated when you bought the ticket. Better safe than sorry. Take as many binkys as you can remember to pack! You will not regret it. They’re going to fall on the floor of the plane or hotel or they’re going to get lost in your hotel room. You know how it goes. You do not want to be in the hotel room at 2AM without a back up binky.
- Pack snacks.
Snacks. SO. MANY. SNACKS. Airport snacks are expensive. Pack as many snack containers and baggies of food as you can manage in your carry on. We all know variety keeps kiddos entertained. Some of Blaire’s current favorites (16 months – 22 months) include: Goldfish (original, cheddar and pretzel), veggie straws, cinnamon life, string cheese, mini golden oreos and apple sauce pouches.
- Pack smart.
Make sure you know where things are packed in your carry ons. Also – take the least amount of carryons possible. One our first flight with Blaire, we tried to max out the number of bags we could carry on and it was annoying. There’s nothing worse than having to haul giant bags through the airport along with pushing your stroller and your carseat. (More on your car seat below.) When packing, think about the things you’ll need that are bulky and can easily be purchased when you arrive at your destination. Diapers, wipes and bulk sizes of snacks are all easy things to grab once you get all checked in to your hotel.
- Are you taking your toddler’s car seat?
Or are you renting one with your rental car? We’ve rented one and it was super affordable and convenient. BUT it hasn’t been an option with all of the places we’ve rented cars. If you’re taking your carseat, make sure you have a bag for it. And I recommend gate checking it, it cuts out some of the rough handling it would be subjected to if you checked it with your checked bags. (ALSO my hope is that it’s fairly difficult for them to lose something that’s gate checked.) When bringing along your car seat you’re going to need a bag to cover it when it’s under the plane, and a way to get it through the airport easily. They do make bags with wheels (2 in 1!) or you can purchase something to pull your carseat with, and a cheaper bag without wheels. We chose the second, because we wanted to be able to set a bag (or Blaire!) in the carseat on our way through the airport. This is the bag we use and this is the car seat transporter we use.
- Load up your iPad.
Or phone. Or Kindle. Or whatever tablet you may have. How I wish I would’ve concentrated more on this for our first trip with Blaire! I read about 12970213 blog posts that recommended apps for toddlers and none of them were that great. My worry was that without forcing her to wear headphones, everyone would have to hear music or animals noises from her games. Well I can assure you most people prefer music or animal noises to a screaming baby. Also – Blaire LOVES wearing headphones. So here are our current iPad app favorites.
- Make your kiddo feel at home at the hotel/condo/house.
If there are things they typically sleep with, bring them along! Blaire uses the same pillow pet each night. So I brought the pillow pet and the sheet she had on her bed at the time. I knew sleeping in a portable crib would be different than sleeping in her own, so I was happy to do anything I could do to make the bed feel familiar. And she usually sleeps like a champ! If she’s not feeling the portable crib, we don’t make a huge deal out of it and let her sleep in bed with us. Whatever results in the most sleep is my #1 priority. Especially on vacation!
So, I promised I’d tell you about our worst flight EVER. Fine. You can read all about it here.
Okay mamas, what are your tips for flying with littles one? Also, what iPad/iPhone apps are your go tos for your little ones? I definitely need to bulk up the “Blaire” folder on my phone. ;) I hope these tips help you in some way. And I’d love any feedback. Just leave it in the Comments below! xo
Post originally published on August 3, 2015 – Updated on January 5, 2016.