Flying with a toddler? Try these tips, tricks and ideas to make your trip easier!
I recently took my newly-turned two year little girl on her first plane ride. She joined her sisters and me for a girls' trip out west, and none of us could wait to go! I've flown plenty of times before, but it had been awhile since I had a toddler with me since now there are eight of us, we do most of our family traveling by car.
I think toddlers are in general the hardest age to travel with, but especially flying. Not that they aren't perfectly adorable in every way, but they are at a age where they want to be down, running, and moving, and a plane is probably the most limiting. When you're in a car, you can stop and stretch little legs and take a break, but that's just not always possible on a plane. That said, to make it as easy and stress-free as possible for both toddler and parents, it's good to have a game plan, and plenty of tricks up your sleeve for the trip.
For our own trip, I had a few new ideas I wanted to try, and some others I had done in the past, but I also asked my awesome Facebook readers for their ideas. They did not disappoint, and I knew I wanted to share them with all of you! When it comes to entertainment, obviously you can't take everything, or try every single idea, so I suggest choosing ones that you think your toddler will enjoy the most, or what they might need the most, and start there.
-Make sure YOU visit the bathroom before getting on the plane! If traveling by yourself with a toddler, this is especially important–they won’t necessarily fit in the bathroom with you, and even if the do, if a baby or toddler falls asleep on your lap, you won’t be able to move! This happened to me on our last flight, and while I was so glad she slept for three hours, it was a really good thing I didn’t have to get up!
-Going through security can be hard with a toddler, because off all the things that have to be done. They don’t have to take of their shoes, but you do, so try and wear shoes that are easy to take off and on. You also have to fold up a stroller and send it through security, which means they have to come out, all while you’re trying to get everything up and through where it’s supposed to be. I try and prep everything ahead of time–putting all items in one bag that have to come out, like laptops, medicines, liquids, etc. Then I don’t have to search or scramble or take more time than necessary. You can always quickly put the items back in the bags you really want them in after you go through security–and your toddler is safely and securely back in their stroller. I also limit jewelry, belts, and anything else that might require extra time in security. Have your boarding passes and drivers license ready to go, and keep them in a place that’s easy to access but won’t get lost.
-Place magazines, tablet, and your water in the pocket in front of you when you get on the plane–if a child falls asleep, you’ll have something to do without trying to move and wake them up. I always prepare myself as much as possible for the event that a child falls asleep, because once they do, you don’t want to risk waking them up by bending over and trying to grab your phone, tablet, kindle, magazine, water, or whatever else you might need.
-Even if your child isn’t quite two, and could technically be on your lap, you may want to consider buying them their own seat if your budget can swing it. Caroline had just turned two the week before we left, so she had her own seat, and I’m SO glad she did. With all of our stuff, and her, and trying to get things in and out of our bag, it would have been hard to have someone next to us. I think if you’re sitting next to another family member, it would be easier–and they wouldn’t mind as much. :) However…we do what we have to do, for sure! I have flown with a toddler on my lap, and we had someone next to us, and we made it work–it’s totally doable, of course–just food for thought!
-Most of the ideas here can be utilized not only on the plane, but in an airport as well. We’ve had really long layovers in the past, and while some airports are more child-friendly with areas to play, others are not. I’ve always been so glad when I had plenty to occupy kids while waiting for our next flight, or in the event that there’s a delay or cancellation.
I would love to hear all of your ideas, tips, and suggestions, and add them to the list, so please leave them in the comments below!