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Traveling With a Toddler: Tips I Learned After Our Recent Flight

July 31, 2019

If you know me closely, you know that I HATE flying. This is something I have always felt but never to the extent of which it is now. Lovely motherhood anxiety has seemed to make it worse, which I guess is understandable since there is so more I have to focus on. When pairing my my personal fear of it and the general anxiety of keeping a child entertained, I am at times on the verge of a panic attack. However, regardless of how I feel, I have to fly. With family and friends living both in the south, midwest and west coast areas, flying will always be apart of our lives. I want my kids to grow up flying, get comfortable with it, and one day use it to find their very own adventures.

So with that being said, I learned a few tips and tricks after our recent 4 day weekend to Chicago. While Cassidy has flown before, she was much younger both times (5 months and 10 months),which is much different than now at 19 months old. Flying with a toddler is not easy but doesn’t have to be impossible. In fact, it can actually be fun. Take a look below to see how.

Arrive Early

For me, part of my stress when flying is the whole “getting there” process. Add in a cranky toddler, extra bags, a car seat, a stroller and God knows what else, my stress levels are at an all time high. So to help with this situation, make sure to give yourself plenty of time so that you aren’t in a rush. To be safe, I’d recommend getting to the airport at least 2 hours in advance.

Get a Good Stroller

When I was pregnant with Cassidy I read about one type of umbrella stroller that tons of moms were raving about: The GB Qbit Travel Stroller. While it is a bit pricey, as far as umbrella strollers are concerned, this baby is awesome and so so convenient. For starters, it folds up so small that is can be brought on to your flight and stored in the overhead compartment. Additionally, it can accommodate a car seat with its adapters, if you still have a really little one. Lastly, it is super light weight, easy to fold up, and moves great. Definitely my go-to whenever all things travel are involved.

Diaper Changes

Upon boarding, make sure you take your little one to bathroom to get a fresh diaper on. If you are lucky enough and depending on the duration of your flight, this should hopefully last you the entirety of the journey. However, if you are on a longer plane ride or little one has a poopy diaper, this is where things can get interesting. I personally didn’t have to change Cassidy on our latest flight but did back when we went to California, when she was 10 months old. Most planes will have a changing table in the bathroom but not all do, so I’d recommend checking your plane first to help you prepare. If they do not, I’d talk with the flight attendants and see what they’d recommend. Some might let you use an empty row of seats or the galley. Some might even be cool and then hand you a beer afterwards (seriously though, back when we went to California we had the best flight attendant ever)!

Board First

Even though I personally would like to spend as little time on a plane, as possible, when it comes to your little one it is actually best to get yourself on first.This is because you get time to get everyone settled, get bags put away, car seat installed if you have one, toys out, etc. This too will help lower your stress levels since you won’t feel so rushed by the people behind you.

New Toys

This was something many of my followers suggested and boy were they right. Bring new toys that you’re little one has never seen. In fact, try keeping those toys specifically for trips solely and only whip them out when traveling. Hit up a Dollar Tree or Target $1 section and stock up. Coloring books with the invisible ink is always a great investment and are great in ensuring no mess is made when little one draws outside the lines.

Bring a car seat

Now I get that this might not always be an option but if you have the means, do it! I didn’t bring one on this flight, since it was a little bit more than an hour but when we traveled to California (which is about a 6 hour flight), I knew I would want to spend the extra money to buy a seat. Of course, having a lap child isn’t impossible but as they get older and more energetic, it isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world. A car seat allows you to have your space, move more freely and most importantly can allow your little bean to rest. Oh and you cant forget the safety aspect as well.

Need recommendations for a car seat? Check out the Cosco Car Seat. It is the perfect size for all plane seats, super affordable, light weight, easy to install and safe.

Snacks

Even though most planes will pass out a snack of some sort (we were offered pretzels, cookies and a waffle thing on our latest flight), it isn’t always a guarantee. It also isn’t a guarantee that your little bean will like any of the options presented. So with that, be sure to pack a variety of snacks to throw your toddlers way when other forms of entertainment aren’t cutting it. Id recommend to sticking with options that provide little mess and clean up. Raisins, Gold Fish, Pretzels, etc are good places to start. Additionally, I’d recommend bringing some special treats as back up. For us that was some Reeses Pieces and Dumb Dumb Lollipops. Despite what some parenting books say, I am a firm believer that bribery with sweets is always acceptable when traveling. I mean let’s be honest, isn’t is so much better to have a sugar riddled quiet kid on a plane as opposed to a screaming monster? It’s a no brainer!

Screen Time

Another no brainer, don’t forget to bring along your own inflight entertainment. For us, this meant an iPad loaded with a couple of Cassidy’s favorite movies/shows. Of course, depending on the aircraft, in flight entertainment might be offered but this isn’t always a guarantee and additionally, may not have anything your little one likes.

On top of this, I’d recommend getting a good pair of toddler sized headphones and more importantly, getting your little one used to wearing them before the trip. Cassidy is at the age where she doesn’t like anything on/touching her head so she didn’t keep them on this time but it’s something we will be working on for the future. Luckily we were able to play her movies with the sound on low. We did however, get one complaint from a flight attendant 20 minutes before landing, which was stupid but understandable. I guess there is a policy about sounds on planes so be aware of that in case youre in a similar situation.

Treat Yourself

Lastly, don’t forget about you! Treat yourself to a drink (if that’s your thing) or buy yourself your favorite candy/snack to eat while on the flight. I know flying isn’t always a cake walk but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it too. Give yourself a chance to sit back and relax and take this as a time for you to let someone else take the wheel to get you to where you need to be.

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