Since I am currently in Boston to watch my dad run the Boston Marathon, I thought I would share my tips on traveling with a toddler (or kids).
Kate is sort of an expert flyer at this point in her life. She has been on more than 17 airplanes during her 20 months of life. Her first flight with me was when she was 6 weeks old. That flight was when we moved and was from Salt Lake City to JFK then to upstate New York. Most of the flights have been just her and I, so it is SO nice when my husband is there to help, but we definitely have a system down.
I wanted to share some tips I have learned along the way that will hopefully take some of the stress off of you when you traveling with your children!
Be prepared for anything
I always have at least 1 extra outfit for her in my carry-on. When she was a baby and had a lot of blow outs (yuck!), I always packed 2 extra outfits and an extra swaddle blanket just in case. Luckily, I have only ever had to change her because of a blow out once when traveling, but on our last flight I had to change her because her sippy cup spilled all down the front of her. You never know! Definitely better to be safe than sorry. Also, pack more wipes and diapers in your carry on than you think you will need. Again, be prepared.
Have a fun new toy ready
Since I travel often and do not want to buy a cool new toy every time we fly, I have a few toys that she only ever gets when traveling. This way, she is always excited to see them! If you don’t travel as often, get a new toy and introduce it for the first time on the plane or in the car, however you are traveling.
If possible, get an aisle seat
I know some people disagree with me on this, but I think it is so much easier to be on the aisle then by the window. I hate having to make everyone move to get out with her, I just feel stuck. If she is getting antsy on long flights, I walk up and down the aisle with her when the seat belt sign is off, so it’s nice for me to be on the end and have to option to do this.
Ask if it is a full flight before boarding
This is my most favorite “trick” I have. If the flight is not full, I sit her on the seat next to me while everyone is boarding. This way, it is unlikely anyone will take that seat and then there is an empty seat for her to play on! It is a lifesaver to have that seat. Obviously it won’t matter anymore once she turns 2 and I have to buy her a seat, but it’s great until then. Oh and this only works on Southwest Airlines since every other airline has assigned seating.
Carry on a variety of snacks
I like having all her favorite snacks ready just in case. She usually doesn’t end up eating very many during the flight, but I know I have them if needed. Remember, you can only bring up to 3 ounces of liquid as a carry on item on airplanes.
Make sure to have them swallow on take off and landing
This was a lot easier when she was breastfeeding and I could just feed her on take off and landing. Since that is not an option anymore, I make sure to have her sippy cup full and some snacks out. As we go up and down, I just continuously offer her sips and/or bites. This will help them clear their ears since younger children are not able to do this on their own. If your child is crying on take off or landing, they are probably having pressure build up in their ears. Doing this will prevent that.
Try to limit the amount of stuff you have to carry
I carry on a duffle bag so that all my stuff is together in one place. It is so hard to have her, my stroller, a carry on, and my purse, so I just condense my purse and carry on into one. I put all the stuff I need from my purse in one pocket of the duffle bag then I put my empty or nearly empty purse in my checked bag. This works good for me.
Protect your carseat
I kept my carseat box and I always fly my carseat in it. Checking your carseat is so hard on them and this really has saved it! If you don’t have the box, you can look up how big of a box airlines will allow and get a box with those dimensions.
Use of medication
Everytime I talk about flying with Kate people tell me to give her Benadryl to make her sleep through it. This is something I have never chosen to do, but you will have to form your own opinion on it. If you choose to do this, do not give your child Benadryl for the first time when you are traveling. Benadryl has the opposite effect on a lot of kids. You do not want a “wired” child on an airplane. No good. Also good to remember, Benadryl can make them feel very groggy so they might just be onery instead of falling asleep. This can make for a long day. If you choose to go this route, MAKE SURE to give your child the correct dose for their age and weight.
Remember, it usually goes better than you think it will
Honestly no matter how many times I fly with Kate, it is always stressful to think about doing it. Luckily I have a pretty well mannered little girl and I have never had a bad experience, but I feel like I prepare for the worst. You know what your child likes and doesn’t like, so plan around that!
Do you have any other specific questions about traveling with kids?
What has worked for you?