While many parents may dread flying with a toddler, I’ve come to realize that this need not be the case. Plane rides with young children can be fun, provided we are well-prepared.
Here are some of my tried-and-tested tips for flying with a toddler:
1. Have easy on-off shoes
Security is very tight at many airports and some require that shoes/coats/bags all be taken off and placed through x-ray machines. Your toddler is no exception.
This means that not only will you be taking off your own shoes and coat but you will also have the added stress of taking off your toddler’s shoes and coat — all while trying to quickly move through the line as to not hold up any impatient travelers.
So, when flying with a toddler, take it from someone who has been there — save yourself a little stress and have your child/children wear shoes that are easy to put on and off.
Shoes like these, with velcro straps, are easy to put on and off, making your plane trips much easier!
2. Carry light
When it comes to flying with a toddler, make sure that your carry-on luggage is light — at best, stick to just 1 or 2 small bags.
If you don’t, not only will security be a pain to go through, but carrying anything more than absolutely necessary while trying to keep track of a toddler in a busy airport will be extremely stressful.
Also, bathroom trips and shopping for souvenirs, especially if you are flying with a toddler alone, will be difficult with extra things in your hands.
3. Skip the stroller
As I started flying more often with my small daughter, I tried to think of more ways to make our trips easier. After the third or fourth flight, I thought that bringing a small stroller would be a wonderful idea.
Well, it was perfect in theory, but failed in real life.
First of all, security was a pain. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have as little as possible when going through airport security.
Second of all, escalators are no longer an option if you’re flying with a toddler and are lugging around a stroller, so you’ll have to find an elevator to get to other floors at the airport.
Thirdly, the airline personnel will collect your stroller right before you board and then give it back just as you depart the plane. Sometimes, you will have to wait to collect it — which holds up the line of people waiting to get off.
In the long run then, I’d say that when it comes to flying with a toddler, strollers really are more of a hassle than a help.
The solution to traveling with a toddler without a stroller: Babywearing! Traveling with a young child is so much easier if you use a sling or other baby carrier.
4. Bring lots of snacks
A munching toddler is a happy toddler. For long flights, as well as long layovers, bring a wide variety of snacks, especially your child’s favorites.
Also, if you aren’t normally one to allow much junk food, this might be a good time to make an exception. Introducing snacks has diffused many an almost-tantrum during my travels with my child.
Eating keeps toddlers full (maybe even sleepy) and busy. That’s why snacks are my ultimate go-to when I am at my wit’s end during flights.
5. Go for layovers
Though a straight through flight is ideal for adult only travels, a layover can be a wonderful thing for parents traveling with little children.
A layover breaks up the day. A long 5-hour flight seems impossible for a toddler to survive, but split into 2 flights with an hour to stretch in between can make things quite doable.
Layovers are good for families who are traveling with little ones!
Potty breaks, lunch, and some running around can all be accomplished during a nicely-timed layover. With any luck, your child will board the next plane ready for a nap to finish out the flying experience.
To be completely honest, my general plan of action for flying with my daughter is to make sure she is as tired as possible before the flight. I don’t believe in sedating her via medicine, but I do it the natural way.
Whenever possible, we fly red-eye flights. If not, I make her run and play and get rid of all her energy so that she can sleep for much of the flight. I’ve tried coloring books, toys, puzzles, and many other things to keep her attention, but when I can barely stand the long flights, how can I expect her to so too, right?
Truth to tell, I still sometimes dread our flying with a toddler, but at least I have learned to do things a little better with each flight.
How about you, mums? Do you have experience flying with a toddler? Perhaps you have some tips to share — just leave a comment below!