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My last post talked about how I prepped to travel with my toddler alone. Check it out here. Today’s post is all about the actual day of travel. Some tips and tricks to make traveling with a toddler easier.
Traveling can be stressful, traveling with toddlers is downright ridiculous. I had the pleasure to travel with my almost 3 year old and let me tell ya, I was freaking out. Anyone who knows me knows that I like to plan out everything. And any mom will tell ya, planning anything with children is a crapshoot.
When traveling with littles, there is so much that can happen that you simply cannot prepare for everything but you can damn well try. When I booked our trip, I scoured the internet and other mom blogs for any tidbit of information or tips that I could find.
Below are some tips and tricks that I tried out, almost all of them were perfect and help ease the level of anxiety I was at. There was only one thing I brought with the intention of using but didn’t get the chance to.
Before you Go:
Stock up on activities – for the younger ones, who might not be interested in a movie or game, coloring books are the way to go. I got a ton of these mess-free coloring pages/markers for him to use. These are perfect because there is no worry about him getting the marker everywhere. Check out my Prep to Travel w/Toddlers post for some awesome ideas!
Pack that diaper bag – if you are traveling with a child under two, you are allowed a separate diaper bag in addition to your purse/personal item.
- I made sure to have enough snacks to last him the entire day of traveling (we left in the morning). You can also bring in filled cups/bottles for kids. I had 1 with milk and 1 with water; these will also help during those pesky cabin pressure changes & their little ears are bothering them.
- Change of clothes – just like any outing, make sure to have a spare set of clothes for any accidents, spills, etc. Also, include a sweatshirt in case the plane is cold.
Check-In – If you can and your luggage is limited to carry-on items, I suggest checking in BEFORE you arrive. We did this on our trip down and made life so much easier. We went directly to security. However, going home, I did check that bag because it ended up being way easier to navigate & handle a toddler on my own without having to worry about the luggage.
At the Airport:
If you have brought electronics (let’s be real, everyone has something nowadays), take those out while in line for security. If you have a stroller with you, place them in the bottom basket so that they are easily accessible to just put in the bins.
Wear either slip-on shoes or untie your shoes before getting up to the front, again a small thing but will make you less stressed trying to do everything quickly & keeping an eye on those kids.
Try and batch your items; put all the iPads, phones, laptops in one bin, shoes in another, keys, watches, etc. in another. This will make it quicker and easier for you to just grab & go. I had an amazing experience leaving (shout out to EWR’s TSA people!), they helped me out so much with navigating the stroller & putting my things back together for me.
Once you get to the gate, if you have kids in a stroller that are walking, let them walk around a bit to stretch their legs and possibly tire them out. They’re going to be stuck in a plane for a few hours, might as well let them go crazy before you board.
On the Plane:
Parties with small children get priority boarding as this can be quite a challenge, especially if you are the only adult. Take advantage of this and get on that plane as quickly as possible…once the plane started to fill up we made a little game out of it.
If your little one is old enough for no car seat but still semi-small that you’re not 100% comfortable with just a lap belt, then this harness is for you! It has arm straps that go over the top of the seat and will ‘click’ in at their chest, just like the car seat. My guy was not about that life this trip because everything was so brand new to him, so this didn’t work out for us this time…
Some children will get a little uncomfortable with the change in cabin pressure, this is where the cups/bottles come into play. The drinking motion will help alleviate the pressure. Or you can try something to eat, like a lollipop, etc. Honestly, anything that’ll get that jaw moving should help.
Have some Fun
Once we got settled into our seats, Cam was not ready to just sit down so he would stand on his seat/my lap and pointed at each new passenger. He would say ‘Mama, who dat?’, to which I replied with various versions of ‘I don’t know’. The passengers were super cool about it & let him have his fun. Some interacted with him, and others just smiled & moved on.
Ok, you guys are settled, the cabin doors have now shut. Now what?! This is where all of those activities come into play. Since I was a ball of nerves, I definitely overpacked in this area. I had EVERYTHING from coloring activities to books…and you know what he played with 90% of the time?? The CARS. I felt like Melanie Parker (One Fine Day – 1996 movie) with a ziplock bag full of cars in my purse.
My little dude LOVED the take-off and landing portion of the trip, however, if yours is a little wary, try distracting them with a drink, snack, a book or just talk to them. You’ll be amazed at how they’ll calm down to the sound of your voice.
Cam became a pro on our way home though and slept the ENTIRE trip…legit had to wake up him so we could deplane and if I didn’t have to jostle him so much to get him out, he probably would’ve slept through it all!
Remember, children feed off of your emotions…if they see you are stressed, then 9 times out of 10 so will they. They’ll act out, run away, etc. Try and stay calm, even when things don’t go as planned. Take a deep breath and know that you can get through it.
These are just tiny moments in the bigger picture; making some amazing memories with your kids.
Let me know in the comments section if you’ve recently traveled with family and how it went! Have an idea that worked for you?? Drop it below in the comments and let me know about it!