Traveling with children of any age can be a challenge, but what happens when you are flying with a toddler? They are a little bigger than an infant, slightly less reasonable than an older child, and most likely capable of getting their point across in a not so quiet way! Thankfully, there are many things you can do to survive flying with a toddler and still have your sanity at the end.
Here are our 9 tips for flying with a toddler:
1. Choose the Right Time to Fly
Sometimes, keeping a toddler happy while on an airplane is as easy as flying at the right time. Now, we know you don’t always have a say as to when your flight will take off, but if possible, we recommend booking a flight for the time of the day when you know your toddler will be the happiest or will take a nap. We understand this can backfire and not work out the way you have planned, but it’s better to try and fail than not try at all.
2. Determine Where Your Toddler Will Sit
Some parents choose to bring their child’s car seat with them and pay for a seat for their toddler, while others simply have their child sit on their lap for the entire flight. There are pros and cons to each option, so you will need to determine which one will work best for you. If you are flying with a toddler on your lap, you will save money, but you will also have them on your lap for the entire flight.
This may not seem like an issue until half an hour into the flight and you are still trying to wrestle with them to keep them still. It is obviously easier if you are flying with another adult, as you can pass your toddler back and forth, but you may both be exhausted when you reach your destination. We recommend choosing the option that will work best for you then tackling any problems that arise along the way.
3. Choose an Aisle Seat in the Back
Many families think they would love being in the front of the plane, so they can make a quick exit at landing. However, we can say from personal experience that is the worst place to sit with a toddler. We recommend finding an aisle seat in the back of the plane where the bathrooms are. This will give you a little more room, while being able to get up out of your seat a little more often. Plus, you will find many other parents back there for the same reason, so you can all feel each other’s pain!
4. Time Your Boarding Right
Every airline allows people who need extra help to board first and that always includes families with young children. However, when flying with a toddler, you may want to disregard this announcement. The earlier you board your flight, the longer you will need to keep your little one happy and still in their seat. That is a lot to ask of a toddler, which is why we recommend waiting as long as possible. This option may not be available if you are using an airline that doesn’t allow you to choose your seats in advance, as early boarding may be the only guarantee that you get seated with the rest of your family in the area you want.
5. Bring Your Child’s Lovey
Every toddler has that one special item they simply cannot live without, so make sure it makes its way into your carry-on bag. In fact, pack a dozen of them between your carry-on bag and checked luggage just in case one happens to go missing!
Trust us. It has happened, and the result has not been pretty! We recommend rotating those loveys at home, so that none of them have that brand-new smell when you are traveling. These little ones are smart you know, and they can tell when there is an imposter lovey in front of them!
6. Bring a Few Small Surprises
Toddlers love new things every once in a while, and nothing will capture their attention better than something that intrigues them because they have never seen it before. A few new toys or a new book or two can help save the day when they start to get cranky.
7. Bring Snacks
Every toddler has a very small belly, which means they can be hungry five minutes after they eat if that is what suits them. We recommend taking snacks when flying with a toddler, because they will definitely not be happy waiting to eat. There are plenty of options available, but we recommend items that will not spill or make much of a mess.
8. Bring a Change of Clothes for Both of You
Speaking of messes, they can and normally do happen when flying. Unless you want to sit there covered with whatever all over you, we recommend you pack a change of clothes for both you and your toddler. A couple of Ziploc bags or plastic shopping bags can come in handy too, so the messy clothes do not share the love with the rest of your carry-on bag!
9. Allow Your Child to Watch a Movie or Television Show
We understand there are times when electronics cannot be in operation on a flight, but once you are in the air, you may want to give in and let your toddler watch something on your iPad, Kindle, or smartphone. This option may help keep them happy for a good portion of your flight or at least until they hopefully take a little nap.
The above tips should help you successfully fly with your toddler; however, you may want to create a flying with a toddler checklist, so you do not forget any of the items that you will need to survive. That list can be used over and over again, as you get this flying with a toddler thing down to a science and begin to travel even more in the future!