Hello & welcome back 🙂 I am so happy you are here! Since our trip to Florida, I’ve had a lot of mommas reach out with questions regarding how flying with Dash went. Flying with a toddler is absolutely terrifying and quite honestly, can be extremely unpredictable. Unfortunately, there is no way of guaranteeing a smooth flight but I do have a couple tips that may help with putting you at best odds! So without further ado – My Top Ten Tips For Flying With Your Toddler!
1. Book Around Their Schedule
If you can book your flights around your child’s sleep schedule then I highly recommend doing so. Our strategy I thought was a good one but really just backfired. We let Dash stay up late the night before & woke up around 4:30 AM for the airport. Our flight left a little after 7 & I was sure he would fall asleep shortly after take off but he stayed awake & wired for the entire flight! Although I still don’t think it was a bad plan; I believe that had we not screwed around so much with his schedule, that it would have been an easier ride. On our way home we took off right around nap time & he slept a good 2 hours of the flight! Obviously finding flights that coordinate well with your toddlers schedule isn’t always possible. My advice is don’t F with what they are used to. Flying is already going to throw them off their day game- so waking them early, letting them stay up late, allowing them to skip nap COULD work in your favor but if it doesn’t .. it’s only going to make your flight experience suck more.
2. Book Their Own Seat
Trust me when I say, it’s worth the investment! The rule of thumb I think is if they are advanced walkers then they should have their own seat. Most flights allow parents the option to lap it (free) if the child is under 3 years of age & believe me when I say that when flights are around 300 bucks a head, it can be really tempting to take the risk! As a parent who took that risk BOTH ways & resulted in both the best & the worst case scenarios, I wish we would have paid for that third seat just for peace of mind alone. Quick story, on the way there we lucked out! The plane wasn’t full & since we paid for priority seating we ended up with a row of three available seats. On the way home we didn’t get so lucky! The plane was completely full & we were very restricted between the three of us, two seats & one very VERY sweet but unfortunate women stuck next to our family. Luckily, Dash was an absolute dream both ways! With his own seat on the way there he was as happy as a clam (for a tired clam) & on the way home he seemed as content as he could be being held. We were grateful that he slept half the way home however Jake and I were terribly uncomfortable.
If you do decide to take this risk then I recommend flying during slow traveling seasons & or times. This won’t guarantee an empty flight but your chances are better. If you do purchase your child a seat then I would also consider bringing their car seat/ a harness etc for their safety and restriction- depending on your child’s will strength that is. Mine most likely would have thrown a fit but then again he may not have known any better. I’ve also seen some really cool tutorials on how to strap your car seat to your rolling luggage. See Here For That
3. Remember To Reserve Adjoining Seats
This is so important when booking a family especially a family with young children. Honestly I don’t know what I would have done if Jake had to sit in another row! Most single flyers would more than likely be willing to trade with you especially if it means they can avoid sitting next to a child however take my word for it & don’t take the risk! Book adjoining seats!
4. Carry On Light
When traveling with a toddler you feel this need to bring everything with you! Like it genuinely feels like the first time you left the house with your new born! Even when reading what to pack lists on Pinterest it’s crazy to me the things these moms were telling us to pack in our carry ons! Do you want know how many times I pulled out a bandaid or a nail clippers? Zero.. absolutely fu**ing ZERO times! All they did was get in the way when digging for the suckers. Take it from me, all you need to pack are the suckers- a crap load of them! Don’t forget the nookie, favorite toys & the tablet! An extra pair of clothes, diapers /wipes you know- the basics plus a coloring book, plastic bag with 3-5 crayons) You DON’T need the entire box & then a special air plane toy!
Unless you’re traveling outside of the country I really feel it’s unnecessary to pack your entire bathroom but that’s just me! Remember you’re parenting in a real confined space. Think logically when putting together your carry on list!
5. Special Surprise Plane Toy
You know when you buy your child a really fun & exciting new toy? It usually distracts them for about 15-30 minutes and then they are done with it forever! Nonetheless though it does distract them! Halfway through the plane ride I could see Dash growing bored of coloring, the tablet & his suckers so I whipped out a special toy he hadn’t seen till then. Wait for it….. a slinky… his special surprise plane toy was a slinky! He loved it.. for about ten seconds and then he went back to the tablet. Jake & I enjoyed it thoroughly though!
The slinky did come in handy later on in our trip- it just wasn’t a huge hit on the plane. It was still a great idea though & I highly recommend it! Like I said.. toddlers are unpredictable!
6. Their Favorite (Forbidden) Snack
I know I already mentioned the suckers (a few times) but I cant stress enough over what a lifesaver they were! Those tiny pops you see at the hair dresser & doctors offices are literally Dash’s fave but he only gets them once a month while visiting one or the other. So when I was thinking of things to bring to help distract/ ways to pop his ears incase of air pressure I knew a giant bag of suckers would really do the trick and man did they come in handy plenty of times on & off the plane. Say goodbye to temper tantrums & hello to sticky faces & fingers… they’re worth it!
7. Avoid Musical Toys
Like if it’s their do or die favorite; do what you have to do! People would rather listen to a noisy toy then a screaming toddler but if you can avoid being those parents with the obnoxious music box that wouldn’t stop… do it! Some of our favorite quiet toys were window clings, coloring books, the slinky & the tablet. Like I said- Don’t forget the tablet!
8. Be Prepared For Worst Case Scenarios
Thankfully we didn’t run into any ignorant, pain in the ass security guards & or flight attendants but I had done enough research to familiarize myself with some pretty awful horror stories of other parents who have. Especially if you are traveling with any special medications, breast milk or formula; I think it’s important to keep a copy of the flight guide lines ON HAND as well as a copy of your child’s birth certificate. I was actually waiting, hoping someone would try and question his age. Like no joke.. totes mentally prepared to go legit mom boss on their asses! – It didn’t happen though. Oh well.. next time maybe!
9. Security Isn’t as intimidating as it looks
I mean security was scary when it was just me & my twelve girlfriends on our way to spring break! The idea of going through with a toddler was terrifying though! Don’t worry; it’s not nearly as intimidating as it appears! Children 12 & under are allowed to leave their shoes on & one parent is allowed to carry the child through the detector. If the child is flying lap he/ she should be carried by the person whose ticket includes the child’s name. There may be additional screening but nothing that should take longer than a few seconds or that would separate you from your child. Be sure to bring attention to any food, breast milk & or formula that you may have. Bottles & sippy cups should be emptied before entering the line. You can fill cups/ water bottles once you have made it past security. Car seats & strollers are FREE to check at the gate!
10. DIAPER DRAMA- BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING
OK so let’s start with the obvious- be sure to change that diaper right before boarding the plane. Another highly recommended suggestion is to have odor resistant garbage bags on hand! The flight attendant & other guests will thank you! As for changing diapers -let me fair warn you that this it’s not easy! Depending on the size of your child you may or may not be able to do this right on their seat. My 1, now almost 2 year old is the size of a 4 year old so this was very unrealistic. I’ve read that some parents will lay their child right in the isle but to me the idea of doing that is sort of crazy. ( no judgement I just don’t have the guts) so I took him to the itty bitty bathroom. THIS WAS PURE GOLD COMEDY! looking back, I die laughing at the memory of it! I changed his NUMBER 2 while he stood on the toilet seat turning the water on & off, on & off! I had already banged my head maybe 14 times total when a turd literally falls out of the diaper causing me to legit dodge it by standing on my tippy toes. All worked out though but it still wasn’t any easier the second time around! I do recommend asking the flight attendant what they think would be best though before throwing yourself to the wolves. More than likely they can give you a better suggestion! 🙂
There’s my 10 tips but I think the biggest thing I want to leave you all with is mommas… try not to stress yourself out! When you stress, your family stresses! Don’t forget that children have crazy senses & can easily tune into our heightened emotions just as easily as they can tune them out! So travel light, bring an extra set of clothes, don’t forget the tablet OR suckers & stay calm! I hope you have a safe flight & an amazing family vacation! Thanks so much for reading & I’ll see you next week!