My daughter, Addie, is 19 months old and we just got back from a week long vacation to Florida. We live in Utah, so this was quite the journey for my little family, and I was really worried about how Addie would do. I had flown with her once before when she was about 6 months old, but I pretty much just nursed her the whole time we were in the air. Toddlers are trickier to fly with! Here are a few tips that I learned from the experience:
- Bring LOTS of entertainment. Variety is key! Especially on long flights, your child is going to want to do a variety of activities, and you never know which one may just save you from a total meltdown. I took several small toys that I know she enjoys like finger puppets, small dinosaurs, and a small doll. I Also took several small books to read. The most crucial entertainment, though, was the iPad! I loaded the iPad up with movies and TV shows before the trip. Do not count on having Wi-Fi! Some flights do not have it and the ones that do often block certain apps that use more bandwidth (Netflix, Hulu, YouTube). I downloaded a few shows from iTunes, and I used the Netflix app to download some of her favorite shows as well. I also downloaded a few Disney movies. You may also want to download some apps for your child to play on. Addie likes to play on drawing apps. I would also recommend bringing some child friendly headphones if your kid will use them (Sadly, Addie won’t).
- Pack plenty of yummy treats. Again, variety is key! I took healthy snacks, less healthy snacks, and then some downright unhealthy treats for a real desperate situation. I took several salty options and several sweet options. Just make sure that your treats don’t include too much liquid to get through security.
- Have a sippy cup to fill up in the airport. You won’t be able to get a full cup through security (unless you get super lucky). So just take an empty cup to fill after going through security. Addie likes to have apple juice (cut with water 50/50). You can find most juices inside the airport, and they will have many of them on the plane too in case you need to refill.
- Take a small blanket and/or comfort item. Planes are not comfortable, but if you can bring a little comfort with you maybe, just maybe, you can get your child to take a nap. I used a small blanket for padding more than anything else so that Addie could get comfortable on the hard seats.
- Bring more diapers than you think you will need. I made the mistake of only taking enough for a normal day. Unfortunately, sitting on a plane and eating snack foods and juice all day does strange things to toddler tummies. Addie pooped like 5 times on the return journey and I actually ran out of diapers! It was a nightmare and finding diapers is no easy task in an airport. Don’t let this happen to you; take extras!
- Sit by the window. Some people think it is easier to sit on the aisle so that if you need to go to the bathroom you can, but for Addie the aisle seat is a nightmare. She wants to escape and run down the aisle if she can. Sitting by the window makes it so much easier to corral her. Also, she LOVED looking out the window as we took off and landed. She thought it was so fun to watch everything get small and see the clouds. The window entertained her lots of the time, which made my life easier.
- Fly Southwest if possible. I usually go for whatever is cheapest, but don’t forget to factor in the price of baggage. I love Southwest because each passenger gets two checked bags and a carry on and a personal item all free! This is a well-known fact, but what I only recently learned is that even a lap child gets two free checked bags. This made it possible for me to easily pack all of my things plus Addie’s car seat, stroller, and porta crib. On other airlines this can be quite pricey! Plus, if you want to use the stroller in the airport, you can check it at the gate. Also, if you don’t get a good boarding position, don’t stress; family boarding is right after the A group so that you can still get an ideal seat.