I’ll admit, I had my reservations about traveling with a toddler, especially on a 9+ hour international flight, but after getting through it I can honestly say MAMA, DO IT. Don’t get me wrong, it is A LOT, but you will quickly realize that people are MUCH nicer than you think they will be. So DO IT. Don’t wait any longer.
NOTE: my toddler is a little older than 1 and things might be a little different if your toddler is out of the nap stage but these tips TRULY made our lives SOOOO much easier and I hope they will do the same for you. Also worth noting that I will be focusing on the flying portion of traveling with your toddler.
++ Try to fly direct and plan around baby’s nap/sleep schedule.
We’ve all been told with any kind of travel to do so around baby’s nap time or sleep time but sometimes that’s just not feasible. One of our flights was overnight and our other was during the day so we got to experience a little of both and it was awesome flying when baby needed to sleep.
++ If you can also afford it, get your toddler a seat (preferably a window seat!) — this wasn’t our case but this was done intentionally as we realized that our flight was fairly empty (see below for how we capitalized on this) AND children fly free under two!
++ Get There Early. Not much to say here but to just do it. You will be glad you did. Sounds daunting having to fill your time at the airport but it’s scarier arriving when most fliers arrive and feeling pressured or rushed during the security and boarding process.
++ Don’t Pay to check your car seat/stroller. Gate Check for free. We liked this option because our baby is not a fan of being in a baby carrier so being able to “stroll” her through the airport was clutch. No tired arms for mama.
++ Milk: they will let you travel with baby’s milk; they might test it to make sure it’s safe but you can get it through. I would fill a couple of bottles up if you can rather than bringing a carton (or a different container) of milk.
++ Seat: if you didn’t book a seat for your baby and flight is not full, you can ask the gate for 1- a seat for your baby OR 2- to block the open seats next to you so you have some more space; ALSO, give the baby the window seat. I know, it’s my favorite seat too, but it immediately limits the baby’s playing space making it easier for you AND gives them another form of entertainment as well.
++ Download entertainment onto IPad. Don’t be like me and be hopeful that “this time” the inlight wifi will work… it will not lol. Do yourself a solid and pre-download whatever you need onto any and all of your devices and save your bucks for a drink on the flight instead.
++ Take advantage of PRE-BOARD and ALL THE PARENT DESIGNATED LANES. This was my favorite thing. There were so many family lanes to help cut through the airport. Use them. As for pre-board, some parents like to wait a bit before boarding to lessen the amount of time on the plane but I like to be able to get on and “set up” without being rushed.
There are no words to describe the magical greatness that is the DOONA. I will sing its praises ‘til the end of time!! BEST INFANT CAR SEAT EVER!!! Yes, I did say “infant” but lucky for me, our babygirl still has not outgrown this car seat/stroller combo. We did not have to travel with both a car seat and a stroller and honestly, there are no words to describe the amazingness of not having to do so. NOW, if this isn’t the case for you, (and this won’t be the case for us moving forward), here’s what our alternative will be moving forward: the YOYO STROLLER (which we own and love… it folds up to the size of a purse and fits in the overhead bins of an airplane.. I mean, AMAZING!). And either bringing our car seat to gate check OR using a rental service while we are there! (yes, there are services where you can rent car seats so you don’t have to lug them around).
GATE CHECK BAG
This was amazing and helped with keeping our DOONA scratch-free.
RAIN COVER: Rain or shine, you’ve got your babe covered #punintended
I was debating between an actual IPad and a tablet but ultimately chose the IPad for its multi-purpose use. Not only can baby use it, but mama can too and this replaces my need to also travel with my own laptop. I have the IPad Air but any IPad will do.
TODDLER HEADPHONES: I mean, how cute are these?
IPAD KID CASE: Protect the goods.
Bought this on a whim on WOW, will never travel without. Folds up to fit anywhere and easily inflatable on flight, placing this in the gap between the seats converted the baby’s seat into a bed and made it so easy to facilitate naps and sleep.
TOYS/BOOKS & SNACKS
2 TOOLS I CONSIDERED PURCHASING:
1 – Airplane seat harness — although you can bring your car seat onto the plane, you can only do so if you’ve purchased a seat for your child (we hadn’t) AND even if we had, I wouldn’t want my 15mos sleeping 9hrs in a seated position.
2- Silicone mat – for feeding baby; it ended up being okay as I just used a paper mat but it was messy (since the sauce from the meal was seeping through the paper).