Once upon a time summer vacation and travel meant total relaxation…right? And for some of us, it still does. But let’s get real, traveling with tots can be, well, SCARY! The good news is, it doesn't have to be!
For those of you who squirm at the thought of changing routines, sleeping in hotels, and most of all sitting on an airplane, here are some tips for flying with your toddler.
- Bring a Sippy Cup that won’t roll. Check yours, if it has handles or isn't entirely cylindrical, that’s perfect. If not, I recommend buying another one for the trip, or you risk having your child’s clean cup roll down the dusty aisles and bumping into people’s feet and shoes.
- Travel toys and painters tape. Of course, pack a beloved stuffed animal or toy car for the familiarity, but I recommend purchasing some new items as well. Pack half for the flight to your destination, and half for the flight home. I suggest: coloring books (I love the Magic Ink ones), magnetic puzzles and games, and books about planes, vacation, or the new places you’re going to visit.
- I highly recommend bringing painters tape; it comes off easily and it can be used for so many things. I created a hop scotch court on the floor of the airport while we were waiting for a delayed flight. You can also use it to create a race car track or horse corral on the tray table of the plane. And if those don’t do the trick, let your kids have some fun decorating their seats, there’s no harm as the tape will come off easily. You can also use it to cover any electric outlets or hazards in your hotel room.
- Dress them cute and comfortable, and bring a change of clothes. If you’re worried about feeling embarrassed on the flight because your child might get cranky, dressing him/her in something comfortable but also really cute makes a huge difference. People have a hard time being annoyed at a really cute kid. Check out Dinky’s for some adorable summer options.
- Very important…don’t forget a change of clothes too! Planes have at least one bathroom that has a changing area for kids (usually it’s a table that pulls down over the toilet, it’s small but does the trick).
- Before the flight, get your kids moving! If you’re heading to your gate at the airport, it may be easier and faster to strap your child into an umbrella stroller (BTW, you should get one if you don’t have it. They’re easier to travel with than a BOB or CityMini) BUT if you strap your kid into a stroller, you may regret missing this opportunity to get your child’s energy out when they start insisting on running up and down the plane’s aisles
- Once you’re up in the air, use every opportunity to walk around with your kids when you can. When you’re seated, I recommend learning a couple of songs that involve movement. For example, I sang
- “Way up high in the apple tree, two little apples smiled at me. I shook that tree as hard as I could, down came the apples…mmm they’re good.”
- Avoiding ear aches. Have them eat or drink during takeoff and landing to avoid painful ear aches.
- Gear Up Mentally. This is true for you and your child. Moms travel with their kids all the time, and you can do it too! Keep your expectations realistic, kids are not going to sit quietly and politely the whole You may have a couple moments, but breathe and know it’ll pass.
- Be sympathetic as well...once you’re on the plane, if your child says “Mom, I want to get off the plane.” You can nod lovingly and say, “Yeah, me too, I wish I could run around….but let’s play a game until we land.”
Travel safe! And feel free to post your own suggestions in the comments.