Tips for Flying with a Toddler (or 2)
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Park ‘N Fly Airport Parking. All opinions, cute children, and long days of flying are 100% mine.
Planning an upcoming trip with kids? It can be a bit daunting to travel with little ones but here are a few tips to take you smoothly from home to destination with as few hiccups as possible!
I remember how meticulously I planned for the first flight with Lincoln when he was just a few months old. Turns out, he slept almost the entire flight. These days, with toddlers it seems much more daunting; 8 hours of ENTERTAINING them while confined to a tiny seat? Yikes.
So after 20+ flights with these two little ones over the last three years, here are my best tips:
Before You Leave
Prepare as much as you can.
When you book your tickets, keep your kids in mind. Are you going to have to wake your little ones up early to make the plane? Will you be trying to get them to fall asleep on the plane? Pay attention to things like length of layovers and overall travel time. Also, some flights have a layover with no plane change and these might show up as a single flight (we learned this the hard way). You know your kids so just keep them in mind when booking your tickets.
Traveling with kids can be exhausting so it’s worth the extra prep and effort on the front end. Instead of just throwing clothes into a suitcase, roll kids’ clothes into outfits. You can pack each outfit in a ziploc bag (label it with a sharpie) or secure each rolled outfit with a rubber band. Print out or screen shot your travel itinerary before hand. If you’re traveling with an infant in arms you’ll need to head to the counter to check in anyway and if you have kids its likely you’re checking bags.
Make sure when you are packing your stuff you have IDs easily accessible so that you aren’t digging through a bag at the check-in counter with a baby in your arms.
Make sure you’ve planned how you’re getting to and from the airport too. We always drive our car and leave it at easy airport parking options like Park ‘N Fly make it super easy. You can reserve your parking online and prepay so you get in and get home faster before and after your trip.
Getting to the Airport
Do yourself a favor and get there early. I mean, not TOO early, but early enough that a few things can go wrong and you can still be confident about making your flight.
With Park ‘N Fly you park your own car (we’re not huge fans of other people driving our car) and they pick you up and take you right to the terminal. There’s no dragging bags, walking long distances, or waiting for a bus with an an over-excited toddler (on the flip-side, they also take you right back from the terminal to your car so you don’t have to remember where you parked!).
I love that they help with luggage which is a life saver traveling with kids and they also make sure you get safely to your car after your trip which is great for women traveling solo.
In the Airport: checking in, security, and waiting
Having a smooth check-in and security experience happens when you’ve done your prep. That said, it’s easiest when you’re baby wearing or have a stroller so there is some place to contain your baby or toddler while you’re removing your liquids, taking off your shoes, and placing carry-on luggage in bins.
If the line for check-in is incredibly long and you have two adults with you, leave one of you with the stuff and have the other play with the kids in an open area. You want to save all the sitting still + behaving cards for your actual flight.
When going through security, take the time to explain exactly what is going to happen to your kids so they know what to expect. The calmer and happier you stay, the more likely it is that they’ll stay calm as well.
Be sure to pack your personal liquids in a separate, removable bag to make security simple but also go ahead and have a separate bag for all your larger baby liquids. It makes it so much easier if they are only going through your small food bag than having to check your entire diaper bag for baby liquids.
If you’re traveling with a bottle, be sure to have a bottle cap so they aren’t handling the surface that your baby is eating from. Different airports enforce rules differently (some airports let me carry pouches through without testing them and others have made me throw away juice boxes because I explained if they opened them to test them I wouldn’t be able to carry them onto the flight). But, it is better to be safe than sorry. Check out the TSA regulations as you’re packing so you know all the things you need will get through security.
Once you’ve made it through security, make your way to the gate. Check in at the desk if you need tags for your stroller and/or carseat and then make sure your kids have time to run around. We chase our toddlers around the airport or let them crawl everywhere just to get their energy out before we board.
On the Plane
Have snacks for take-off and landing. The act of swallowing helps with the pressure change so whether it’s nursing, having a bottle, or eating snacks, something that gets your child to swallow regularly will help them acclimate. It will also keep them quiet and occupied 😉
I always pack 2-3 times more snacks than I think we’ll actually need, and then we end up eating almost all of them 😉
Have a few new toys to pull out. The best one we’ve ever used was a tiny tube of bubbles (a kind flight attendant actually handed one to us in the security line). It was small, mesmerizing, and kept everyone occupied for a solid 15 minutes.
I like to grab a few new things at the dollar section of Target (stickers, slinkies, toy cars, and mess-free coloring books have been favorites so far).
Embrace the tech. We place heavy limits on screen time at home but when we’re traveling we embrace the ipad. I download a few shows from Netflix and Amazon Prime before our trip so we don’t need internet to watch them. I also have a few favorite apps the kids like to play. Even if they have regular screen time at home, consider cutting back the week before the flight so they’re more likely to be entertained for longer periods of time on the plane.
Hang in there
Sometimes you just have to hang in there and remember that the flight isn’t going to last forever. When things get desperate, I like to take walks. If the seat belt sign is off, take advantage of that time to let your child move. I’m not above letting my baby crawl the aisles or wander up and down the aircraft with me right behind them. If that isn’t your thing, you can often hold your child in the back of the plane near the restrooms for a change of scenery.
And that’s all I’ve got for you. DO YOU have any additional tips for flying with kids? What’s worked for you? Leave your tip in the comments!
Great tips. I would never fly with toddlers, even if I won a free trip. just not happening. I think you are super brave though.
PS.I have wanted those sneakers for so long. I may have to get them if not out of stock.