Tuesday, October 8

A Toddler with a Ticket | 5 Air-Travel Tips

Forgive me for the large chunk of time between my last post and now. We just did a little bit of traveling and no matter how little or far we travel, I always have some form of jet lag afterwards. This trip was Little Man's first time to have an official plane ticket and seat. Though it added an extra cost for travel, I have to say, I really enjoyed having my lap to myself again. Our trip was about an hour in duration and it went very smoothly. Today I want to share 5 tips that helped make this trip stress-free and painless.

1. ! It costs a pretty penny (and we're so thankful my grandfather gave this to us as a gift) but I cannot tell you enough how much I love our . We didn't really benefit from it while Little Man was still a lap passenger. However, this seat was incredibly helpful for this trip. We left pretty early in the morning and Little Man was still sleeping when the taxi arrived. We simply moved him from his bed to the the carseat while he was still sleeping. Then, we placed the carseat in the taxi and he slept the whole way. Once we arrived to the airport, we transformed his carseat into a stroller with 2 simple levers. We rolled him through check-in, security, immigration, and right onto the plane before he woke up. Another plus, I had my lap all to myself! While Little Man was doing his thing in his own seat, I got to enjoy a magazine and the freedom to sit how I wanted for the first time in 2 years. This seat is FAA-certified, in case any flight attendant or gate-check person gives you the stink eye. Most of the time, I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they haven't seen something as awesome as this transforming carseat/stroller before. Prepare to blow their minds when you transform it from a stroller to an FAA-certifed carseat right before their very eyes.

2. A compact carry-on bag, or better named a "Busy Bag" when packing for a toddler, is something you don't want to forget at home. Even though it might be tempting to see this as one extra, full-sized carry-on bag you can add to your luggage, try to resist packing anything more than a bag your toddler can actually carry him/herself. The Mr. and I always said that once Little Man was old enough to get his own ticket, he'd also be old enough to carry his own bag. I'm also realistic and know that I'll probably be carrying the bag 70% of the time, which is yet another reason to make sure your toddler's carry-on is toddler-sized. Since I wanted to utilize Little Man's backpack and fill it with activities for him, while also keeping the weight bearable for his little body to carry, I had to be pretty strategic with what I packed inside. Here's what I ended up with:

a.) Extra diapers, wipes, and some for when there's not always a trash can nearby ;-)
b.) A book. For this trip, I chose a picture book with some vocabulary words (since we're working on building his vocabulary and speech).
c.) The ultimate snack pack! If you want to see more about how I prep healthy snacks ahead of time in order to avoid high-priced snacks along the way, click here. I packed the smallest sippy cup we have (and packed a larger one in a suitcase) and filled it with juice. I choose juice because if he doesn't drink it all at once, it still tastes fine when it becomes room temperature later on (milk...not so much). For this trip, I also added his shape sorting activity mat. Who says eating a snack can't double as a shape-sorting activity as well?? 
d.) A very simple, affordable, and time-consuming activity: stickers! I packed a small notebook and a pack of stickers and Little Man thoroughly enjoyed himself. It's also a great fine-motor skill activity!
e.) A few of his favorite small toys. Lately, he loves his trains and he likes to pretend play with his animals. So, I packed 2 trains and 3 small animals...and that's IT. For more tips on what types of toys and activities to pack for a toddler, you can click here. I will go ahead and tell you that I wrote that post when we took a much longer flight; therefore, there are quite a few more toys packed ;-)
We also don't leave home with out wonderful iPad mini (complete with fun apps!) 
3.  Pick a travel time that will work well with your toddler's schedule. For example, it's probably not a great idea to schedule a flight that interferes with your child's nap time or happens right about lunch time. You want to AVOID conflict and tantrums and disasters at all costs. For our family, the cost is getting up way earlier than we'd like because we know that Little Man will continue sleeping for a majority of the nitty-gritty stuff (as I already typed in detail for tip #1). If he's gotten enough sleep, he will most likely wake up in a good mood and the plane ride will go smoothly. However, sometimes he doesn't go back to sleep after we get him out of bed at 6 am. Fortunately, this just means he'll probably wipe out while on the plane. Win-win. For our return flight, we ended up getting a night time flight, which also worked out surprisingly well. Thanks to that awesome Sit 'n' Stroll I keep praising (because it deserves it), he fell asleep in the taxi ride back to our house and then we just moved him straight to bed.

4. Plan ahead for who's in charge of what. The Mr. and I had a routine worked out where I pushed the stroller and kept up with Little Man's carry-on and he pushed the suitcases until it came time to board the plane, then we would switch. This way, Little Man could stay sitting in his stroller while the Mr. transformed it into a carseat. Because the Mr. is so strong, he would just carry Little Man, still sitting in the carseat, onto the plane and plop him right into place in his seat on the airplane. I'm not strong enough to lift that carseat WITH a toddler in it, so that's why I tend to take over rolling suitcases down the aisle :-) Planning ahead, even if it means right as your plane is landing or as you're sitting and waiting, relieves a lot of stress that keeps you from having unnecessary spats and short-tempers. Remember, you have to stick together and be a team, especially when you have a toddler that sometimes turns against you.

5. Play with your toddler. I know the goal of packing games and activities for your toddler is to keep them entertained so that you can enjoy a magazine/book/movie on your own, but having those expectations can lead to less-than-ideal results. While it's very possible that your toddler will be entertained with whatever you packed for him/her and leave you to flip through your magazine in peace, it's also very likely that they will want to share all the fun with you and include you in all the activities. To keep your sanity in check, just be prepared for your toddler to want you to play with him/her for each and every activity that you packed into their bag. Then, you might be pleasantly surprised when (s)he gets preoccupied with an activity and you find yourself with 15-20 minutes of free time.  Besides, having a cute kid that wants to play with you isn't the worst thing that could happen in your life, right?

Another item I always like to keep in my purse:

Turn an in-flight magazine into an engaging game, transform your mid-flight snack into an instant work of art: with 52 ways to keep kids busy, happy, and occupied in the air or at the boarding terminal, is the traveling child's essential carry-on item!

How about you? Do you have traveling tips for parents with toddlers? How about those of you with multiple children? I can't quite give travel tips for multiple children yet :-)

I hope that these tips were helpful, and if so, I'd love for you to share it with others! 
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This is post #3 of my 31-day series:

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  1. Great tips...We always travel by car at night because we had 4 kids and we knew at least they would get sleep and not be crabby in the car. 10 hours of no crying kids while traveling is always the best..:)

  2. You're right about that! When our son was still an infant, we actually had to AVOID the night because he would scream his lungs out as soon as it got dark while we were in the car. OH! It was terrible. Fortunately, he grew out of that phase :-) Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Karin!

  3. Thank you so much for these tips, I am recently blessed with a little princes and was worried how and what we would do on the go. You are the troubleshooter for sure. Your tip "not a great idea to schedule a flight that interferes with my toddler's nap time or happens right about lunch time" was fair enough and saved my life.

    1. Congratulations on your new little blessing :-) I'm so glad these tips were helpful for you! Thanks so much for commenting and letting me know! Traveling definitely changes once you have little ones to look after ;-)


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