Monday, March 21, 2016

Tips for Air Travel with Toddlers

Our recent trip back to Charlotte was our most smooth air travel experience yet with James Robert.  I'm sure part of that is he has had ample practice flying since he was little, but also because I've gotten better with planning and packing.

I know things will get challenging as we a baby to the mix, but for now, I feel pretty comfortable traveling with a toddler and wanted to share our hard-earned tips!


1) Make it fun:  We talk about our trips and going to the airport for days in advance.  There are so many exciting things to see at the airport that we try to make it like a game and it really ads to the experience.  When we get there, he has an idea of what to expect and is excited about it (i.e. dropping off our bags, going through customs etc.  seem to be easier transitions when we have talked about them in advance). 

2) Allow your toddler to walk as much as possible before you board your flight, but bring a stroller even if you're not sure you'll need it.  The stroller may only serve as a resting place for your bag and coats while your toddler is walking, but it is so necessary when you're rushing to catch a connection or trying to get somewhere in any hurry.  Sometimes JR doesn't like to be in a stroller, but we set the expectation that he may need to take a ride at the airport.  On the flip side,  if we aren't in a rush, we let him walk as much as possible in order to get energy out. 

3) Let your toddler pack and wear their own backpack.  JR loves that he get's to take his own special backpack, which makes him feel so grown-up.  He is allowed to pack his stuffed animals that he sleeps with and two small toys.  As he has gotten older, we have also packed a water bottle and his headphones in the pack too. We have this back pack and use it for preschool too; it's the perfect size and we love the monogramming (Charlotte locals, we got ours here).  

4) Pack novel toys and books that are new to your toddler.  I find that we have the most luck with stickers and I have made easy travel felt boards in the past.  I haven't had a lot of luck bringing books.  You can only read them once or twice before they are just taking up precious space.  I've included some of my favorite travel toys above. 

5) Sanitize!  I know I may look like a crazy lady to others when we first board, but I'm vigilant about wiping everything down on JR's seat, tray, window, armrest and buckles.  Not only for germs, but he has a peanut allergy and I have no idea what someone has been eating before we got on the plane.  I usually use these wipes for the seats etc and then have plenty of this hand sanitizer. Oh and while we're on the subject of sanity, I always back a roll of these bags; they come in handy for a rogue diaper or soiled clothing while traveling.  

6) Wear a backpack versus a diaper bag.  I have made the mistake of bringing a shoulder bag before and never again.  What I sometimes do is wear a backpack with all of our gear and then I wear a small cross body in front to have easy access to my passport/travel documents as needed.   

7) Screen time and snacks.  I realize this is controversial, but I think most of us can agree that an iPad or in-flight movies are a godsend after all the games and toys have been played.  We usually load up the iPad with a few new episodes of Sesame Street or Paw Patrol and maybe a new app before we leave.  Additionally, he loves to wear his own kid headphones.  Snacks are also crucial for us.  I always over pack in case we can't find something safe for JR to eat while we are out.  This lunchbox works perfectly with this thin icepack.  One of our favorite treats to bring flying are these veggie infused letters from Bitty's Brain Food. 

*Not pictured, but also part of my packing list includes more diapers than you think you need, all your regular diaper bag essentials and a healthy dose of humility and humor (that's what really makes the experience easier)!

**For international travel, we did go through the process of getting JR a Nexus card (to back and forth from the US/Canada).

Bon Voyage! 

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