Monday, April 13, 2015

10 Tips for Travel with Toddlers: Flying

Since Allie has been born, she's flown at least 10 times in our visits to So Cal and Maui. I decided to compile a list of some travel tips because this is my blog and I do what I want.

  1. Plan... but be flexible. This is the first tip because as much planning ahead you do, curveballs happen and you have to just roll with it. If you've already made your peace with this, you'll be able to handle anything that gets thrown your way.
  2. Make a packing list. Be sure to include things you'll need for the trip as well as things for the flight and remember to pack for the return flight! Don't forget the birth certificates! Airports require a birth certificate for any lap child. You can make a copy so you don't have to carry around the actual document. 
  3. Snacks. Whenever Allie started to get a bit antsy, we could always distract her for a few extra minutes with some snacks. Pack the usual stuff they eat but include some extra treats that they don't get to have often, like mini Oreos or Teddy Grahams. I've heard that Dum Dum lollipops are good for take-off and landing but my girls have never had a problem with the change in pressure so don't take my word for it. I also bring candied ginger to deal with any motion sickness (for me or Allie).
  4. Entertainment. For our long flight to Maui, I filled Allie's backpack with small toys, window clings, coloring books and crayons, stickers, lace cards, etc. Most of it you can find in the $1 bins at Target but I kept these activities put away and only took them out for this trip so it's not a toy she's bored of but something special that she actually wanted to play with. If all else fails, a movie on an iPhone or iPad would work I'm sure (we haven't had to resort to this yet). Just don't forget some toddler headphones so the whole plane doesn't have to listen to Tangled.
  5. Clothes. Pack an extra outfit for everyone. Yes, even you. I usually throw an extra pair of underwear and leggings into the stroller bag. I learned that lesson really quick after my first flight with Allie when she threw up all over my lap and then proceeded to sleep there the rest of the flight. Nothing like getting off an airplane wearing a soggy, sweaty pair of pants.
  6. If you don't have a baby carrier, get one! Going through the airport, we usually let Allie walk and I put Maddie in our Ergo (if we're not bringing the stroller). It's so much easier to be hands free when you're toting all the luggage. Even after checking it in, you still have a diaper bag, purse, toddler's backpack, and husband's backpack. They'll make you take it off at security (which is a bummer if the baby fell asleep) and for take-off but the benefits way outweigh the inconvenience. Ergo just came out with a new carrier that lets you do forward facing and rear facing which I'm seriously considering splurging on!
  7. Plan what time you need to be there and then add 30 minutes to that. It never fails that when we think we need to be there at a certain time, someone poops, someone is napping, traffic is bad, etc. and then we're running through the terminal trying to catch a flight that's already boarded and ready for takeoff. It's always better when we have extra time because then we can hang out and let the girls run around for a bit before they're confined to an airplane seat. 
  8. TSA hates babies. Just kidding, they love them. If you are traveling with an infant, they'll let you bring liquid on as long as it's "for the baby". They'll test it but it's allowed. Also, they'll let you walk through the metal detector (instead of the one where you have to stand like a criminal) but they will test your hands for bomb-making residue. Crazy as it sounds, it's true. Some airports will even let you go through the handicap line if you have a stroller (which will also need to be swabbed for residue). Just avoid making comments about possible poop bombs going off in baby's diaper. They don't find it funny. Also most airlines have a family boarding time (for Southwest it's after the A boarding group) so you don't have to worry about that.
  9. Car seat and stroller bag: Southwest will let you carry on a car seat if the flight is not full. It will just need to be strapped into a window seat but makes life a lot easier especially if you need somewhere to put a sleeping baby during the flight. We have this Brica bag for Allie's toddler car seat which tore after 2 flights but we duck taped it and it still does the job. I like that it has a pocket in the front that we can stuff sweaters, blankets, and diapers into. Stroller bag: We usually take our double stroller (which I will sing the praises of in another post) through the airport and then pack it into this JL Childress bag and check it at the gate. It doesn't feel like the sturdiest bag but it hasn't torn yet and it fits our City Select, 2 seats, and the car seat adapter (we have to remove one of the large wheels but it's super easy to do). Maybe I'll do a YouTube video of it sometime. 
  10. Have fun! Most airline and airport employees are willing to make your life a little easier since you're traveling with babes. My sister said on her last flight back a girl Allie's age got to visit the cockpit with her mom. But if you're relaxed and not stressed, you'll be able to handle anything from a blowout mid-flight to a baby who refuses to nap on a 5 hour flight.
 Well those are my 10 tips for traveling with a toddler... next, 10 tips for Disneyland with babies!