Flying with a toddler can be fun, if you plan ahead and put your “entertaining” parenting face on. To help anyone traveling with a toddler in the air, I’ve included a few tips we’ve been given by experienced travelers as well as a few that we’ve picked up on our own.
Tip #1: Preparation is the name of the game. Using a social story, preparing toddlers for airplane rides can not only help them set limits about behavior and calm anxieties, but it can also get them pumped for a big trip.
Tip #2: Gear can make it better. If you’re traveling alone or are outnumbered adults to kids, don’t fear the leash, or at least bring an umbrella stroller. This makes it easier for the parent to manage carry-ons, visas, tickets, all while ensuring your little one is safe by. Another good piece of gear is a gate check bag, which keeps car seats and strollers protected when you check them at the gate upon boarding. A CARES restraint system is also good to have to help keep toddlers safe AND in their seats.
Tip #3: To pre-board or not…. it’s up to you. Some families like to pre-board (if the airline allows it) so that they can get settled in and seated before mayhem ensues. Others like to board last to allow toddlers freedom to MOVE before getting strapped in. Do what works best for you and your family.
Tip #4: A family friend is an airline attendant, and he recommends looking for the smiling attendant on board, because this is the one who will help you out filling up sippy cups and finding a place to store that carry-on. Don’t be afraid to seek out assistance getting refills and snacks should the need arise. Keeping a toddler happy on-board keeps ALL the passengers happy.
Tip #5: Distractions, distractions, distractions. Bring favorite toys and some new ones. I wrap a few trinkets from the dollar store in tissue paper and allow HJ to unwrap his “present” when he starts to get antsy. Kid-friendly headphones allow little ones to listen to onboard movies and music. Apps on iPhones (turned to airplane mode) and Kindle ebooks are also fun distractions. Lastly, bring snacks and a sippy cup.
Tip #6: Window seat or aisle? Potty training can make having to hop over other passengers can be challenging (and annoying to others), but many like the window seat to look out of and snuggle up on. Do what feels best for your family.
Bon voyage! Happy flying!