When you have a toddler, you can forget about ball gowns, socializing with friends every single weekend, and trips planned to a tee. Toddlers are fun to have around—they’re a bundle of joy, after all! However, they can be as unpredictable as your life is right now with a precious little ball of energy beside you. Especially if you’re flying with them.
Compared to flying with a baby in tow, getting onboard a plane with a toddler has its own challenges. And most of them center around one thing—mobility. Unlike babies, toddlers won’t be able to sit still for very long. They have short attention spans, and when you test that, you’re in for hours upon hours of meltdowns.
You don’t have to worry about being “that parent” on the airplane, though. With some proper planning, a lot of mental preparation, and the travel tips below, you can enjoy a smooth flight with your little one.
Book The Best Flights For Your Child
Early morning departures are usually less crowded and they’re your best chance to avoid any delays at takeoff and landing. Plus, during these times, everyone’s pretty tired or sleepy and just wants to nap—your toddler included.
Book direct flights and avoid those with extremely long layovers or late-night connections. The rule of thumb with toddlers and airplanes is that the less time you have in transit, the lower your chances of experiencing a mid-flight tantrum.
If you need to book a flight with a connection, two to three hours is the ideal amount of extra time on the ground. Use this time to change your toddler’s dirty diaper, grab some non-airplane food, and let your little one roam free for a bit to burn some of that energy off.
Communicate With Your Child
Even before stepping into the airport, let your kids know what to expect before, during, and after the flight. Kids do better when they’re not kept in the dark. Go over the entire flight experience with them, from ticketing and baggage check-in to onboard safety and proper etiquette.
Dress Them Comfortably
Choose comfy and easy-to-change clothes for your toddler. Dress them in layers to keep them ready for drastic changes in temperatures. Avoid attire that has zippers, buttons, or anything that could prevent them from getting to the bathroom on time.
For shoes, opt for slip-ons. Shoelaces can be a bit time-consuming.
The Earlier, The Better
While the wait will be a lot longer, getting to the airport early will save you the stress. The less time you give yourself from the moment you park your car to the moment you reach the gates, the more stress you’ll create.
Just imagine arriving late and running to catch your flight with your toddler beside you. It’s going to be nerve-wracking for you and for them. For a more hassle-free travel experience, arrive at least 90 minutes to two hours before your flight. This way, you wouldn’t have to worry about check-in or TSA lines.
Plus, being early gives you a chance to regroup when you get inside the terminal. You can order lunch, feed your kid, and prepare yourself for the flight ahead.
Plan What You’ll Pack
When flying with your toddler, expect that there will be no food on the plane that will interest them. As much as possible, pack enough essentials. However, don’t ever overpack! Keep in mind that you’ll have to carry all of this stuff on and off the plane along with your kids.
Here’s a list to guide you through:
- Low-Sugar Snacks. Snacks with too much sugar will only result in a sugar frenzy. Opt for crackers, pretzels, string cheese, and granola bars instead.
- Comfort Item/s. This can be a small teddy bear, a blanket, or a pacifier.
- Hygiene Kit. Wipes, sanitizer, Pull-ups, and diapers. Remember to bring one diaper per hour of travel.
- Smartphones and Tablets. No screen-time restrictions for now. Load up your kid’s devices with their favorite movies or shows. You can also try downloading the audio version of their favorite book.
- Art Supplies. If they ever get bored with their devices, give them a small box of crayons and a blank piece of paper.
- Plastic Bags. For all sorts of trash.
- Change of Clothes. For both you and your kid.
- Water. Don’t forget to hydrate yourself and your child.
Get Ready for Air Pressure
The change in cabin pressure may cause discomfort for your little one, especially if they have recently experienced an ear infection. If this is the case, always check with your doctor first before flying.
Water is your most valuable tool here. Stock up on enough water for everyone in your family. This must be enough to get you through a possible delay, and there must be enough left for the descent.
Let your toddler drink some water after takeoff and during the last 30 to 45 minutes of the descent. Water doesn’t only hydrate—the swallowing also helps with the pressure.
It’s Okay To Fly With A Toddler
Flying with a toddler in tow can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. Trust in what you’ve researched and everything you’ve prepared thus far. You’ve got this! Who knows, you might even enjoy your flight with your kid.
Stay safe and we hope you’ll have a wonderful time traveling with your little one!