I have learned that I shouldn’t title this tips on traveling with a toddler - because what works for us… may not work for your little one! …I have read a lot of tips from others, and its definitely not a “one size fits all” experience. So instead I am sharing what we have learned: just some thoughts and take-aways!
*it has taken 8 flights with Jett as a walking, wriggly toddler for us to hone in on what works and what doesn't to "optimize" flying experiences with him
* I did a lot of reading and researching on tips to flying with toddlers prior to our first flight, and even with all the tips in the world, it really just took experience finding out what worked for US. I felt like giving up on travel after our 1st, 2nd and 3rd flight, but now I feel SO much more confident in our “travel strategies!”
* For us, Jett just will not sleep in public, or on us. We tried flying at night thinking he would be really tired... that just made it worse because he was SO EXHAUSTED and cranky that it made everyone miserable - him, us, & anyone within a 4 row radium of us. We now know for the best flying experience, Jett needs to be rested: either after a nap, or first thing in the morning! For you - your little may have no problems sleeping on you.. in which flying at night is a better option! If so - I’m jealous! :)
* We have figured out a good lineup of distraction activities in our arsenal that we have queued up and ready to go. It usually goes like this:
1) The excitement of being somewhere new - he likes to check out his surroundings, look out the window, play with the window shade, etc. We let this ride as looong as possible before we whip out the next distraction….
2) Give him a new toy, or a favorite old toy. Currently Jett loves his toy ipad that lights up and goes through the alphabet. Or toy cars he always loves too!
3) Snacks! I usually pack a bunch of different snacks (and I admit, its not typically healthy, but its things I know will keep him busy!) This last trip I bought lowfat chocolate milk at the airport, which was a HUGE hit because he has only had chocolate milk once - its a rare treat!
4) Last resort is the iPad - we load it up with downloaded shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Jett loves any show with music, and although the volume is kept pretty low (or is drowned out by the plane) he seems to still enjoy it! Currently he LOVES the Baby Bum shows that we download off of Netflix, and another show we found on Amazon Prime called “Baby Shark and Other Super Simple Songs” - I actually enjoy this one too- over other baby-song shows because the cartoons and songs are pretty cute.
** Our two most successful flights to date were when we lucked out and got on a flight that wasn’t full. Jett was able to get a seat to himself which was HUGE. He can kind of go back and forth between Brandon and I and is able to move around and get his wiggles out. We have yet to buy him his own seat, but I am seeing how much easier it makes everything to have the extra space!
going through security
It has taken us a couple trips to get really good at going through security - even when I go through alone (Brandon has had to return the rental car multiple times, and so Jett and I go through without him)
-Learning the best place to store snacks (you have to pull them out so they can look through them)
-and electronics (we travel with Jett’s noise machine in our carryons - I just want to make sure we have it when we get to our location and need to use it for bed or a nap) again - you have to pull out electronics, and the first couple trips I forgot to pull it out, as I’m used to only thinking about my computer/iPad, and it slowed down the process.
-Having water in his sippy cup is OKAY but I have learned to fill it about halfway so its under 4 oz. and then they don’t have to check it.
-Breaking down the stroller to go on the belt has been tricky on my own - while making sure Jett doesn’t run away. Every time I’ve been on my own, there have been plenty of people around that offer to help me either break it down, or corral Jett so he doesn’t take off! Security employees are ALWAYS super helpful as well! A couple of times they have noticed my crazy - wants - to- run -off toddler and tell me to not worry about breaking down the stroller- that they will just hand check it!
Last but not least:
People have always been great: flight attendants, people sitting around us.. even if Jett is crying or shrieking or whining. I always tell myself that A- most of the time people have headphones on (or the option to put on headphones) and B - a LOT of people have “been there” and know what its like to fly with children. And if they haven’t… its only a few hours that our paths will cross, and then they can get back to their quiet, undisturbed lives!