In the couple of years we have been flying with our son, we have learned the hard way what you desperately need to survive those few hours spent trapped inside a plane with no chance of escape.
Do you remember the days of flying sans-children? Choosing a movie to watch during the flight was probably the hardest decision. Order a drink, maybe grab something from the flight attendant as she swings by with the food cart. Maybe even read a magazine or a book purchased at the airport in anticipation of all that free time on the plane. No need to plan a thing.
Things are a little different now. I don’t know about you, but the thought of hopping on a plane stresses me out. I am one of those people who spends a lot of time worrying about if my son will bother other passengers.
The hope is that most passengers will be understanding, but that is normally not the case. On our flight to Bermuda last year a woman whispered to her friend (in my husband’s ear shot) before we even took off that she was going to contact the airline after the flight to ask for her money back because our son was going to be noisy. I am so proud to say my son didn’t make one peep that flight, and my husband smartly waited hours after the flight to tell me this.
Please note that these toddler travel must have’s do NOT include books, magazines or any other plans which include you relaxing, napping, or losing concentration for even a moment.
First up, bring a stroller! The airport is a huge place, let alone if you are driving to the airport you may not have the chance to park close. Having a stroller will also allow your family to go through a special line up for security clearance as well which will save you lots of time. Your stroller can be brought right up to the airplane door, and it will be waiting for you as you step off the plane so you don’t have to worry about it coming off the plane with your luggage. We usually bring a small umbrella stroller on trips such as this Summer Infant Lite Stroller
Formula, Milk, Juice or Baby Food
Formula, breast milk, juice and baby food (in small containers) are permitted in carry-on baggage.
When my son was 7 months I was nervous about cleaning bottles on one of our trips, so I took four cases of these Good Start Ready To Feed bottles on the plane without a problem!
When my son moved up to regular milk I brought a couple cartons of my own. Not all shops in the airport carry milk, and there is no guarantee it will be on the plane either. Depending on where you sit on the plane, it could take ages before that cart even gets to you, so if you need formula or milk, bring it! Otherwise be sure to buy water or juice at the airport.
Don’t Board First, Board Last!
Do you really want to have that extra 30 minutes on the plane? Give your child some extra time running around the airport to get good and tired. You don’t need to board first even if the airline allows you to. Boarding last means that hopefully everyone is already seated, and once you take your own seat it will only be a short time before you get on your way.
Easing Take-Off Pain
Bring a pacifier, a bottle, or bring out a timely snack to get your child chewing to avoid their ears popping. Try to time things so you can give them a snack or their pacifier just as you are taking off.
Food, Food, and More Food
Not only should you have snacks
for the flight, you may want to bring an actual meal for you child as well. Prepare for the worst – you may get on the plane and there could be a mechanical delay where you are trapped in your seat for hours. That snack cart could be completely raided before it gets to you and what you want could be sold out. Either pre-order your food with the airline (this can be done online), or pick something up in the terminal to save you from a hungry toddler.
Bring something that will get them excited! Hide a few toys in your bag that your child doesn’t see until they sit down on the plane. Bring old toys they haven’t seen in a long time, or new ones that will get them excited. The smaller and lighter the better. Raid your local dollar store. Be sure to put most of those toys away during your trip so they are excited to see these toys on the way home on the plane.
Kid Safe Earphones
If your child really does want to watch a movie (which could be the best-case scenario), volume limitingearphones are a great investment. They are normally lightweight and smaller than regular earphones, and because of the volume controls there is no risk of your child damaging their ears.
A Fully-Loaded iPad
Charge that battery and load up that iPad! New Apps, TV shows and movies chosen just for your child could get you a long way on that flight. You have to plan for the worst – like the TV’s not working on the plane. Show up prepared with child-friendly media for the flight, or for the customs line at your destination’s airport.
Check out my list of my favourite toddler Apps here.
What could be better than having your toddler distracted by a movie? Taking a nap!
To save yourself from lugging around a blanket on your trip, wear a large scarf that you can wrap them in so they can get cozy. One of these blanket scarves would be perfect.
Precious Trip Items Stored in the Carry-On
If your child can’t live without pacifiers, their teddy bear, or that formula you carefully packed, make sure they are in your carry-on! The worst thing that could happen is a lost luggage situation, and something your toddler needs goes missing. Keep what you need desperately with you on the plane where you can see it!
In the end, try not to be like me and don’t worry so much about what other passengers think. The most important thing is that your child has a safe and happy flight, so just do the best that you can.