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9 Tips for Traveling with a Toddler

Traveling with a toddler is a proven challenge. The challenge starts even before arriving at the airport; there’s always the “getting to the airport on time with toddler delays” part. My son is no stranger to flying. I am a born and raised Chicagoan, and my husband and I make sure Evan knows his loving Chicago family. We travel often, and I learn a thing or two every trip.

I must admit, it was easier to travel with Evan prior to his first birthday. He mostly slept and was not quite mobile yet. As a nursing mom, I comforted him with my chest. I would hold off his feeding until we boarded the plane, and once we were on the plane he was under the nursing gown and relaxed or sleeping for the entire hour flight. It was glorious! Then he started standing, then crawling and as soon as he started walking, I couldn’t keep him confined.

In honor of FBG’s Fit Bottomed Vacay Week, I’ve collected nine of my favorite tips here to ease other moms’ fears of that flight with a kiddo. It can be done, you just have to come prepared! Here’s how.


9 Tips for Traveling with Toddlers

1. Food, food and more food. Pack food and A LOT of it. Remember the Booginhead food pouches? They are my new favorite! I pack a small cooler that can fit into my diaper bag and a sippy cup full of water or your milk of choice. I’ve called the airport ahead of time, and they allow a drink for the flight only for kids. Translation: one sippy or bottle and you’re golden.

2. Charge it! Charge your iPad and download a movie or two. The worst thing you can do is bring a dead iPad. I’ve been there! Plug it in by your car keys so you remember to grab it. The reason I suggest downloading a movie ahead of time is because wifi at the airport is not always reliable, and you want to be able to play it without any interruption.

3. Download a few games on the iPad, too! A couple of favorites for us are Bubbles and Paint Sparkle. Both are attention-grabbing and fun for kiddos!

4. Bag o’ tricks. Every child loves a bag o’ tricks! I pack mine with favorite books, Evan’s Logitech educational laptop, a few toy cars and coloring materials. If they’re prone to throwing, leave the tempting toys — balls — at home.

5. A lovey. Don’t forget their favorite snuggle friends and/or blanket. Evan has a blanket and his doggy that go everywhere with us. The blanket is helpful for him to lay his head on, and the doggy provides comfort to him. It’s a familiar feeling and brings a piece of home. He’s not reliant on it in public places, but it is helpful during stressful times.

6. Stroller. Even if you don’t use a stroller for your kiddo any more, bring it! Use it to push the bags and hold your kiddo or vice versa. Make the trip as easy on you as possible.

7. Pack your patience! Flying is not easy and eyes will get rolled. Seats will be reserved with bags for an imaginary person so no one has to sit by a baby. Southwest allows you to board after the A class but before the rows fill up. Take advantage of that. If you’re flying an airline with a seat assignment, talk to the attendants ahead of time. Ask if you can board before your class is called to give you more time to set up your space — and so there is less of a chance of you bumping into everyone trying to get to your seat.

8. Check it. You can check your stroller at the end of the jetway and grab it immediately after the flight for no charge. That way you only have to make it a short distance with your bags and child.

9. Ask for help! It’s also okay to ask for help when you board. The flight attendants are there for you. If your hands are full, ask if they would mind carrying your bags to your seat. It also helps to minimize your overall luggage or check your bags so that you’re only bringing necessities on the plane with you.

It’s not always the easiest to travel with kids, but preparation goes a long way. And of course, remember that you cannot control what happens on the plane. No matter what looks come your way, most adults have been in your shoes. Relax, they’ll get over it or turn their iPods up an extra notch!

What tried-and-true tips do you have for traveling with toddlers? —Jennifer

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