Oh no! I am traveling with a toddler.
Traveling with a toddler is a gamble. Rolling the dice on toddler behavior can cause even the calmest parents’ hearts to skip a beat. As the mother of three boys, I want to introduce you to what I have learned after years of plane travel experimentation:
Holly’s Toddler Travel Tips:
- All non-toddler related luggage needs to be checked.
- Pack toddler-related necessities in a shoulder bag or backpack – you are going to need your hands free.
- Pack your necessities in the same bag so you are carrying only one.
- Edit what you are taking on the plane. If your toddler doesn’t color at home, it is only wishful thinking to pack a coloring book for the trip.
- Do not skimp on diapers or toddler finger food.
- Plan ahead how you will negotiate security – who will take all the toddler-stuff and who will take the toddler.
- ALWAYS travel with your child’s car seat.
The airlines don’t always embrace the use of the car seat on the plane, but I have found it to be a necessity. The ONE AND ONLY time my family traveled on a plane without a car seat and with a toddler in our lap we vowed to never travel again. The child spent the entire flight trying to escape into the aisle. By the end of the flight, I was exhausted trying to contain him.
After recovering from the trip, we reconsidered and evaluated where we had gone wrong. We realized that our children have been conditioned to sit in a car seat in the car since birth and are used to traveling that way. There is no reason to change that variable. A child strapped into a car seat on a plane can’t escape to the plane’s aisle. It is the perfect toddler containment system. Another bonus is that you are going to need the car seat at your destination.
To make the whole airport experience easier, we rigged up a rolling car seat:
It is a large folding luggage cart with wheels that the our regular car seat can be strapped onto with one strap. It is important not to make it too complicated because about 50% of the time you will be required to dismantle it through security. We have our toddler ride through the airport strapped into the seat which helps us keep track of him.
Most plane aisles past first class will not accommodate the width of this contraption. I dismantle it right before boarding the plane and carry on the seat. Once on the plane, I install the car seat and then the child into it as soon as possible. The less time the child has to realize they can walk around the plane, the better.
I have one other recommendation – prime the child. For weeks leading up to the trip I talk about how we will be on a plane, how he will sit in his seat on the plane, and how he will fall asleep in his seat on the plane.
When it works, it is PURE MAGIC!
Holly lives in Texas and is the stay at home mom of three boys ages 4, 6 and 8. Her family’s travels usually take them to the mountains of Colorado where the entire family loves to ski. She writes at June Cleaver Nirvana.