I wanted to share what I've learned about traveling with toddlers, besides the fact that you feel like a superhero after you've survived!
Below are the 8 Things I've Learned About Flying with Toddlers!
Feel free to comment below and add your tips!
Back in the day, I would grab a water bottle and some gum, sit back with my journal, maybe my computer, and a good book to enjoy a flight. Now? I’m getting whiplash looking back and forth between my two toddlers, trying to meet their demands, cries, questions and requests for more entertainment. Doggie? Here he is. iPhone? Got it. Drink? One second. Pretzels? Okay. Stickers and a notebook? Sure! Movie? Coming right up. Phew.
I was this close to purchasing the $18 Wi-Fi pass for our 90-minute flight. Ridiculous, right? You’d think, until a certain 3-year-old is whining for something else to do and asking what else she can watch because the only thing on the iPad is the $19.99 iTunes purchase of Frozen I made the day before we left. I didn’t pay for Wi-Fi, by the way. I let sibling rivalry do its job:
Mommy: “Baby sister, would you like to watch the movie?”
3YO: “But I want to watch it!”
The result was two kids side-by-side, watching Frozen and being quiet as mice.
The sucking of lollipops (or for my kids - biting / chewing / gobbling) helps little ones’ ears when the plane is taking off and landing. I did not assume one lollipop per kid was going to be enough and I was right. I had a whole section of my backpack dedicated to all manner of flavors, all organic and all containing vitamin C.
I actually think I should have received an award, or perhaps a standing applause from the whole plane when I single-handedly stopped the ruination of another 90-minute flight. A child we’d befriended in the airport was sitting behind me, perfectly content. Until takeoff. The screaming and wailing began and I quietly asked his dad if he could have a lollipop. When he nodded, I reached into my treasure chest and pulled out a lovely child-silencer. He stopped crying, took the treat, ate it and promptly fell asleep for the duration of the flight. Powerful, powerful things lollipops are.
I can’t say enough about the family restroom. They’re not everywhere, but in the big Atlanta airport we had our layovers in, they were pretty widely available and we may have visited every single one. I can’t tell you what it’s like to wait for the single handicap stall in a restroom to be available, while my 3-year-old lifts her dress up and holds her private area whining about how “it’s going to come out”. What to do? The stroller, 2-year-old, 3-year-old, mommy, and bags were not ever going to make it into a single stall! Family restrooms to the rescue! Entering a private restroom, unloading our stuff, giving everyone their turn, and not being bumped, or hurried, or looked at for taking up so much time and space was just what we needed to get our family put back together.
I’m still glad I brought empty sippy cups on the plane with me. It gave me somewhere to dump my children’s drinks when they no longer wanted them. It also gave me somewhere to put my youngest’s beverage when she thought that moving it to and from the tray table was the best game ever (as it sloshed all over her dress)…
However, it wasn’t long after the take-off of flight #2 that my 3-year-old loudly pointed out her sippy cup was bubbling all over the place. Augh. Cabin pressure. I was forced to drink watered down apple juice to stop it from flooding our section of the airplane. Waiting to add liquid to a sippy cup is a great idea… I won’t forget.
6. Travel with your own garbage bags.
I know the flight attendants come around collecting trash at least five times during a flight, so why would I need a garbage bag? Remember the lollipops? Wrappers, sticky sticks, empty snack bags, dirty wipes from wiping down trays and sticky hands… There’s really nowhere convenient to put these things. Even a sandwich bag would be convenient to keep it all together. I learned this after one of four flights, delicately wrapping sticky lollipop sticks into wrapper and balling them up into wipes and finding a safe place to put them, only to be handed another and another.
I organized my backpack brilliantly. It wasn’t too hard to get to a snack, a cup, a toy or a technology device. But what about after a child is finished with it? Those little pockets in front of me look pretty enticing. I’ll just pop it in there. Or toss it in my purse and look for it later. Until the plane lands. I’m scrambling to calm my youngest who’s begging me to pick her up. I’m helping my oldest get her seat belt off. I’m zippering compartments and grabbing our bags. Then I think, “Where’s the iPhone? Where’s the iPad? What did I do with that bag of snacks?” At one point I found the iPhone under the seat. I can’t imagine what I’d do if I’d lost that! I found toys between seats and stickers in the pocket in front of me. Nope, never again. Finished with the iPhone? Back in it’s zippered pouch. Finished with a snack? Back in its appropriate compartment. Only the bubbling sippy cups stayed out, hanging off the side of the bag to be dumped before the next flight!
I definitely threw in a dress for each girl, rolled up tight at the bottom of my bag. I was so proud of myself for remembering that for all the “just in case” possibilities. You know what I forgot? Clothes for myself. I mean, even a shirt!? Thankfully, I didn’t need it. But my sweet, wonderful friend, who was also traveling with her toddlers for the first time, did need it. I couldn’t imagine what I would do if my baby had thrown on me and had to sit in those clothes. She, of course, handled it like the super-mommy she is! Future notes: roll up a shirt for mama and stick that in the bottom of the bag, too!
So, maybe I had way more snacks than I needed, but they made me feel safer. Maybe I packed more technology products than were used, but they were available, if necessary. For our next trip (yes, there will be another), I’m going to pack just as much and be just as prepared, if not more.