Well we did it, we successfully traveled across the USA with a toddler in an airplane and we are still married… even after I split Jack Daniel’s in Jack’s hair and Stefan got basically strip searched because of baby food (we’ll get into that). I have to admit I was so nervous about flying with Jack because he can’t sit still for more than 2 minutes let alone 4+ hours on an airplane.
The first thing I did was reach out to all of my mom friends that had gone before me and asked their advice. Some moms had nothing but horror stories and others gave some helpful tips a lot of which included drinking on the plane (we’ll get to that soon).
I took all of the advice and decided to just pray for my sanity and go for it.
I do have to mention that it was snowing while we were in Ohio and Jack was just about the cutest thing ever all bundled up as seen here.
Obviously every child is different and what holds one's attention span may not work for the other, but here is what worked for us.
7 Tips For Traveling With A Toddler
1. Dollar Store or $1 section at Target: Pick up 1 or 2 items that can be easily played with on the plane. I chose these little lego men and stretchy rubber dinosaurs.
2. Clear tupperware container: Maybe it’s just my kid but he’s obsessed with opening and closing the container and putting his little toys in and taking them out. This alone entertained him for almost 30 minutes, and in toddler land that’s like 3 hours. (See Picture)
3 books: I recommend bringing 1 old book that they love and buying 2 new books. I opted for smaller size books and one of them was a popup book (from Marshall’s for $4) and Jack loved lifting the flaps.
4. iPad: Yes, I said it. We downloaded a few episodes of Peppa Pig (bc Jack LOVES it) and he was totally content. No one is judging you, they are thanking you for keeping your kid quiet.
5. Snacks: Duh
6. If you can wear your child: I put Jack’s 26 pound body in the Ergo and it was so much better than trying to carry all that weight on my hip, and take my shoes off at TSA, and fumble for my id and boarding pass. This was SUCH a good idea!
7. Fly at night/evening: This was a lifesaver beyond belief. Our flight was at 4:30pm fly for 60 minutes then switch planes, so for that second flight at 6pm I changed Jack into his pajamas and once we were high up in the sky I read him his bedtime book from home and then gave him his little bear (he sleeps with every night) and let him just lay on us. He fell asleep.
Jack continued to fall asleep for me on the way home from Ohio as well, just like he did flying there. Both flights took off at 6pm. I really feel that flying at night was the smartest choice because it was his natural bedtime and he just literally couldn’t keep his eyes open.
Now back to Stefan getting groped by TSA. I, like a good traveler, put Jack’s food pouches in a clear plastic bag so when we were going through security they can easily see what it is.
Well our tray went through the x-ray machine and got flagged so they pulled us to the side and then swabbed Jack’s food pouches and the test came back with a fail. The TSA agent then looked at us and said one of us will have to get fully searched, and we were also supposed to board in 10 minutes at this point!! Stefan volunteered and they searched him up and down right there in the airport, even ran their fingers along all his favorite parts LOL. I am watching my frustrated husband get molested while I am wearing our child who is screaming for a pouch but they won’t let him have one. Needless to say we ran to our gate after we were finally cleared and once that plane took off ordered 2 whiskey cocktails.
Fast Forward to Jack drifting off to sleepy land across my body so I take that as I sign to reach for my well deserved cocktail, and as I’m bringing it to my mouth he abruptly moves and Jack Daniel’s ever so quietly falls onto his head. This was not one of my prouder moments as a mother, but he didn’t wake up so I brushed it off and took it as a win.
All in all it was a good flying experience with our sweet little toddler. I would and will repeat all 7 of the steps above the next time we fly they worked so well!
Till next time.