This blog post was updated on September 5, 2018.
Traveling with a toddler can be daunting for even the most experienced parents and travelers. However, many families like to take advantage of the fact that airlines don’t charge for passengers under the age of 2 (if they sit on an adult’s lap). It is possible to survive and possibly even enjoy a flight with a toddler. Here are some helpful tips:
• Fly when your toddler usually sleeps: There’s a better chance your wee one will sleep on the plane if you schedule a flight for a time when he or she is already accustomed to sleeping. I tend to think nighttime works best (if your toddler is a good night sleeper). If you schedule a flight for naptime, there is always the chance that your child will be so excited that he or she will decide to forgo the nap. However, if the opposite is true (your child naps soundly, but nighttime sleep is more difficult), then schedule the flight for naptime. If the flight is delayed, your little one can always take a snooze in the airport.
• Pack snacks: Most toddlers I know aren’t interested in airplane food (heck, most adults I know aren’t either!). Make sure to pack your little one’s favorite snacks to stave off hunger and keep everyone in a good mood. Healthy treats without added sugar will help to avoid the high-energy sugar rush/crash. Make sure your kids get enough water to drink, too, since sitting in an airplane tends to be dehydrating.
• Bring along entertainment: Have your toddler help you select his or her favorite books and toys for the plane ride. You may want to set some parameters, such as “choose your favorite two books.” If you have an iPad, load it up with some of these great apps for toddlers.
• Pack extra clothes: Be prepared for the inevitable spills or underwear/diaper leaks by packing extra clothes. Depending on whether your toddler is in underwear or diapers, pack more of these than you think you’ll need. Better safe than sorry! If your luggage is lost, at least you’ll be able to make due with a change of clothes for the next day or so.
• Make the diaper bag your carry-on: Most diaper bags are roomy enough to carry everything your toddler will need while on the plane. You could also slip in a magazine for yourself, if you’re lucky enough to have time to read it! Making the diaper bag your carry-on will reduce the number of bags you’ll have to carry through the airport (which is a plus, especially when you are trying to keep track of toddlers!).
Keep your sense of humor and flexibility about you and all will be well. Have a safe and enjoyable flight!
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