Traveling with a toddler can be a harrowing experience. It can also be rewarding and fun (yes, fun!). Here are four things to keep in mind when flying with your wee one to make the experience as good as possible.
Create choices. There are few situations that make us feel less in control than air travel. For toddlers, that sensation is magnified. Combat your toddler’s anxiety by creating (or presenting) choices for him or her. For example, let your toddler choose what to wear to the airport (or perhaps choose one stuffed animal or toy to bring along) and choose which seat he or she would like to sit in (at the gate and on the plane). Emphasize that he or she can choose an in-flight drink, and bring a selection of snacks to choose from. Creating little choices (that seem big to the toddler doing the choosing) throughout the day will help avoid the tantrums that can result from feeling like he or she has no control.
Provide a variety of activities. Don’t just rely on a movie to enthrall your toddler for the entire plane ride. Load your tablet full of interactive games, activities and books (or bring lightweight paper books along). Be proactive in suggesting new activities when you see your toddler starting to get bored. The key is to keep things fresh and exciting (at least until they fall asleep).
Take a walk. As you’re waiting for your plane to board, take your toddler on a nice, long walk. This will serve the dual purpose of keeping him or her occupied and tiring your tiny traveler out (in hopes that he or she will decide to catch some in-flight ZZZZZs). When you’re on the plane, take periodic walks up and down the aisle to help with squirminess.
Trust that this too shall pass. If all else fails, remember that the plane will land eventually, and you and your young passenger will soon be happily at your destination.