Our vacay is approaching and we couldn’t be more excited, but the worst part is packing for everyone for a month (I mean, they need enough clothes to last a whole month because I won’t be doing laundry) and preparing for the airport security, the flight, the hassle et all, until you get to your destination to actually enjoy. I figured with summer approaching a lot of you might be traveling with a toddler (or two) and hopefully you find this post somewhat helpful. I am sharing things that have helped us in the past, and others that I stumbled upon while preparing for our trip.
This is with an understanding that your toddler already has a passport, and they are ready to travel. However, if your baby needs a passport, you will want to visit the USA passport website for instructions as it gets a little tricky – both parents need to be present, make sure you get the right application as child app is different than adult app, etc.
Last time we travelled overseas was in 2015 and we had a 15 month old with us. Now, we are going to have a three year old and a 16 month old. So first thing is first, you cannot expect your children to be as calm and not throw a tantrum or two but you can make your life a little easier if you prepare yourself in advance. Children tend to throw tantrums in the public more so because they are seeking attention, and they are just overwhelmed with everything. I mean, going through airport security alone is a pain-in-the-you-know-what for adults, can you imagine kids? For those of you that cannot stand children on flights, well it won’t go away so bring your noise-cancelling headphones next time you fly 🙂
10 tips to keep your toddler happy:
- Reserve seats when you book If at all possible reserve your seats ahead of time. We were unable to reserve ours the first we flew overseas with Vasilije. You can call the airline to attempt to reserve the spot, and if that doesn’t work trying coming earlier to the airport to check in to get the seating with the extra room. The only downside, they may not allow the entire family to sit there if there are other moms with children.
- Adjust their nap schedule so that they are likely to nap on the plane Ideally, you want them to nap during the flight (or as much as possible) but even getting them comfortable during the flight is difficult as it is. We had Vasilije sleeping on our laps with a pillow and a blanket.
- Leave your house without any expectations This is probably my #1 recommendation whether you’re traveling by air, car or train – leave without any expectations. I mean, how can you set expectations for so many unknown things. Toddlers tend to act out in public as is (when you grocery shop) so the chances of them acting out at the airport are somewhat high too. So don’t have any expectations, engage with your toddler as all they want is your attention. They are overstimulated in public areas by so many strangers, all the lights, the brightness, etc., so the best you can do is engage with them, pay attention to them and go with the flow.
- Get a portable DVD player or tablet or let them use your phone As much as you don’t want your toddler to have screen time, this is the time you give in. It will keep them occupied for sometime at least. Download some games, or their favorite cartoons to watch and let them enjoy it. You can also buy one of those scribble doodle pads like this one here and bring along for the trip, this keeps my toddler entrained at home too! I ordered this one for the boys (shhhh it’s a surprise).
Here are some apps to download for your toddler:
Monkey Preschool Lunchbox (perfect for ages 2+)
Bubbles (even babies can play this one)
Elmo Loves ABC (if your baby loves Elmo this is a great one)
Baby Flash Card (there are additional languages too to choose from)
Tozzle Lite Puzzle (there are 44 different puzzle pictures & will keep them occupied)
- Bring their favorite snacks, juice, water You need to keep them occupied, and they need to eat something and stay hydrated. Especially during take off, have them chew on something or give them a lollipop. The air pressure is too much, and it can hurt their little ears. They may not like the food offered on the plane. I know Vasilije didn’t want anything to do with it, so thankfully we had plenty of his favorite snacks packed along with water. I did bring juice, but I won’t again. They have apple and orange juice on the plane, and it is cold so he prefers that. The juice I brought was somewhat warm.
- Do layers, skip laces Yes!!! Who can deal with laces among a million other things at the airport… so skip laces, and do slip-ons if at all possible (for your own sake). They like to take off their shoes in the plane, and it is more comfortable. Layers! Layers! and only layers for your toddler! An easy jersey pant, with a short sleeve shirt, and a zip up and some slip-ons will be my boys’ outfits for the airport in our upcoming trip. (Last time I made a mistake and had Vasilije wear his chuck Taylors)
- Use pull-ups even if they’re potty trained I mean, if you don’t want to run into a seat incident, or run the chance of the airplane restroom being occupied and you know your toddler cannot wait – when they need to go they need to go. So for my peace of mind, pull-ups it is. Vasilije gave me the biggest tantrum when I tried to change him in the airplane changing table – and I can’t blame him, those things make me claustrophobic too! So instead, I changed him on our seat.
- Bring surprises Kids love to unwrap stuff, so wrapping a few toys for them will make them happy and will grab their attention. It’s the little things. Check out these Wikki Stix for doodlers molding & sculpting, I think my toddler will enjoy figuring these out. It’s another surprise too. I also got them these alphabet cards as part of the surprise.
- Don’t sit kids in the aisle seats This may be common sense, but don’t keep your kids in the aisle seat… the flight attendants walking around with the drink and food tray, or other people walking by you don’t want their hand or leg hurt or even when they peek their little heads out. Keep them on your lap or in the seat next to you on the opposite side.
- Switch to an umbrella stroller This was the first thing we did. I ran to the store, bought an umbrella stroller and it has been our best friend since! They are not the comfiest for the baby, nor are they the easiest to navigate – but so what! It’s just to get you by for the trip. This one is simple and does the job, or you can go with this one a little more comfortable and roomier for the child.
Check the FAA website for child safety and traveling with children, etc. It talks about what you can have for infants, such as formula etc. Airport security is a pain, but we can’t change anything about it so do everything you can to make it easier for yourself. I’ve packed all the essentials in the backpack, and the best thing is I will be hands-free of a bag to easily hold Mateja along with our boarding pass. Alex will have a backpack too and Vasilije. I always, always like to have an extra outfit or two for the boys in the backpack and an extra shirt for myself just in case one of them decides to throw up on me or whatever the case.
My go to traveling outfit is: leggings, long tee, and a cardigan with my chuck Taylors. All of these are on sale at 40% off (except for the chuck Taylors). I do the same for the boys, slip on shoes, jersey material pants, t-shirt and a zip up. I bring them extra socks so when they take off their shoes they can be in their socks, and same for myself. It can get cold in the plane.
After all that hassle is done, we can finally enjoy the beauty of our birth place again, the sea and the beach along with the most delicious food – so yes, I love traveling and don’t mind traveling with a toddler (or two) in our case.
So, do tell what you do to prepare for a flight (long or short) and what has worked for you in the past? I need all the tips I can get (you can never have too many, am I right?). Thanks guys!