(Disclaimer: Mamas, please know, I do NOT consider myself an expert on traveling with kids, and I know, I only have one child - but I simply wanted to share some things that helped us along the way in hopes that they can in turn help you!)
Airplane or no airplane, traveling in general is very stressful. It feels like you literally have to pack your entire house up even for just one overnight and if you're going away for multiple nights, forget it, you should probably pack your life away! Sometimes it seems easier to just stay home. I know for me personally, I am always happy to have a change of scenery though, and yes, while it is stressful - I'm super excited once we reach our final destination! London and I are very used to road trips. We have been road warriors since she was just two weeks old when her Daddy would go on work trips and we'd head three hours north to Maine. Flying, however, we've done much less of. Lo has been on five flights in her short lifetime, but all have been actually quite smooth and (dare I say) FUN! I am definitely a "plan ahead," type-A mom, so I did my research before her first flight + since it was a success, have followed the same sort of "protocol" in preparation for each trip.
Here are a few of my top tips for flying with a toddler. If have a young baby, I shared a few helpful hints on that last year, here.
1. Book non-stop. Even if you have to pay a little extra ... it's a small price to keep your sanity! Once you're on the plane and settled in with all of the 'ish' that you brought, the last thing you want to do is MOVE. Trust me on this one, if you can swing it, it's worth it!
2. Make sure one of your seats is an aisle seat. This is super important. If you're flying solo, just go ahead and book the aisle seat because you definitely don't want to feel trapped by the window or like you can't get up and down as needed! I walked the aisles for basically the entire three hour flight to Florida last year and while it was exhausting, London was happy and most importantly, quiet!
3. Plan your flight during nap time. We do this as best we can and when we have flown during London's nap, it has worked out well for us. As soon as the "fasten seatbelt light" goes off I walk the aisle with her and rock her to sleep. Just recently, she slept the entire two hours from Charleston. Also, I think the hum of the plane's engine kept her asleep longer! Score!
4. Bring all of their favorite snacks...and I mean ALL of them. If you want to know the way to a toddler's heart, it's with yummy snacks! Here's a list of what I brought on our recent trip: Raisins, goldfish, grapes, Ritz crackers, applesauce, graham crackers, and string cheese. Thank goodness I have the world's best diaper bag from Skip Hop that has a million compartments, all of which were used on this trip! (I love their backpack too!)
5. Download your kids favorite show and/or movie. My rule for traveling is: THERE ARE NO RULES. Whatever keeps them happy or satisfied (as long as it isn't harmful) is basically fair game. The iPad was my best friend on our flight from Boston! It ended up taking longer than expected, so the fact that we had Frozen and Mickey Mouse ready to go really kept Lolo happy and me, sane! If you need children's headphones, Amazon sells some really cute ones for kiddos!
6. Buy a small new toy or book for the trip. I recommend waiting to show them their "surprise" until you're on the plane. We bought Lo a Frozen microphone that plays the songs from the movie, and she loved it! It was perfect because it was small and easy to pack. Any book with flaps is a good idea and if you can find one with a lot of pages, even better! Karen Katz books are always a hit; we love this one and my mom bought this one along on our latest trip.
7. Have a sippy cup or chewy snack ready for take-off/landing. I was really worried about the altitude and how it would effect London's ears, but she seemed fine. I gave her raisins, which I figured is the next best thing to gum and she went to town ;) I also had her sippy cup filled with apple juice, which is a treat for her.
8. Bring a stroller for the airport and check it at the gate. I don't think we could have survived without our stroller; this is really a must! We love our Graco Fold Jogger because it has a big compartment underneath to hold all of our stuff - but if you're looking for a smaller one that may be better suited for travel, I've heard great things about the Quinny Moodd stroller and the BABYZEN YOYO+ stroller as well! The BABYZEN YOYO+ is just 13 pounds, easy to fold up and carry with ONE hand. We are traveling to Disney World in a few weeks, and I think we're going to bring this one along!
Thanks for stopping by!