Your bags are packed and you’re ready to embrace that international family trip… but your child is no longer an infant and a whole new world of challenges await. She’s walking, talking, and ready to go, go, go. Does that mean your vacation has to be memorable for all the wrong reasons? Athena, now 15 months old, and I travel alone regularly. We’ve already flown internationally more than a handful of times, managed over-night delays and lost luggage, and still view travel as a wonderful adventure for the whole family. Check out our 10 tips for traveling with a toddler and make your travel feel like an actual vacation!
Number 10 – Is it Christmas? Bring lots of toys!
When you pack for a flight, be sure to include lots of toys, both old and new. Bring plenty of toys, books, and activities that you know your child likes and something special to engage her on the plane.
Number 9 – Are you preparing for a marathon? Burn off that energy before your child gets on the plane.
At the airport, let your child burn energy before you board. Have her help push a small suitcase to the next gate, depending on her age, or bring her walking shoes and let her explore while you wait.
Number 8 – Did we just arrive at the North Pole? Be prepared for the airplane and airport temperatures.
It’s simple advice, but children dressed comfortably for the weather and surroundings will be happier in a new environment. Airplanes can be cold, especially the floor so pack a sweater or a jacket and a pair of socks go a long way.
Number 7 – Is that food… or worse on your hands? Remember to pack extra diapers and wipes
Don’t forget the baby wipes! They’re useful for washing hands, cleaning toilet seats, and wiping down just about everything your child is going to put her hands on. In the same spirit, little bottles of hand cleanser can be a lifesaver in some countries, but check the travel regulations for liquids well in advance. Consider delays when packing. If you are stuck in the airport for an additional 6 hours, do you have enough supplies to last?
Number 6 – Is that food… or worse on your pants? Remember to pack extra clothes for both of you.
Spit ups, accidents, and spills happen. On a recent flight, Athena’s wet diaper leaked through her pants and onto mine as well. In the preparation of it all, I forget to pack anything extra for me to wear so I had to smell like I peed myself for five more hours before arriving at our final destination. Be prepared!
Number 5 – Did you eat today? Remember to pack enough food to get your through delays.
Snacks are excellent for distracting your child during take off and landing and they help with the continued chewing motion that decrease ear problems. Create snack bags that can easily be reached and passed to your child during the flight. Don’t forget to pack enough to get you through one full day in case there are delays.
Number 4 – Did you just turn into a monster? Consider your child’s schedule when booking a flight.
Naps are important during the day at this age. If you consider your child’s sleep and eating schedule, it will deter meltdowns.
Number 3 – Aren’t you going to carry me to all the gates? Gate check your stroller.
If you are taking a stroller, gate check it. This will allow your toddler to sit in the stroller as you make your way through the airport and wait for your flight. Sometimes connecting flights can be far apart. It’s helpful to have the stroller for the child and to put bags in the carrier below.
Number 2 – Can’t I walk there, Mommy? Bring a carrier!
Sometimes the stroller just doesn’t cut it. Athena wants to be in my arms and carrying her leaves me exhausted with no way to carry anything else or even push a carry-on suitcase. A carrier eliminates all of these worries and she feels comfortable and calm with little effort from me.
Number 1 – Are we there yet? Arrive at the gate early and talk with the flight attendant
If you book a flight that isn’t full, most airline attendants will move things around for you to get the empty middle seat. (Hint: when you go to talk to him or her, bring the baby with you. It helps increase the “need” and breeds compassion.)
Just remember to keep your cool no matter what situation or scenario happens! Travel can be stressful with or without a baby but losing your cool isn’t going to benefit anyone. You will get there and it will be great!