Everyone dreams of traveling abroad, whether it’s to Paris or Australia, there is something that pulls us towards exploring more of our world. But flying with a toddler is likely something you didn’t expect while you were daydreaming about your vacation. Flying by yourself sounds like a breeze! You can cuddle up, take a nap, watch an endless amount of movies – but when flying with a toddler you can check all of those relaxing things off your list.
Although it sounds stressful, there are so many ways to ease the anxiety about flying with a toddler. It just takes more planning ahead of time and more importantly a lot of patience. Let’s take a look at where to start when flying with a toddler.
Prepping ahead of time:
When you’re flying with a toddler, this may be their first experience on an airplane. Unless you prepare them ahead of time, this can be extremely terrifying to their little minds. Check out your local library to see if they have any children’s books about flying, this way they can connect to it even more. Buying model airplanes can also give them a sense of what an airplane feels like, and giving them the ability to “control the flight”. Another great way to get them comfortable is to show them photos of you flying on an airplane, showing them that if you can do it they can!
Read More: Travel with Kids around the World
Look for bookings based on their routine:
When you’re searching for flights, you’re often looking at a million different possibilities. Where you want to have your connections, the cheapest airfare, and more. But one thing that has to be of top importance when flying with a toddler is their routine. If you’re traveling abroad, then at least one of your flights is likely going to be over eight hours long. When you’re flying with a toddler, their routine is going to be all out of whack, but planning the times of the flights around their nap is key.
Having your child on a routine like this is not only important when flying with a toddler, but it’s extremely important for their health. Science Daily states, “Research tells us that kids who don’t get enough sleep on a consistent basis are more likely to have problems at school and develop more slowly than their peers who are getting enough sleep.” So let’s put together a hypothetical schedule for a toddler.
Your little one wakes up around 7:00 am, goes down for a nap at Noon, sleeps from Noon to 2:00 pm and then has an 8:00 pm bedtime. This gives you an 11-hour bedtime, which hypothetically speaking could be enough time to fly around the world. So when you’re looking to book the longest flight, lining it up with their bedtime gives them more of an option to sleep throughout the entire flight.
Most airports have playgrounds and restaurants, but even better than that they have tons of room for your toddler to run around. Your layovers are the best chance you have at letting your toddler get all of their energy out. Try and plan your layovers during their “wake-time” to ensure that they get as much energy out as possible before being restricted inside of an airplane. As soon as the flight takes off, they’ll go down for a nap! This will help make flying with a toddler a lot easier and you’ll be able to relax with a game plan for entertainment set.
Entertainment on Flights:
Flying with your toddler completely asleep for the long flight sounds ideal, but don’t rely on it 100%. You may have to keep your little one entertained for a good portion of the flight, especially if they do not want to sleep. When you’re packing for the trip, make sure to pack along some key favorite toys along with some new ones to keep them interested. The Dollar Tree is an absolutely amazing store for little entertainment trinkets.
Books are always a great option to bring, but they can weigh you down throughout your travels. Try and bring along two to three books that they will want to read over and over again, along with a family picture book! Family photo albums are a great way to keep your toddler entertained with endless questions (i.e. Can you find Aunt Lauren? What color shirt is Daddy wearing?).
Light and easy toys are ideal when flying with a toddler as you don’t want to weigh yourself down anymore. Toys like Hotwheels and playdough are great toys that you can create endless games on long flights. When worst comes to worst and you just need a break, you can have your little one watch movies on the flight or play with their tablet. Most airlines like Delta Airlines have a streaming app that you can download ahead of time to watch TV shows, movies, and even play games! When booking your flight, look at airlines that provide this service to free up space on your tablet.
Read more: Travel Tips for Flying with a Toddler
Snacks are your #1 priority!
Nothing entertains toddlers more than food! Flying with a toddler can be exhausting, and good chances are they’ll be hungrier more often on the flights. Make sure to look at your layover spots ahead of time and plan out what restaurants to eat at. But when it comes to in-flight snacks don’t rely on the airline to provide everything for you.
Overseas flights have several meal options, some even have child menus, but it’s always good when flying with a toddler to have the snacks that they’re familiar with on hand. Make sure to pack your own cooler inside of your carry on so you can access snacks easily. Here are some good things for long flights that take little effort to carry around and you won’t have to worry about going bad quickly:
- Hard-boiled eggs
- String Cheese
- Chocolate Energy Bites
- Granola Bars
- Mandarin Oranges
- Mini Muffins
- Trail Mix
What to bring on flight vs pack underneath:
Traveling abroad with your toddler is going to be physically draining. You’ll be chasing them around the airport and the last thing you need is a giant haul of things to carry as you do. Packing light is a necessity when traveling with a toddler. Organizing your bag into different sections with little bags can help you find what you need quicker. When packing your carry on, make sure to have a “toy bag” as well as a “snack bag” for easy access (and don’t forget a change of clothes in case of accidents!).
While most people would suggest bringing an umbrella stroller to lessen your weight, I suggest bringing along a sturdier one. In the event that your toddler only wants to be carried, you have storage both in the seat and underneath for all of your belongings. You’ll be able to check your stroller at the gate as well, which will aid in what you bring on the physical flight.
Make sure to plan for the travel back as well. You’ll likely pick up little travel trinkets on your trip, but having a few items that your toddler remembers but hasn’t seen in a while will keep them entertained longer. When packing your check-in bag, make sure to include a couple of extra toys and books that you can switch up for your journey back home.
Traveling with a toddler, especially when traveling abroad, can be extremely daunting. Educating your little one ahead of time will make sure that everyone is on the same page and you have go-to phrases to remind your toddler of what is going on. Make sure to book your flights around your toddler’s schedule to make their flights as easy as possible. The memories that you are going to have on this trip are ones that you’ll be able to share with them for a lifetime, so keep that in mind when traveling with a toddler!
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