Are you in the midst of planning and prepping for a family vacation with a toddler, and are a bit unsure of how to facilitate a (relatively) smooth flying experience? Keep reading for some tips on how to have a successful flight with your toddler.
As I was gathering materials needed for my daughter’s 8th airplane trip in her year and a half life, I realized that flying with a toddler is a whole different ball game, compared to flying with a non-mobile baby. Suddenly, thoughts of how to occupy hours while being restrained to one small airplane seat seemed overwhelming, and had me thinking that we were doomed before we even boarded the airplane.
Here are some tips from an experienced traveling mother to help facilitate a happy airplane ride for you, your toddler, and surrounding passengers.
1. You may considering opting out of early priority family boarding.
- The thought of getting seated prior to other passengers may be appealing, however, every additional minute on the airplane is just another minute you will have limited options to entertain your child. Airplane seats are small, especially if you are traveling with a “lap child” who is an energetic toddler. Waiting until the last zone to board may be a better option, especially if you are seated in an aisle seat where you can maneuver in quicker. Which brings us to the second point….
2. If traveling alone with a lap toddler, book an aisle seat if possible.
- Your child may not have the “sit in them” to remain seated throughout the entire flight. Don’t box yourself in by booking a window seat. Your toddler may need to get up, or you may wish to take them into the back area for a quick change of scenery or a bathroom/diaper change break.
3. Book your seats toward the back of the plane.
- You will find the most families in this location. You’re far away from business class seats, and closest to the bathrooms. You can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that other surrounding parent’s are going through the same struggles as you, rather than being worried that your toddler may attack your neighbor’s iPad while he’s working on an important spreadsheet.
4. Obtain the element of surprise.
- Bring along new toys that your toddler has never played with before. They will hold your child’s attention longer than their “every day toys.”
- New books are also a great idea, if your toddler is a book-worm. They will enjoy looking through all the new pictures and hearing all of your silly character impressions. For some new books to take with you, check out this post on The Coolest New Baby Books.
5. Leave your rules on the ground (temporarily).
- Now may be the time to introduce your toddler to TV shows or movies. Download some different show episodes onto your Kindle, or iPad or phone. If you don’t have that option, consider splurging for in-flight entertainment for your child, if your airline offers individual seat TVs. They may or may not tolerate wearing headphones, but you may find that just watching it with no sound is good enough for them. Consider checking out these fun, toddler-approved headphones. They will typically leave this type on their head, compared to using earbuds.
- When in doubt- try some snacks! Pack some new and exciting treats for your child to enjoy as a distraction. TSA will allow you to go through security with a full bottle or sippy cup; they must simply conduct a quick vapor check on the item. Diluted and organic fruit juice may be a good distraction for them, and a break from the “norm” of home cuisine choices. We love these Snack Keeper Monsters by Nuby as a spill-proof way to transport your tot’s favorite snacks.
Do you have any airplane travel tips that saved your sanity during a flight? Share them in the comment section!
For more ideas on how to navigate airplane travel, read our 5 Tips for Flying With a Baby.