Airplane Travel With A Toddler Made Easier
Me at 18 flying home to New Jersey from Atlanta for spring break:
Don’t worry, the flight is at 6 so I don’t have to pack until 3.
Me, 10 years later:
I packed for Grey 2 weeks ago. Don’t worry, the flight is at 6 so I don’t have to pack for myself until 3.
I hate flying so just the thought of an airport makes me want to crawl under the covers. For this reason, I do my best to avoid extra travel stress, especially now that my husband and I have someone who depends on us. Here are a few of my “rules” for looking like I have it all together:
I keep travel documents stocked and stored.
Keep a travel wallet stocked and keep tabs on its contents. Our passports rarely leave my travel wallet and if for any reason one is missing (for example, maybe someone had to go to the DMV), I get it back in there early by periodically checking. You don’t want to be looking for a passport as you’re walking out the door to board a plane. I learned that from my dad during Londongate 2001. Hi Dad!
Keeping tabs every once in a while, not just when a trip is close, is also how you can avoid the shock of learning your documents are expired.
Store said travel wallet or pouch in the exact same place in your home. Every. Single. Time. Don’t get into the habit of having it float around. That’s chaos and disaster just waiting to happen. Hi Dad!
I pack for my son as far in advance as reasonable.
With or without children, rushing when prepping for a long distance trip walks you straight down the path to forgetting necessities. With children, though, not being prepared feels 10 times worse. Simple breaks in thought are normal in parenting, but that anxiety-inducing feeling of packing last minute for kids is something that I like to avoid. I practice organizing for Grey at least 2 weeks prior to departure and before opening a bag, I like to write out a list when I have a free moment to think clearly. Being able to just check off as I pack makes it a much faster process when it comes down to it.
I think of myself last.
This is not just for all the main reasons that us parents tend to worry about ourselves last, but personally, this keeps my head less chaotic. By putting myself last on the to-do list when it comes to travel, I can really focus when it comes to making sure I’m covered too. In essence, I’m just ensuring that I’m not doing too much all at once which minimizes the rushing and forgetting every damn thing. This is also the reason why I pack for my son as far in advance as possible. If he is all ready and good to go by 1 week before a trip, it leaves me that week to just worry about myself and the few last minute tasks that always pop up. It’s a work stream.
I minimize baggage.
I do not care where we are going and for how long - Greyson and I share a bag. If we can’t share, I convince myself that I’m not packing correctly. Of course, this is all relative to specific details of the trip, but I’m very serious about this always being the goal. For our recent trip to Jamaica, I was able to fit all of mine and Grey’s things into a mid-size suitcase by avoiding overpacking and utilizing my favorite packing cubes. To be honest, with the packing cubes we all could have fit our stuff into one suitcase, but my husband has no time for my antics.
We keep our hands free.
This is especially important when moving through the airport with an almost-3 year old who cannot stand the thought of staying still for more than 5 minutes. Both my husband and I rely on backpacks to carry on the plane which leaves us free to keep a grip on the Greysonator. We prefer to check bags on so that the only item in hand is our travel stroller and I love ours because it folds down compact enough to fit under an airplane seat.
We get comfortable.
I suggest making your life easier by having the items that will make your child feel right at home on the plane. For starters, having their favorite snacks. For a three-pointer, shoot for snacks that they have to suck on to help relieve ear pressure. I don’t know if Grey’s ears don’t pop on the plane or what, but thankfully he has never expressed discomfort. In the event that it happens though, I’m always ready with applesauce pouches.
Since nothing comes with most flights nowadays except the seat belt and the cold ass air blowing over every seat, I love having my own blanket for us. You can go with a good travel blanket set or another favorite of mine - wearing a poncho wrap instead of a jacket and just covering up you and your little one with it for takeoff. #momtricks
I hope some of these tips help anyone who needs a little advice - especially my new parent readers. Parents, do you have any traveling tips to add to my list? What are your rules? I’d love to learn from you as well. Share below and until next time…