Want to know the truth about flying with a busy toddler on an airplane for hours on end? It’s the actual worst. They are typically active little humans who get annoyed when they are constricted to a tiny space with loads of annoying adults who also think they are in return, annoying. While I can’t promise that you will find your flight relaxing in any way shape or form, there are some air travel tips and tricks for toddlers that I have found along the way with trial and error that really work.
I have three kids and have done my fair share of traveling with them. Some of my most stressful moments as a parent happen to be 3,000 feet up in the air or in an airport terminal. In fact, one time my toddler screamed for an entire 3-hour flight and a man waited for us to de-board the plane to advise us to give our daughter some rum to keep her quiet next time. There was also that time I cried the entire flight because I was so stressed out trying to keep my little one calm. Traveling with a toddler isn’t easy but it can be done.
If you aren’t up for giving your tot a little rum like me, you can try out these others ideas for keeping your toddler happy during a flight.
Get Your Game Face On
Make sure you are prepared mentally. I mean it. If you go into flying with a busy toddler already defeated and overwhelmed, you will most likely feel flustered the entire time. As cheesy as it sounds I give myself a pep talk like, “hey girl, you got this…you will rock this flight with your child like a champ.” I also remind myself to not give two craps about the grown adults who forget that kids are kids and that air travel is actually public transportation and not a spa. Once I remind myself to not actually care what others think and to be as prepared as I possibly can, I can handle the airport, flight, and layovers like a pro. When I travel with kids I’m like a duck; floating on the top and swimming like hell below.
Bring a Carseat on the Plane
Bring the Car seat into the plane. It is an absolute pain to lug around unless you have a roller caddy, but it’s worth it. Your small child is use to being in their car seat and honestly; they feel a little more relaxed. They will not only sleep better on the flight, but they won’t be climbing all over you. You might even be able to enjoy a glass of wine without fear of it being kicked into your lap. If your toddler is still a lap child, bring a pillow or something comfy they can sleep with and pray really hard they fall asleep quick.
Suckers for Ears
Bring a few suckers to help with their ears during takeoff and landing. There is nothing worse than having an earache while up in the air. Having something to suck on helps alleviate ear pressure pain and ultimately makes your child a happier traveler.
Pack a Tablet
Play with a tablet. Make sure to download some games, tv shows, and movies they will enjoy that will keep them entertained for a while. I can’t guarantee it will last super long if your busy toddler is like mine, but even if it’s 15 minutes, that good enough for me.
Rewards for Doing Well
Having a grab/treat bag was one of the best things I ever did for my toddler and other small kids. I went to the dollar store and the dollar section of target and grabbed a bunch of prizes they could win for doing good on the flight. All of these little gifts were things they could play with like mini racecars or craft type items like stickers and color crayons. I didn’t make it complicated and I didn’t wrap anything because that would make a mess. They just closed their eyes and reached in the bag and grabbed out one item each. I gave them a little prize about every half hour. It seemed to work like a dream. Also, maybe pack some awards for yourself too for not losing your mind.
Pack Loads of Snacks
Just a reminder, airlines don’t give out food like they use to when we were kids. Now you get a microscopic bag of nuts that 30% of the population can’t eat because of peanut allergies or some other random snack that you just eat because it’s available. So bring a good amount of snacks for both you and your toddler. No one needs a hangry mom or kid.
Bring a Comfort Item
This might seem like a no brainer but, bring a comfort item like a blanket. Yes an airplane is a sess pool for germs and it will most likely find it’s way onto the blanky or stuffed animal. Bring it anyways and wash it later. Oh…and forget about being OCD about germs. Wipe everything down with a sanitation wipe and try your hardest to get over the fact that your toddler is currently licking the airplane window.