Let me start out by saying: While I think I am a pretty strong mom who for the most part (keyword *most*) has it all together, I am a wimpy-ass flier. I grip to my seat at every minuscule bump, shake or unusual noise heard during flight. I’m the kind of flier that takes a Xanax and chases it with a glass of wine and perhaps a second. So, one might think that the combination of my wimpiness and flying with a toddler would be a recipe for disaster, right? I did too until I did it…while pregnant, and traveling with a 25 lb French Bulldog by myself – ahem, myself. Go ahead and re-read that sentence if you need to; it’s a lot to take in.
While typically my anxiety levels would be through the roof on a flight sans husband, I knew this was something I had to do and do well for my two other travelers, one tiny human and one fur baby who thinks he is a tiny human. So I researched and planned like a boss and the trip was a complete and utter success. How, you ask? Let’s get into it.
Here is how to survive a flight with young kids:
Snacks, snacks and more snacks. I packed as many healthy of snacks that weren’t super messy as I could. Think protein rich, not full of sugar – because a sugar high then crash could be a nightmare. Not only are the snacks good for satisfying hunger but they are a great distraction. Count the cheddar bunnies, sort the fruit snacks – you get the point. This was all after everything we touch was sanitized, of course.
If you are a screen-free parent, you may just want to skip over this section and pray. iPads are a great distraction on a plane. My daughter loves “Youtube Kids” so I literally had to hide the app so she didn’t lose her mind when it wouldn’t work, you know, no WiFi. I loaded up on her favorite videos and apps before we left for the airport. And I also always travel with extra portable apple chargers. There is no way I will risk letting that thing die, especially when flying solo.
If iPads aren’t your jam bring along some activities to keep your little busy – stickers, magnetic playset, finger puppets, books, stamps, busy kit, etc. Think keep your tot busy with not a lot of pieces. The last thing you’ll want is to be picking up pieces over and over off the floor.
Give yourself plenty of time. You know things always takes longer with kids, plan for it. I requested early boarding with my guys so I could get us all settled in – disinfecting, snacks in seatback pouches, iPad set up, blankies, etc. I am a total germ freak on planes, as you can probably tell, so I take anything that touches the plane floor or seat and toss it in a big ziploc after the flight. That means bringing extras of blankies or teddies so your little will have one the rest of the trip. I’m not trying to have a sick kid ruin my vacation because of a cold they picked up on a flight.
As I mentioned earlier extra snacks is key. So are wipes, diapers and clothes for both you and baby or toddler. The last thing you want is to sit through a 4 hour flight covered in barf. Nope. No way. Not happening.
Getting a window seat is great for distracting little ones during takeoff and landing. For littles that can sit up on their own, the window seat is also the easiest for them to sleep/lounge in.
STROLLER + CAR SEAT
This was huge for me because I was traveling alone. I needed the easiest combo ever, something that would allow me to get on and off the plane in a breeze and in and out of cabs like a whizz. I ended up with the Mountain Buggy Nano + Combi Coccoro car seat. The Mountain Buggy Nano folds up and can fit in an overhead compartment of a plane. This is ideal because you don’t have to wait for your stroller at the gate after you get off the plane. The magic happens when you combine the Combi Coccoro with the stroller. It slides into the stroller without an adapter. Any parent I saw at the airport was in awe of my magical travel system.
This is huge. Plan for shoes that can be slipped on and off easily. Just because you have a kid doesn’t mean you get special privileges. Everything, stroller included, needs to go through the x-ray machine. I carried a crossbody bag with stuff that I would need to grab quickly and a backpack for snacks, extra diapers and clothes. Both I could easily take off and throw on the conveyor belt. Keep accessories minimal – no scarves, jewels, etc. Just more stuff you need to take off.
And lastly relax. The more stressed and uptight you are the harder it will be for everyone involved. I watched my dear husband travel with our daughter for the first time and he was a hot mess, bless his heart. It didn’t make it easier on anyone.