A few weeks ago we flew to Carlsbad, California (near San Diego) with Corbin for our annual July family vacation and had the BEST time. This was the first time we’ve flown with Corbin since 2020 – and the first time we’ve flown with him since he’s been a toddler. He did SO great on both plane rides, I wanted to share some of my tips + favorite toys for traveling with a toddler. Keep in mind these tips are not the same as when he was 6 months old. Totally different boat when they are toddlers.
We are FAR from experts in this category (or any parenting category LOL) but these are some tricks and toys that have been helpful for us, so thought it could maybe be helpful for some other mamas out there too!
Something else I try and keep in mind when traveling with Corbin: all bets are off when we travel haha. At home we stick to his routine – what time he naps, what type of snacks he has, we only do selective tv shows here and there. Being a kindergarten teacher, you learn in new situations you must be flexible and give yourself and your little one grace. You just have to roll with the punches and be positive. For Corbin, I learned quickly his typical routine on an airplane. If you can find the groove of your kids by being intention to their behaviors you can catch onto their “travel routine.” Flip side, we have traveled often to know what that looks like on flights.
Must have travel essentials for tots…
New toys are a must! I do not pull any toys out until necessary. It’s like a can of worm, once you give one out of the bag they will want more and more. I only give him a toy when he needs something, just like food. I will start with a snack and then introduce a new toy. The first flight, he didn’t need any toys. However, on the second flight home he did. It allowed me to regulate the use of the new toys. Another tip is to not have them play with the new toys once at your final destination. Reason being, it will be old news on the airplane when you head home.
In addition to new snacks and food, pack sanitizer wipes. Toddlers are curious little humans and touch everything.
For strollers, I have the Zoe and we love it. You can wheel it right on the airplane and put it above the overhead compartment. I always get stopped about it because it’s less common to bring it on the airplane. The tip is to have your little inside the stroller so they don’t make you gate check. If it folds up and fits well in the overhead compartment go that route. It’s easy when traveling solo. SKIP the baby carrier, it’s just fluff.
When it comes to traveling, get NEW food that you typically don’t give your littles at home. Some of these I give Corbin, so i might switch brands or flavors. Last time we traveled, I got Corbin “to-go” cereal packs and I HIGHLY suggest these because he loved opening and playing with the container.
- mix up food choices
- have a variety of containers. ex: baggie, pill container, plastic container with lid etc…
- only give a snack when they start to fuss or get restless
- give a snack at take off to avoid pressure changes in their ears.
- don’t give them all the snacks at once.
Other travel tips…
My number one goal for flying with a toddler for them to sleep while on the airplane. We plan accordingly to travel at nap time, aka when we take off… it’s nap time! It typically takes Corbin the first hour to figure out where he is, explore his new surrounding and get comfortable. During this time I will give him snacks first, let him watch a show if there’s a tv and play with new toys. Toys are saved for last.
We don’t have an ipad, we let Corbin watch tv if there’s one on the flight. If not, you will be just fine with LOTS of new snacks and new toys (one at a time) Depending on the active level of your kids, a tablet may be an option for you. Personally, I don’t want to introduce it, if I don’t have to.
When we first sit down I always apologize in advance to the person I sit next to. You never know how “kid friendly” they are. After saying that to them, you can get a feel for how much you can let them help you if you need it. Some people are terrified of kids and others are grandparents. It’s nice to be nice and sensitive to others.
My biggest tip for flights with active kiddos…
- Do NOT let the middle isle be an option. Out of sight out of mind.
- Only get out of your seat if you HAVE to.
- Do not let stand by your feet because that means they will be off and running off.
- Sit by the window, same goes for flying with babies too. You have more space!
- If possible, pay for the extra leg room.
- Let them stand on your lap and talk to your kids!! Sounds crazy, but if you are calm and acting yourself things will go better. Kids can vibe the emotions their moms have.
- New toys- opt for quiet ones… your neighbor will thank you.
- Don’t have expectations and be flexible. Something will go wrong. Just get used to it. That’s life as a toddler mom.
Ask ask ask!!!
Long lines at security while trying to push a stroller through narrow switchbacks is a recipe for a meltdown (from both mommy and baby!) Some major airports offer a separate security line for those traveling with strollers that are wider, and often have a shorter wait. Just ask a TSA agent before getting in line. It helped me a ton, I skipped the line and was a so nice. Everyone needs to travel with kids. There’s some nice perks.
I hope this helps, some of this I didn’t know and had to learn the hard way or another mama told me the tip. Whatever it is, I hope this helps you travel with your kiddos and ease some anxiety. You got this mama, the more relaxed and confident you are, your baby will be too.
Comment below any other tips you have!! We are in this together.
Love from Texas,