Tips for Traveling with a Toddler

{These tips I’m sharing are for those you are travelling with a small child on a plane. They are things I learned and experienced.}

Tips for Traveling

I’ve only travelled once with Karsyn {21 months}, but it was by myself and I learned a lot! We went to Oklahoma! I was SO nervous to travel with him because I didn’t know how he would act and I really had no idea of what to expect, so I am writing this in hopes that it will help another nervous traveller not be so nervous!

Booking your flight:

Try MULTIPLE search engines to find the best price. Try to book a few weeks ahead of time, if possible, so that you can browse for a couple of days to find the best price. They literally change overnight.

When booking your flight, make sure you read the fine print! I know it’s something that we all just skip over and click “accept”, but you should really read it when it comes to something as important as this. Usually, children under the age of 2 can fly for free or a small cost by sitting in your lap. If they are over 2, then they have to have their own seat. When we went, it was an additional $25 for him to sit on my lap, but that was 100% fine with me because I was not about ready to fork over another $341 for another plane ticket.

After you book your flight, you will get emails about your booking. If you have ANY questions, even if you think they are dumb, call the airline and they can help you. Even if you’ve read it over and over online, give them a call. They know the correct answer. No question is too dumb when you’re travelling.

Prepping for your flight:

The best thing that I read and did was to buy a couple new toys that your child has never seen/played with before. That will keep their attention for longer than a toy they’ve already played with because it’s something new and they will want to know all about it. But remember, NO NOISY TOYS! Other people on the plane don’t appreciate that so much.

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Above is a picture of the “toys” I packed, minus Mr. Potato Head {which he LOVED} and a pack of CAT Tractors. I had those stashed in the closet from his first birthday. He’d never seen them or played with them, so they were perfect! The Color Wonder thing was awesome. I think I enjoyed it more than he did. The markers that come with it ONLY color on the special paper it comes with {$9.97}. The Squiggles and Doodles book was from the $1 spot at Walmart, as well as both packs of flash cards {$1 each}, and the sticker book, which was really fun. He liked to put the stickers in the book. The two hardback books were from the Dollar Tree {$1 each}. The little blue car was from the $3 spot at Walmart. And the crayons were like $2 or $3 at Walmart. The coolest part? They are triangular, so they don’t roll! SO awesome.

Get a variety of treats that your child likes. Lots of finger foods. We got all sorts of treats. And if you have rules about eating too much junk or whatever, now is the time to throw them out the window. You can get back on track once you’re off the plane, but you’re not on the plane every day, so don’t worry about slacking on the rules once.

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The above photo shows all the snack I packed. Yes, I realize it was a TON, but I didn’t have to buy treats or snacks the whole time we were out there, which was 2 weeks. So it’s up to you on how much you pack.

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Here they are all packed in our carry-on bag! I poured them all in, instead of taking the boxes to save room and weight. {Bag is from Jourdan’s Jewels.}

Bring headphones that your child can wear. Usually, the plane will have a movie going, but you can’t ever hear it unless you put headphones on. Granted, the movies they play are not always kid friendly, but just in case. They sometimes have earphones that you can use, but you have to give them back at the end, so that’s pretty gross. You don’t know who used those before.

If you bring your laptop/Kindle/iPad, make sure you have a movie or show downloaded. Don’t expect to get the internet on the plane because it SUCKS. You are lucky if you can even get it to connect.

Have a game plan for your layover, if you have one. We had a layover in Dallas for 40 minutes. I barely made it from one plane to the next on time. Not because I was dinking off, but because that’s how long it took to get off of the first plane, through the gate, on the train, and to the next gate, then on the second plane. Yes, it was super scary and I was thanking my lucky stars that I made it! 40 minutes seems like a long time, but it goes by quick. If you have a layover, period, GET TO YOUR CONNECTING GATE FIRST! Then go look around, go to the bathroom, get a drink/food, if you have time. It’s not worth missing your flight. Plus, they have bathrooms, food/drink, etc. on the plane.

A drink for your child.. I brought a sippy cup and made sure to empty it before we went through security just because I didn’t want to get stopped for anything. We were able to get straight through and then I could fill it back up after we were through security. On the way home, I forgot to empty it, so we got checked. Only water was in it, but I had to get all my stuff and step aside. Then they had to test the cup to see what was in there.

Buy/borrow a backpack with a leash. I’m not kidding. This is not abuse. It’s not mean. It seriously could save your child. I had no doubts in my mind about it. Karsyn is a very active child and doesn’t like to sit still if he knows he can move around, so while we were waiting for our flight, I would put the backpack on and let him play on the ground with his cars. He could only push them as far as the leash went out. I can’t tell you how many people told me that was a great idea. And anymore, it is! This world is scary and you never know what could happen. It’s better to be safe than sorry. And seriously, don’t worry about what other people think. It’s your child and you can do what you want. No one else has the right to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do with your own kid.

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{This is the one I got for Karsyn. He loved it. He didn’t want me to take it off. I got it at Walmart for $10. You can buy it here.}

Don’t forget your child’s comfort items, if any. Karsyn doesn’t carry around a specific blanket or toy all the time, but if your kid does, DO NOT FORGET IT! That could be a disaster.

Other tips:

It may help {depending on the time of your flight}, to not let your child have a nap so that he/she will sleep on the plane. We departed from Vegas at 6 AM, so Karsyn was still pretty tired. Once we were in the air, he fell asleep. When we left Oklahoma, our flight wasn’t until 7:08 PM and we’d been driving all day, so it was hard to not let him fall asleep in the car, but it was worth it when he fell asleep in the air. I’m sure other people in the airport didn’t appreciate my crying child, but frankly, I didn’t give a rats ass. Try to avoid eye contact at this point, haha. Just let the kid throw a fit and get it all out before you get on the plane.

Lastly, take a deep breath and relax. Really. It’s not going to be as bad as you think. I was literally shaking nervous, but once it was done and over with, I thought “Really? I was worked up over that?”

If you’ve already traveled with a toddler, what did you learn??

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8 thoughts on “Tips for Traveling with a Toddler

  1. Thank you for sharing this! I have been very nervous about taking my son on our up coming trip. This post makes me a little more relaxed. I will be following all your tips. We have traveled with him before, but he was still a baby an in a carseat. Now he is 17 months and is a wild man. One thing I did for our last trip was buy a few gourmet candy bars and gave them to our neighbors on the plane and apologized ahead of time for any crying he may do. Thankfully, he was perfect and the stuartist was amazing with him.

    Thanks again for the great tips!

    • I am so glad I could help! If you have another person there to help you, I’m sure it will be just THAT-MUCH easier!! I was by myself and it was hard, but not as bad as I imagined. The candy bar idea is great! I didn’t even think of that.

      GOOD LUCK on your trip and have lots of fun!

  2. Thank you!!! We are leaving in 2 weeks, moving across the country with our 3 little one and I’m petrified. This helps, thanks for taking the time to write this!

  3. Thanks for writing this! I am considering flying solo for the first time (my first as well as my 15 mo daughter’s) at the end of May. Your information is wonderful! Thanks again!

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