Flying with toddlers can be scary. The days leading up to a trip is hectic enough, especially if you’re traveling alone with toddlers. List making helpful, but you have to be prepared for a sudden delayed flight or toddlers gone wild. From vomiting during takeoff to full blown sister fights, I’ve seen it all. If you’re flying alone with toddlers, write down these travel tips to save your sanity.
The worst thing you can do when traveling alone with children is to set high expectations for the trip. More often than not you will experience something unexpected, like your three year old projectile vomiting as soon as the plane hits the air. I’ve learned to roll with the punches and to anticipate anything when I fly alone with kids. Sometimes my daughters sleep, sometimes their ears hurt and they scream, other times they are pleasant and enjoyable. Just remember to be flexible, not rigid. Toddlers are going to live their best lives no matter what.
Pack “Extra” Everything, but Pack Wisely
Bring only necessary items for the flight in your carry-on bag – toys, sanitizer, snacks, extra clothes, bandaids, etc. Then check everything else in a suitcase! There is no reason to bring the maximum number of carry-on bags with you when you’re traveling with toddlers or you risk overwhelming yourself. A backpack is the easiest bag to carry when you’re traveling because it gives you two free arms to push a stroller/carry a toddler.
My toddlers love to do two things on a plane – eat and watch the iPad. These are the headphones we have and they’re the best. If we are on a long flight, the iPad does get boring, so I pack a few other activities. Any kind of workbook or coloring book is entertaining for toddlers – like mess-free Magic Ink books or Puffy Sticker books.
Arrive Early, but not TOO Early
Everyone knows the airlines require passengers to arrive at least two hours before departure time, but I rarely follow that rule. My daughters aren’t easily entertained in an airport for two hours. Depending on the departure airport and security wait times, I schedule to arrive at a maximum of 1.5 hours before our flight. Did you know can check the security wait-time for most airports online? There is no reason anyone traveling alone with kids should sit at the airport for longer than they have to!
I always pack surprises in my backpack that I keep hidden until disaster strikes. Sister quarrel? It happens – Ailey pulls Annabelle’s hair because she can’t see out the window and both girls start screaming. Quarters are tight on an airplane so timeout doesn’t really work. When all else fails, I pull out my secret weapon – candy/activity book/toy. Some flights I don’t have to pull out a new item, but it’s calming to know its there in case of an emergency.
Use a Stroller
If your kids are small enough to ride in an umbrella stroller, bring it for your trip. It’s easier to push a crabby kid in a stroller than to carry said child. We just received this stroller that folds in half with the push of a button – it’s IDEAL for parents traveling with toddlers. The compact stroller can fit in an overhead bin or get checked at the gate. It also has ample storage under the seat for a child’s backpack, blankie, or even a small purse.
Bonus Tip: Bring your own water bottles and snacks!
Airports charge an arm and a leg for drinks and snacks, so I try to pack as much of my own as I can. We always bring our own water bottles and fill them at the sanitary filling stations around the airport. As far as snacks, we always take a trip to the store together to pick out favorite foods. Applesauce pouches, fruit strips, and individually packed snacks with lids are the best!
Overall, flying alone with toddlers isn’t THAT bad. Sure – there have been tantrums and dirty looks from fellow passengers. But if I remain calm and confident, the storm always passes quickly. Never worry about what others are thinking and just focus on your little ones! They are all that matters. And when in doubt… order yourself some bubbly if you’re on a long flight.
Caitlin Houston is a Connecticut based life and style blogger.