It’s 4:30 AM and I gently lift my two year out of his crib with just a little light leaking in from the hallway. With a quick diaper change and the luggage already in the car, we are on our way to the airport within just a couple of minutes. As I finish up my third trip flying solo with my toddler, I wanted to share some tips that have helped me each time I’ve had to fly alone with my son.
1. Have your toddler be the last thing you “pack.”
The night before our early flight I made sure the car was packed and our luggage was ready. The final things that we had to grab were my son and toothbrushes. By the time my son was fully aware of what was going on, my husband was practically pulling up to the departures lane at the airport. Your child is going to be lugged around or strapped in the rest of the day, so don’t waste any of their patience by having them wait while you load up.
2. Don’t be a hero. Check your bag.
Normally I’m a penny pincher, there’s no way I’m giving up $25 for a checked bag if I can help it. Before my son was born I can’t remember the last time I had checked a bag. I prided myself in being able to pack two weeks worth of clothes and other necessities in my carry on bag and personal item. This trip I contemplated lugging around two carry ons and two personal bags. Let me tell you, I am so glad I didn’t. When you are trying to get through security or running to catch your connecting flight, the last thing you want to be worried about is an extra bag while being in charge of a tiny human. The airline calls it a checked bag fee. I call it a convenience fee.
3. The CARES Airplane Safety Harness
This harness is worth the investment if you are traveling with a toddler often. An easy to use, FAA approved safety harness replaces the need to lug your bulky carseat through the airport while keeping your toddler safe and in their seat for the duration of the flight. My son received compliments each time we landed about how “well he did.” I have the safety harness to thank for most of that since he wasn’t able to climb in and out of his seat. It is easy to install and just the thought of installing my son’s huge carseat on an airplane has me breaking out in hives. I was able to borrow the harness for this trip since we are not frequent flyers, but if we have another trip in his toddlerhood I would consider it money well spent. You’ll find more info on the harness here.
4. Snacks. All of the snacks.
Cheese, crackers, and deli meat are my toddler’s favorites, but just make sure whatever your child’s go to snack is you pack up and throw in a few extras for when they drop the first one on the dirty airplane floor. And while we are talking about food, I make sure to always bring my son’s empty sippy cups to get through security and then fill up at one of the airports hydration stations. No one has time to be stopped by security or buy a $4 bottle of water.
5. Let your “rules” go.
We aren’t a no screen time family, but we do limit it. My son usually watches one episode of a TV show a day after nap since he has turned two. He doesn’t have a tablet and I don’t see him having one in the near future but that didn’t stop me from loading up Thomas and Friends on my Kindle Fire for back up. And it didn’t stop him from watching 3 episodes on the flight. Once he had burned through all the toys and books I had brought I had my secret weapon to save me and my seatmates sanity. No shame in my game. Be gentle with yourself for whatever “rules” you decide to break. You and your toddler will be back in your routine before you know it.
These are just a few of my favorite tips for flying with my toddler, What are some of your go to or must haves for traveling with a 2 year old? I would love to hear them in the comment section.