If you’re one of the nearly 48 million Americans expected to fly this holiday season, chances are, many of your flight mates will be children. Love it or hate it, the holiday season is notoriously one of the busiest seasons for families to travel “over the woods and through the hills” to grandmother’s house. And while your odds of scoring a front-row seat to your own (or someone else’s) child’s tantrum are up in the air, one universal fact is true: flying with kids is not for the faint of heart.
You may have already flown the inaugural flight with your baby when he was younger, but toddlers on a plane are a whole new ballgame. The way you prepared for a flight with a baby is a bit different than traveling with a toddler. Assuming you’ve set yourself up for success, and picked a flight that doesn’t conflict or compete with naptime (although sometimes unavoidable) you’d best pack your patience pants and keep reading for four crazy simple tips for flying with toddlers a little easier this holiday season.
Take Your Stroller to the Gate
Even though your toddler can walk, use the stroller to your advantage. It can double as a luggage cart if your little refuses to sit, and you can use XL carabiner clips to attach smaller bags to the handlebar to free up your hands.
One of the most simple tips for flying with toddlers is to gate check, rather than check the stroller with the rest of your luggage. Yes, it’s all going to the same place, but this way you’ll have it the second you get off the plane with an exhausted little one. Be sure to get an XL stroller bag. A durable stroller bag will protect it from the elements, baggage attendants tossing bags like a shot put, and from nicks and scrapes and dents that could devalue your stroller on the second-hand market if you give it a second life after your kids outgrow it. Of course, in a pinch you could use an extra-large durable black trash bag too, but make sure it ties and actually fits your stroller.
When you’re at 30,000 feet, everything needs to be within arms reach. And if you have a screaming toddler, you need need to find things quickly. Even if you’re not a Type-A person and organizing doesn’t come naturally, Motherload Bags are a diaper bag game changer. Transform virtually any bag into organized bliss with the color-coded, super-stretchy pouches so you can quickly grab what you need exactly when you need it. They’re also handy if you’re traveling with a wingman or need to ask a flight attendant to grab the yellow bag stuffed with snacks or blue bag with only the diapering essentials, rather than dragging the whole kit-n-caboodle (aka the diaper bag) everywhere.
They’re a bit of a splurge, but they’re machine washable and because they’re stretchy, a lot fits inside. When you fly with kids, you need snacks and entertainment galore (way more than you think you need- kids want options), and these bags are the easiest way to keep all of those tricks up your sleeve accessible in a moment’s notice. Read: you will need more than an iPad to keep baby quiet!
Simplify Your Seating
Forget the bulky convertible car seats at home (especially if you’re flying with multiples) and grab a toddler harness that converts any airplane seat into a five-point harness in a matter of seconds. The best part? It fits in a bag the size of a small clutch.
The genius invention wraps around the seat (under the tray table of the passenger directly behind you) and connects with the lap belt to create a harness that they won’t be able to squirm or wiggle out of. Just be sure it is FAA approved with a label attached!
Need a car seat at your destination? Most rental car companies have car seats you can rent and there are companies solely in the business of renting baby gear, cribs and other baby items you may need but don’t have space to fit – hit up that google search bar!
Read Stories and Books about Airplanes to your Kids
Toddlers are on a “need to know basis” aka, new situations and sounds often equal information overload and it never ends well. Weeks before your trip, start reading books and stories about planes to get them fired up and know what to expect before it’s time for takeoff. Bringing familiar books onboard doubles as some non-tech (and still very necessary component of your) entertainment options while you’re flying the friendly skies. The more detail the better: talk about going through security, getting on the airplane, where the pilot sits, putting on the seatbelt and take off. Our family favorites: Amazing Airplanes & Maisy Goes on a Plane.
While I can’t guarantee that mother nature won’t delay your flight, nor can I prevent your toddler from losing his cool over the color of a sippy cup or shape of his airport chicken nugget (yes, this was an actual tantrum handled by yours truly), hopefully these simple tips for flying with toddlers will help you prepare for the worst (as you hope for the best) while embarking on your holiday travel this year.