After working many hours over the past few weeks, I was ready for some rest and relaxation, and family time. Out of this, a much needed trip to Florida was planned. In preparation, I googled “flying with toddlers” and found many helpful tips. The end result is that we survived our first airplane trip with a one and half year-old! Here are some tips I can share with you:
1. Meals: Bring small snacks that are generally not messy and your toddler will actually eat. Bite-sized snacks are important, as it will prevent the need for multiple bites, which results in more crumb formation. I purchased baby goldfish. She loves fish and had fun counting them with her dad before eating them. Mini Whole-Wheat Keebler crackers were also a hit. Organic cheddar cheese cracker sandwiches were not as much of a hit and were frankly a bit more messy than I wanted. I also brought along empty sippy cups, given the restrictions on liquids. Once I passed through TSA, I purchased water. I was not able to find whole milk, so settled for a mango goat milk. The tot did not enjoy the goat milk as much as she would have her regular cup of milk.
2. Occupying your toddler: It is important to stay ahead of your toddlers boredom. Even if he or she is sitting contently staring off into space, know that this will not last long. Engage their interest in the next activity. Leave a toddler to their own devices and they WILL find something to do. It might not necessarily be what you would want it to be. Many toys and activities were packed. A magnetic drawing board occupied her interest for few minutes, then we moved on to reading books. I also had a tablet with downloaded movies as needed for back-up. If there was ever a time that I was going to allow my child to watch a short video, it was going to be on a small airplane with 50+ strangers sharing a tight space. Sanity is important for everyone, including myself.
3. Clothing: Have change of clothing that is easily accessible in your carry-on, along with diapers and wipes. Accidents happen. Be ready for the change of weather you might experience depending on the location you are flying to and the season. We were traveling from New Jersey to Florida in December, so I knew we would be going to two temperature extremes. I dressed her in layers, that could be easily removed or added when we arrived in either location.
4. Naptime: Naps for my daughter involve extensive rocking. So, when we had our return flight late at night, I knew if I wanted her to sleep during the trip, she would have to be asleep before we boarded the airplane. It took a lot but she was asleep by the time we got on the plane. If only she had stayed asleep the entire flight.
5. Sanitation: Bring wipes- hand and face wipes, sanitizing wipes for wiping down things that have fallen or any dirty surface your child will be touching. The last thing you want after a relaxing vacation is a sick child.
6. Medication: There are no restrictions on fluid size for medications, as long as it is in a prescription bottle. However, I was trying to figure out a way to get around the problem of liquid medications that need to be refrigerated. I told my pharmacist we were going to be traveling when I refilled my daughter’s liquid medication and she gave me the medication still in powder-form with the water in a separate bottles, so that I could mix it when we arrived at our location. We did not have difficulty with getting her medication through security.
7. Transportation: I brought her stroller along with us for multiple reasons. If we were traveling through a big airport, like Miami International Airport, I did not want to have to walk with a toddler that would get tired quickly and also pull luggage behind me. It worked out perfectly. I also had it available for when we were going out, once we reached our destination. I rented a car and was able to rent a carseat with the car. Safety is still important on a road trip and can often be the first thing that can be forgotten about when people are traveling. The leading cause of death for travelers is accidents. Safety nets tend to come down people are on vacation.
8. Patience: Be patient with your toddler. When we take them on an airplane, we are virtually asking them to do something that is impossible for them- stay still for multiple hours, in tight quarters, and give up that fierce independence they are trying so hard to achieve. When we were in the airport, waiting to board, I let my tot walk around, because I knew her movement was going to be restricted for the next few hours.
All in all, I had more things prepared than we actually needed, but I consider it better to be over-prepared than to be under-prepared. Those are just a few of the things I learned while traveling with my daughter. If you have any other tips or questions, please feel free to share!