5 things to make your life easier when traveling with a toddler

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Airplane mobile by NikiTinSouvenirs

One of the (many many many) reasons I have an only-child is because it makes travel easier. My kid has wracked up more airline miles than I did at her age. And recently I went traveling with my toddler BY MYSELF. I know, I know. I lived to tell the tale. So, my fellow toddler-minders: Learn from my many mistakes. Here are some things that I’ve found that could make your life easier when traveling with a toddler.

1. Use a car seat on the plane

It keeps them buckled in so they don’t move around as much. If they’re used to sleeping in their carseat they may have a better chance of sleeping on the plane. And it’s also safer. I highly recommend the WayB Pico travel seat because it’s small, folds up easily, and it also makes traveling with a toddler easier with ride shares. When my kid was younger and smaller we absolutely adored our Doona for similar reasons.

2. Embrace screen time with your whole heart and soul

Traveling with a toddler is already hard. So let go of any time and programming constraints. Download all the awful nutrient-deficient children’s programing you can and let it work it’s magic. I save the really awful stuff that my kid loves (ie. Baby Crack) JUST for plane trips. That way she’s excited to just sit there, drooling, while she gets to watch freaking gawd-damned Baby Shark a million times.

3. Ride-along suitcases

Guess what? Kids legs are tiny and they get tired before you even reach your gate. I did not factor this in on my solo trip, and it was a literal pain in the back to have to either carry your kid and bags, or push a stroller while rolling a bag. After my first solo trip with my toddler I got a ride-along bag. Now she can climb aboard when she gets tired and my back won’t be aching before I even get on the plane. And, if you use one like the Lil Flyer, you can slip your WayB Pico car seat onto the handle and you’re good to go.

4 things that make traveling with a toddler easier
Screen time + Lil Flyer ride on suitcase!

4. Sugar-free lollipops

I have nothing against giving my kid sugar. Buuuuuut I made the mistake of giving her a sugary lollipop during landing (for her ears) and she was bouncing off the freaking walls while we were trying to de-plane. NEVER AGAIN. I bought a bag of these guys and she’s happy and not trying to actively climb up my limbs while we’re on the go.

3. If you’re potty training…

NO YOU’RE NOT. Or you’ll end up changing a pee-soaked toddler in a tiny airplane bathroom during the only time that there’s turbulence on the flight. Use diapers. Big ones. And while you’re at it, get some for yourself. 😉

Okay, your turn! Let me know all YOUR secrets that make traveling with a toddler easier. I’m desperate here folks.

Comments on 5 things to make your life easier when traveling with a toddler

  1. We are heading on a seven-hour car trip tomorrow with my four-year-old. Not looking forward to that journey! One trick my mom used when I was little (although older than a toddler) was buying a bunch of new books.. When I started getting antsy, she’d hand me a brand new book for me to read. That would keep me amused for a good hour. (I didn’t get carsick in those days.)

    Also, I’m not sure if this is true for domestic flights, but on my last international flight we were able to check my daughter’s stroller and car seat for free in addition to the rest of our bags. It was really helpful. We checked the car seat when we checked our other luggage, and the stroller just before boarding so it was ready when we arrived in London.

  2. To Kate’s point above, I have checked a stroller at the GATE on domestic flights – meaning I got to use the stroller in the airport – and it was marvelous. I also checked the carseat with the rest of the luggage at check in and that was wonderful too. Just check the dimensions and weight they allow if you’re hoping to check at the GATE. We got a special stroller just for travel that was light enough for this purpose.

    I also think a new toy can be very handy. My girlfriend suggested small things from the dollar store that fit in an Easter egg, and she does 2-3 eggs per hour of travel. So when they get bored of one thing, they can open a new Easter egg. I think she made a thing of hiding them in the carryon bag also – and not being sure if there were any more… so just the finding of another egg was exciting, and the kid didn’t ask for all the eggs at once.

    I think it’s also better to get your kid their own seat – regardless of their age. I know I did a flight before my kid turned two while they could fly on my lap for free – but it was not worth the savings for me. We had a three seat row, so dad, mom, and a squiggily wiggily kid in a lap with a stranger right next to us, and it was exhausting just sitting there.

    And on the one flight I took there weren’t any other toddlers near by, but I could see elsewhere on the plan there were two toddlers across from each other in a row and they had a BLAST playing together on that flight. My kid alternatively was bored, miserable, and so were dad and me by the end of the flight. So I say let you kids play if there’s space for it…. Let them move as much as you can. LET GO of all expectations, plans, and hopes for control. Just go with the flow and allow that flow to be messy.

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