Travel with Toddlers: Tips for Flying with Toddlers By Yourself
Yes, all of us who have or have had a toddler knows exactly what I am talking about and probably have some good ideas about how to get through the experience with as little pain as possible and maybe even have a little fun in the process.
Flying with toddlers requires plenty of planning, patience, pep talks, snacks, entertainment and more planning.
The first thing you as one half of your child’s parental units need to consider when traveling with the not so little bundle of energy is luggage. How on Earth are you going to get from the airport parking lot with your toddler, with their car seat, with your luggage, with their luggage, and with them clinging to your ankle to add to the adventure? In my recent experience, my son and I were traveling from Manchester, New Hampshire to meet my wife in Orlando to extend her business trip into a Disney vacation! It would be our son’s first visit to Mickey Town and he has definitely been looking forward to it for weeks, or forever in a toddler’s mind! However, I digress. Amidst all the excitement, as a parent you need to basically plan your day, from beginning to end, around how you will get from parking to the gate in one piece. This being said, I strongly advise that you stop at the airport early to check any luggage that is too large to carry on. Manchester- Boston Regional Airport allows you to do this 4 hours prior to takeoff but this could be different airport to airport so you will want to call ahead so as not to waste your time. I did not know this at the time and was 15 minutes early but the Southwest Airline attendant was forgiving with my predicament and made an exception and checked our luggage and car seat. One arm free!
Now We're Movin'!
Get Them Interested!
Next, if you haven’t done so already, give your toddler a pep talk about what the day’s activities are going to be. My son loves airplanes and points them out every time we drive by the airport so I played up the idea that we would be getting on one of the big blue and orange jets instead of just watching them! Easy! I was also lucky that we were headed to Disney World and could keep my boy interested and happy in the travel process. Keeping them happy and interested is the first step in preventing that mid-escalator tantrum from unraveling before your eyes to the horror of all. The second step is giving them a task relating to the adventure you are about to experience. In our case, I had my son pull his ‘Lightening McQueen’ rolling carryon suitcase through the airport, check in, security and ultimately onto the plane itself. This kept him focused on the fun part of the travel and destination and less on the boredom of lines and waiting that most of us dread, especially when our kids are with us. Two arms free!
10 Tips for Flying With a Toddler
Getting Through Security at the Airport: Plan Ahead!
The next item you have to plan for you and your toddler is getting through airport security without being too heavily frisked. With your two free hands, and your cooperative child by your side, take off your belt, and shoes, remove your wallet and keys from your pocket, and pretty much prepare anything that may set off the metal detector to be placed in the lovely grey bins so as not to cause any undue alarm. Yes, this means you have to use your free hands to also do the same for your little pumpkin. To my surprise, my son actually listened to me when I asked him to sit down and take off his shoes. He was more than happy to do so! Eureka! Thankfully, we were blessed with very friendly and patient security personnel at Manchvegas (local reference) International Airport. For this I extend my genuine thanks!
Happily Through Security!
Keep them Occupied: Snacks and Entertainment
So you got your toddler through security without them realizing you accidentally left a Motts drink box in your pocket…Touché! You thought you were through the roughest part of traveling alone with your toddler didn’t you? I dare say no sir, or ma’am, whichever you prefer… Since you are always prepared and never late, you and snuggles are surely two hours away from boarding at your gate. Here is where the snacks and entertainment come into play. Write this down and never forget it; always have snacks and some form of entertainment for your toddler wherever you go and definitely at the airport. My son and I sat down and he, knowing the situation, “asked” for his crackers and apple juice. I’m way ahead of you buddy! Before he could say “NOW” he was stuffing his cute little cheeks with Ritz Bitz. To be honest, so was I! When he was nearly finished, I followed up by handing him my Ipad already cued to his favorite cartoon “Phineus and Ferb”. Bam! Prepared Dad strikes again!
Ready for Takeoff!
Worst Experience Traveling With Children
Safety and Need: Properly Restraining Your Toddler On An Airplane
Finally, since you checked the car seat, you want to make sure you have the proper safety restraints for your child so he or she can safely travel by your side. My son was big enough to use the regular seatbelts on the plane but it would be advised to purchase a CARES Child Aviation Restraint System which is basically an FAA approved airplane seat accessory that slips over the seat and creates a sized to fit toddler seatbelt that works with the one already in place. They sell for about $65 bucks on Amazon.com and are worth every penny!
So now that you are basking in your tropical wonderland with your child and significant other, you will be glad you decided not to forego the trip in fear that it would be more trouble getting your toddler there than it would be worth. If you are diligent, patient, and plan ahead, there is no reason why traveling alone with your toddler won’t be a success. Good luck!