5 Tips for Flying with Toddlers

Flying with toddlers can be extremely stressful. Hell, doing anything and everything with littles can bring on the anxiety. Being stuck in a narrow seat at 10,000 feet can pack on that stress. But here’s a secret: it doesn’t have to be! We have been flying with our littles on and off since Isaac was 4 months old. This year I actually flew with the two toddlers solo; once to Florida and once to New York. Both flights were about two hours and after my last trip, I think I really have the whole process down.

So I’m going to go ahead and share some things I have learned with these two trips!

1. Check a Bag

This really depends on how long you are going to be gone. Both of my trips were about 5 days long. I also had to pack swim items for the pool and the beach for each trip. On my trip to Florida, I did squeeze all of the essentials into a carry-on bag. I didn’t check it on the way down, and instantly wished I had. It was a pain in the ass to lug around the airport, both kids in tow. On the way home I checked that bag and it made my life a million times easier. For my trip to NY I knew what I was doing and packed the bigger bag to check. That trip was 10x easier all around.

2. Bring the Stroller

Just like the checked bag, I learned this one after the Florida trip. Going down to Florida I didn’t bring a stroller; I didn’t quite see the point and knew they would want to run around anyway. That thought was WRONG.

Actually, rewind. On the way down to Florida things were okay. On the way home, it was freaking miserable. The kids were exhausted from the trip and were in the “I’m not listening for anything” moods. Should have brought the stroller. So I brought my single stroller on the way to New York. I actually squished them both into the seat by fully reclining it when we needed to move. On the way home, Isaac walked the whole time and Addie switched between walking and sitting in the stroller. (Because of this trip, I already have the UPPABaby stroller system on my list for if/when we go for baby #3).

3. Check the Carseats

I have seen a ton of people gate checking the car seats and here is what I have to say, it is so easy to check the car seat at the ticket counter. I have a car seat travel bag like this one and I am able to fit both of their seats in here. A note about this: if the airline looses your luggage they will give you complimentary car seats and deliver yours to you the next day. And yes, we did have this happen one time. Is it great, no, but it is good to know that you have options if the worst happens.

4. Pack The Carry On

This goes without saying but pack a carry-on with snacks and activities for the kids on the plane. I pack easy to carry snacks like goldfish and fruit snacks and I always bring the kids water bottles (keep them empty until you get through TSA!). As for activities, I found these little packs in the Target Dollar spot, I bring this Crayola Color Wonder Studio, and we always have their favorite shows downloaded on our tablet (this is the no 1 item, don’t forget this!).

This is for whenever you fly, with or without kids obviously, but you need to pack a carry-on with clothes for one day (at least). I always have an extra change of clothes for each kid, and a change of my own under garments at the very least.

5. Be Patient

Remember the days when you could get to the airport an hour or less before your flight, get through TSA and jump on the plane? Yeah, those days are pretty much over. No, airports like CVG here in Cincy/Northern Kentucky, don’t take 2 hours to get through but your destination city might. As I said earlier on in this post, my kids really liked to walk around. Remember that they are toddlers and they are discovering the world around them. An airport is a new place and even your home airport will be “different” to them each time. So be patient. Give yourself extra time to let them walk around and explore the airport. Letting them explore has the added bonus of getting some extra energy out before boarding!

Again, this is all new, so be patient with your toddlers. It is so easy to get overwhelmed, stressed, and angry with your littles (me on the way home from Florida) so do some deep breathing exercises the night before. Calm yourself down of any travel nerves and remind yourself that your kids need a patient mommy (+ DADDY!) while they’re experiencing this new thing.

*if you’re stuck remind yourself that the flight is x hours shorter than it would have been to jump in the car and drive!

It Gets Easier Each Time

Traveling is something that a lot of people think has to end when the kids come along. And no, our family hasn’t jetted off to any amazing destinations like some of my favorite family travel bloggers, but we have done a bit over the last three years to visit family. This is what I can tell you: It gets easier each and every time. The kids get used to it, mom and dad get used to it, and you learn things along the way. Before you know it, you’ll be looking at plane tickets to fly your family to Ireland in 2023. For example.

I hope that these few tips can serve as a starting point. At the very least, I hope that it brings you some comfort that it doesn’t have to be overly complicated! Let me know if you implement any of these tips, or share some of your own down below in the comments!

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