Air travel with toddlers may seem a strange proposition. Can air travel and toddlers really mix? Your child may not sit still for more than three minutes unless he’s asleep or roped in. How to entertain him on the long ride?
While air travel with toddlers can be a nightmare if you’re unprepared, there is a lot you can do to make it a fun experience for you, your toddler, and the other passengers on board.
If you’re not going all that far, do your best to make your flight nonstop. Connecting flights may not have been a problem for you in your single days, but it’s no fun trying to do them with a toddler in tow.
If you do need to break up your journey, make sure you have at least an hour between flights. If you’re going to have a longer layover, look up fun, toddler-friendly activities you can do while you’re transiting.
Think about your daily routine, and if you can, plan your flights to complement it. Arranging a long flight during the time when your toddler usually takes an afternoon nap, for instance, is genius, while planning to switch planes during that time may well mean disaster.
Windows are fun for children, but an aisle seat is even more important for mom or dad. Climbing over someone else every time the little one needs to stretch his legs or go to the bathroom gets old very, very quickly.
A well rested toddler is a good traveler. A tired toddler is not. Before your trip, make sure your child is well rested and unstressed. Don’t plan too much excitement back-to-back.
The other important thing to do before your air travel with toddlers is to plan your carryon. What you bring with you can make or break this trip.
A well-stocked carryon can be a lifesaver for long flights. If you’re making your debut in air travel with toddlers, you’ll want to have it stocked with three main things
· Food and Snacks
· Wet wipes and Plastic Bags
Let’s look at these three areas in more depth.
Food and Snacks-- Some airlines serve meals inflight, but they don’t all, and no airline caters to hungry toddlers. Since a hungry toddler is a cranky one, make sure you’ve got plenty of special things for him to eat when planning air travel with toddlers. Don’t do too many sweets, though; toddlers often react to an overdose of sugar by getting really really wild. It’s not something you want to happen when you’re in close quarters on an airplane.
Some favorite snacks for air travel with toddlers:
· String cheese
· Peanuts or Almonds
· Sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly; or whatever kind your child likes best)
There are rules about what liquids you can take on the plane, so make sure you read your airline’s regulations when planning your lunches. A sippy cup of milk you’ve prepared at home, for instance, won’t be allowed, but you can bring the sippy cup and pour a drink in it for your toddler after you’re seated on the airplane.
Bring a lollypop for your child to suck on when the airplane changes altitude.
When planning what toys to take for air travel with toddlers, think about what your child can do in his seat—things that fit in your carry on. If your child likes coloring, take a box of crayons or markers and a sketchbook or coloring book. If he has a favorite snuggly, take that along too.
Novelty is very important for little ones, so consider buying few special toys and saving them for the trip. They don’t have to be anything fancy; your child doesn’t look at the price tag when he gets a gift.
A smartphone or tablet, of course, can provide hours of entertainment if you make sure you’ve downloaded a few toddler-friendly apps before the flight.
Wet Wipes and a Plastic Bag
Even if he is the best traveller in the world, no toddler can go long without getting his hands and face dirty—so make sure you take plenty of wet wipes.
Many children get motion sick in airlines as well, and although motion-sickness bags to throw up in are often provided, it’s best to have some in your own purse as well. If you know your child tends to have trouble, you can give him a dose of child’s Benadryl or Dramamine before the flight.
When the airplane is changing elevation, encourage your child to swallow so that the pressure in his ears is equalized. That lollypop you took along may really help here.
No matter how well you are prepared, there will probably be times during air travel with toddlers when you can just sense that your toddler is about to lose it. If you have some emergency measures up your sleeve, though, you may be able to stave off a meltdown. Here are some ideas.
Go up and down the aisles—Parading in front of everyone else on that plane might not be your idea of fun, but it is a lot more fun than having everyone on the plane look your way--- cursing you under their breath, perhaps—when your toddler begins his temper tantrum. Make your walks into explores, and talk about all the new and fun things you see. If you act like this airplane ride is the biggest adventure in the world, your toddler will pick up your mood. If you are hating it, he will too.
Look out the windows--- If you’ve got a window seat, take full advantage of it by pointing out the different things you can see from it. Even clouds can be exciting if you talk them up enough.
Get out the goods—Keep an extra special snack in your carry on just for these emergencies, and maybe a small toy as well. If you have a phone that can play movies, download one you know your child will love beforehand, and only turn it on when you’ve run out of other resources.
If you are properly prepared, air travel with toddlers can actually be fun—for both of you!