Does traveling to Europe with two toddlers by yourself sound crazy? Well I’ve done it twice amongst other short and long haul flights to Kenya, Cuba, and Aruba. Here are my tried and true tips for flying with toddlers! Looking for tips on flying with babies, click here.
Tips for Flying with Toddlers: Book the Right Flight
Always Fly Non-stop if Possible
I know it can be a bit more costly but not having to board and de-board multiple times or dealing with a layover is usually worth the cost. Click here for tips on surviving connecting flights.
Book a Flight with a Departing Time About 30mins Before Nap or Bedtime
If your child is used to a routine and generally tired around this time, it should be easy for you to get them to sleep. If you have a shorter flight they might sleep the entire time but even if you’re on a longer one they will still be knocked out for a good majority of it.
Aisle or Window Seat When Flying with Toddlers
If you know you will have the entire row to yourself this doesn’t matter much as your child can sit on whoever’s lap, but if you don’t there’s a lot to consider. On one hand the window seat seems like a great idea, your child can look out the window and get lost in the clouds. They can rest their head against the window and they won’t be able to kick people as they walk by. On the flip side, what about when they want to use the bathroom 15 times or you have to change their diaper more than once? What if they have a lot of energy and you want to take them for a walk down the aisle. This one is all about preference, but these are important things to consider, you know your child better than anyone.
Tips for Flying with Toddlers: Getting Them and Their Stuff to the Gate
Traveling with toddlers usually means you have a lot of extra baggage. You may be traveling with a car seat, diaper bag, and more all while trying to make sure they stay near to you. If you don’t have TSA Precheck I highly recommend investing in it. We got Global Entry for free which also includes Precheck through our Delta Amex credit card.
How to Prepare for Flying with Toddlers Before Your Flight
If you allow your child screen time download all their favorite movies, TV shows, and apps. Make sure whatever you download doesn’t require WiFi to watch or play as not all airlines have this service available and even if they do you don’t have access to it while you are waiting to take off and during the final descent. The last thing you want is to have all these things to entertain your child and find out midair you can’t access them.
Let them roam around while you are waiting to board. They are about to be cramped up for the next few hours so use this time to have them tire themselves naturally. Check to see if your terminal has a playground, many do. Here’s a video of my girls playing at the airport in Zurich before our flight.
If there isn’t a playground hopefully you have lounge access. We get access to tons of lounges through our Priority Pass membership. Thankfully is comes as a free perk through our credit card, all of these cards offer a membership. Lounges offer a comfortable space with free food, drinks, wifi, clean bathrooms and some even hav beds!
On the flip side let them sleep if they are tired. I know you want to have them sleep on the plane as long as possible and forcing them to stay up when you see them falling asleep just 30mins before boarding seems like a good idea but let me tell you it isn’t. Toddlers act crazy when they are over exhausted and getting them to sleep at that point usually involves extreme crankiness, tantrums, and a lot of effort. That is not what you want to deal with while you are on the plane in a tight space so if they doze off before the flight boards let them, a well-rested toddler on the plane is a much better experience than an overtired one.
Tips for Flying with Toddlers: When Should You Board Your Flight?
One of the “perks” of flying with children is that you can board early, but should you? With a non-active baby, hands down yes but with a toddler, I say no. Why? Toddlers are super active and the last thing I want is an extra 30mins on the plane with them in a cramped space.
I usually aim to be the last one on the plane, having as little time on it as possible. The potential downfall to this is a lack of overhead bin space and having to check your luggage at the gate. However, if you checked another bag, stroller or car seat at the ticket counter and have to go there any way I just see it as one less thing to carry. It could also make life easier if you have a layover.
Flying with Toddlers: What to Do on Take Off and Landing
Toddlers can still be affected by the changing pressures during landing and take off. Have them chew ice, drink water, or eat something during this time to prevent their ears from popping.
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What to Do During Your Flight When Flying with Toddlers
Distractions are the name of the game at this age! I recommend a different toy/ activity for every 30mins to 1hr. Bring a few of their favorite toys, coloring book, reading books, and flashcards. I have found that buying some cheap new toys (hello $1 store) holds their attention a little longer since they have to figure it out. To make the excitement of these last even longer, wrap them if you have time. Why do toddlers get so excited by unwrapping things?
Get up and walk around! Toddlers love waving and saying hi to everyone they see. If you see them begin to get antsy take a few laps up and down the aisle. Be prepared with food including many snacks for the flight. Have the snacks separated into single serving size snack bags and keep them easily accessible.
One time I made the mistake of having my daughters snacks in the overhead bin. While we were taking off she had a meltdown because she really wanted a snack but I couldn’t stand up to get them. If your child is under 2 and is a lap child they will not receive a meal on an international flight. Be sure to have a proper meal packed for them or you’ll end up sharing yours.
If you allow your child screen time, this is the time to whip out the tablet of your choice. I highly recommend the Kindle Fire Kids Edition Tablet that comes with a protective case. It ranges from $99.99-$119.99 depending on the memory size. One year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited is included.
Flying With Toddlers: How to Let Your Child Sleep Comfortably
I was so happy when we discovered Fly LegsUp, which is a flight hammock that allows her to lay flat and sleep comfortably in her own seat. Use promo code FLY CHILD to save 5% on your purchase. There are also many other options for in flight beds for kids to make sleeping on the plane easier.
I hope you now feel prepared for flying with toddlers. Found this article helpful? Please share it!
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