So, the holidays are up. If you’re smart, you’ve already booked your tickets to Grandma’s house. But if you haven’t and you’re trying to decide if you should go over the river and through the woods, fear not. Traveling with a toddler doesn’t have to be the most stressful thing in the world if you plan accordingly.
I have a lot of experience traveling with a toddler, both alone and with my husband. Little mister has been from L.A. to N.Y and back, L.A. to Boston and back. L.A. to New Mexico and Back. L.A. to Hong Kong to Mainland China and back. China to Seoul to L.A. You get my drift. And yes, some of those long hauls were just with me, my pregnant and nauseous self, and I. *sigh*
Tip Number One:
Think about naps when booking your flight. Little Johnny usually sleeps at noon. Good. Book an 11:30 flight, especially if it’s a long one. Either he’ll sleep at his normal time, or he’ll eventually nod off. If you book it after nap time, you run the risk of him being up the whole entire time, far surpassing his bedtime and becoming overtired. How do I know? Oh, let’s just say I booked a 14 hour flight once at 1:30 p.m. Good job Mom.
Tip Number Two: You can scream with your mouth full (usually)
Snacks are imperative for a long flight, or for any flight really. Keep a variety in your carry on. For our last trans Pacific flight, yogurt raisins, crackers and string cheese, granola bars, and goldfish crackers were a hit. Don’t bring them all out at once. You want to ride the wave of good cheer for as long as possible. Also, keep a PB&J in a plastic bag. Sometimes the airline food isn’t that great and if you don’t think it’s delightful, imagine what your sometimes, or all the times, toddler will think. Not to mention, depending on where you’re going, the choices are just less than appetizing. I was never happier to share a PB&J with my toddler than when I was presented with a choice of duck or pork when I forgot to request special vegetarian meals. Not that this would have mattered. On some airlines, asian ones in particular (except Asiana and most Korean airlines), the vegetarian option is white rice and steamed vegetables. Goldfish crackers anyone?
Tip Number Three: Don’t forget the lovey
If your little one has a special friend, blanket, heck even a piece of string that he or she loves, bring it alone and, for heavens sake, don’t lose the thing. This is especially helpful if he or she likes to sleep with it. My son knows that when I break out the legless sheep, it’s night night time.
Tip Number Four: Book an aisle seat
If you’re traveling as a family, book the whole row if there are enough of you. That was Johnny or Molly can look out the window if they want to. Aisle seats are best though when they have to peerightnow! or when they are dying to take a walk up and down the aisles.
Tip Number Five: Keep it interesting but don’t stress yourself out
One thing my husband has a hard time with, especially on flights, is overstimulating our son. He means well but I had to say multiple times, “Leave him alone, he’s happy.” If your little one is happy thumbing through a book upside down, sitting on the floor between you and playing with his car, or doing some other quiet and non-obnoxious activity, for crying out loud, let them be. If they need a little help with their boredom, these things never fail: going for walks up and down the aisle (if they are young enough to walk and not run and scream like banshees), going to the bathroom to play with the tissues/water/make funny faces in the mirror (bring extra shirts for water play), and going to the back of the plane near the flight attendants to play because there is quite a bit of extra room and an unobstructed window on both sides.
Tip Number Six: Relax. Really. It’s ok.
He’s tired. You know it. But he just. won’t. sleep! Here comes the meltdown. If you have a toddler like I do, he’s happy as a clam 99% of the time. But come that dreaded 1% and boy can he throw it down. He’s been know to knock his head on the floor, flail like he’s having an emergency medical problem, scream, cry, you name it, he’s got it going on and all at once. My best tip is to watch carefully. If he starts getting cranky, try distraction (remember the snacks? Smart mama). If he’s not buying it and starts to cry, do your best to calm him but remain calm. He’ll feed off of your stress. If it really escalates, take him to the bathroom. The change of scenery might help and if it doesn’t, the doors, the running water, and the white noise of the plane will hopefully drown him out.
So, there you have it. Snacks, distraction, and a calm demeanor. Oh, and don’t anticipate the worst out of your little one. I always do this and he ends up sleeping for 60% of the flight. What a doll.
Just Like June