We arrived early like everyone said we should…when you are flying with toddlers or young children you should arrive early to the airport…. except early to us ended up being 4 1/2 hours early!
During our first flight with our four kids, we were thrilled and excited. We had been a full-time traveling family for a year and half before flying. We visited 45 different states, over 10 National Parks, and had not flown with our kids before.
Instead, we traveled by RV!
Well, this time around we needed to get back to visit Stillwater Minnesota to check in on some family quickly, and it was winter. Not a time we wanted to drive the motorhome to Minnesota.
So we booked 6 non-stop tickets from Tampa, FL to Minneapolis, MN and then told the kids. They were thrilled!
Related post: 14 Best Travel Accessories for Long Flights.
Now, if you know me well, you know that I’m a planner. I’m one of those moms who is usually prepared for most things, without bringing my entire bathroom closet. So I figured I was ready to tackle our first flying with kids experience.
Then we had to keep our 3-year-old occupied for 4 1/2 hours at the airport.
Traveling with toddlers can be a challenge, especially when you have older kids that do so well and show you what life will be like in just a few more years when traveling together.
So I wanted to share with you 11 tips that helped us during our first time traveling with a toddler on a plane. We spent much of it hanging at the airport but also on the plane and these ideas made our experience go pretty well….oh and 1 thing NOT to do.
11 Tips For Flying With Toddlers
1. Plan to spend money on drinks, and keep your little one (or ones) hydrated at the airport and on the plane.
2. Bring healthy snacks and keep everyone (yourself include) fed throughout your travel day.
3. Prepare older children to carry their own backpack, and don’t expect your toddler to do the same.
4. Take a walk around the airport to help get the wiggles out before boarding the plane.
5. Bring an iPad with a new app or audiobook to list to.
6. Check bags when flying with toddlers or young children, so that you don’t have to carry as much while keeping an eye on your little one.
7. Bring gum (if your toddler or children can handle it) or a sucker, and give it RIGHT before take off. Which is after taxing out to the runway, not when you board the plane.
8. If you arrive early to the airport, find the information booth and ask for tips on things to do with kids in their airport. We received coloring books and crayons from the Tampa airport booth.
9. Arrive at your gate early so that you can board in the first group, as they often allow families flying with toddlers and babies to board first.
10. When boarding the airplane, ask the pilot if your child can see the cockpit!
11. Double check each of your children’s personal items (backpacks) before arriving at the airport, so they don’t sneak anything in they shouldn’t have.
DON’T LET YOUR TODDLER OUT OF YOUR SIGHT IN AN AIRPORT!
We talked about it, and prepared her to know to stay by mom and not run off…but that didn’t stop Jasmine from bolting away when I was talking to the nice information desk lady at the Tampa airport.
Luckily, she knew where Tony was and ran directly to him. Even though for that split second, I had no idea and fear started to kick in!
Traveling With Toddlers On A Plane
Overall, my best advice to you when flying with toddlers is to arrive at the airport 2-3 hours early and be patient. Bathroom breaks will be needed, kids will get hungry, and if the flight is long or into the night, they’ll get tired too.
Breastfeeding while traveling by plane may also need additional thoughts to make sure you’re prepared and comfortable.
Also, if you have a long flight across different time zones, then be sure to follow these tips to prevent jet lag. You’ll thank me later!
Things To Bring For Toddlers
If you need to bring a car seat then plan ahead and learn a little bit about how to travel with car seats. I think it really helped that we made it sound so exciting, talked up our upcoming airport experience, and made the entire thing an adventure.
You’ll also want to consider bringing one of these travel cribs for babies and toddlers so that your little one can get a good night’s sleep at your destination.
Check out these great tips for flying with a baby and these top baby travel must haves if you don’t quite yet have a toddler.
Related Post: Tips for First Time Flyers