Vacations shouldn’t be stressful, but the new experiences that come with long plane trips can throw your little ones for a loop. Here are a few tips to get you through traveling with babies and toddlers.
*Book nonstop flights whenever you can. Having an uninterrupted stretch of time when there’s nothing else to do is a great way for your little one to catch up on nap time. On the other hand, if you can’t avoid booking a connecting flight, finding a space near your layover gate for your toddler to run around when they’re not confined on a plane will help everyone keep their sanity.
*Make sure to book at least one aisle seat. If your toddler needs to walk around or go to the bathroom, it’ll be much easier for you to accommodate them if they don’t have to climb over everyone – even if they want to sit by the window and watch the ground and clouds go by.
*Overpack your supplies. These days, you can’t rely on being served food on the plane (at least, not included in the cost of the ticket), and even if your flight’s not supposed to overlap with meal time, delays and snack cravings happen. And that’s not to mention boredom, bathroom accidents, or air sickness. Bring extra snacks, toys without a lot of small pieces, plenty of extra diapers (if you still need them), hand sanitizer, and at least one change of clothes – for both you and your little one!
*Plan for security before you go. Cumbersome strollers and lace-up shoes will only slow you down even more; while you should absolutely take whatever time you need to get through the security checkpoint, bringing a lighter stroller and wearing slip-on shoes (both you and your child) will save a little time in the process. If your toddler gets restless while you shed everything for screening, make a game out of what you need to put in the bins.
*Boarding early has its pros and cons – consider them carefully! While most airlines will let families with small children board early, which can score you premium overhead space, it may also mean spending up to half an hour longer confined to the plane with a wiggly child. If you can send one partner ahead with the gear and board with your little one near the end, consider that strategy.
*Don’t be afraid to ask the flight attendants for help, especially if you’re traveling alone with your baby. They’re there to help passengers get on and off the plane smoothly, which includes assisting with getting heavy bags into the overhead bins. If the airline doesn’t charge for them, consider asking for extra pillows, blankets, or water as well.
*Don’t forget the menace of ear pain. We all know how annoying the pressure on your ears during takeoff and landing is, and your child’s bound to experience it too. Lollipops, sippy cups, or crunchy snacks can help get them through the experience, as can starting up a yawn chain by yawning yourself.