Coming from a family of nomads, traveling has always been a huge part of my life. I’m extremely lucky to have lived in and seen more than half of the world before I was even 12! The perspectives gained and lessons learned through travel are hard to teach in a classroom. So I always knew that I wanted to prioritize travel for my children. As a family, we spend less money on material things and more on experiences.
When my first daughter was born, we flew all over the United States and even Australia and New Zealand with her. She was a perfect flying baby-only eating and sleeping during flight (I cannot take credit for this unfortunately-we just lucked out with a baby who seriously chilled out on a plane!).
And then she became a toddler.
Like all toddlers, my daughter loves to be active…and loud! But can you blame her? It’s just what toddlers do!
While toddler behavior can be cute at home…this same behavior while trying to get through a busy airport and sitting on a plane can make your stress level explode!
This past month, we took a six hour plane ride to the east coast and back with our 3 year old and 3 month old. I spent the weeks before the trip researching and frantically googling (is this a verb now?) the best ways to travel with a toddler. After reading a million blog posts (well…not a ‘million’ but you know what I mean) and spending a lot of money on Amazon (the husband was super excited about this)–I’m going to share with you what worked best for us. Because guess what? We survived! And here I am to talk about it.
Here are the best tips I found for traveling with a toddler: (As a note, I am not getting paid by any of these companies to write about them).
1) Roll through the airport. Like a boss.
This little car seat travel accessory that lets you connect your child’s car seat to your rolling carry-on is just genius! My daughter loved the idea of sitting in her car seat and riding through the airport. She even fell asleep in it! I mean seriously, come on. Who is this comfortable in an airport?
My sincere wish for the world is that everyone experience the comfort, style and luxury that this child experienced at the airport. So many people stopped us to ask how we came up with this idea and the truth is we didn’t! Thanks to this hack, we were able to zoom through with ease and most of all, with less stress.
2) Get the right headphones.
Anyone who has ever put headphones on a toddler knows that half the time they fall out or the child gets annoyed with them in less than 2 seconds. I had downloaded some videos for my daughter to watch during flight but didn’t really want the rest of the plane to hear the sweet sounds of Peppa Pig and her friends (I’m sure everyone would be thrilled about that). So during my search for headphones for toddlers, I came across this headband with headphones inside! Not only did it come in cute animal designs, but there are no headphones sticking into your child’s ear! My daughter loved to pretend that she was a unicorn during flight and literally kept these things on for the entire six hours. Awesome.
3) Make a busy kit.
Screen shot from: http://www.keepsmesmiling.com/p/my-busy-kit.html
Traveling with a toddler means that you better have something for them to do ALL THE TIME. Most toddlers cannot handle down time unless they are asleep. So when I came across this blog post for Busy Kits by Lorraine Akeman, I decided to make one for each flight. I filled a small bag with my daughter’s favorite activities-stickers, coloring books and small containers of play doh. Check out these mess-free coloring books which were so helpful to make sure the colors did not end up everywhere. My daughter called these ‘her bags of fun’ and looked forward to getting on the plane just so she could get her ‘busy kit’. Um…can we make one for adults too? Filled with wine and cheese? (just kidding).
4) Send out positive vibes.
I’m not sure if it’s the news lately or just the state of our world, but I had actually gone into this trip expecting for people to be mean to us. Crazy right? I expected other passengers to give us dirty looks or be disappointed when they discovered they were sitting near a toddler AND a baby. But what happened was the complete opposite!
Our fellow passengers went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable. Some even helped carry our bags for us! From the flight crew to those we met on our journey-everyone could not have been more compassionate. I credit some of this to the shirt my daughter was wearing, gifted to her by my friend Abha. It says ‘Kindness Wins‘.
Sometimes when you put out positive vibes, you get some back. And if you see a parent struggling on a flight, send some love their way. We are all only doing the best we can. Kindness Wins. Always.