TIPS FOR FLYING WITH A BABY OR TODDLER

By Guest Editor Adabelle Buntrock

Adabelle, from Atlanta, Georgia, is a mom of two, social media strategist and blogger. The second mama featured on our yearlong virtual road trip, Adabelle talks about fashion, travel, family & motherhood on her blog The Daily Belle.

This post was originally shared on The Daily Belle on October 21, 2020.

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If you’ve read my recent blog post, you know I just came back from Jackson Hole, WY. It was meant to be a trip for just my husband and I, but we ended up bringing our 20 month old toddler last minute. We needed to quickly make some adjustments to our trip to make it baby friendly.

My biggest concern was traveling with a toddler on a plane and hauling all the different things they need and especially now at the time of writing this with COVID.

We have traveled with our son once before, back when he was 6 months but it was definitely easier since he wasn’t as active. Due to many requests on Instagram, I wanted to share my tips for traveling with a baby or toddler on a plane along with the items we brought with us.

WHAT TO PACK

These little people require so many THINGS that it makes it so overwhelming to pack for them!

For clothes, we used a carry on for all of his clothing! If possible, put everything in a carry on suitcase that way if your luggage were to get lost you would still have the kids things and can easily access them at the airport and on the plane should any issues arise.

Besides clothes in the carry on, I packed regular diapers and overnight diapers along with a changing pad.

Aside from the essentials, a few items went into checked luggage, such as an on-the-go noise machine that can easily hook on to things and be used at night wherever he was going to sleep. For eating, putting in one plate for meals and two different water cups/bottles and more diapers is a good idea.

Now for the big stuff! Of course, a kid needs a place to sleep and be transported! We brought a light travel crib and checked it with our luggage. It’s super light and compact with handles to easily transport.

We also brought a travel stroller. My main piece of advice is that if possible, bring a stroller that is lightweight, folds up easily, and is not super expensive. You need something practical, and just beware that it has the potential of getting damaged if thrown around on the plane, which is why we did not bring our Uppababy.

Since we were going to do some hiking, we packed a hiking pack in our checked luggage as well.

You can also often rent a car with a car seat, so we rented a car at the Jackson Hole airport with a car seat for $10 a day, which is one less thing on the list to carry.

THE AIRPORT

Give yourself plenty of time to get through the airport, but not too much time! Whatever makes you comfortable and less stressed. We arrived at the airport 1.5 hours before our flight and found it to be just fine, we didn’t want to sit around waiting for too long. The stroller is really useful in the airport. We put our son in the stroller and went to check in our luggage and crib. Once the majority of our items were checked, it was so easy to walk around with less weight.

If possible, it is nice to bring the stroller to the gate and check it there. This also allowed us to move faster given how large the Atlanta airport is.

I also bought a stroller protective case and carried it in my purse. It’s helpful for protecting your stroller/car seat from the rain and from any possible damage while being in the bottom of the plane.

TSA at larger airports typically has family security lines that are shorter. In the security check, you have to put your stroller through the conveyor belt and walk through the sensor while carrying your child. This was much easier when they’re younger and you can have them on a carrier!

We typically wait until the end to board the plane if we don’t have a lot of carry on luggage. The last thing you want to do is be on a plane in a confined space longer than necessary with a toddler.

THE FLIGHT

The moment I was dreading was finally here. One thing you gotta accept and just tell yourself is that you have zero control on how this is going to go. You could get lucky and have an easy flight where your child is entertained or sleeping OR it’s the worst few hours of your day.

Either way, no need to stress because nothing you do can drastically change this experience. A child is a child and they don’t know any better. This is such a different experience and they are outside of their element. You’ve got this!

I asked my followers on Instagram for tips and items to bring on the plane for entertainment. I’ll share them with y’all along with my feedback. I brought a large tote as my carry on and packed it with all the things for my toddler.

HERE ARE THE THINGS I PACKED FOR A SMOOTH-ER PLANE RIDE:

  • Multiple pacifiers (made sure he had one or was drinking from a bottle during take-off to help with his ears popping).
  • Stickers: these were life changing and really entertaining! I bought a bunch from Amazon and I let him stick them to books, the window, his bottle and whatever we could find.
  • New toys: people said to bring new toys so they could be interested in something they hadn’t seen before. It was also recommended to hit up the dollar store, so you don’t break the bank. For us, the toys were hit or miss. He really liked the toy trucks I bought, but I took them away since he was putting them on people’s head rests, and I was worried about them getting hit – oops! I also brought a buckle toy but he wasn’t interested in it.
  • Books: our son loves books, so I brought him his favorite ones from home.
  • Snacks: these were a must!! I packed so may snacks for him and they were super helpful. I got individually packaged snacks and also brought a snack cup. I brought fruit gummies, Cheez Its, cereal bars, cookies and chips.
  • Water bottles: I brought two different ones and then once I was past security, I bought large water bottles to fill.
  • Tablet: We brought all our tablets just in case . We have an iPad and a Samsung tablet which we preloaded with apps. We also brought his Amazon Kids Fire tablet, which he’s obsessed with. Pro tip– we took his tablet away a week before so he would be surprised and excited. These are some of his favorite apps: Baby Shark, Baby Shark Car Town, Cocomelon videos, Little Baby Bum videos, Daniel the Tiger neighborhood, Balloon Pop. If they’re into movies/videos download them at home before getting to the airport.
  • Headphones: We bought these but he does not like wearing things on his head, so we didn’t use them. We either had the volume really low or no volume at all on the tablets. He didn’t seem to mind it!

THE DESTINATION

We survived the flight, but I was also worried about our actual destination. The fact that it is 2 hours behind our time zone probably would mess with his nap schedule. Our son naps once a day and it’s always at the same time. I knew we weren’t going to stay at home for nap time, so I was just going to have to roll with it. He was a little cranky the first day and had a meltdown while hiking, but at least that kept the bears away!

Since we were going to do a lot of driving in Jackson Hole, I figured he would just sleep in the car. He didn’t get his full 2-hour nap in daily, but it ended up being fine. I think my biggest piece of advice is to avoid stressing out about a schedule and just go with the flow.

As far as sleeping arrangements, we were so glad we were able to get an Airbnb and have a house with at least two bedrooms. This allows him to go to bed before us in his own space where it was dark. It’s not ideal for us to share the same room but if we have to it’s not the end of the world. I highly recommend a Slumberpod if you’re going to be sharing a room with your child.

For food, again it was nice being in a home and having access to a kitchen. You can buy groceries and snacks once you get there. If you don’t have access to a kitchen, at least try to find a hotel room that has a mini fridge.

Overall, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I’m glad we were able to bring our son with us on this trip and make memories together. We had such a wonderful time and appreciate all the advice I received. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

Follow Adabelle on her blog at thedailybelle.com or on Instagram @adabellebuntrock

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