Recently, the Peterberries took a trip to Mexico as a family. The whole lot of us traveled, including 6 month old Kennedy and 21 month old Tyler. I did my research and brought a host of things to keep peace during the four flights it took to get there and back. Here is what worked well for our family:
4 Tips for Traveling on an Airplane with a Toddler (And Baby)
- Choose Your Flight Times Wisely. I paid careful attention, looking first for non-stop. Since Mexico was a longer flight, the layovers actually helped. What was also helpful was the timing of the flight. While at first I thought our times would be a hindrance,
they actually worked out wonderfully. We had early morning flights and a 10pm flight. All of those flights Tyler, our toddler, slept. We took him out of his bed and left him in his pajamas. He was able to spend a bit of time awake, but as soon as we took off he fell asleep. The same thing happened on our flight that was around his nap time and the flight at 10pm. That was 3 out of 4 trips where all I had to do was hold him. Anyone with a toddler knows that this is huge. Kennedy, our baby, was the same way. We gave her a bottle each time on the way up and she was sleeping for most of the journeys. The layovers were also great because Tyler could run around and expend some of his energy before getting back to a seated flight.
- Got Southwest? I’ve said this before, but I will never travel other than Southwest with kids. Why? Because it’s the only time their “choose your own seat” has helped me. Both Tyler and Kennedy are lap babies, but we have never had them seated on our laps. (Last Year’s Great Experience with Southwest!). On this trip the same thing happened. We sat at the back of the plane during family boarding and it never filled up. On two of our journeys, we actually had four ROWS of seats for 7 people! That’s huge when you have kids. I know it’s not a guarantee, but we’ve been pretty lucky with this on our travels.
- Keep Them Busy. This one applies mainly for the toddler. I was nervous about this, but I packed his preschool-sized backpack full. I had the front pouch dedicated to quick and easy snacks. And the big pocket was filled with these things that worked great for me:
- Raid the Dollar Store: I went to our local Dollar Tree and was able to get a number of great things to entertain Tyler. Things included: crayons, stickers, coloring book, ball (we used it at the resort and for playing catch during layovers), and lots of kid friendly snacks. I also got a cool new sippy-cup that Tyler could use in flight and some snack containers to put the snacks (the rest I put in my suitcase).
- Bring some of their favorites, even if they are bulky! We have a Chugginton train that holds trains inside, or in our case, Matchbox Cars. My husband thought I was crazy for making us take this. However, this toy was a lifesaver on and off the airplane. Tyler spent a lot of time playing with this toy and it saved us many a headache. In the end, hubby agreed we NEEDED that toy.
- Other Fun Ideas: We really liked using the gel cling window decorations. They stick great to the airplane windows and Tyler had never seen them before. We happened to get Easter Eggs because that’s what we had, but any kind will do. I made a long process of taking each one off…counting them and naming their colors. Tyler spent a good amount of time on this cheap activity. We also got a portable Magna Doodle (from Target) and Tyler enjoyed this. It was easy to carry in his preschool sized backpack. We also included a few of his favorite books.
- When All Else Fails, break out the Gadgets: I don’t like to use technology, but sometimes that’s what it takes. We didn’t really use this one on the airplane (because Tyler happened to sleep a lot), but did use it in the resort. We made sure to download a few of Tyler’s favorite shows from YouTube to our computer. That was great to have in case of emergencies.
- Don’t forget yourself. There may actually be a few small moments where you are able to breathe. I was happy I brought a couple magazines to read while the children slept. It was nice to have a moment for “me.” Don’t get crazy with this one (let’s remember it may or may not happen), but don’t neglect to pack something small you may enjoy if time allows.