First of all, please take note that the title of this post is traveling with a toddler…not infant. I have traveled with an infant before and it was wonderful. All I had to do was swaddle him tight, offer a bottle at take off, and hold my bundle of sleeping bliss until we landed at our destination. Not a cry. Not a peep. Not a squirm. Not a scream. We have moved into a new era of air travel with a small person and it is completely different compared to traveling with an infant.
There were some things that we learned from this last rodeo, and I thought I would share them with you all.
1. Hold off on the drugs. For the toddler. Not for yourself. When it comes to you, go ahead and take a nice dose of Advil or Tylenol with a vodka chaser before boarding. You will need it. Lots of doctors and other parents may suggest Benadryl about an hour before take off, to induce a little shut eye from your little one on the plane. Because HP was showing signs of being sick prior to leaving, we did see the doctor a few days before we left. With his stuffy nose and susceptibility to ear infections, she suggested 1t. Benadryl, 1t. children’s Advil, and prescription ear drops that would numb HP’s ears for the flight. I gave HP his medical cocktail about an hour before take off. To be honest, he was already so tired from getting up early, the medication put him into overtired status. This set us up for disaster. It really didn’t do us any good. In hindsight, I wish that I would have held off on the medications so that I had a “plan b” to fall back on in the event he wasn’t falling asleep on his own. At this point he was tired, medicated, refusing all toys and snacks, and just being all around mean. Momma was out of resources. Granted, he finally did fall asleep…but it was only after about an hour of T and I trying to comfort him and talk him down from the ledge.
(These precious 40 minutes were way too short and I am sure that everyone else on the plane agreed. Looks harmless, doesn’t he? It is all a SHAM!)
2. Traveling with a Car Seat? Get one of these. Since HP is always on the go, there was no way in hell we were traveling with a lap child. As much as we would have loved to save the cash from buying him a seat of his own, this wasn’t realistic. We also realized that just putting HP in his own seat without any real confinement would spell disaster, so we opted to bring the car seat on board the plane. (For the record and measurement purposes, we took a Britax Marathon Classic Convertible seat on board the plane and it fit in the seat just fine.) We had hoped that his seat would be familiar to him and help him settle in for the flight. That theory didn’t pan out as hoped, but I am still glad that we had the car seat with us. The Go Go Babyz car seat dolly was a great purchase for us and we will be using it again in the future. It was great to be able to put HP in the car seat and wheel him through the airport with the dolly.
2a. If you do bring a car seat on board for your child, airline regulations state that the car seat must occupy the window seat. That was something new to us this round. It was also some sad news for whomever was assigned the seat in front of HP.
3. The Stroller Might Not Be Necessary. Depending on where you are going and the duration of your trip, you might not need the stroller. HP likes to walk around and be out and about. Out of three nights, we only used the stroller once when we were walking around Downtown Naples. While it was nice to have, we could have survived just fine without it. Since we have a travel bag specifically for our stroller, we were able to check it when flying to Florida and back, so we weren’t lugging it on the plane as a carry on. But looking back, it wasn’t a must have item for the weekend.
4. Don’t Buy New Toys for the Flight. I should have followed my own advice here, but I had a moment of panic and insanity where the need to “one click purchase” some toys in my Amazon cart overtook me. Previously when we travled, I was better about taking some of HP’s favorite smaller toys and hiding them for a week or so before we left. That way when I pulled them out on the plane, it was a big happy reunion. HP was in need of a few new things, so I went ahead and purchased some plane friendly toys and books for the flight. He. didn’t. play. with. a. single. one. Now, he has played with them since coming home. But on the plane? Not so much. Apparently it was much more productive to scream and kick the seat in front of him.
4a. Advice that has worked for friends, but not for us – is to stock up on small toys at the dollar store and individually wrap every single one of them. Store them in your carry on, and bring them out one by one on the plane for toddler entertainment. This might have worked for us except for the fact that HP could care less about opening presents. We also tried food, and well, we all know how he feels about food. We were really doomed here from the beginning.
5. Take it all in stride. Flying with infants is easy. Flying with toddlers who still aren’t fully speaking or capable of understanding verbal instructions is hard. Especially highly active and investigative toddlers who hate sitting still for more than 2 minutes. Because of the airline regulations and car seat rule mentioned in 2a, HP was placed behind a nice young hipster looking gal. Her outfit was intentionally mismatched and apparently wearing sunglasses for the entire 2.5 hour flight was very important. Maybe she was important. Who cares. But I digress. Even though we were in the seats with extra leg room, Hipster gal and all 5’3 of herself felt it was vital to keep leaning her seat back…right where HP could kick it. Repeatedly. At first I was mortified and did every thing I could to keep HP from kicking…which resulted in him screaming. After a while I realized that it was Hipster’s own demise if she kept willingly putting her seat back against HP’s tiny legs of fury. She shot me a few side eyes through her Ray Bans (that is how lethal they were) and I finally just shrugged my shoulders. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, but there just wasn’t much I could do if she kept leaning her seat back. If we were on some Trans-Atlantic flight, I could understand the need to recline. Oh, and did I mention that she had been given the option to move to the bulkhead and have a row to herself. Yeah. Bad life choice Hipster Gal. My point here is just to be mentally prepared that things might not go as planned, and you just have to roll with the punches (or in HP’s case, pinches, because he pinches me when he is angry. Only me.).
If I have scared or scarred you from flying with a toddler, I’m sorry. That wasn’t my intention. This was just our first real experience in flying with HP where he wasn’t a lap child, and it was a whole different ball game for us. I’m hoping that you all can learn from our mistakes and misfortune this round. Linked below are some of the toys that I purchased that maybe you and your toddler will find useful on your next flight. HP loves them now that we are at home. Go figure.