When I found out I would be traveling to Florida alone with my 2 and 3-year-old boys…I was a tad bit worried, to say the least.
I’m sure you’ve all heard of the movie Snakes on a Plane…I envisioned a horror movie of my own and just kept hoping I’d be able to get both of my toddlers on and off the plane successfully as well as not piss off the entire cabin mid flight.
To my surprise, and probably the surprise of most people on our planes, things went a lot better than the horrible envisions I had dreamed the night before we left.
Not only did I not lose one of my children in the airport, but we actually all enjoyed the experience of flying both to and home from Florida.
I’d love to share with you all a few tips I had found as well as some I thought of along the way to make plane rides with toddlers a more pleasurable experience for all those involved.
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8 Tips for Flying with Toddlers
Plan Ahead: If you are able to book your flights out of smaller airports I HIGHLY recommend it, especially if you are flying alone with your children. I was able to get both of our flights out of small airports and it made everything from going through TSA, which is not the most pleasant experience with toddlers, to finding our gate so much easier. I also learned that almost all airlines let you take your stroller right to the gate to be checked for free. You can also check car seats for free!
Bring Snacks: I’m talking all kinds of snacks. For my boys, I brought a big bag of Dum Dums for taking off and landing. Neither one of them use pacifiers anymore and they are both too little for gum so this was a great way to help them pop their ears and adjust for the flight. I also brought animal crackers, because any food that can also serve as entertainment is a win in my book. I also bought them an apple juice to share once we got to our gate, which also helped with the popping of their ears.
In Flight Entertainment: Since we booked out of smaller airports, we were also on smaller planes, which meant no TVs so I had to provide all the entertainment myself. My 3-year-old loved having the window seat and was fully entertained just watching us take off but by the time we were in the air he was bored with that. My sister actually found these gel clings online and they were a complete hit for my boys! They kept them entertained almost the entire two-hour flight. They stuck great to the plane’s windows as well as their tray tables. We had cars and trucks, dogs, and monsters, but they are available in so many varieties. I also brought some new coloring books, but never even needed to use them.
When all else fails, whip the tablets out. My boys are a bit of YouTube addicts so I was a little worried about the lack of internet on the flight and whether or not they would be satisfied with just the games on their tablet. We brought our LeapFrog Epic tablet with us on the plane and I downloaded some episodes of Peppa Pig the night before to hopefully get them through the flight. Surprisingly enough there were no complaints and the boys even enjoyed sharing the tablet. They also had their adorable Neno headphones on, which we got a splitter for so they could both listen to the same tablet.
Comfort Items: My boys each have blankets that they sleep with every night that I packed in my carry on for the plane. I also allowed each of them to bring one “friend” with them on the trip. Mikey chose his teddy bear, who he named Teddy (original I know) and Tucker brought his baby doll he named Henry.
What I wish I had: I really wish I had thought to buy neck pillows for my boys. I forgot how difficult it can be to get comfortable on a plane and think I may have had a better chance of them actually sleeping for more of the flight if I had some pillows to add to their comfort. Instead, I had Mikey who finally fell asleep as we were descending on our flight home.
Sometimes it pays to be the last one off the plane: Before when I flew I always tried to book seats towards the front of the plane because I always wanted to be one of the first people off and not have to wait for everyone to gather their things and make their way down the tiny aisle. Flying with my children was a whole different experience. I actually didn’t mind being towards the back of the plane and having more time to get things situated before we unboarded. Because we were the last ones off the plane my boys also go to meet the pilots and check out the cockpit. I didn’t even know they let people do that anymore. Needless to say, my boys were thrilled to have the chance to sit in the pilot’s seat.
Accept all the help you are offered: I’m typically the type of Mom that thinks she can do it all on my own with out much help from others, but I knew this trip would be different. Luckily our flights were filled with kind people who not only offered words of encouragement like “You’re doing a great job, Mom.” and, “Your boys are so well behaved” but they also helped entertain my boys and help me with all of the luggage. A very nice woman waiting at the gate of our first flight let the boys play on her phone as we waited for the plane to arrive at the terminal. I had family help me in and out of the airports but for our flight home, my husband was supposed to be joining us but instead had to be in Washington for work. He was able to park my car very close to the airport for me but I was left with my two toddlers, one of whom is a runner, 3 carry on backpacks, a small stroller, 2 full-size car seats and a giant overloaded suitcase. When we arrived at the airport I made a quick dash out to my car with just our carry on bags, because I knew there would be no way I could handle everything at once. By the time we made it bag to baggage, there weren’t many people left collecting their bags and there was absolutely no employees in sight to assist me. They didn’t even have carts! Lucky for me a nice woman took pity on me as I was wrestling to get the car seats and my giant suitcase situated. She offered to drop her bag off with her daughter who was picking her up out front and help carry one of my car seats out to my car for me. I really have no idea how I would have managed without her help. I definitely would have had to make even more trips.
I am so glad my first experience flying with my boys went so well. It’s nice to have the stress of it all out of the way and know what to expect in the future. I’m also so grateful for all the kind people we met along the way. It’s so reassuring to know there are still so many kind people in the world willing to help a mom in need.