It has been a while since I’ve sat down and actually written an article for my blog (the last two posts were recipes). In truth, I just have not had the energy and as such, have been avoiding it as if it was a chore. The reason I’ve had such low energy? Just over a week ago, I undertook an endeavour that many (myself included) called “crazy”. I flew by myself with my two-year-old and (almost) one-year-old. Not only that, I took a three leg trip (YQM to YHZ to YYZ to YVR) with my two toddlers. How did I find myself in such a predicament? Firstly, my husband’s immediate family who lives in Europe were in Canada for a family reunion. We don’t get nearly enough time with them, and even though my hubby had to return home sooner because of work, I elected to stay for the entire time that my in-laws were in the country. And secondly, we used points and were confined to taking a ridiculous combination of flights to get home. Sigh. I survived. And, it went better than expected. But, it did take me days to shake the feeling of having been hit by a bus.
Here are Several Tips for Flying With Infants & Toddlers
- Read the airline’s policy on travelling with an infant and plan accordingly. Also find out if they offer in-flight meals and/or snacks, if you have to pay, and what the method of payment is, so you can plan.
- Hit up a grocery store and get your children’s favourite healthy foods that can be served easily on the go. I love President’s Choice Organics for babies just starting to eat solids because they are healthy, don’t require a spoon, and quite often are sold as “five for $5”. We also packed cheese strings, Baby Gourmet Mushies, baby carrots, Annie’s Rabbit Crackers, and Sun Rype fruit snacks. I alsomade sure to have my own share of healthy snacks.
NB the 100 ml restriction on liquids does not apply for items “medically necessary” for an infant or young child. I understand the verbage is a bit ambiguous. In my experience, 300 ml baby sunscreen, 120 ml pouches of baby food, 200 ml diaper cream and pumped breast milk in any quantity are all eh okay.
- Download episodes of your child’s favourite show(s) on to a laptop, smartphone, tablet, or all of the above. I purchased new episodes of my daughter’s favourite shows in to hold her attention longer. Bring over the ear headphones, as ear buds don’t work for most toddlers. Have your device(s) completely charged and a charger accessible for when needed.
- Go to the Dollar Store and purchase small presents to be unwrapped on the plane. I picked up a playdough bug kit, a mega block character and playmobil character (both needing to be built), and a “no mess” colouring book with a water filled pen. All in, including tape for wrapping (I wrapped them using bags as wrapping paper), I spent $10. I put them in my carry-on, and took one out whenever my daughter was particularly restless. Unwrapping, as well as the surprise itself, is great at buying you quiet time.
- Quirkymomma.com has some great, mess-free activities for any form of travel here!
- Under the same principle, a roll of masking or painters’ tape will preoccupy little hands for a while. Though, I would give this to them before any surprises. Thanks Travis for the tip!
- Vera, mom of one and one on the way, suggested allowing your older toddler to pack their carry on with all of their favourite things. At the airport, they can be responsible for their little suitcase or backpack making them feel a sense of purpose. Knowing what’s inside awaiting them allows them to get excited about the flight. Some toys we really enjoyed included this magnetic dress-up toy and a magnetic aquarium full of salt water fishies.
- Pack your carry on, and the diaper bag in a very organized fashion. Typically, I am not organized in a precise, systematic way. When dealing with little squirmy, wormy determined babes in a confined space, each bag needed to have systems, categories, and be sub-compartmentalized.
- Have both printed and e-copies of your boarding passes: You may find one or the other is your preference, but having either to rely on was handy for me.
- Get to the airport early. If you haven’t already selected your seats, you can request your placement. If you’re travelling with a baby you can request the bulkhead; not only does it have more foot room, if your baby meets the requirements, you can use the in-flight bassinet. For us, the bulkhead was less desirable because I wanted all my carry-ons accessible at all times.
- Get through security early. Fortunately, in most airports, passengers travelling with little ones get priority through security. Nonetheless, it is worth allowing yourself as much time as possible to get through to your gate without feeling rushed, or panicked. Furthermore, many airports have play areas, or little indoor playgrounds. Once you’re through and you know where your gate is, you may as well let your little ones burn some energy. Because you can’t bring beverages other than breastmilk or formula passed security, this is a great time to get bottled water.
- Flights typically board 30 minutes before departure and again, you have priority. The sooner you get to your seats, the sooner you can get your baggage organized and the kids ready.
- For babies, have a pacifier, bottle, or be ready to nurse for the ascent and descent. This allows their ears to adjust to the changes in altitude. For older kids, a juice box, or even a snack can resolve the feeling in their ears.
- Have looooooow expectations. Your flights pre-kids may have been a great time to watch a movie, catch up on episodes of Modern Family, and enjoy a cocktail or two. Who knows, you may get a chance to do all of these things, just don’t expect it.
Every flight, every kid, and every circumstance are different. No matter what, I have found the most critical elements to surviving or maybe even successfully flying with little ones is to feel as prepared as possible, and have a boatload of patience.
To anyone heading out this summer, bonne voyage! And don’t forget to share your own advice or stories on traveling with kids below 🙂