OMG, you guys. I thought that because I knew how to travel with an infant so well, a few tweaks would make traveling with a toddler a breeze. I was so wrong. So, so wrong. However, I've learned from my mistakes, and decided to share what I learned here, so you can too! If you've never traveled with your kidlet before, I highly suggest taking a read through this post I wrote on Traveling with an Infant (we traveled a TON with E when she was teeny, and it was truly a breeze). The airport tips and tricks from that post are all applicable for toddler travel with one change: wear your little one from the get-go, and just check that stroller, carseat, and suitcase straight through at the beginning. You need your hands free. Now that Evie is bigger, we use the ErgoBaby 360 with the breathable mesh, and it adjusts to fit both G and I. It's easy to wear Evie on the front facing forwards or backwards, and she really loves riding on my back once we're out and about at our travel destination.
So, with that said, on to my tips!
1) On the plane, distraction is key.
I had a new book, a new toy, and a few downloaded episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (our favorite) to help distract her. As she tired of each thing, we took a break to just stand up and wiggle either on mommy's lap or standing between mommy's feet, then moved on to the next toy/activity.
2) Let go of screen-time rules.
At home, Evie gets to watch one Mickey Mouse Clubhouse each day. On the plane, we watched two episodes.... three times each... just on the way there. As long as it distracted her, helped her sit still for five seconds, and kept her quiet, I was all for it. The priority is survival when you're trapped in a metal container with hundreds of other people and only one square foot of space to contain a toddler for 3.5 hrs.
3) Use the pre-board time to get everything set-up for easy access during the flight.
My phone & eReader, the iPad, our water bottle and E's bottle all went right into that front pouch when we sat down, and I re-arranged the diaper bag so I could easily snag the toys, books & snacks through a partly open zipper while the diaper bag stayed under the seat. You'll need to grab things quickly, and can't be juggling a screaming/wriggling toddler with one arm as you are bent in half desperately trying to open a zipper with one hand then rummaging in that black hole of a diaper bag for the toy you know is in there somewhere.
4) Familiar things are so important. Bring something from home that fits into each step of your daily routine.
This will be your lifesaver once you arrive at your destination. Our biggest fall-apart with Evie was when the bath toys weren't the same at Grandma's as they were at home. In fact, if I hadn't thrown her Tink toy into the suitcase last minute as a "maybe she'd like this", I think our ship would have been well and truly sunk. At this age, routine & familiarity are so huge - separation anxiety isn't just about being away from mom and dad - so bring a favorite cup for meals, a favorite stuffy for snuggles, a favorite book for reading, a favorite toy for bath time... you get the idea. Make sure each step has something familiar. It'll make your kidlet so much happier, which translates to a much more enjoyable trip.
There you have it! My top tips for traveling with a toddler. I hope these help you keep your sanity and actually enjoy your flight rather than just survive it. Traveling with active, opinionated little ones isn't every easy, but hopefully this makes it a bit more effortless.
Shop our Favorite Travel Items below!