Written by: Pamela Harper
Flying with two littles…it’s not for the feint of heart. My little pepper pot Leela is going to be 3 in January and my busy bee Hudson is 9 months old. I’m originally born and raised in Michigan and now live in Valencia, California with my Husband Bryan. Since we moved to California in 2008 I have flown home several times a year. I have traveled:
-pregnant (up to 9 months)
-with a newborn
-with a toddler and pregnant (up to 9 months)
-with a toddler and a newborn
-with a two year old and a soon to be walker
Some flights were smooth. Some not so much…
-newborn poop explosion on the plane while toddler ran up and down the aisle screaming for mommy 😑
-toddler who refused to wear seat belt (who knew how to take it off)
-screaming ….lots of screaming
-getting off the plane at layover and finding out the stroller was thrown on the next flight 😩
-stuck on the Tarmac for hours
-stuck in Phoenix for a layover and no flight out to Michigan.
-had to reroute flight it Chicago where my mom drove 5 hours to pick me (very pregnant at the time) and Leela up and drive 5 house to Michigan in snow.
Just to name a few of the worst moments.
So this is my list. This is my unsolicited advice when traveling with littles. These things helped me and I hope they help you. ☺️
What to bring on the plane/through the airport:
-Stroller (can be checked at the gate for free).
-Car seat of you need it at your destination. I don’t bring mine. It’s one more heavy thing to carry and I usually have one where I’m going. You can also rent one if needed.
-Stroller/ car seat bag ( the airline will not be careful with your stroller/car seat. It will get dirty or torn if you don’t take steps to protect it. For this reason I also don’t travel with my nice (pricey) stroller. I use a cheap umbrella stroller.
-Boppy pillow for smaller infants. Great for nursing or napping babies
-Rubber mat for your toddler. Stick it under their butts so you don’t have to fight them from trying to slip under the belt the whole flight. So helpful.
-Snacks…lots and lots of snacks (non-messy)
-Treats…these are those items you don’t normally give everyday ( like suckers) I like to call them the big guns…you pull them out in an emergency. Let’s face it. On occasion bribery is a necessary tool in parenting. You may need it to keep your kid in a seat or stop them from kicking and screaming.
-Saline nose spray. It gets so dry on the plane. I found this helps us all from getting that icky dry sick feeling in out sinus and throats
-During flu season ( when it sounds like everyone on the plane is hacking up a lung) I use thieves oil spray in our mouths and/or dab of Neosporin in our noses. Weird I know but since I started doing it we don’t get sick after the flight.
-Sanitizing wipes (to wipe off seats, tray tables etc.)
-A small kids backpack full of new toys and activities (non messy) Don’t let your kid see this until you are ON the plane. I usually go to the $1 section at target or Joanne fabrics and get a bunch of different things. If you have a window seat window clings are fun for kids who are past the age of putting everything in their mouths. Try not to pull out all of your cards at once. I call this “buy time”. Use one toy, activity, snack etc. at a time until they start to get ants in their pants. That’s when you bring out the next thing to ” buy you more time”.
-Change of clothes, pjs if it’s a late flight. That way if they fall asleep you can just put them right to bed when you get to your destination. 😉
-A change of shirt for you…someone will spill, puke, poop or pee on you if you don’t bring an extra shirt. It’s Murphy’s law. 😑
-iPad, tablet or the like and headphones. It is perfectly ok to turn your kids into zombies on a plane. Let’s face it. It’s hard for adults to sit still so long. It’s way worse for the littles so anything to help them pass the time is great. I usually download new games and movies so they are extra captivated.
-If you are traveling by yourself with kids keep in mind that most airports will allow you to have an escort pass for a friend or family member whom is not traveling with you. They can help you all the way to the gate. This makes all the difference. They just need to present their drivers license to get the pass.
-Don’t count on the airport or airline employees to help you. More often than not they will watch you struggle with a disapproving scowl. 😡
-Security lines. You will need to break down your stroller and put it through the X-ray. Total pain in the butt. This is when the baby carrier is nice. I LOVE my ergo baby carrier. It’s so much easier on your back and give you free hands for all of the tasks on hand.
-There is almost always someone in the crowd that will step forward to help you. Usually a fellow parent who has been there before. I carry $5 Starbucks gift cards and treat those who step up when you simply can’t do it. Makes their day and saves your buns when you “just can’t” anymore.
-If your kid can walk…let them! Let them get all of that energy out in the airport before you are strapped in a seat for hours! Just try to find an area near a window that isn’t too busy so they can watch the planes take off and land
-When you get to the gate ask for a stroller tag. Don’t wait until you are boarding. Be sure to tell them you want the stroller at your layover if you have one. I learned the hard way. Also be sure to put it on the bag not on the stroller so the attendants see it. 😉
-Most airlines offer pre-boarding for families so take this opportunity to get settled in. You could use the extra time. Trust me! So check with the gate what their policy is.
-If the flight isn’t full let your kids get a little unruly before you board. This is a dirty trick..I will admit. But no one wants to sit near crazy kids. I don’t even want to sit near my own kids when they are acting up. So if everyone at the gate sees your kids being a bit naughty they will make a mental note to avoid your group at all costs. 😜. Another naughty piece of advice if your plane isn’t full and you didn’t pay for a seat for your child under two (infant in arms is what the airlines call it) put the child in the seat next to you as everyone boards. That way it looks like the seat is taken and the other passengers will sit somewhere else.
-Babies don’t know how to relieve pressure on the ears. As adults we automatically swallow and yawn or chew gum or drink something to help. Babies and small children don’t. Ever notice the babies who scream during take off and landing? They are in pain. To avoid this I always nurse my babies or offer them something to drink or eat. My Pediatrition also gave me a script for numbing ear drops so I could proactively put them in my kids ears before takeoff. These are also great to have on hand even for yourself if you have congestion before the flight. If you have ever had a sinus cold on the plane you know the horrible pain the pressure can cause. I wanted to jump out of the plane when I flew with a sinus infection. 😖
-At times I have used melatonin to help my toddler get sleepy when she is just over tired and ready to nap. You should talk to your Pediatrition about it of coarse.
-Flip the seatbelt after you strap in your toddler so they can’t easily open the clasp. 😑
Other random things
-You can bring formula and milk (liquids your baby needs) through security. They don’t have the same limits as other liquids. They may test it with test strips.
-Often when traveling with small children they will put you through the pre-screen line at the security gate. This is so nice because you don’t have to take out your laptop, take off your shoes, etc. But don’t count on this because it is up to their discretion.
-Southwest offers two free bags and free carry-ons which is nice compared to other companies who bait iOS with cheap tickets only to find out that they charge you up to $60 just for a carry-on (slimy move Spirit Airlines😡)
-Also on Southwest there is no assigned seating. So if it’s not a full flight you have a better chance of having the extra seat next to you that you didn’t have to pay for 😁
At the end of the day remember:
you will likely never see any of these people again in your life. So don’t stress over judgie rude people. You can only do so much!
It’s only a temporary event. It’s likely not going to be too fun but it will be over. So try to remain calm and remind yourself there is always wine to help you forget the days woes. 😘
Wishing you safe (and uneventful) travels my friends!