Pania and I recently took a day trip over to Oahu for an event I hope to share with you all soon. It made me realize that in her short two years of life she has been on 20 airplanes, visited 5 states, 10 cities and traveled to four Hawaiian islands. Wow, we are really taking advantage of free flights before two.
Now that I have got this traveling with a toddler thing down to a science I want to share some tips and tricks I have learned along the way.
First off it is very important to do as much as you can before you arrive at the airport. We all know airports can be a super stressful place. Add a toddler to the mix and there is a possible recipe for disaster. It does not have to be that way with some planning and foresight.
Tip 1: Download the airline app onto your phone. Check in as soon as you can and get your mobile boarding pass ready before you leave the house. Most airlines allow you to check in starting at 24 hours before departure and no latter than 3 hours before take off. Something to note is that not all airlines will add a mobile infant pass if your child is under two. If you do not see one that means you will have to print one out when you arrive unfortunately.
Note* United, American, Delta, Alaska, Jetblue, Virgin and Hawaiian all offer mobile infant boarding pass. Southwest requires an infant boarding verification document which must be done at the airport. *Airlines are subject to changing features, this is accurate as of April 2016.
* Don’t forget your child’s birth certificate and/or passport. All airlines say they require them but honestly not all of them check for one.
Tip 2: Apply for Pre Tsa. If you travel frequently I highly recommend signing up for Pre Tsa. Airlines will add it as a teaser occasionally which is what hooked me. Without it we would have missed our flight out of Denver, which was one of the more busier airports I have been to. It costs $89 and you can check out their website for more information on how to apply here: https://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck/apply
* Bonus tip: If you are pregnant, nursing and/or traveling with an infant or child you can request to do additional screening instead of going through the detectors if you chose.
Tip 3: Double and triple check your seat assignments. I have found that if I can be towards the back in a window seat I am the most comfortable. We all have different preferences but most airlines do reserve these back rows for families. I would say 75% of the time I have had these back rows all to myself which makes it so much more comfortable then squeezing in like a sardine.
Bonus tip* If you are traveling with someone, typically if you pick the window and aisle seat the middle seat is more likely to stay open.
Tip 4: Bring your car seat on board. If you are lucky enough to have some empty seats next to you the airline will let you bring your FAA-approved car seat on board even if you have not purchased a ticket. I check to see if the seats are still free before I leave and then ask when I arrive. This is a huge help during longer and overnight flights as you can put your sleeping child down and have free hands, at least for a moment.
Tip 5: Baby carriers make traveling with a child so much easier. I would never even think of leaving home without one. I use the ergo baby which honestly until very recently has worked great. It is starting to hurt my back now that Pania is 28 pounds so I am currently looking into a tula carrier which I hear are amazing. I have had friends who have traveled with their wraps, although I can not speak from experience, they have all had positive experiences. Check out the carrier I use in my new video.
Bonus Tip* If you do have a carrier with a pocket stick a diaper (or two) and a few wipes in there. One less thing for you to do when trying to change a baby on a flight or quickly between layovers.
Tip 5: Get a travel system. If your toddler will still fit in one absolutely without a doubt. This has been huge for us and has made traveling so much more efficient. I am a little sad to admit that this was the last trip we will have this set up as Pania has pretty much outgrown the car seat. I just ordered a new stroller and car seat so I will update you on our next trip. You can also see how I use my travel system in my latest video.
* Bonus tip: Travel systems can be checked at the gate free of charge and will be waiting for you once you step off the plane.
Tip 6: Pack smart not light. As hard as I try to pack light it is almost impossible with a child. The key is to bring the essentials and be mindful of what you will actually use instead of bringing a bunch of random things. My rule of thumb is to bring a different toy and snack for every half an hour you will be on the plane. Of coarse you can adjust this to your child’s personality but I have found this to work extremely well. I will also hide a few toys from Pania a week or so before the trip so they seem new and fun on the plane. Learn more about the luggage and toys I love to travel with here.
* Bonus Tip: Toddlers love having their own back packs. Although it is an extra thing to bring it is totally worth it and will keep your little one entertained. Fill it with fun surprises and toys that have more than one feature. I just ordered this super cute one from Land of Nod:
* Important tip: No one likes to get sick while traveling but think ahead and bring cold medicine, pain relief, cough drops, a travel humidifier with essential oils and/or your favorite remedies just in case! Especially if you are traveling during flu season.
Tip 7: More is better with Diapers and wipes. Whether you use cloth or disposables it is always best to bring more than you think you will need. I like to think of a number and double it. A diaper for every hour is typically a good rule of thumb. Depending on how long you will be gone you may have the option of checking a nice stash in your checked bags. Do not forget to account for layovers, delays and the unexpected, well you know what I mean.
Tip 8: Dress simple and comfortable. As a mom I want to look chic but also need to be realistic for unexpected spills and mishaps. I find that wearing black is best and you can always dress it up or down with a cute wrap or nice jacket.This applies for Dad’s and all caregivers too!
Tip 9: Easy & simple toddler outfit. With Pania I focus on what is going to be easiest for me. I find dresses without buttons and zippers are best. Something I can pull on and off without too much effort. I always remember to bring socks and honestly save the shoes until we arrive to our destination (they usually fall off anyway). I can not speak too confidant for boys but I would say either way the simpler the outfit the better. Especially when you are on a plane in a tight spot and need to change your toddler the less steps the better.
Tip 10: Just breath. Traveling can be stressful, unexpected and very exhausting. Remember to take each phase of traveling one step at a time. Try not to get overwhelmed by the idea of long flight or unexpected layover. Remember that you will get through it because you are prepared for the unexpected. Try to remember to stay positive and make things fun for your toddler. Traveling can be an exciting adventure and a great way to create fun memories with your little one.
* Fun tip: Take photos to make a special travel diary for down time or when you get home.
* Always leave for the airport sooner then you think you need to and keep these tips handy for a smoother journey!
If you have any other tips to share please comment below. I made a video as well if you are more visual. Comment, thumbs up and subscribe to my channel for more great tips and fun!
Happy and safe travels!
Lots of Aloha,
Nadia . Mermaid Mama