– Or, How Not to Lose Your Shit in 10 Hours –
Dreaded and feared, the longhaul flight with a toddler. I don’t claim to be an expert on this, because this will be my first attempt, but I have a few qualifications:
- I have traveled internationally overseas since the age of 6 months straight through into my teens, every year to visit family in Norway
- I was the oldest of five children spanning a decade in age ranges, so I know what it’s like to travel with toddlers
Will my suggestions work? Time will tell. Am I trying to buck myself up for the upcoming slaughter of patience, sleep, and pride? Likely.
Let’s start with the baggage. Of the physical, not emotional type (although you may well feel emotional just thinking about the prospect of your Trek with Toddler). I am a firm believer that everything should have its place, so you can see what you have and can therefore break out in a cold sweat when you realize what you’re missing. Packing cubes are my nirvana, and I have a weird predilection for collecting endless versions of toiletry bags and makeup cases. When will just one be enough? Never.
Ah, to keep a toddler occupied. Let me tell you something I learned from the pro’s (my parents, who, as I will reiterate, traveled YEARLY, OVERSEAS, with FIVE children, on 20+ hour journeys): let the activities and toys on the plane be a SURPRISE. That means no showing Harper these toys until the flight, and saving some surprises for the flights home. Also, see my notes at the end of this post regarding SURPRISE BAGS. Genius.
A crib is a must, so the pack-n-play that we hate with a passion comes with us on this trip, sadly. We’re very fortunate to have been given the 4moms playard from our registry by my sister, but it is heavy, unwieldy, and the sheet situation is a mess. It’s also super stiff to sleep on. BUT, it’s what we have, so I’ll link it here. I’ll also link the playards above that I WOULD have purchased if I knew then what I know now. C’est la vie.
Did you put the chocolate in there? I didn’t. Huh.
Bring plenty of battery juice, noise-cancelling headphones (for yourself OR your toddler engrossed in an ipad children’s show), a cozy blanket, travel pillow (again, debatable on whether or not you actually get to use it).
Now for the Extra Tips
- Make “Surprise bags” – ziploc bags filled with items from the dollar store of things toddler has never seen before. Make each one different. Bust one out when all hell is going to break loose. My friend Trishia gave me this tip and said she included a dollar store glow stick in each one among the melee – her toddler got excited to guess which color the next glow stick would be!
- Invest in a montessori busy board. I purchased one for my toddler and it is portable, fits in my carryon backpack, and has a number of knobs, switches, zippers, pulls, and clasps for her to work her busy little fingers on. She really loves things like this at the moment so it’s right up her alley!
- I “Kid-Proofed” an aged-out mini iPad 4. In the links above you’ll see a kid-friendly mini ipad case. May I suggest you think about doing this for one of your tablets? I also placed a glare-reducing screen protector, making it the world’s first iPad to achieve an Industrial Grade Military Level Toddler Proof rating.
- Fill said tablet up with pre-downloaded shows. The key here is to already download. YouTube Kids app, despite its negative rep, has the ability to only show you the shows that are pre-approved and screened by YouTube. I selected some, downloaded them to the tablet, and voila! No Wi-Fi needed to stream these shows. Netflix Kids also has this functionality. I did both. 🤷🏼♀️
- Lollipops for sucking on whenever the cabin pressure hurts little one’s ears. Or a pacifier, whichever is preferred. Don’t forget tons of snacks, water, cup and container.
- Remember to use a packing list so you don’t forget anything crucial! Some items are quite out-of-sight, out-of-mind so making sure to pack the things you wouldn’t necessarily think of, are why I love making lists or utilizing packing list apps like Packing Pro or PackPoint (my personal fave).
What are YOUR tips for traveling with small children? Sound off in the comments below!