Flying With Littles – How a Well Planned Travel Outfit Will Save Your Sanity and Other Tips from the Trenches

The time has come.  Your little is now 2 years old and you are rocking the SAHM gig. You decide you to fly to see your folks instead of braving the 10 hour drive by yourself with a very self-assured child with the patience of … a 2 year old.  You can haul off and hope for the best OR you can learn from my mistakes and experience.  My “little” is now a very accomplished 9 year old traveler with 100s of hours of travel under her belt but this is how we got there in the early years.

The travel outfit for your child (as well as an identical back up outfit or 2) is far more important than you would think.  Remember that children age 2 and older MUST have their own seat on a plane, no more lap babies.  This means they have their own seatbelt.  They’ve never sat in a seat with a belt like that, they’ve always had a 5 point harness.  So when that grown-up seat belt and crazy metal buckle get lodged up under their cute t-shirt and press against their tender tummies, they lose their cool, fast. Ask me how I know.

This is my recommended outfit for Littles:

travel outfitHere is why I recommend this specific outfit.  Even if that mean old belt or buckle gets under the hoodie, it won’t get to skin which has caused more than one child to just lose their mind.  You can take the pants or hoodie off if your little gets too hot.  Generally planes are chilly though and this outfit will keep them warm enough. It is an easy outfit to change diapers in.  If you are unfortunate enough to to have to change a diaper on a plane, either do so in your seat or leave the pants and hoodie on your seat and just take your pouch with diapers, wipes, onesie and diaper disposal bag to bathroom. Most airlines request you don’t leave soiled diapers in airplane bathrooms, some forbid it.  Don’t ask the flight attendants to handle soiled diapers either, the FDA forbids it as they handle food. 

These are the other vitally important things you should take in a small, well organized backpack that will fit under the seat in front of you.  I usually use zipper pouches to contain like items.:

  • Snacks- twice as many as you think you will need for the flight and terminal time.  Hungry child stuck in an airport=bad day for all
  • Sippy cup (you are usually allowed to take one cup of baby formula or milk through security if you are traveling with a very small child).  Some airports are more strict and allow this only if you have an actual baby, not a toddler, with you.  Be flexible here.
  • Entertainment- 3-4 favorite books, 3-4 quiet toys, iPod/iPad or similar stocked with games and/or movies, chargers and an EXTRA POWER supply
  • One comfort item for child (a blanket is best because it helps keep them warm if the plane is especially chilly)
  • Diapers/wipes/onesie/diaper disposal bag/waterproof changing pad in a quick change zipper pouch- twice as many as you think you will need for the flight and time in terminal(s)
  • Extra outfit for child, 2 if you will be traveling for more than 6 hours total
  • Extra shirt and maybe pants for you – kids spill things, on you, at the worse possible time. Yup, I’ve been there too.
  • Pacifiers if you use them – pressure changes can cause major ear pain for little ones and sucking on a pacifier, thumb, bottle or sippy cup helps.  The pressure will be worse if the child has an ear infection.  Three, count ’em, THREE times this happened to us before our little was 5 years old. She has only had 4 in her life.  She didn’t get them on the plane. Each time we left home with the infection and the medicine to fight it. It was uncanny!
  • Your purse/wallet
  • Your phone
  • Your itinerary
  • Your tickets
  • Any medication you or your child need. (You’ve got to declare liquid medication at security. Take it out of the bag and put it in the bin with your shoes and 3-1-1 bag.)

backpack with zipper pouched

One carry on, that’s all, everything else gets checked.  Make sure you adhere to the weight limits for bags set by your airline.  Check your airline website under checked baggage.  You will likely have to pay per checked item so pack those carefully too, roll up space bags are your friend.

Be sure to bring an umbrella stroller and get a gate check tag from the gate agent before your section is called to board. Your fellow travelers will thank you or at least not scowl at you as you rush to get the tag on the stroller while getting your child out and trying to fold it up. You’ll leave the stroller plane side at the end of the jetway and get it back plane side at the next city.

That’s it – a backpack, a stroller and a child.  This will be plenty to juggle.

filled bag

Check the car seat, there are great car seat bags that will protect the seat in transit.  (If you just feel you have to bring the car seat on the plane with you, it MUST go in the window seat unless there are 2 car seats next to each other, it is never allowed in the aisle seat. The flight crew will make no exceptions to this, ever.) Remember if you bring it, you get to install it in your parents’ car … after a flight with a 2 year old.  Sooo, you might ask your parents if they know of someone they can borrow a car seat from and then you can leave yours in your car. Before you leave you will also need to measure your child from the seat to the top of their shoulders so that your parents can set up the shoulder straps properly when they install the seat before you arrive. Otherwise you get to reposition them in the airport parking lot and reinstall the seat, and you know where this is going.

If you forget something you absolutely need, buy it at the airport or find another family to take pity on you.  Do not pack too much for “just in case”, you only have 2 hands and one small backpack.

This is the one instance where I will suggest you check anything; when you are traveling alone with children too young to carry their own things.

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” -Confucius

 

Aiplane at Sunset Photo Credit: By Cubbie_n_Vegas from Las Vegas, USA [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Text added by DreamDepartExplore

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