Traveling with a toddler can be anxiety-inducing. Especially with a two year old that is full of energy. Last month my fiancee and I took a 3 hour flight with our toddler, which felt like an eternity, from Houston, TX to New York City. I had a list of items I would take in hopes to prevent a full-blown tantrum and for the most part my son was entertained for the majority of the flight. I will share some of favorite products and techniques that helped me tremendously.
Throughout my son’s life we have taken several trips via airplane. He was 6 months old when we took our first flight and it was a piece of cake. He had a bottle and was asleep the whole flight. We were amazed at how easy it was. However, for this trip we knew things would not be that easy given that he has so much energy and cannot stay sitting down for longer than 30 minutes. I researched for multiple hours on the internet on how to keep him entertained and I must say all the information I found was so helpful.
At this stage, my son Sebastian, is very attached to his stuffed animals. Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Bullseye, and Mickey Mouse must be with him at all times. I made enough room in our carry-on bag to make sure all his “friends” were with him on the flight. As soon as we sat down and were buckled in we took them out and they were practically glued to him throughout the whole flight. When he would start to get a little bored, we would play with him and the toys and act out a story. He would be ecstatic when we would do this and it made my heart so happy. Taking your child’s favorite stuffed animals is a definite must. Also, loves or comfort objects are essential to providing a sense of security when they are in a completely different city and face a change in their routine.
Another thing we made sure to have were snacks! We flew economy and knew the airline would only provide some light snacks and a drink. We took an early morning flight and I knew he would definitely get hungry as soon as we were on the plane. Before boarding the plane, I rushed to Starbucks to get their oatmeal, which is one of my son’s favorites and it’s also very filling. I also stopped at a kiosk to buy a juice, chips, and fruit chews just in case things got out of hand. My son is a snacker and I have learned my lesson to always carry plenty of snacks even if they may not be the healthiest. Sometimes you have do what you have to do to keep everyone from having a stressful situation. There was a point on our flight where Sebastian was getting a little uneasy and I remembered I had the fruit chews. I handed him some and used them as a learning tool to teach him a few colors.
Since Sebastian was a newborn I read to him on a daily basis at night time. He loves looking at photos and reading along. So I figured why not take a couple of his favorite books and read to him on the flight. Some of his favorites that we took along were: First 100 Words, Giraffes Can’t Dance, and Where is Baby’s Belly Button. We read all 3 books and even read some of them multiple times. I also recently purchased 1000 Stickers (Sticker Activity Fun). It is a book full of stickers from animals, fruits, cars, toys and pretty much anything you can think of. It was definitely one of my favorite parts of our flight because he was so entertained completing some of the activities that are included in the book. I was very glad I remembered to take his favorite books because they made our flight fun and time felt like it was flying by.
Coco is Sebastian’s favorite movie. He has watched it multiple times and loves it. So my last resort if he became restless was to have him watch a movie on my phone. Before I got on the plane, I made sure to get the United App. That way we could either get Wifi (which we did not because it was a little too pricey and it was not suitable for streaming) or a watch a free movie which is only possible if you have the app beforehand. If you are flying, do your research and download the apps that are necessary prior to flying to make sure you are not stuck without any options. Also, don’t forget to take kid safe headphones to not disrupt others. While watching the movie Sebastian was relaxed and as soon as the movie finished we landed in New York. Perfect timing!
I was pretty stressed a couple of days before our trip, but thanks to me being prepared and doing my research the plane ride was better than I expected. Sebastian and I bonded and the flight was actually fun for both of us. Having a stress- free flight definitely helped us start our vacation on the right foot and make the whole trips a very memorable one. I hope you find my tips helpful. The saying by Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” is definitely true. So my number one advice is to think through and play close attention to your child’s favorite activities and toys. Make sure to take some of those pieces with you and you will see what a difference they make in making your flights more enjoyable and stress-free.