16 Tips for Traveling with a Toddler

Posted By : Skyline/ 1068


Many parents fear travelling and toddlers is simply a recipe for disaster. However, with a little forethought and a few tricks it very well may be your favorite memory from your next trip. Below are 16 toddler-tested, parent-proven and TSA-approved tips for surviving airline travel:


  1. Use a Travel Agent. Being the deal detective that I am, I hate paying any more than absolutely necessary. Travel agencies often are able to match any deal you might find online but they can often get you extra perks and amenities for your flight. 
  2. Connections – Where possible, I always try to book direct flights without layovers or connecting flights. When you live near a larger city or airline hub, it’s typically a pretty feasible option. If you do need to book a flight with one or more connections, pay particular attention to the timing between the flights. While it is possible grab junior and make a mad dash to the next gate, you’re setting up your dear little one for a miserable next leg. Instead, plan a connection that allows time to explore, go to the bathroom, grab a bite etc. Remember: the more energy your child can burn before getting on the plane, the more content they will be to sleep or do quiet activities in the air. 
  3. Pack Light or Check the Bags. Toddlers, unlike infants are curious and MOBILE. Don’t bog yourself down with luggage. Use a backpack to keep your hands free to roam the airport with your toddler. 
  4. Scrutinize the Stroller & Consider a Carrier – While many parents swear by their stroller, I find it more hassle than helpful. Instead, opt for your favorite carrier. Not only is it easier to get through security (you can wear your kiddo and not have to go through the scanners) but you stay hands free during down time and can still carry your child when he/she gets tired. 
  5. The Kid Pack. One of the best things I have ever picked up for my toddler is a mini backpack. Not only does she feel like a “big kid” and demands to wear it EVERYWHERE, it’s the perfect size to carry a snack, drink and a few small toys. Added perk, it also has a removable tether attachment. More times than not, I don’t use it, but have found it handy when travelling alone or in particularly busy airports. 
  6. Pretend Plane-time. A week or so before you travel, “practice” with your toddler. Set up a “ticket counter,” “security checkpoint,” and plane area around the house and walk them through what will happen at the airport. It will help them know what to expect for the actual event and they will LOVE choosing a snack from the “cart” as the steward(ess) makes rounds. Invite older siblings or friends to play for a really fun afternoon. 
  7. Mile High Diaper Club. The doll-house sized port-a-potty on the planes do have a mini changing station above the commode, but it is next to impossible to comfortably change your little one – especially a toddler. Plan time for a potty break 15 min before boarding. If you need to go in flight, take only the necessities– a diaper pad, diaper, wipes and ointment (if needed). There isn’t room for both of you and a full diaper bag. If you find nature calling you, don’t try take him/her with you – ask a stewardesses or someone traveling with you to keep the little one company. Trust me. 
  8. Watch Your End Game. Don’t forget about items you might need one you arrive to your destination. If borrowing a stroller, pack-n-play, or car seat isn’t an option, call your hotel or check out rental companies in the area. While some car rentals offer car seat rentals – they tend to be grungy, gross and expensive. Opt to borrow from a friend or rent from a reputable company when possible. 
  9. Sleeping in New Places. Many hotels and resorts often have cribs or playpens available for little ones -but be sure to request it when booking a reservation so ensure availability. You can also consider bringing one in your checked luggage or look to borrow one from friends or family. If you are worried about your angel sleeping well in a new place, plan a few “practice nights” the week before by putting them to bed in a pack-n-play in a different room for a few nights before your trip. Note – the night or two before you travel, go back to the normal routine to ensure a happy, restful baby during travel. 
  10. Bringing Snacks. Unless you are accustomed to traveling with children, you may not know that TSA makes exceptions for baby food at security. Even when the containers exceed their limit of 3.4 ounces, the TSA allows milk, formula and even snack pouches through checkpoints. If you prefer to travel with water, bring an empty Sippy cup or thermos and fill it up at a water fountain once you pass security. 
  11. Airport Zone Offense. When traveling with a toddler, you have strategize for success in the security checkpoint and onboard the plane. I prefer the bag in a bag method. I put all my kid’s food and liquids in a gallon sized zip lock bag and keep it at the top of my carry on. Then it is a quick, easy grab to hand over to the screener. 
  12. Be Early – While you view airports through a lens of long lines and overpriced snacks, it is a wonderland to your two year old. It can be a fun place to explore, watch planes, and if you ask nicely, you can often get a free ride on the courtesy carts. 
  13. Safety First – Stay off your phone and pay attention. While it might be tempting to use airport time to coordinate with family or confirm a reservation, an airport is the LAST place you want your toddler wandering off. 
  14. Travel Guilt Free. Don’t use up precious carryon space for pinterest-worthy treats for surrounding passengers. While every parent as some point has gotten the “death glare” for bring a child on board, it is not your responsibility to make sure they have a great flight. Control what you can control – your toddler (sometimes). If you have snacks and activities planned for the flight, most passengers will be understanding and will enjoy interacting with your little one. If things do go awry, your fellow flyers just want to see you trying your best to take care of the situation. For those that choose to get snooty – well, they could have booked First Class. 
  15. Board First. Take advantage of the call for “persons needing assistants and those traveling with children” and get on the plane first. It allows you precious moments of no aisle traffic to get settled and pull out your flight necessities (diaper, wipes, snacks, activities). It also gives you time for a final potty break before takeoff and a chance to point out interesting things like the cockpit. And, if you ask nicely, some stewardesses will give your little a “mini tour” while you get things settled.