A lot has happened in the last few months for us in the travel world. We’ve gone from infant seat to convertible car seat, taken our first international flight, and flown without Daddy. Here are some tips I came up with after C and I traveled, just the two of us for the first time without Daddy, and the first turn since she could (gasp) WALK! Just when I thought we were getting the travel thing down, something major changes. Mobility changes EVERYTHING.
— C and I with ALL of our gear. It looks intimidating, but this is pretty good —
Here are my thoughts to share with you.
1. Pack light. You might think this is a joke, especially when you see what we had at the airport, but there are a certain amount of things you must take. Beyond that, try to fit it all in one bag. The more items you have to manage, the harder to chase a little one. You’ll have, by default of traveling with a young child, a car seat (assuming you need one at your destination or have a seat for your child on the plane), stroller, diaper bag, and suitcase. We also had a lunchbox that ended up in a spare bag with our coats (much easier to carry).
2. Security: We choose to gate check our stroller and car seat (still infant carrier – this is about to change with transition to a convertible!). Therefore, you will find us going through security with: baby in ERGO, car seat attached to stroller, diaper bag, lunch box, and two jackets (cold weather destination). I will discuss the pros and cons of gate checking vs ticket counter checking car seat and stroller later. This is my routine to make security as smooth as possible.
- Tighten straps in the car seat ahead of time.
- Make sure liquids bag is easily accessible.
- When you approach the belt, grab 3 bins. Unload jackets into the first one with cell phone and anything you have in the stroller organizer and cup holders. Then put the diaper bag in the next bin. The third bin is for the lunch box and liquids bag; I keep my liquids in the lunchbox and leave it unzipped so they can easily see the food items, just in case.
- Then unclip the car seat, flip it upside down on the belt, and fold up your stroller to place on belt if it is small enough. Ours isn’t and must be taken through to be swiped and wanded.
- You may need to add shoes above, depending on the airport.
- I ask the agent whether they want me to take C out of the carrier – the typical answer is no, and they swab my hands.
Whew. I promise it isn’t that bad. Just relax – you will be quicker and more efficient if you breathe.
3. Be active in the airport. Let the little one walk as much as possible in the airport. Hopefully a good stroll will help with napping/sitting still on the plane. Admittedly, this was tricky with the stroller and car seat in tow!
4. What to pack in the diaper bag:
- 1 lightweight change of clothes for each of you – I packed a footed onesie for C and athletic pants and a lightweight t-shirt for myself.
- Diapers – I add 2 to the number I estimate we will need (this is different than traveling with an infant – we don’t tend to use many and rarely if ever have leaks/blowouts).
- Toys (discussed next)
- Empty straw cup (add water after security)
- Basics you may like to have, like Chapstick
5. Here is how I entertained my toddler:
We are also big fans of empty cups with something to stir and pretend eat 🙂 also helpful at restaurants.
The magnadoodle was the favorite, followed by the marker/paintbrush from the Melissa & Doug color wow, and the random mini catalog.
I found the Elmo sticker book to be too large and the binding cumbersome to keep the pages open. We will save this for when she is a tad older. We didn’t try the smaller activity book, which had crayons and stickers.
6. Snacks. I brought plenty of snacks. They doubled as car snacks once we got there and we had enough to make it home also.
I bought some new animal containers from the dollar store, which were also fun to look at and open/close. Novelty is good.
For the most part I used our snack cup and put a few pieces at a time.
We also had a new find, the spouts for pouches ChooMee – these prevent squirts, y’all!!! C loved them and did great with her pouches, which was also reassuring to me since it’s hard to make sure she is eating balanced meals while traveling.
If you’re reading this, you are probably planning a trip with a young toddler – so, good luck to you on your adventures!
Hopefully this happens on your flight….but don’t count on it!