Sunday, November 22, 2009

Travel with a Toddler

Last week, my sister, daughter & I hopped a plane to visit my parents for a couple days.  My parents often head west in November, but since they weren't able to do so this year, I decided to go to them.  We flew in Sunday to celebrate my mom's birthday, then headed back to Arizona on Tuesday.

It was a very quick trip, but we all had a great time and Lydia (2 1/2) enjoyed herself completely. She was an angel on the trip, but I thought I'd share a few tips that made our trip with a toddler easier (and a couple things I should have done!)
  • Pack light, but bring extra outfits.  I packed one extra outfit, which we needed before we got off the plane on Sunday (she spilled ginger ale all over herself!)  I should have packed 2 extra outfits, but thankfully we finished the trip without needing another extra outfit.
  • Pack snacks.  I always always always do this . . . but I didn't this time.  I'm not sure why, but I left without my usual stash of snacks in my purse and figured I would buy the snack boxes. On our flight out, by the time the flight attendants reached row 12, they were out of food to purchase.  US Airways doesn't even give out pretzels with their drinks, but at least we did get a drink.  We were all pretty hungry by the time we reached Grandma's house, but she had plenty of food to fill us up.
  • Bring an empty, re-usable water bottle.  Security doesn't allow you to bring liquids through, so I carry a re-usable bottle.  Vendors charge $2-4 for a single bottle of water, so this way I can fill up the bottle and use powdered drink packets to flavor it.  
  • Take advantage of opportunities.  At some airports, travelers with small children are able to go through a shorter security line.  The Milwaukee airport had a children's play area, which Lydia enjoyed playing in while we waited for our flight home.  Some airlines allow you to pre-board if you have small children. Pre-boarding allows you a little more room to get settled, and there's room in the overhead bins for your carry-ons to be above your seat. 
  • Bring an iPhone or iPod or other entertaining device. My iPhone is loaded with toddler games (99% of which were free) and my sister had an entire season of Animaniacs on her iPod. I brought a pair of headphones that fit Lydia and she spent a good portion of the trip playing games or watching videos.
  • Fill a row (if possible.) The three of us filled one row, which made travel easier as Lydia sat between us and had the freedom to move a bit more than if a stranger were next to us. If you are traveling by yourself with a toddler, I suggest sitting your toddler next to a window so they can look out the window during the flight.
  • Plan for frequent bathroom breaks.  Even though the bathrooms on planes are ridiculously small, walking the aisle and having a break from the seat is worth squeezing into the small room. For a recently toilet-trained toddler, it's also absolutely necessary! I think we averaged about one trip an hour during our 4 hour flight. 
  • Enjoy yourself!  I realized that traveling with one child is much simpler than traveling with 2 or 3, but no matter how many children you may travel with do your best to leave stress behind and enjoy the experience. 
Lydia had a great time, but isn't ready to hop on another plane just yet.  On Wednesday, we headed to the airport to pick up family that is visiting, and she yelled "I don't want to get on an airplane!!!!" as we pulled up to the airport.  I'm sure she'll be ready the next time an opportunity comes up!

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