Traveling (with babies and toddlers)

It’s that time again–where we pack up half the house, organize a dog sitter, and travel with our little ones.

I have traveled with our girls more times than I can count–with one baby, with one toddler, with one baby and one toddler, without a daddy–it’s something I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable doing than I’d ever imagined.

A lot of people stress about traveling with their little ones, and it’s not unwarranted.

Traveling with babies and toddlers means a lot of planning and a lot of stuff.

It makes you really learn what you absolutely need and what you probably could live without for a short while.

There are lists galore on the internet for anyone looking to travel with their little ones, but I try to keep my lists pretty simple.

At least, as simple as traveling with small children can be.

Here are some of my best tips and recommendations for flying (driving long distance is its own ballgame) with your littles:

For your checked bag:

  1. Bring those nighttime essentials you don’t realize you’ll need until you get there: monitors and sound machines; a familiar blanket or stuffed animal.
  2. Pack the meds: a pain reliever/fever reducer is a likely necessity with travel; gas drops, if you’re into those; saline and a nose sucker, because planes are dry and/or someone will get sick; Baby Vick’s, if you’re into that, because travel + stuffy noses = no sleep.
  3. Grab the eating tools you forgot: Because sometimes your destination doesn’t have kid-friendly forks and plates and cups, and sometimes that becomes a huge hassle.
  4. You know–the obvious stuff: clothes, pajamas, bibs, etc.

For your carry-on:

  1. The Holy Grail: SNACKS. The best plane snacks are small bites that are not super messy or things that take a while to eat (because we always need more time-killers). Things like Cheerios or Puffs, pouches (though these can be messy for babies and quickly eaten by toddlers), freeze-dried fruits (which can double as teethers), apples or pears.
  2. Charge your phones/tablets: and pre-load them with movies or shows you know your toddler is into and simple games your baby could be distracted by. I know you’re probably trying to limit screen time, but having a backup fail-safe is essential for when the more wholesome activities you planned fall through (because mine always seem to).
  3. Go for self-contained activities: Things like a sticker book (where you place stickers in certain places in the book) are great for entertaining a toddler and keeping them focused on not spreading stickers everywhere. One of those mess-free painting/coloring books is another go-to. I also found some sweet lacing activities at Target for $1 that can be time-consuming and no-mess. Felt books can be a great distraction, too.
  4. Bring small, interesting books and toys: teethers, jingly rattles, and “chew toys” (as I call them) for babies; small, chunky board books are great for both toddlers and babies; little animal figures or cars.
  5. Grab plenty diapers and wipes: I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but we’ve been caught without one or both of these items before, and it’s oddly difficult to find them in airports!
  6. Bring pacifiers and straws/sippy cups: When that plane’s pressure changes, your little one will probably need something to pop those ears, and pacifiers (if you’re into those), nursing (if you’re into that), straws, and sippy cups can all help!
  7. Don’t forget the usual stuff: You’ll probably want hand sanitizer, plus anything you’d normally want!

For the airport:

  1. Get there early: If you’ve become an expert at flying, you sometimes think you can push the limits (I won’t need long to get through security and get settled, I’m sure!), but don’t do it. Things can (and probably will) go sideways at some point, and you don’t want to end up lugging your supposed-to-be-checked car seat and supposed-to-be-checked suitcase with you through security because you’ve missed the check-in time (trust me).
  2. Wear the baby: If you’re into that, wearing the baby frees up hands you’ll need for digging out tickets/IDs, grabbing an escaping toddler’s hand, carrying your coffee or lunch, etc.
  3. Let the toddler run: Some people like to keep their kids contained in airports, but letting them run off some steam (excitement, stress, nerves) can help you immensely when it comes time for them to sit in one place for hours. Obviously, just keep them close and don’t let them run wild in big crowds.
  4. Let the baby crawl/roll/kick: Some people also don’t like the idea of their baby touching a nasty airport floor (and I agree–gross), but your baby is gonna be just as restless as your toddler if you keep them cooped up before you need them to be chill. Lay down a blanket for baby if they’re not mobile, and be ready with hand sanitizer if they are.
  5. Relax: I know that’s impossible, because you’re flying with children, but do your best to take it all in stride. When you get worked-up, they get worked-up. If you’re (relatively) calm about the whole ordeal, chances are they will be, too. And, if they aren’t, it’s all temporary–you will eventually land, and you will probably never see these people again. So, ultimately, who cares if your kids are those kids?

My last tip? Have someone waiting with wine on the other side.What are your flying essentials? What’d I miss? Let me know below or on Facebook.Safe travels!