Traveling with a Toddler
This past August I moved from Japan to Virginia with a 18 month old and two dogs by myself. The trip included 36 hours in airports/on flights, 1 night in a hotel, and 10+ hours in a car. In the following month I also did three 6-12 hour car rides with my crew. It was not ideal, and probably one of the hardest things I've managed, BUT I learned a lot along the way and want to share my tips with you!
For the sake of keeping this a reasonable length I will focus on flights with kids.
Carry On Must Haves
A change of clothes for everyone
It's simple, but I learned this lesson when Jake spilled apple juice on our whole family in the first 30 minutes of our first ever flight together 🙈
Honestly, I take a bapron everywhere. The amount of snacks we have at the airport and on the plane though make this a must have. Plus they are the easiest bib to travel with because one can do the job the whole trip. A quick rinse in the sink and hung out to dry for an hour or so and it's good to go for the next meal.
The first time I traveled with Jake was on Thai airways and the bathrooms were tight with a diaper bag, but doable. The last time I traveled on Delta though there was NO extra room. When I extended the changing table down it touched the front of my body and my back was against the door. There was no way I was fitting a diaper bag in there. Thankfully I had a portable changing pad wristlet with diapers, wipes, and cream all included.
PanBam currently has changing pads from Bebeboo and cute small wetbags which would work perfect for a diaper or two and some wipes.
I personally carry one per person in my carry on. I'm not letting anything stand in the way of us getting sleep, and a freezing cold plane definitely prevents me from sleeping. The Tula blankets are soft and gold up small so they are perfect to tuck away in a carry on!
The thing that kept my son's attention the longest was a handful of pipe cleaners and an empty water bottle 🤷🏻♀️ Other easy winners are simple stacking toys, magnetic boards, and lightweight books.
Snacks for days
Even if the airline provides a child meal. Our flight back and forth from a trip to Thailand offered Jake pouches that were "tuna and potato" and "salmon and peas" flavored. I tried them, and I do not blame my kid for not eating them. On another flight I was shocked for my son to turn away pasta. I guess when their world is turned upside down kiddos just want the comfort of cheerios and apple sauce.
Big body wipes
These are AMAZING for long travel days. Juggling the kiddo and dogs there was no way I could shower, but being able to do a quick wipe down was amazing. The wipes are large and subtly fresh scented. One wipe easily worked for all my stinky places.
A baby carrier!
This one is an absolute lifesaver. Jacob would only sleep in the airport in the baby carrier. It also made juggling carts of luggage 1000x easier. It also gave him a sense of closeness and security when I was putting his little body through the ringer.
This small package has everything you need to travel light. You especially need to travel light and easy when you are hauling a ton of kid necessities and toys 😅 The shampoo and condition are easy bars for most hair types and everything smells amazing!
Trust me. No matter how tired you are, take 10-20 minutes for yourself after putting kids to sleep. Soak off the stress and airport scum. Breathe. You made it!
Be kind to other passengers and they will be kind to you. Even if your kid screams for an hour on a red eye. (Ask me how I know 🙄) If you're kind it goes a long ways. A lot of people even step up and are quite helpful.
Don't be afraid to move around the plane. We did a lot of bouncing to sleep and pacing aisles. Most people don't care. If they do, oh well. You paid for a ticket (or two). You can move around.
Give snacks or drinks during takeoff and landing to help with ears popping.
Use a layover to get out energy! We flew twice during a global pandemic, so play spaces were closed. Stairs, escalators, and long stretches of hallway weren't closed though. We ran and climbed on everything. I'll let you in on a secret too... People don't care about as much as we think they do. In fact, most people are happy to see a happy and smiling kiddo. They are even happier when they sit next to you on a plane and your kid quickly falls asleep from all the running they just did.
You can do it!
Remember to use code NIKKI at checkout to save 😊