I think you may have seen my son’s (future) BFF lately. He’s been creating quite the buzz traveling throughout New Zealand and Australia with his Mum and Dad (also, my future girl BFF and my husband’s future guy BFF). The adorable royal parents, William and Kate, took baby George along while they traveled the three-week tour simply because they just couldn’t imagine being away from their son for too long. (I can absolutely relate. See, Kate- we are totally going to be BFF’s.)
Seeing the adorable pictures of George alongside his parents while they travel, got me thinking about my own family and our travels. Harrison, who is now 20 months is one lucky toddler. Not in the sense that he has me for a cool mom (wink, wink!) but because he’s been lucky to travel often. He took his first flight at 4 months of age, has since taken 12 flights, plus about a hundred long-distance trips; I’d say he’s a pretty seasoned traveler.
Getting prepped for my first flight with a baby was a scary one. I researched like crazy gathering tips and tricks on how to travel with a baby. I even chatted with Facebook friends who had recently traveled with their own babies. Then, that first flight came and left. Leaving me no longer scared or sweaty-lipped about traveling. In fact, I don’t even think twice about traveling with him. How about flying alone with a toddler? Shoot, I got this! And road trips? I welcome you.
Since I’ve become a semi-pro at this “have baby, will travel” lifestyle, I would love to share my top 5 tips and tricks to traveling with a toddler. From packing to reaching the tarmac- this list will help make the process a smooth one :).
5. Bring the comforts of home with you. For some, their immediate reaction is that they don’t want to lug around “all that” baby/kid stuff. But, I learned from the one (and only trip) where we borrowed things, to never do it again. I thought borrowing wouldn’t upset our son because when we did, he was only a few months old. But our son proved us wrong. Harrison sure had his spider senses cranked up to full gear because he was irritable and didn’t sleep throughout the night in his borrowed pack and play. Sleeping through the night wasn’t an issue pre-trip. But this particular trip, it was an issue :(.
Moral of the story: bring your child’s own blanket, favorite toys,or anything else you think of that may make traveling easier.
FYI: Airlines don’t charge extra for baby/toddler related items. So feel free to check-in the stroller, car seat, pack and play, inflatable toddler bed, etc. Sure, you’ll look like you are traveling for a month, but you’ll be the parent getting a full nights sleep and not getting grey-hair from a cranky kid.
4. Embrace technology. Have your cell phones fully charged and your iPad full of downloaded apps just in case your lil one decides to throw a tantrum. If you are a “no technology” kind of parent, well that’s cool. But maybe think twice about having this as a backup plan just in case your baby decides that your normally soothing sing-songy voice doesn’t do the trick and instead Baby Einstein is killing it.
FYI: My favorite app (it’s free too) is WATCH Disney Junior which provides different 30 minute shows seen on Disney.
3. Splurge if necessary. I’m talking non-stop flights if possible, flying during nap time or evenings, paying for extra leg room, and if theirs a chance the flight will be full (say, Christmas season) pay for the child’s seat. I know we don’t all have the luxury to do such things every time. But, use your judgment on when to splurge and when to skimp out. I’d rather be able to sip on my
gin and juice (I mean, apple) and enjoy my pretzels in the other hand, than trying to find room for my toddler and I to fit comfortably in one seat.
2. More is better. Carve out more time to get to the airport and to go through all that airport ish. You know that “be at the airport 2 hours early rule” that someone came up with? Um, do it. Because even if you breeze by security (because you’re a genius and totally didn’t pack liquids) and are waiting at the gate ready to board, you’ll have done it in a manner that kept you relaxed and sane. Plus, now you’ve got more time to grab food, nurse your child, shop at The Body Shop or whatever random stores that perk your interest.
FYI: If you’ve got a stroller, bring it through the airport. You’ll not only be able to zip around the airport but you’ll be able to gate check it. I’ve taken my Uppababy G-Luxe on all 12 flights and that bad-boy of a lightweight stroller is the ultimate in versatility and among its many (and I mean, many) amazing features; my favorite is that it is suitable for a 3 month old, the youngest age for a glorified umbrella stroller.
My son at 4 months: first flight and using the Uppababy G-Luxe umbrella stroller. (Side note: this moment is of my son meeting his Great Grandpa for the first time.)
1. Do You. Simple enough. When in doubt, revert back to what you’ve been doing. After all, you’re the parent and you truly know what’s best for your child.
So there you have it, my quick 5 tips on traveling with a toddler. Got any other tricks you can’t live without?