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The Real Deal when Flying with a Toddler

The Real Deal when Flying with a Toddler

Like many of you, I am afflicted with wanderlust. Always have been, always will be. And that means that I now take my kids with me on trips. It may seem daunting but the idea of staying put and not exploring the world, that is far more tragic.

Here’s the straight talk:

So let’s get real about what travelling with a toddler is like and some tips on how to deal.

The reality is travelling with a little one who is 1 to 3 years old is difficult (to put it nicely). Toddlers need to be constantly entertained (on their own schedule, in their own way) and do not understand the concept of being quiet or staying still (regardless of turbulence). Unlike babies who will often sleep anywhere after a good feeding, toddlers have a difficult time falling asleep without total silence and darkness.

Bring a carrier:

Now that I’ve most likely sufficiently scared you, let me tell you what I do to make travel manageable. Before travelling with my children, I never realized how often the food/beverage cart went by. Now I know their exact schedule and when it is appropriate to let my littles roam the aisles. Even though they have little legs, they still deserve to stretch them so when it isn’t a nuisance and it’s safe, let them do a few laps (it may even tire or bore them back into their seats). And if you can still carry your little in a carrier, walk the aisles to try and put them to sleep. The 20 minutes of pacing is a lot less annoying to others than hours of crying.

Kicking seats, it’s going to happen:

It isn’t just in comedy movies that kids kick the back of seats in an airplane and from my experience, my kids enjoy doing it (sorry!). And the recipient of these kicks will get annoyed. I’ve had the recipient give me dirty looks and even ask me to tell my child to stop. (Like I haven’t already)... My response: I tell the passenger that I’ve told my child to stop and I’ll continue to monitor but I can’t guarantee that it won’t happen again. If it continues, I invite them to tell my child to stop. Having someone else scold them will often stop my child in their tracks. And the passenger is usually caught off guard at my permission to do so and they generally do not complain again. What’s the saying again: steer into the skid?

Best time to fly:

This may take a trip or 2 to really figure out, but fly when it is convenient for your toddler. My husband and I always book so that we land in the evening/early night. Both of my kids NEVER sleep well on flights so an overnight flying isn’t right for us. All kids are different so book your flight times based on what works for you and your toddler. Also, you are not obligated to book a ticket for children under 2 but sometimes giving them their own seat can facilitate eating and sleeping on a flight.


So you’ve been upgraded! Aren’t you lucky… or are you?

Because my husband travels quite a bit for work and racks up travel points, we get upgraded to business class every so often. Without kids, this is always such a pleasure. With kids, it is a different experience. Business class flyers are less likely to be understanding of kids being kids. If you are flying business with your toddler, request the last row so you are out of the way as much as possible. Lastly, whether you are in business or economy, allow your child screen time. Throw away the rules for the flight because it will save your sanity. It is your trip as well so no need to suffer.

I hope this has given you some positive perspective of flying with your small children. It will not always be roses but you can make it work for your family so that travelling is still that pure bliss it has always been for you.

Extra tip: Other parents, recommend bringing candies for your toddler to hand out to passengers while roaming the aisles. From my experience, when passengers see that you’re trying your best to keep your child from being a nuisance, they are more likely to have empathy. So you don't really need to bring candies...maybe noise-cancelling earphones like George and Amal. (joke). 

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