Gone are the days of glamorous and leisurely travel. The last time my husband and I flew pre-baby was a week-long excursion to Paris. And the trip to Paris was almost as exciting as the trip itself. We arrived at the airport early. Took our time and cozied up at the bar as we enjoyed some overpriced airport cocktails. You know – the kind that are only acceptable that early in the morning because you’re traveling.
Not anymore. Now we travel as a caravan of three, toddler in tow. It’s an entirely different experience, and while I miss the long relaxing flights with drink in-hand, there’s something so lovely about seeing the excitement of a toddler experiencing their first plane ride.
I’m not going to lie – I had major anxiety leading up to our first toddler plane ride. I worried months in advance, read every article, scoured every Pinterest board for the latest gadgets to make the ride easier. I obsessed over every detail. Two vacations later, I’ve accumulated tips for tackling air travel with a toddler.
- Things go smoothly when I control everything. That is quite difficult to do with air travel, but picking a sensible flight pattern when possible helps. I look for a mid-morning take off time with at least an hour layover. A longer layover gives us time to do a diaper change, get some food and let our son run around an expel some energy before the last leg of our trip.
- I can’t control everything. As much as I want to, I can’t control everything. So I try to stay calm and make the best out of whatever the situation throws at us.
- Let your baby be bougie for a day. Long layover? It’s worth the $50 a person (for an adult) for the day-pass to the Admiral’s Club. They have a “Family Room” that’s a giant enclosed space with a tv, comfy chairs and a space to relax and play. Your kids can be loud and stretch out without wandering off. There’s also free food and drink! We did this last time we traveled and had the whole room to ourselves – it was the best thing ever. It made for a happy toddler and relaxed mom and dad.
- Divide and Conquer. I ditched my cute designer carry on bag for a functional backpack and it was a life-saver. My husband and I each sported a back-pack for the trip. His contained all food, beverage and snack items along with diaper essentials. My back pack contained all toy and entertainment items and diaper essentials. That way if we were ever separated, either one of us could do a quick diaper change at any given moment.
- Some people are jerks, so be prepared. Like the guy that asked to change seats when he saw us sitting across the row from him. Joke’s on you dude. Flight was full and there was no seat to move to. [Insert evil laugh here as I let my son play his music toy over and over and over out of spite.]
- Some people are super nice and surprise you. They’ll compliment you and ogle over your baby. Even the businessmen in suits who wished us “luck” at the beginning of the flight told us at baggage claim “you guys did a great job”.
In the end, we made it to our final destination. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t bad either. It certainly wasn’t as terrifying as I worked it up to be. Even though we won’t be taking an international flight any time soon, I”m a lot more confident in our ability to conquer air travel. Who knows. Maybe there’s a trip to Disney in our future. Maybe.