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The Truth About Traveling With Toddlers

The Truth About Traveling With Toddlers

By Amalah

Hi Amalah,

Been reading your writing for a decade, and this is my first time writing to you. Bit of a Hail Mary since it’s time-sensitive but I’m desperate so I’ll take my chances.

I have a 25 month old who we’ve never travelled with. For good reason, namely that he is pretty intense, hates the car seat, and we are also first-time neurotic parents. We have a wedding on July 4th weekend that will coincide with a bit of a family reunion and we have been feeling really anxious about several things namely:

A) The plane rides, four total spanning half a day (two there, two back). Will he stay put in his seat? How do we keep him entertained? What were we thinking?

B) Adjusting to a new environment, namely sleeping. He is such a creature of habit and has had the same routine and crib for his entire life. My parents (where we are staying) don’t have black out windows or a rocking chair or all the ‘tools’ we’ve employed to secure healthy bedtime habits. Like all kids, sufficient sleep is critical to his moods (and tantrum outlook) so this has me especially nervous.

Lastly, is this going to be fun? We’re staying out-of-town for four nights/five days and haven’t even begun to orient him to what’s about to occur. I suppose you deal with neurosis and anxiety every day (not personally, with us writers I mean) so any support you can provide would be greatly appreciated!

Here’s the honest truth about traveling babies and toddlers: It’s a total, utter crapshoot.

I’m sure you’ve been frantically Googling any all travel tips for toddlers, and yes! There are some very good tips! Make sure he has something to drink or suck on when your plane ascends and descends! Pack plenty of snacks, cheap-o toys/activities from the dollar store that he’s never seen before! Or just admit defeat and bring an iPad like 99.99999% of the traveling-with-kids population does these days!

I’ve traveled with three different kids at all kinds of different ages, via planes, trains and automobiles. We’ve stayed in hotels and houses of all levels of child-friendly-ness. I still never know what’s going to happen. I never know who is going to sleep or behave or whine or freak out or suddenly run away from me at the airport into a TSA-restricted area oh my God I’m so sorry I’m so sorry. 

The most important thing about traveling with kids is that sometimes you just have to do it, so you do it. Que sera, sera.

From the sound of things, I think this trip is going to be a very, very good thing. For YOU. Reject that self-label of first-time neurotic parent. He’s absolutely old enough to travel, and to understand that things are different when he’s not at home, and that’s okay. You could all benefit from a little flexibility and go-with-the-flow-ness, I bet. Once you’re back at home you’ll be exhausted, glad it’s all over with…and likely, SUPER proud of yourself and him for doing it. And hopefully get to planning the next great adventure.

You won’t be able to GUARANTEE that he won’t fight staying in his car seat on the airplane. So maybe you’ll hold him in your lap for some of it, or let him walk the aisles when the seatbelt sign is turned off. Or if the flight is turbulent and he won’t stay still in your lap, you keep him in his seat despite his protests and do your best to keep him happy and entertained. (Seriously, just bring movies/TV shows and a crapload of Goldfish.) Maybe you’ll get dirty looks from other passengers when he cries, maybe you’ll get nothing but sympathetic glances  and people who are happy to play peek-a-boo with him. I highly doubt whatever worst-case scenario you’re picturing is going to happen, but even if it does…who cares? No flight lasts forever, and you’ll likely never have to see any of those people again.

Deep breath. It’s going to be fine.

Same with all the worries you have about your parents’ house. Travel messes up kids’ routines. Accept that fact instead of fighting it with useless waves of anxiety, which will just beget more anxiety. People will understand if he’s cranky. People will understand that a 2 year old throws tantrums. Your parents might want to keep him up and mess up his routine simply out of excitement of seeing him and having them there — you’ll do your best to remind them that he needs to stick to SOMETHING resembling a food/sleep schedule but don’t freak out at grandparents just being typical grandparents.

This will be key to this trip being anything that resembles “fun.” Flexibility and non-control-freak-ness. And oh, do I speak from experience on this, since I also tend to stress out majorly while preparing for a trip — we must pack ALL THE THINGS! we must make all kinds of extra purchases because they will save us from…I DON’T EVEN KNOW!  And then I wind up tight like a coiled spring, ready to lose my mind at the first child who whines or asks for an inconvenient potty break. This is…not helpful. Traveling is much more pleasant when I take my own advice and just…roll with the crapshoot. Travel is essential. Travel is good! New places and people and a break from THE UNBREAKABLE ROUTINE! are good! Good for him, good for you as a family. You’ve been essentially grounded for 25 months. It’s time to get out and see the world. Or the inside of a wedding reception hall, just as a start.

Deep breath. It’s going to be fine. (And even at its most not-fine moments, it won’t last forever and you’ll be back home before you know it.)

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Allison

    June 24, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    How about a practice day trip before hand? Somewhere fun, at least an hour away, and new. Then he gets a little practice in the car seat, but you can use it as a remember when we did this? Wasn’t it fun? And use it to encourage him when he gets sick of the plane/traveling.

  • Cheryl S.

    June 24, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Amy is spot on. If at all possible, RELAX! I can actually feel your stress just reading that letter.  As I’m sure you know, your son will pick up on it too.

    Things will work out.  Try to make this a fun adventure for your family.  To your son:  Guess what? We’re going to the airport! We’re going to go on an airplane! Etc.

    Will his schedule get messed up? Most likely. Will he have a tantrum or two?  Most likely.  But, you have to focus on the positives.  he’ll see his grandparents/extended family. You get to go to a wedding. 

    This is an adventure not a trial!

  • Sarah

    June 24, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Also, black garbage bags taped to the windows make awesome makeshift blackout blinds!

    • Lydia

      June 25, 2015 at 12:10 pm

      Bring painters tape so you don’t take paint off the walls!  And yes, I garbage bag all the time.

  • Niki

    June 24, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    Yup, yup, yup. This is an exercise in Zen parenting. What happens will happen, and you will deal, and then it will be over. It might be fun, it might not. You might have moments of light in the darkness, or you might discover that your kid loves traveling.

    There are a few things I would recommend for travel, if you can afford to stock up on stuff, and a few things to think about.

    Are you going to bring his car seat on the plane? If so, we had great success with a strap-on dolly-like thing (Go Go Baby, or something like that), because our daughter loved getting to ride her carseat through the airport. On the other hand, not having a carseat on the plane makes it a different experience, plus he can curl up against Mommy (easier on planes with movable arms, of course).

    Next, think about sensory experiences, even if your kid doesn’t have sensory problems. Maybe some big puffy headphones (to plug into that tablet?) to help minimize noise some of the time. Squeezy modeling clay or play dough, things which allow him to use muscles while having to sit still. Maybe something for the layover (or have him help carry stuff for “heavy work”) — our daughter was younger, and I made space for a popcorn walking toy so she would and could move around.

    For sleeping at grandparents, there are some travel solutions for blackout curtains (I once swore we would travel with our own curtain and ropes, because light was a major issue for my daughter). I agree with Amy that sleep will just be different, but I do think you could talk with your parents about rigging up something for the stay. As for all the tools, I recommend picking one (or two) that you could bring along. (For instance, we brought the starry turtle for night light comfort and the musical teddy bear because she uses music to settle.)

    I wouldn’t be inclined to make it a big deal so as to avoid stress and performance anxiety, but maybe some matter of fact social story talk where you introduce the idea that grandma’s house will be different, that will be okay, he has xx (stuffy, mom and dad, whatever) for reassurance, etc. (Um, I would Google social stories, I didn’t do a great job putting that together.)

    But, again, breathe, no matter how it goes (my daughter gets little sleep on event trips because they are Exciting), it will be fine. If you are worried about judgment from family members who only see tantrums and whining, just remind yourself that you know just how far outside the norm this trip is, and they will get go see his lovely self some other time. (Sorry, this part is probably not as helpful as I would like, I am running out of time for typing).

  • Kate

    June 24, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    I’m a pilot’s wife and our 3 year old has probably been on 50 flights in his life already and countless road trips.

    My tips:
    1. DO NOT STRESS. Stay calm, stay zen, do. not. stress. They can sense it and it makes the whole thing worse for everyone involved. 1a. Have a sense of humor, 2. Bring (fun) snacks. 3. Bring a small backpack full of activities. We like crayons and a smallpad of paper, hot wheels, ipad, books. 4. Embrace the lack of routine, it’s good for him. He can’t have the same routine for his whole life, so you might as well introduce him to routine changes sometime, right?

  • IrishCream

    June 24, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    I bet you’ll have a blast! I’ve flown/road tripped with my kids from their infancy on (far-flung family). Amy’s advice is spot-on, you’ll be happiest if you embrace the vacation mentality. Pick a few things that you’re not willing to compromise on, and let go a little on the rest. In my family, my kids aren’t allowed to play with our phones, but when we’re on the plane, they can have three hours of screen time (and I recommend buying toddler headphones that protect their ears from too-high volume…you can buy them at Target.). We’re normally pretty crunchy in terms of diet–vegan-ish, not too many sweets–but I do not bat an eye at eating ice cream every day when we’re on vacation. When they were very little, though, I was pretty strict about sleep. One late night per trip, max, and I would drive around a strange city for two hours to get them to nap in the car, if need be. I resigned myself to laying down with them for half an hour, if need be, to get them to fall asleep in a strange place. A white noise app on my iPhone helped, too.

    If this is your first trip, you might not know what you can relax about and what might throw your toddler into a tailspin. Trial and error, baby. This first trip might not be your best ever, but you’ll figure it out, and the next one will be even more fun.

  • Megan

    June 24, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    My first big road trip with a kid was when my oldest daughter was 4 months old – 14 hours to Texas. My daughter was in the middle of the 4 month sleep regression and didn’t nap all week unless we were driving. But it was fine and we were glad we went and went again. Now we have a 3 year old and a 9 minto old and we’ve traveled many times on planes or by car. There are always stressful moments, but even when our car broke down or our rental got broken into or a baby didn’t sleep on the plane until 10 pm, we’ve never regretted going. And the more you do it, the easier it gets! My girls are great little travelers and I’ve learned what works for them and us. The iPad is great but I always save it for emergencies so my older daughter doesn’t get sick of it before she gets really stir crazy. When she’s really done, an episode of Daniel Tiger gets us to the next rest stop. 🙂

  • Joanna

    June 24, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    Our 22 month old has been on several flights, most often a 1 hour flight to the grandparents but a couple of times the 6 hour trek across the country to extended family events (i.e. weddings.) Our experience has been that the actual travel part (flying, driving, shuttles, airports) sucks but the experience of the trip makes it well worth suffering through. My tot does pretty well on long plane trips, often taking at least a couple hour nap on my lap, but the time he is awake is just plain exhausting for me. When I fly I like to put on my headphones or read a book. Now I spend hours trying to keep an antsy boy entertained without using up all my tools in the first hour. An endless rotation of tablet games, play dough, books, Mr. Potato head, toy trains, more books, more tablet, look out the window, more tablet. I can’t wait for the day that he will sit and watch an entire movie like a little zombie. Honestly, having layovers, especially if they are long enough that you don’t need to rush around is really nice. It’ll give him a chance to run around and stretch his legs and maybe tire him out enough to sleep on the plane. Some airports even have playgrounds in them. Also, if you can, take turns with your partner with who sits next to him. Or if he’ll only have you on the flight (like mine) let your partner do the entertaining during the layover.

    One practical bit of advice that has really made a difference for us to sit in the very last row of the plane. That way if he freaks out he’s irritating the fewest number of people possible (no one behind you). Also, it’s closest to the bathrooms for diaper changes and a lot of times the flight attendants will even come by and entertain him a bit or let him walk around in their little prep space. 

    Once we arrive the plane I am sooooo ready for a break but that’s the beauty of visiting family. Baby entertainers galore! Even if my boy is cranky and sleep deprived and would be a nightmare at home, if we are in a new fun place with new fun people he is too distracted to let it get him down. He also always seems like a whole new kid after a trip like that because he’s seen so many new things and learned so many new words. It’s like a little kick start to his development after a long stretch of routine. How does your son tend to do when you’re out all day visiting friends? Is he energized be exploring new places? Those may be good indicators as to how he will handle the trip. (Also, if he likes to dance, he will be a huge hit at the wedding. We went to a wedding in March and circles were forming around him. He cried inconsolably when we finally had to take my grandma home and steal him from the dance floor at 10pm…and then passed out within minutes of leaving.) 

    Unfortunately the return trip doesn’t have the promise of lots of fun, so it’s just another long day of travel but at least your beds and routines are waiting patiently for your return. 

    Good luck and have fun!

  • Leigh

    June 24, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    Two easy ones.

    Car seats rear facing on the plane. Safer, but also they can only kick their own seats. Planes are white noise machines and grumpy kids don’t sound nearly as loud to everyone else as they do to you.
    For black out shades temporarily, contact paper over the window pane. Families vary, but ours find it strangely fun to put kids to bed.

  • Amber_S

    June 25, 2015 at 12:58 am

    My daughter was 22 months the last time we flew with her. And I think it’s getting better. 

    She kind of understands. We can kind of talk to her. She thinks the plane is exciting and fun! We do a round trip flight every 2 months since she was 2 months old, so about 12 round trips. 

    Like everyone else said, try not to stress. Your son is 2, and he’s a legitimate human with honest experiences and emotions. If he irritates other people, who cares? Yes, we do as much as we can to keep them happy and content and pleasant to be around, and if they happen to be loud for a while, everything will still be totally fine. 

    I would bring a rear facing car seat. We have the Evenflo Sureride just for air travel and its lightweight and great. We just throw the harness straps over our arm and go. 

    Read books ahead of time about riding on an airplane. 

    Trash bags and painters tape for blackout curtains.

    Go, explore, enjoy! Have fun.

  • Tiffany

    June 25, 2015 at 9:09 am

    We’ve flown with my 21 month old several times. Here are my top tips:

    – We bought a Cosco Scenera carseat for travel- it weighs less than his usual one and is easier for lugging around the airport. 
    – Overpack the diaper bag. You could be late to the airport and not have time for lunch. Your flight could be delayed or have to circle for a while. He could get motion sick. You will never be sorry to have extra snacks, extra diapers, and a spare set of clothes.
    – I will break almost every parenting rule to keep him quiet and happy on the plane. Eat as many goldfish and watch as many movies on the iPad as you want, kid.
    – When we are at our destination, our schedule revolves around naptime, and I don’t accept crap from anyone about it.
    – It’s vacation: having a fun/pleasant visit with family is more important than the finer points of the food/sleeping routine. If he wants to stay up late playing with his grandparents and live on yogurt pouches and crackers for a couple days, fine. 

  • yasmara

    June 25, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Order an Amazon box delivered to your parents’ house with diapers, wipes, toddler snacks, new board books, whatever else you might want/need…or mail yourself a box there this week…or if you have that kind of relationship, give your parents a shopping list so everything is there when you arrive!

     Rent/borrow/steal a pack-n-play so you have a container to put him in for naps/bedtime. Alternatively, if he’s already out of the crib, we’ve had awesome luck with the Aerobed brand toddler blow-up air beds.

    We have taped tin foil to windows for a makeshift black-out solution. Bring your own monitor if your parents don’t have one or can’t borrow one. It’s a nice thing to have if there are multiple floors & you want to sit outside on the patio with a cocktail.

    Don’t freak out too much about toddler-proofing, but ask your parents to put away anything breakable or keepsake books they don’t want crumpled or torn up. Find out if they have any toys around. My parents always had toys even before we had kids (they were just packed in a box in the garage or on a shelf in a closet) but my in-laws had NO TOYS EVER even when they had FOUR toddler/preschool grandchildren who visited. We picked up toys at the grocery store, Once Upon a Child (or any other secondhand store in your area), and used things like empty yogurt containers in the bathtub. 

    Above all, LOW EXPECTATIONS and try not to stress (easier said than done). Anything you can a) do without or b) ship vs carry on the plane will help you feel less stressed during the journey.

  • Heather

    June 25, 2015 at 10:11 am

    I just wanted to add that when I recognized that my own son was behaving the way I WANTED to but don’t because I’m a grown up (rolling eyes and flopping out because COME ON PEOPLE IN FRONT OF MEEEEEEEEE) then instead of embarrassment you have the option of “I feel ‘ya dude but that isn’t how we are going to act, even if it is how we feel. It doesn’t make them move faster”

    At the airport last weekend when the luggage was taking he started being cranky and I made the man next to me laugh when I said, “dude. Nobody goes on vacation to wait at baggage claim. None of us like this part.”

  • Cobwebs

    June 25, 2015 at 10:34 am

    One tip for planes: If possible, request “bulkhead” seats. They’re the row directly behind the partition between first class and coach, and they have extra legroom. There’s usually enough room for a small child to sit on the floor and play, which helps keep them from getting too antsy in a seat for hours. (We took my son to England when he was 18 months old, and there were definitely a few occasions when I thought, “This sucks.” But, as Amy says, it doesn’t last forever. The suckage abates, and you move on. Just like life in general, come to think of it.)

  • Janna

    June 25, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    My daughter is going to be 2 next week and she’s been on 10+ long car trips and 20+ flights. Kids can be incredibly resilient and flexible and usually she surprises everyone with what a good traveler she is. But of course the one time I flew with her alone she projectile vomited all over both of us twice and I was totally unprepared. She ended up running up and down the plane in a diaper and I had a huge, smelly puke stain down the front of me for ~ 6 hours. Make sure you bring extra clothes!

    It wasn’t the greatest experience but the flight attendants and other passengers were incredibly supportive and kind and everyone kept telling me their stories of traveling with their kids when they were small. After she puked she felt great and everyone was pretty charmed by the naked baby running around the flight 🙂 Like Amalah said, it’s just a total crapshoot and try to remember that everyone (at least the humans, and the ones with kids) knows that none of it is under your control.

  • Autumn

    June 25, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    We have a Cosco Scenera we use just for traveling because it’s so light weight, paired with the Traveling Toddler Carseat accessory (A strap to fasten the seat to a rolling suitcase, have also used the strap to turn the carseat into a makeshift high chair by strapping it to a standard hotel room chair)  We don’t put the kid in the seat while rolling it, we pile her stuff in it and have her walk with us holding her hand.  Or she “helps” us pull the suitcase if we have time with the connection.  If there are 2 of us, one preboards with the car seat to get everything set up while the other waits till the last minute to use up as much energy as possible.  We go look at all the planes and trucks and equipment.  Typically (on Delta at least) the car seat has to go in the window seat for safety.

    On the plane, I take her shoes off.  It hurts little feet more if they try to kick the seat without shoes which cuts down on that behavior.  If the flight is smooth, once in the air I loosen the straps and let her tuck the shoulder straps behind her so she can wiggle more in the seat and better play with toys/watch the iPad, eat snacks.  I pack a duffle bag which I keep at the foot of her seat so I can reach everything with the suitcase in the over head with the back up supplies (including a change of clothes for you and your husband!).  After take off, I slide my “personal item” under her seat, pull the duffle into reach, and enjoy the extra leg room for me!  Bonus reward for sitting next to the kid and being the entertainment committee, Leg Room!

    The trip will not be what travel was pre-kiddo, but I am so proud of us when we pull it off.  And less ideal situations with sleep can be good practice for future-  we outgrew Grandma’s crib long before the one at home, so a big girl bed at home was like sleeping at grandmas!  

  • CeeBee

    June 26, 2015 at 12:46 am

    Biggest on airplane tip: if it’s open seating, DO NOT SIT BY OTHER CHILDREN. Oh man. If one set of kid(s) is cranky, it makes the other kids cranky. If one set of kids is loud and rambunctious, the other kids have a hard time getting to sleep. Also, benadryl. Judge me if you want but I’ve got two intense strong willed children who don’t like to miss a thing. Sometimes they can’t wind down (especially if you have a connecting flight), but half of a weight appropriate dose should help him nod off.

    Once at your sleeping quarters, lower your expectations about the sleep scene. You might end up co-sleeping. He might go to bed later than usual (typical for my kids). You might have to drive around for naps. Also, don’t expect a lot of morning help from relatives. Your kid might not want someone else first thing in the morning or if you seem uptight about the routine, it might shy people away from helping.

    Last, if he ends up being shitty in public just remember that we were all, at some point, shitty kids in public.

  • June

    June 26, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    We have had mixed luck with our kids. There were trips where our son slept and happily played very quietly and trips where he screamed bloody murder for hours. We’ve found that making sleep a priority worked best. Play, go crazy, eat gallons of ice cream during awake hours but naptime and bedtime are a must.

    Also: during the trip where our son screamed I finally turned to the older woman next to us to apologize for his shrieking and she said “honey, I raised twin boys. There is not a thing he could do that would bother me. Let me known when you need a break and I’ll take him”. Sometimes you’ll be surprised by how understanding others can be even if you feel like your kid is bothering everyone. You might notice it more than they do!

  • Erica

    June 27, 2015 at 8:02 am

    I also am strict about sleep schedules, but was helped when the Baby Whisperer taught me that children with a strong sleep routine do well with occasional disruptions.  This is because their habits and attitudes have been developed in positive directions so they can bounce back well.  My oldest is now nine and I have found this to be true in all of their lives.  Take along the blankie or lovey or pillow or “bear and blanks and Alfred and Happy Baby ” my toddler currently sleeps with, go through your regular routine once you get there, and chances are that your child will use everything you’ve taught him about sleeping and do fairly well.  Hang in there.  This could be fun!

  • Becky

    June 27, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    Great advice here. One more thing to add (/reiterate I guess)….TRY TO SEE THE FUNNY SIDE (and if there isn’t one, find one). It will make it into a lovely adventure if you and your partner are giggling about it. Nothing nothing nothing will be solved by being pissy and stressy at each other…you’re a team! We flew major long haul with a baby with pre-measles (awful. It was awful) and molars coming through…she did not sleep for 25 hours!!!!! But it was a lovely bonding time with my husband and bub because of (mostly his, to be fair) a patient happy atmosphere:)

    Also, yes, it is noisy on the plane…people can’t hear as much as you feel they can!

  • C

    June 28, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    We have traveled a lot with our just-turned-three year-old daughter, and just got back last night from our most recent flight.  She gets car (and sometimes plane) sick, but once she turned two we got the green light to give her kids dramamine – and things are so much better.  It also sometimes knocks her out, which is also a plus, since she doesn’t usually sleep on planes any more.  At about age 2.5, we quit taking the car seat on the plane because she did better with room to move in the seat and will sleep (a little) more since she can stretch out snuggle with mom/dad.  If you are bringing your car seat on board, make sure that it has a visible FAA approved sticker on it and read up on your airplane/carseat rights.  I’ve only gotten grief once or twice, but when it was obvious that I knew what I was talking about, the flight attendants went from wary to helpful. 

    Like everyone else said: bring lots of snacks, small toys, a few new toys (and save some new toys and special new snacks for the last plane ride, so you still have a surprise to pull out just when it seems all hope is lost), iPad preloaded with favorite movies/games, bulkhead or last row seats, blankies/stuffed animals for comfort.  We got a backpack with a parent strap so our daughter can pack a few favorite things and carry it herself, but can’t walk too far away from us in the airport – and once  Since this is the first flight, the novelty of looking out the window and playing with the seats and magazines and cups of water may get you through at least the first flight before you even have to pull out your bag of tricks.  There are great white noise apps that help in strange rooms, along with familiar loveys and blankies.

    Talking about the trip before you go, all the fun things you’ll do when you get there, and in as much detail as possible step-by-step, helps prepare the kid and deal with what is going on.  For us, that’s “in three more sleeps, we are going to get up early, and take a taxi to the train to the airport in Chicago, and then two airplanes, and then grandpa will pick us up at the airport in Virginia and we will go to grandpa’s house!  And we will sleep there, and take naps just like at home, but we will get to go to the beach!  and eat lots of ice cream!”  The mantra helps in the middle of travel: “remember, we are on the first airplane now.  Soon we will be at the airport, then we will get a special snack, then we will get on one more plane, and then grandpa will pick us up and we’ll be in Virginia!”  

    One more thing: always pack at least one, maybe 2 changes of clothes (for you and the kid!) and any necessary loveys in your carry-on, especially since you have layovers.  You never know when someone will spill/get sick or you will get stuck in an unexpected hotel room without your luggage!

  • Kitty Kat

    June 29, 2015 at 8:31 am

    I was the letter writer up until 3 weeks ago.
    We have 2 boys, nearly 4YO and 18 months, and we are just back from our first family holiday involving flights (we flew to France from the UK). I’m not a great flyer anyway, so I was super anxious beforehand (what if youngest screamed through the entire flight? What if the eldest had a tantrum? What if we all get separated? What if, what if what if…). But you know what? It was fine.
    The flights were fine. Eldest was a horror unless he had possession of the iPad, and youngest went through Customs while I wasn’t watching but he chose the ‘Nothing to Declare’ lane so it was fine! They stayed up till 10pm every night and I feared for the routine when we got home, but they’re back to their usual bedtime and sleeping through the night again (or as much as they ever did before, anyway).
    The point is that, just like Amy says, stuff will happen but you’ll deal with it just as you do at home, and you’ll all benefit from the change/break in routine. Happy travels!

  • radiem

    July 10, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    LOVE the black garbage bag, painter’s tape idea. Where were y’all last week when we were in the brightest room ever at the beach!?

    I agree with taking the carseat on the plane. It’s familiar and your child will already have the expectation that he needs to stay in his seat. This is much better than spending the entire flight convincing him to stay in his seat and aisle.

    We always sit in the very back of the plane, close to the bathrooms, noisier so I don’t care as much about the random cries/screams that are coming from my child. Wine helps too, just sayin’

  • Katie

    July 30, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    Take a picture of your kid before you leave to somewhere crowded (airport, amusement park, etc).  Maybe one with you and them and a time stamp.  It’s one less worry – if your kid wanders off, you have a digital pic of them and what they are wearing for the day.  It helps reduce my fear of “what if my kid gets lost”.  Then, of course, try not to lose your kid.  I asked my brother (a cop) if this was paranoid.  He said it was hyper-vigilant.  Also, aluminum foil over the windows.  Often the spoon utensil drawer and tupperware at the house where  you’re staying is good enough to play with – someone else’s spoons are AWESOME.  Might want to bring your own carseat with unless you can borrow one at your destination (and it is confirmed to be non-expired).  Strapping their ass into a familiar carseat on the plane might be enough to make it not scary.  

    Awesome travel toys:  a stack of those little ketchup cups from fast food places.  They can be stacked up and then tossed out when crushed.  Opening a handful of straws in paper wrappers is fun.  Also, a cheap roll of scotch tape will keep a kid occupied for a while.  Something different that you can then throw out is perfect.  The $1 target racks are great for this.  Get the cheap snap together block things (not quite legos) and a little box to put them in.