Friday, June 17, 2011

Tips for Traveling with Toddlers and Babies - Travel Time

(Read about my "qualifications" to offer these travel tips on Part 1 of my Tips for Traveling with Toddlers and Babies Series.)

Traveling with Toddlers and Babies Series
Part 3 ~ Travel Time (you are here!)
Part 4 ~ When You Get There

All that work preparing and now it's time to go!

Any which way you go

Single Hot Air Balloon Photography by Lora Risley Images on Etsy
Single Hot Air Balloon Photograph by Lora Risley Images

  • Dress them for success! If they're small enough, put them in a one-piece outfit with feet so that they won't lose socks and they're nice and comfy (no tight waistbands) while they travel.
  • Diaper them for success! Put your baby and toddler in an overnight diaper in case you can't change them as often as you normally would. Just be aware of the increased chance of diaper rash.
  • No matter how strict you might be on junk food or TV time at home, you might want to make a new policy for yourself that when traveling, anything goes. Keep the kids happy! You can tell them that there are some treats that are just for traveling. 
  • Don't be in a rush to get where you're going. Give yourself extra time for diaper explosions, potty breaks, tantrums, etc.
  • Feed your toddler baby food. My 2-year-old loves eating these (on the road or at home) and she has no idea that it's baby food. It's basically an organic all-fruit smoothie. If you buy them with's Subscribe & Save program, the cost works out to be $1.24 per pouch. If you don't want to buy in bulk, I've seen these at Babies 'R Us and a few grocery stores. Toddlers also love those "puffs." Just think about the least messy foods possible that don't need refrigeration or forks.
  • Two words: Pacifier Clip!
  • Don't forget to whip out your Busy Bag.

At the airport

  • Take help when it's offered! Repeat after me: "Yes, thank you so much, I would love it if you could ____."
  • Read up about Airport Security checks.
  • Let your kids walk as much as possible while you're at the airport before boarding and on layovers. Let them get their energy out and reserve the stroller for those gotta-get-there-now times.
  • Some airports have family restrooms that are big enough for strollers. Some even have nursing rooms with rocking chairs.
  • If you're a military family, take advantage of the USO Lounges in many airports. These can be such a blessing--they have rocking chairs, TVs with cartoons, toys, books, even beds and cribs if you have a long layover.
  • Some airports have children's activity and play areas. A few are sponsored by local children's museums.
  • If you are going to be waiting near the gate for awhile, find a seat next to other kids. They might enjoy entertaining each other while you wait!
  • When you get to your gate, you will need to go to the counter and request tags for your stroller and/or carseat if they will be gate-checked.
  • If you didn't book a seat for your child under age 2, bring your carseat to the gate anyway. You'll be glad you have it if you end up getting an empty seat next to you! (The carseat will have to be put in the window seat so it doesn't block other passengers in case of an emergency.)
  • If you didn't book a seat for your child under 2, ask nicely at the gate if there is an empty seat next to you or if they can switch passengers around so that there will be one.
  • When/if you check your stroller, take off anything that comes off easily, like the cupholder. If you don't, it probably won't be there when you get your stroller back.
  • Preboarding for families with small children: Not all airlines do it anymore! Some offer "pre"boarding after the First Class customers board.
  • If you're on an airplane that does not have pre-assigned seats (such as Southwest), board as early as possible. Passengers that board after you are likely to avoid you like the plague when choosing their seats, so you might end up with the whole row to yourselves. (Thanks, Mary Joy!)
  • If you have pre-assigned seats, consider waiting to board the plane until the last group has boarded. If you don't have a ton of stuff to stow and/or you have an extra set of hands to help you, it might be better to spend less time waiting on a crowded and claustrophobic plane before takeoff.

On the flight

In Flight Photograph by photoblurts on Etsy
In Flight Photograph by photoblurts
  • If you're flying alone with your kid(s), pray for a Gramma to sit next to you. My dad gave me this tip and it's so true: grandparents who miss their grandkids will do anything to help out!
  • Have a mantra like this: "No matter how bad it gets, this will all be over in 6 hours." Repeat mantra frequently. (Thanks, Kristi!)
  • Take-offs and landings can be hard on those sensitive baby/toddler ears, so get them to suck while you're changing altitude. They can use a pacifier, drink from a bottle or sippy cup, or nurse. Chewing gum for older kids works well, too.
  • A lot of airplanes have changing tables in the restrooms. Sometimes only 1 restroom will have the table, though, so check before you lock yourselves in that tiny room!
  • Ignore any dirty looks you might get from fellow travelers. If they've never been in your shoes before, chances are they will be one day.
  • Unless you are pressed for time, let all other passengers off the plane before you. Then you won't be stressed while gathering all your belongings and herding your children off the plane.
  • Most importantly: Hope that someone else's baby is fussier than yours. =)
  • If you have to go through customs after you arrive, there may be a quick line for travelers with kids. Ask if you don't see one. (This saved us almost 2 hours of waiting in line with an anxious/exhausted toddler!)

On the road trip

America's Mother Road by eleven12design on Etsy
America's Mother Road by eleven12design

  • Check out this post full of creative ideas for food and games to-go!
  • Plan accordingly. Make sure your Busy Bag is accessible and anything that is packed away in the trunk will not be needed until you get to your destination.
  • When you stop to eat, let the kiddos play at a park or playplace while you eat. Then, get their food to-go and let them eat it in the car. Two birds with one stone: They can run out their energy while you fuel up, and they'll have something to keep them occupied (lunch!) for at least a few minutes of the drive.
  • The best bathrooms are going to be Starbucks. They don't want changing tables but at least you don't have to worry about what your kids are going to step on.
  • Again, don't be in a rush to get anywhere. Easier said than done, I know.
  • Check out this great selection of Etsy products to will keep the kids busy during the long drive.


    1. great ideas...YES allow extra time. it usually takes us almost double time to get down to matt's parents with the girls.

      another great mantra-you can do anything for a day :)

    2. Oh, how much useful information! I enjoyed reading every idea you have listed and noticed that I didn't know many things, thank you for your efforts!

    3. great post! I always hope that someone else's baby is fussier than mine!! Great links too!

    4. Wonderful post! Thank you for including my photograph!

    5. Love that mantra, Susannah!

      Thanks for checking out this post, Kanelstrand, Rebecca and Lora!

    6. Just one other thing, we flew with my husband's extended family on a 12 hour flight last summer, and when we got to our destination my sister in law said their son cried almost the entire way. They were about 8 rows behind us and we never heard a thing because the engines were so loud! So, if your kid is freaking out, don't worry that the WHOLE plane hates you, because in reality, MOST of the plane can't even hear you :)

    7. I have read youre post. Great blog. Your blog is interesting and so informative. Wait for your next blog post. Thanks for sharing with us. The information in this blog is extremely useful for the baby's mother.

    8. I have been reading your posts regularly. I need to say that you are doing a fantastic job. Please keep up the great work. baby care


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