We’ve had some successful cross-country trips with our girls. Last summer, I drove to Maine (19-hours) twice without any issues and one of those trips I drove straight through the night with the girls sleeping soundly behind me (there were other adults sharing driving duties). We frequently drive to Atlanta (about 5 hours) to visit family and for Jeremiah’s work without problem, but we’ve yet to fly with them.
Well, that band-aide is getting ripped off today. Save us all.
I must say that my daughters are very well-behaved, but they’re toddlers and I can’t expect them to rationally understand why they must sit on my lap, in a small flying tube, that’s making funny noises, for 7 hours. Let’s get real.
So, I’m going to bribe them to no end. I plan to entertain, play, occupy and bribe for every second of their time in that plane. Here’s my plan:
- iPad & screen time: We’re not big TV-watchers, but the girls do watch a nursery rhyme show called Little Baby Bum that they love, so I’m planning to let them watch that for as long as they want. **Check to make sure your flight offers wifi. If not, be sure to download videos that you can watch offline.
- Headphones: I purchased some toddler headphones that I’m hoping will play double-duty to block airplane noise and help them hear their LBB show and a few nursery rhyme playlists I have on Spotify.
- Snacks: Bring on the snacks. All. The. Snacks. The girls love to eat, so I’m planning to pack all their favorite snacks in a food tray that they can pick from at will.
- Milk boxes: I’m planning to let the girls drink from milk boxes on the way up and down. They normally drink from sippy cups, but I’m hoping the extra sucking will help regulate their ears, plus the boxed milk will be easier to transport. Be aware that many airlines don’t stock milk after for flights after 10am. **Be sure to check the TSA rules on what you can carry onboard.
- Coloring books & markers: We use scrap paper and markers or crayons at home, but I purchased the special mess-free markers and paper specifically for this trip, so we don’t have to worry about the plane and its innocent bystanders getting marker on them.
Even though families flying with small children can typically board early I’m planning to board the plane as late as possible. The longer they’re on the plane, the longer they need to be entertained. One of us will get on the plane and get everything set up, while the other waits in the terminal with the kids.
Call the airline 72-hours before departure to confirm your seats and then call again the day before or day of to reconfirm. This is a tip I stumbled upon accidentally when I called to ask some other questions. Airlines are notorious for making traveling with kids difficult, so be a squeaky wheel in order to get what you need.
If you can, make your layover very strategic. We have a few options when it comes to layovers when traveling from East to West and vice versa, but not all of them are good. We paid for a slightly more expensive ticket in order to get our layover in Dallas, which is the halfway point. That way, we have 3 hours on a plane and then a break to let the kids run around, before getting on the plane for another 3 hours.
Check to see if your layover airport has a play area. If they do, use it! If not, find a terminal with less people and let your kids get their energy out that way.
Any tips for flying with toddlers? Let’s hear it!