Guest Post by Yuen Chung, proud mama to Josie, 2 and Natalie, 6 mo
Whether you’re packing to take an end of summer trip or planning ahead for the holidays, knowing what to bring (and not to bring) on the plane can make a big impact on your flying experience. The TSA has clear guidelines for people traveling with children. This article will help you with all the tricks that only moms know about. I’m going to share tips on how to travel with your toddler and baby on a plane with less stress!
While I am no Amelia Earhart, I did take a roundtrip solo flight with my 2 year old and 6 month old from Portland, OR to Los Angeles, CA. Here are some general guidelines tailored to preschool age and under to make your trip go more smoothly.
* Bring only what you can carry or comfortably fit into a handicapped bathroom stall (i.e., leave the giant stroller at home and utilize an umbrella stroller).
* Have only one carry on bag per adult (that includes purses). Having only one bag decreases your chance of losing your boarding pass or leaving an item behind. I prefer a backpack with good outer pockets.
* If possible, plan your departure time for when your kids are happiest.
* Dress your kids (and yourself) in layers. The plane can get from intensely stuffy and hot to chilly.
Essentials to pack (yes, I fit this list all into one regular sized backpack):
* A cloth sling (I use www.kangarookorner.com). My baby was slung during the security (sling does not need to be removed) thereby leaving my hands free to retrieve everything else. I prefer a cloth sling because it easily fits into a bag.
* A plastic grocery bag (blowouts happen and you’ll need something to store the stinky outfit).
* Backup outfits.
* Gum (helps the toddler’s ears and keeps them occupied for a bit). Not a fan of gum? Gummy bears work as well. Organic lollipops do too (Trader Joe’s brand are great)!
* Pacifier – if your baby takes it. If not (like mine), time your breastfeeding for takeoff or offer your breast even if it’s not time! (Note: since my baby breastfeeds, I have no suggestions on formula quantity but try organic if you can. Use your best judgment and bring extra individual 4 oz packets that are sold at Target).
* Dry snacks (Cheerios, etc). If you’re going on a longer flight, consider bringing a Lunchable.
* Diapers (for younger babies, plan for 2 diapers per hour that you plan to be traveling, which includes driving time, shuttles between gates, flying time, etc).
* Wipes (work great for wiping hands and dirty trays).
* A small baby blanket and one cloth diaper. The cloth diaper is great for helping with those blowout messes. I’ve found that changing pads just get too grungy and most can’t be washed properly.
* One or two small books, a pen, some paper or small pad/coloring book.
* A video player & a few DVDs (personal choice is my iPhone since it doubles as my phone). A portable DVD player works well, too, but is bulkier.
* Headphones that fit well for your toddler.
There are pros and cons about taking a car seat onto a flight. It’s nice when baby can fall asleep in it. However, for the older child, kicking the front of the seat can be a problem. Usually, I check my stroller at the gate if I’m using my car seat stroller, or check it with luggage (car seats do not count toward your baggage limits).
Notice how nothing in my bag was for me? Ditch the magazine and book (you won’t have time or free hands for it anyway). Forget the latte. Traveling with kids means packing only the essentials to get you from one destination to another.
Do, however, bring a dose of good humor because you’ll need it to get you through those tough moments. Just remember that most other people on board have been in your shoes, or if they have no children, they have most likely tuned out all the crying hopefully!