Monday, July 22, 2013

Toddler Travel Tips

I should probably preface this whole blog post by saying that I am not an expert when it comes to traveling with a baby/toddler, but we recently had someone ask us to post tips on the blog, so I'm doing just that. With that said, please leave additional tips in the comments section if you have any!

Ronnie, Mckenna and I headed out to the east coast with my parents for a family friend's wedding in Delaware. I was a little nervous, to be honest. Mckenna is the typical toddler. She doesn't stay interested in any one activity for longer than 34 seconds (ok, I'm exaggerating, but not by much) and she cannot sit still. She rarely will sit still to even watch a TV show or movie (she's actually never sat through a whole cartoon...even fast forwarding through the commercials). The only time we can get her to sit still for a "long" period of time is in her high chair, with an activity. So with that here are my tips:

1) Bring new toys - When you think you've packed enough toys to last a lifetime, pack a few more. Before the trip, I went and bought some new toys for Mckenna. I tried to find cheap little things that I didn't care if they got lost, so I went to Michael's and a dollar store. I got a little mini baby doll, some squishy balls, little people and animals that walked when you wound them up, a sticky spider, you name it. I then bought two little bags that zip at the top and split the knick-knacks between the two bags. This way I could hand her a little bag to play with by herself for awhile. I figured the zipper would take some time, then tearing through each toy would take some time. I actually handed off one of the goodie bags to another mommy on the plane that was struggling with her little man (I'm pretty sure she was clever and flew during his nap time...however, he didn't nap!) I also bought some fun "activity" type toys, like giant beads to put onto string as a necklace, crayons to color, and a new sticker book.

2) Fly during a good time - If little johnny boy is always cranky in the mornings, that would be the last time I'd want to be on a plane. Mckenna doesn't have definite cranky times anymore (she used to always be fussy in the evenings as a baby), but she is more likely to be cranky in the afternoon than she is in the morning. So we flew in the morning, and through her nap. I was hopeful she'd eat up some of the flight with a nap, and she did. Just know, flying through naptime could backfire if they don't nap. The poor mom on the plane with us had it happen and neither of them looked very happy! Mckenna isn't a sleep-anywhere-nothing-can-wake-her-up kinda kid, so I didn't know how she'd do, but thankfully she slept a little.

3) Bring a change of clothes for everyone - I packed a change of clothes for Ronnie, Mckenna and myself. We thankfully didn't need them for ourselves this flight, and just needed to use the change of pants for Mckenna (I left her in the same diaper too long and it leaked), but we did have one trip where Mckenna spilled my coffee over the both of us and I was glad we had a spare.

4) Pack extra diapers - We haven't had to use them, but I always feel good knowing we have plenty of diapers to get where we are going, and usually use a bunch of the spares when we get where we are going, buying us extra time before having to get to a store for diapers.

5) Load up on snacks - What better time to teach your child to entertain themselves with food. Ha! I kid. But seriously. We flew through lunchtime, so I had a sandwich, raisins, pretzels and fruit pouches (is that what they're called?) I did read somewhere that you should steer clear of too much sugar, as it could backfire with a hyper kid. I took their advice.

6) Get them their own seat - This one isn't always possible. Flights can really vary in price, and sometimes this just isn't possible (or reasonable). This was the first flight where we booked Mckenna her own seat, and holy smokes was it worth every cent. We brought her car seat on board (we then used it in our rental car as well). Mckenna isn't a huge fan of her car seat, so I wasn't sure how it would go. But I figured it was better than no car seat. Mckenna is "trained" to use her car seat. She knows what it is, how to sit in it and that when she's in it, she's in it until we say it's time to get out. Mckenna is not trained to use a plane seat. All I could picture was the climbing, twirling, jumping, squirming, etc that would happen in a chair twice her size with no harness holding her in. It worked beautifully. We actually let her out of it only to go to the potty. I figured if we let her out other than that, all we would hear would be, "out, please."...for the remainder of the flight.

7) Gate check a stroller - We went back and forth on whether to bring our stroller each time we have flown with Mckenna. Each time we are glad we have it. It helps to have a place to strap Mckenna into, it can hold a bag or two, and it can help us move that much faster if needed. But even more than at the airport, it's really nice to have it when you get to where you're going. We always bring our jogging stroller, that way we can run when we get there.

8) Put on a smile - You will be everyone's worst nightmare when they see you walk on the plane. Sure there's a grandma or two who will smile and wink at you as you drag what looks like all your worldly belongings down the aisle, but for the most part, there's a look of fear in your fellow travelers' eyes. When you find your seat, give huge smiles to all your neighbors and assure them you'll do all you can to make the flight as painless as possible for everyone. When the going gets tough, throw an extra smile their way and start passing around your snacks.

So far traveling with Mckenna has always been better than I think it will be. But I'm certain at some point there will be a flight from you know where!