Flying by yourself with a toddler. Sounds terrifying, right? We live in Maine and my husband took a job out in California earlier this year. Flying from coast to coast is something we do regularly.
We have two dogs that we opted to not bring with us on this trip. We have a French Bulldog and an English Bulldog -- neither one of these breeds does well in the heat. With temperatures in Southern California often exceeding 100 degrees in the summer, it's also not safe for them to be walking on pavement as it could cause severe damage to their little paws.
That being said, my toddler and I fly frequently. A 5+ hour flight is LONG for any person, but especially long for an energetic, spunky 3 year old.
1. Get them excited about flying weeks in advance.
Whenever we have an upcoming flight, I REALLY talk up flying so our toddler gets excited. I even bought him a toy airplane and let him watch the show Super Wings on Netflix a few weeks before we leave. Whenever I tell him we're going on an airplane now, he gets SO excited. It has become an adventure for him and it's really cool to see the excitement and enthusiasm he has for traveling.
2. It is easiest to wear you toddler through the airport.
I've never been a mom who chose to use a carrier for our son. We usually opt for a stroller. Due to having to bring two large suitcases on our last trip, I purchased a backpack carrier off Amazon (for only $19.99) and it has made life SO MUCH easier when it comes to navigating through an airport.
I now have 2 free hands and I don't have to worry about folding up a stroller at security. In fact, most airports let you wear your toddler through security AND you don't have to remove their shoes. Security is always chaotic, especially at large airports. Save yourself the stress and wear your toddler!
3. If you're using a rolling suitcase, make sure the wheels turn 360 degrees.
It is much easier to push a suitcase and wrangle a toddler if you can push it while it's standing straight up. The less things you physically have to drag, the easier your life will be. I purchased my Samsonite suitcase at TJ Maxx for around $70, but found a similar one on Amazon for $72.99
We also love our It brand carry on. It's the world's lightest suitcase and rolls like a dream. I never thought I'd be this excited over something as simple as luggage but, here I am! Welcome to age 30 LOL.
4. Keeping your toddler occupied
The first time I flew alone with our little guy, I packed SO MUCH STUFF. I'm talking coloring books, crayons, stickers, flashcards, window clings, a small pack of Legos, toy monster tucks -- basically if it fit in my backpack, I brought it.
Want to know what he played with? None of it. I had downloaded some educational games on my phone before we left as a last resort kind of thing. When he turned down ALL of the items listed above and was on the verge of a breakdown just a half hour into our flight, I quickly handed him my phone. He sat in silence for the rest of the flight learning how to write his letters and sort shapes.
Now we only pack an iPad. He has 5 hours of educational learning (the letter writing game has actually REALLY improved his penmanship) and we both have a stress free flight. Don't knock electronics -- used in small spurts and if there's a learning opportunity behind it, they're not always a bad thing.
Flying with a toddler is all about survival mode. Whether that means letting them use electronics or letting them have cookies at 6 AM while waiting to board your flight -- you just gotta do what you gotta do to make things as stress free as possible.