Toddler Travel

Average: 4.8 (6 votes)

Travel alert!

One of the perks of having a child under the age of two is they can fly free of charge on domestic flights. The drawback, of course, is you’re about to be stuck on a plane with a child under the age of two, surrounded by people who were pleading to a higher power as you sauntered down the aisle that you weren’t going to be seated close to them.

Much to their chagrin there you are, child in tow. Your job is to keep your child entertained in the 2x2 space commonly referred to as your lap.

That’s a daunting enough task when you’re at home, complete with a fridge full of food and a closet full of toys. But there’s no home court advantage 30,000 feet in the air.

What’s a parent to do? Your choices are either to:

a. limit all family trips to drivable distances;
b. purchase a private plane;
c. plan ahead.  

Assuming Option B isn’t realistic and that you’re not about to be confined to a four-hour radius of your home for the next 10 years, here’s some ideas for Option C.

Gift Wrap Anything and Everything – What does any one-year-old like more than opening presents? Not much. And does it really matter what it is that they’re opening? My experience says…no. Wrap snacks, items from the Dollar Store, anything and everything you can think of. My experience says have one item for every 15 minutes you’re going to be on the plane, and you’ll always have a foolproof way to rescue yourself from a meltdown.

Portable DVD player – Forget about the recommendations to only allowing your child to watch a certain amount of television per day. If you’re getting on a plane and flying eight hours to Hawaii, this is about survival. Buy it. Take it. Use it. Make sure you have a favorite or two on hand, but be sure to bring something new and novel as well. If you’re flying overnight, child headphones are a good fallback in case your child can’t sleep.

Befriend your Neighbors – I swear by this practice. After you’ve taken your seat and you’re waiting for the plane to depart the gate, strike up a conversation with those around you and let your child say hello. It’s inevitable that your child will kick a seat or cry at an inopportune time, and those around you will be a lot more understanding and tolerant if they feel like they’ve made your acquaintance. And who knows? You might meet a “somebody” who’s looking for a fourth for their tee time at some exclusive golf course, or they might have an in at an exclusive restaurant.

Prepare Them for What’s in Store – As much as you might be dreading the flight and everything that could go wrong, talk about it ahead of time with your child. Don’t limit your discussions to only your travel destination; talk to them about being on a plane, about the pilot, the flight crew, about the takeoff and landing. They’ll feel better about being on a plane if they feel like they know what’s in store.

Pack the Snacks – It’s highly-advisable to have your child well fed before you get on the flight, and it’s imperative that you have more than enough snacks to get from take-off to touch-down. Whatever you think you’ll need to get from Point A to Point B, double it. Forget about rationing snacks on the flight, and instead use them as often as is necessary to keep your child occupied.

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