Mission Im(Possible): Traveling with Toddlers – Mommy Blogger

My name is Andrea. I’m a Mom to two wonderful little boys, Jack is almost three and Dean is five months old! I’m a teacher by trade, but currently tutor, run a small home daycare, and write in my spare time. Originally from Toronto, I moved here with my husband and a young Jack in September 2016 after spending five years teaching in both China and Hong Kong. I speak some Mandarin, even less Cantonese, passable French, and English. I love to travel, attempt pinterest crafts and recipes, workout, and spend time with my boys. My family loves to keep busy, and any chance we get we’re off exploring new places – either within Canada or abroad!

Now I don’t know about you, but when I was pregnant with my first, I was repeatedly warned that travel would be near impossible with children. This stressed me out. After moving overseas in 2011, my husband and I had been traveling consistently and it had become one of our greatest passions. So, I decided I wasn’t going to let the naysayers’ get to me. We wanted to continue traveling, and so we would. So I read all the travel blogs, made all the lists, and tried out countless ideas.

Today my husband and I are go-go-go people – we now have two kids (almost 3, and 5 months), and five jobs in between us. So, whenever we have a break we like to travel. Sometimes these are trips close to home, exploring the prairies, and sometimes these are international trips. Sometimes we plan months in advance (especially for flights), and sometimes we just decide the night before that we’re going to head away for a weekend.

Through over 30 flights with my oldest, and countless car trips, I have learned a few things about travel with little ones. So, I thought I would start with a few of my flying tips. I hope at least some of these are helpful to you, and encourage you that air travel with young ones is indeed completely possible!

  1. Arrive EARLY. And when I say early, I mean EARLY EARLY. Security and customs can be a hassle and take a while with young ones. Larger airports, like Pearson Int’l in Toronto, have family lines for security which tend to make things faster. Just be prepared to have them go through your diaper bag, and test all of your bottles and liquids. Not a big deal – but does add a few minutes to your time!
  2. You are allowed to bring quite a few liquid items through security for little ones. These include: pre-made bottles (formula/breastmilk), bottles with distilled water and formula on the side, sippy cups with milk, juice, or water, baby food jars or pouches, frozen breastmilk, ice packs, and boxed drinks. Don’t stress about bringing any of these items as I’ve never had an issue!
  3. Bring all the food. I like to travel with an assortment of different items and let my toddler choose his snacks. I recently came across a “snackel box” on Pinterest, and I totally ran with this idea (my pic below). My toddler loved it and it kept him happy for quite a while. I also found that putting everything in one snack box was much easier – there were no packages to open, and I didn’t have to worry about him spilling food.
  4. An Air Canada employee once told me to feed my baby during take off and landing (helps with ear popping). It was great advice. I nursed my little one on takeoff and landing on my last flight, and I made sure my toddler was drinking at those times as well. Neither have had ear problems on flights thus far.
  5. Pack toys that aren’t easily lost – no tiny pieces (think possible turbulence, dark planes, squishy seating quarters, etc.), and ones that don’t make noise, your seat mates will thank you!
  6. A lot of planes are getting rid of their TVs, so bring an IPad, DVD player, or computer with shows preloaded, and some headphones if you want your little to be able to watch TV.
  7. Personally, I prefer to fly early in the morning or late at night (also the cheapest flights generally). I find at either of these times my kids sleep for at least a portion of the flight, making things much easier. So find a time that works best for your littles and go with it!
  8. I also find dressing the kids in PJs easiest. That way, if its morning I just grab them from bed and we go. If it’s nighttime we do our baths and get into PJs before we leave. Also- it can sometimes be cold on planes, and sometimes hot, so sleepers, sometimes with a sweater on top, work well for us.
  9. Similarly I bring the kid’s a blanket and stuffy to cuddle with on the plane
  10. Pack extra clothes in your carry-on for you. I learned this one the hard way. When my oldest was about 6 months I was flying solo with him. My brother had bathed and dressed him for me before we left. He put his diaper on backwards (LOL)…and when my son peed it went all over my shirt (he was in the carrier). Luckily, I had two tanks on and was able to take one off. But I have never flown without an extra outfit since!
  11. Don’t travel with more carry-on than you can handle. I know paying for checked luggage is a pain, but I recently flew to Toronto and back for Christmas break with my two boys. We went for 5 weeks so we had tons of stuff. I had a carry-on suitcase, a Lululemon bag, a backpack diaper bag, baby in carrier on my front, and toddler in backpack harness, plus a stroller to gate check. It was too much.
  12. There are so many people who offer their help. I’ve had people offer to carry bags, fold my stroller, even walk my oldest to his seat. So don’t stress!! Nice people are everywhere!! Plus, flight attendants are generally amazing with little ones.
  13. Airplane bathrooms are SMALL…like smaller than small. It can be squishy in there with kids. I’ve always either asked a flight attendant, or found a nice person around me, usually a grandma or fellow Mom will offer, to hold babe while I go. And if you’re not comfortable with that…I have also put babe in my carrier and taken them with me to pee that way. Totally doable!
  14. Always gate check your stroller so you can use it in the airport
  15. Baby carriers are a life saver. I use my stroller for as long as possible, and then before they call us for boarding I load the babe into the carrier to board hands free.
  16. I put my toddler in a backpack harness for boarding. He’s not a runner, but airports are super hectic, and since I had babe in the carrier already, this allowed me to keep ahold of him to.
  17. Anticipate delays and prepare games and activities for the airport and any layovers

In my carry-on: extra clothes for everyone, diapers (like 10 just in case), wipes, diaper cream, a snack bag, juice boxes, an empty sippy cup (for drinks on the plane or in the airport), pacifiers, blankets for kids, a favourite stuffy for each kid, toddler toys, a couple of baby toys, teething rings, medication (Tylenol, Advil, Gravol, gripe water, and allergy medication are my standards), a small first aid kit (you never know), a pen, lip gloss and cream for me, phone, DVD player w/ DVDs or computer with pre-loaded shows, headphones, a travel potty seat, sticky notes (my oldest is scared of self-flushing toilets. If you put a sticky note over the sensor they won’t flush!), disposable diaper bags – for stinky diapers and soiled clothing, my glasses, and books for my toddler.

I’d love to hear of any great tips you have, or anything I might not have thought of! Traveling can be tricky, but with some planning, and a little trust in the kindness of people around you, it’s totally possible, and a whole lot of fun!!

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