Travelling with your toddler. I could just leave that sentence right there on its own and watch a brood of mothers go pale in the face and down red wine right from the bottle. It’s no easy task… but I’d like to suggest that it’s (kinda) worth it and will attempt to leave you with some tips to make it easier. Really it’s about GETTING there without sweating through your clothes, getting escorted off the flight, and permanently flagged at US Customs. No big deal.
As many of you mamas already know, entertaining these little people (who act like wild squirrels) is a skill that requires a lot of patience and a little prep. I legit make lists days before departure because if we board the plane and there’s no fucking lovey, I’m screwed.
On my last flight over to the Sunshine State, I managed to jot down a few of my personal tactics for those who haven’t made the plunge yet, that can hopefully save you from any cranky – and often louder than you wish – episodes.
(Look at those taunting toddler eyes…)
So here we go, some tips to lessen the blow and have a successful, semi migraine-free landing because if you were an avid traveller before, you should still be one now! And although it won’t be the same as your past life of lazily lounging at the Standard pool in Miami, it’ll expose your lil’ one to some new scenery and grant you some sun time. (You’ll just be chugging Sangria this time and not sipping it.)
- Seriously, Nexus is the bestus. If you ok getting your eyes scanned (whatever, they know all about you from the internet anyways) do it. This VIP access will save you hours in lines and ensure your sanity doesn’t get left behind at security. Even my kid has a Nexus card. True story.
- Try to book around baby’s schedule. Get that nap in there if you can and shave off an hour or two of your total flight time. Factor in delays and stay away from late flights, cause you know an overtired toddler give zero fucks about circumstances and will make it KNOWN.
- I usually aim for shorter flights at toddlerhood (2-5 hours), although I know many ambitious mamas who have crossed the globe and I assure you they are still alive (please send me your secrets, cause I wanna go to Greece). We also like to book an extra seat because we’re creatures of comfort and it’s hard to drink wine when you’re a human bed.
- Don’t over pack toys. Just bring the go-tos and a few different activity options. Let’s be real, a jacked up iPad with every imaginable episode of Sesame Street will likely be the winner anyways (Note: I could’ve seriously used an iPad pillow, but I only recently found out it was a thing). Also, you’d be surprised what they actually get busy with – in our case, it was the emergency-landing pamphlet.
- Wear breathable, comfy clothes for easy toddler abuse. They can (and will) treat your body like a rock climbing wall and your high-waisted raw denim will not help your cause. Zara sweats are my go-to if you can find ’em. So chic, you can pair them with heels like Rih.
- Get to the airport with plenty of time to spare so it seems more like a playful and fun adventure and less like Speed (the bad movie that you all saw). Rushed situations almost ALWAYS apply Murphy’s Law, so you’ll probably be “randomly selected” for a check.
- Assuming you’re going somewhere warm (why wouldn’t you be?) bring an umbrella stroller. It’ll keep the psycho strapped while you’re checking in so you don’t appear to be the frazzled mother you feel like. (We have the UppaBaby G-Lite, but the Summer 3D Lite is a great cheaper option). And they both come the best colour ever: Black.
- Pee before you board, ’cause there’s a good chance you ain’t moving for a while. A 26lb snoring kid is the last thing you need on your full bladder. And God knows you’d rather hold it in than wake the beast.
- Kleenex and baby wipes need to be within reach at all times. And ALWAYS pack an extra outfit, because if your kid shits up the back, you probably won’t wanna be THAT GUY doing laundry in a bathroom the size of a peanut.
- My other Diaper Bag Essentials include: Hylands Teething Pills, Polysporin, Hyland’s Cold / Cough Syrup, Coryzalia and Camilia, Mickey Bandaids, Qtips, Baby Advil, Hylands Allergy, a Thermometer, and a little relief for mama (Seriously, this Saje Peppermint Halo Headache Remedy is a miracle worker and smells like a high end spa.) PS: The LeSportsac Ryan Diaper Bag is crazy durable, lightweight & good looking.
- If you do travel during nap time, make sure you bring some familiar crib things so he can connect the dots. We handed ours his Aden & Anais Lovey that he cannot live without, along with a cut-up soother and told him to close his eyes. Twenty minutes later he squirmed into oblivion.
- Don’t expect your kid to eat his usual meals and just pack a shit ton of snacks for grazing. Now’s not the time for his “favourite” roasted garlic pasta as it’ll likely end up at the end of the aisle. And do not leave the house without Goldfish. That shit is baby crack.
Side Note: They make awesome adult snacks too… minimal calorie intake.
- In the case of a mild meltdown, stay calm and distract. I always find playing into it and shooshing (or body slamming them) makes it worse… Energy is everything. Don’t stress about other passengers; they have ear buds and can sack it. They too were the asshole kid on the plane once… remind them of that with your eyes. And if it gets ugly, feel free to buy those around you a drink. *Get two for yourself.
- Oh yeah, some things (lo and behold) for you! Even though the likelihood of reading is next to nil, have some of your own stuff within reach to feel human. And start wearing a watch again because fiddling with your phone might end with a baby face smash that no-one is prepared for. Touch up with Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 upon landing to feel gorge.
At the end of the day, you gotta take a chance and if you really want to go somewhere with your lil’ one, you should! Travel is priceless and even if they are too young to soak it all up, I know there are those of you out there who need it to LIVE. By including them in *most* of your escapes, there’s a good chance you’ll raise some cultured (here’s hoping) and well travelled human beings too.
And those folks on the plane? Fuck ‘em. You’ll never see them again anyway.