Everyone says how much easier it is to travel with a young baby rather than a toddler…I’d have to agree! Here’s a guideline for traveling with a toddler, because it’s slightly different…I find it lighter in my diaper bag, but more energetic in my steps, if you know what I mean…. 😉
PACKING FOR YOUR BABE
First of all, get a bigger suitcase, or you can get your LO their own. You’d be surprised how much space your baby stuff takes up.
Second of all, pack the day before or even a few days before. Start putting the things that you know you’ll need that can stay in the suitcase in the meantime. Pack according to the weather and bring 2 or 3 extra outfits.
Here’s what I always pack in the suitcase; I do use large ziplocks a lot of the time to organize every outfit for the day, PJs all in one, extra outfits & special outfits in another one.
- Pants (3 extra just in case)
- Special outfits
- Warm hats or sun hat
- 1 baby towel (or I use the hotel’s if that’s ok with you)
- Emergency bag – baby Tylenol, Camilla, thermometer, saline drops, calming tablets, little cold tablets, elderberry, echinacea. Also, little pouch for emergency booboos.
- Bathing bag – Honest body wash, honest body cream, hairbrush, toothbrush & toothpaste, 1-2 bath toys.
- Fav toys daytime/ nighttime
- Activity toys for lunch & dinners
- 1-2 books or iPad and I use Epic app that has thousands of books available.
- Baby food pouches & packed bars just in case
- Baby bottles
- Small container of baby bottle soap
- Rain stroller coat if needed (depends on weather)
- Stroller blanket if needed (depends on weather)
- Stroller travel bag
- Car seat
- Lunch bag
In Diaper Bag:
- Small diaper cream
- Toys & ACTIVITIES for the plane
- Sippy cup
- Hand sanitizer
- Change of clothes
- On long flights, look into Jet Kids!
BEST HOUR TO TRAVEL
The best time we’ve found that works for us, is booking a flight or going for a car trip before Oliver’s nap and not too early in the morning where we have to wake him at the crack of dawn because most likely, he’ll be super fussy. Also, we’ve started getting his own seat because it is easier.
ACTIVITIES & TOYS
The one thing besides diapers that I will NOT forget…are toys and activities! Flying with a toddler is more mental & physical because they want to be occupied and they’re very curious beans! I prepare in advance a toy bag where just pulling things out will keep him busy. I bring the iPad for us to read our offline books and watch something for 30 or so minutes. If he wants to walk and we can…off we go…if we can’t, do your magic. If it’s not working, breathe, redirect and this moment shall pass.
For extra tips & details about this, click here for my “how to make your kid the best passenger!”
YOUR MENTALITY TO ADOPT
My most challenging time I’ve found with Oliver traveling, is more about controlling my own mindset. I go into “travel time” knowing that I’m going to have to be alert: keep him busy, stay calm, accept what comes and do whatever I can for everything to go smoothly. Even if I’m far from feeling that internally. Something to also remind myself, is that they feel everything you’re feeling, so bringing yourself to a cool as a cucumber mood can help everyone involved! It has really become much easier with time…we’ve traveled so much but every trip is a new adventure and that’s alright! I’ve managed to not forget that!
DON’T FEAR TSA!
#1 – STROLLER: CHECK-IN VS. GATE CHECK?
You basically have two options for your stroller, either gate check (right before you enter the plane) or check it in while getting your boarding pass. If you have a nice stroller, you definitely should get a travel bag for it as they don’t always treat it kindly. You can also request a plastic bag for your car seat if you have one, most airlines will provide it. There’s also umbrella strollers that are great for your trip! Some can even go in the luggage compartment in the plane. I do find those easier for trips where you might not use your stroller as much. Click here to see my post about all kinds of strollers.
Also, If we have a direct flight, we now most of the time check in our stroller and car seat before TSA and just walk with Oliver. If you have a small baby you can put them in a sling or carrier. Here’s my favorite company for slings, click here. If we have a connecting flight with a longer wait time in between, we’ll gate check the stroller (keep in mind that if your connection is short, you might rather not have to deal with waiting for your stroller before getting onto your other flight). Either way, we always check in the car seat…who wants to carry that around. I also have these amazing hooks on the stroller that makes it much easier to just stroll Oliver and the extra stuff around if needed. Click here.
CHECK-IN STROLLER IF:
- you have a carrier.
- do not have too many suitcases.
- don’t mind carrying your baby if need be.
- you have a short connection.
GATE CHECK STROLLER IF:
- you have a lot of bags that you’re strolling around.
- your child doesn’t do very well in carriers.
- you have a long connection
- your child might want to nap
- long walks in connecting airport.
CAR SEAT CHECK IN:
- If it’s not part of your stroller, I recommend always checking it in.
#2 – THE OPTIMAL QUICK TSA PROCESS
With that said, when you’re about to go through TSA, it can be stressful. Consider it your moment for game time! Make it a team work with daddy! Here’s how Kyle and I proceed:
I go first and hold Oliver, while Kyle holds Oliver or pushes the stroller. I put all liquids and Oliver’s lunch box in one container (this will save you a lot of time. Even though they usually test everything, there’s nothing more annoying than them digging out your diaper bag and making a mess! I put the rest of my stuff in bins, and get in line to get scanned. You don’t go under the automatic one with the baby! (seems obvious to me but you never know…)
Kyle puts his stuff on the conveyer belt and folds up the stroller if we have it with us. If your stroller is too wide, they will check it for you.
We then wait for all my liquids to get tested, Kyle puts the stroller back together while I put everything back in my diaper bag, and Voila! Seems simple right? Our first time was all over the place! We were sweating and anxious….and that’s okay!!!! It’s stressful but it gets easier! I’ve also done this whole process by myself. As I’m updating this blog post, I’ve traveled to France with this little bunny BY MYSELF and not to worry, because you’ll make it work. You can always ask for help.
#3 – HOW DOES TESTING WORK?
You are allowed small bottles of water for your formula and they will test liquids. Here’s what testing means: they will take a strip over your liquid, never inside, and run it through a special machine. If you are traveling with little cartons of milk once you’re traveling with a toddler, because they can’t test it, they will most likely pat you down for extra security. A little extreme but whatever…Ive had times where they test literally everything and others where just a couple and they give me the green light.
Another option if you are traveling with cow’s milk is to purchase it at the airport and carry empty bottles or sip cups, BUT not all terminals sell bottles of milk. Some have only non-fat or flavoured milk, whereas I want whole milk for my son. It’s already stressful enough for them to eat well during traveling.
#4 – OTHER TSA TIPS
One thing we didn’t know and almost made us miss our flight is the baby always has to be on either one of the tickets or on its own. Some self-check in will not do it, so you’ll have to go to someone who can do it for you or do it prior when booking your tickets! You also don’t need to travel with baby’s paperwork until they’re one or two I think….which boggled my mind!! If you are traveling without the other parent, it is recommended to get a notarized letter where your partner acknowledges being aware of you traveling with the child (they’ve never asked me, but I’ve known people who has been asked).
Great tip to get things moving faster, is to get clear or pre-checked. You can just go up to them and they’ll sign you up. You have to pay a fee, but when some airports have it, it literally saves you so much time because you don’t have to stand in line to get your ID checked by an agent.
DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE THINK
The one big anxiety factor are people staring at you. Well, I’ve noticed that with this baby boom going on, there’s always another baby on the plane! Also, I really don’t care! My mindset is that all these people that are annoyed were a baby once as well and believe me that they probably annoyed someone too! And for some it’s not just as babies! At the beginning I was very nervous about bothering people with tantrums but as long as I do everything in my power to keep Oliver comfortable and others, I know I’m doing my part…there are moments where babies are unpredictable and that’s just human nature…and you have to give yourself a break!
A lot of hotels have cribs that you can ask while you reserve. If you’re staying at an Airbnb, I’d think that they have listings specifically for kids. You can also order in advance a pack n play from Amazon and see if someone can intercept it in advance. We mostly co-sleep during our trips but I know that’s not ideal for everyone.
This time around we attempted the crib with Oliver since he’s finally sleep trained at home, but it wasn’t that easy. He didn’t quite enjoy it and cried a lot. I’m not staying in a hotel room to sleep train and I couldn’t help feeling bad for the people staying next to our room so Oliver got to spend some time in bed with us again!
THE CHALLENGES OF TRAVELING WITH A TODDLER
Here are the few things that can be challenging all around when traveling with your babe:
#1 – LIVING SITUATION
Unless you already live in a one bedroom apartment or studio, it’s really not easy being in the same room, considering you most likely don’t have the same schedule as your kid. You have to be very quiet once your baby falls asleep and have to hope that they don’t wake up. Kyle and I enjoy watching a movie before going to sleep, so this time around we put Oliver’s crib in our little hallway in the room. The first hour he usually is in such deep sleep he could care less what’s going on around…but once he goes into lighter sleep, that’s when you better hope you don’t step on a squeaky toy or have an awful sneeze. It was the same for when we co-slept, it was even harder.
#2 – HABITS
A lot of good habits go out the window! Oliver is so adaptable, which is a great thing, but also a bad one because we constantly have to create new habits while traveling. New space, different hours calls for different ways to do things and Oliver picks up on them quite quickly and it can be challenging to reverse them. be patient and go with what works wherever you are. One step forward and sometimes two steps backwards. They’re going through so much and sometimes you just have to remind yourself that and pick your battles!
#3 – TIME CHANGE
Time change! Depending on where you’re from, some makes your life easier while others are plane challenging! For instance, when we go to the East Coast, it’s only 3 hours ahead and we actually keep him on LA time! That way we can actually enjoy an “early-later dinner” in the city no problem. The other way around or another country is tricky. You can always wake a baby up is my motto… major time change is like us, go smoothly…don’t let them oversleep a nap and adjustment will come. When I went to France, I only stayed a week so I actually managed to keep Oliver at LA’s time…fun crack of dawn bath time! hehe
Hope this helps!