Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Traveling with a Toddler

I remember the very first time we traveled by plane with an infant, it was not a lot of fun. Imagine an 18 hour plane ride, one-way, not to count the two stop-overs too. It was at that time when airport security was so strict. My son was only 13 months old and still in a stroller. Every time we had to check in, I had to take him out of the stroller and carry him in one arm; fold and put the stroller in the security conveyor using my other arm; remove my belt and shoes; and put them together with my carry-ons on the conveyor. After getting through I had to put everything back again, you get the picture. It was exhausting.

On the plane, my son was behaved for the some part but was very restless and crying at most, and usually during the time when everybody was sleeping. To top it all, he was having diarrhea and we had to go back and forth to the lavatory. And without exaggeration, my husband and I had cold too. We were coughing and sneezing on the plane. We got that from the Philippines due to change of weather
. Anyway, after that eventful plane ride, both my hb and I decided not to travel anytime soon, not until our son is big enough to travel and carry his own Swiss Army luggage. Nah! Actually we're planning another trip to the Philippines this year and I want to make this trip a fun one for everybody. My son is now 2 1/2 years so it wouldn't be so bad, would it? Well, I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed ;-).

Here are 13 useful tips when traveling by plane with an infant or toddler:

  1. Book early - If you can, get your tickets well in advance - this allows you to choose the flight and the seats you want.
  2. Travel at off-peak times - The less crowded a flight is, the more comfortable you will be, the better the service will be, and the less your toddler's behavior will affect other passengers.

  3. Look for non-stops or short trips - The faster you get from here to there, the better for all.
  4. Consider breaking up a long trip - On a daytime flight that is going to last 5 hours or more, a brief stopover may make the trip more tolerable. Look for a direct flight so that the stop-over doesn't require changing planes; you'll be able to leave the bulk of your luggage on board when you deplane with your toddler.
  5. Consider an extra seat - Though kids of certain age can travel for free, parents often choose to purchase a seat for them anyway. Confined to an adult's lap during takeoff, landing, and periods of air turbulence (which can be frequent on some flights), a toddler is likely to twist, turn, and petition loudly for freedom.
  6. Favor the aisle - Children love window seats - but you'll hate not having access to the aisle. So if you're traveling alone with your toddler on your lap, opt for the aisle - otherwise you're going to end up trying the patience of those you'll have to keep scrambling over in order to take your restless toddler to the lav or for a walk.
  7. Don't take meal service for granted - Airline food is getting to be lighter and lighter these days in the interest of economy, so what might have once been a meal may now be only a snack. Call ahead to find out exaclty what will be served and if special children's or toddler's meals are available.
  8. Dress for the occasion - Sunday best is not the apparel of choice for travel; dress in comfortable clothing that can accept spills and still look good when rumpled.
  9. Take advantage of curbside check-in - To avoid having to lug your luggage through a sprawling airport, check everything but valuables and the essentials (your toddler's backpack of toys, your toe bag) through the curb.
  10. Don't pre-board - Passengers with small children are generally give this option but the earlier you board, the longer you have to stay in the plane's cramped quarters. If there are two adults in your party, one can board early with the bags while the other waits with the toddler in the comparatively wide open spaces of the waiting area until the last boarding call is made.
  11. Know what to ask for - Pillows, blankets, playing cards, and often fun packs for junior travelers (make sure they're safe for your toddler's age), are all usually there for the asking.
  12. Fear for the ears - Pressurization of the cabin on takeoff and depressurization on landing is notoriously tough on little ears. If your toddler is still on a bottle or breast, sucking during takeoff and landing can help by encouraging swallowing, which helps release the pressure that builds up in the ears. If not, let your toddler drink from sippy-cup or munch on a snack that require a lot of chew.
  13. Put safety first - If your child is over 2 and/or occupying an FAA approved car seat aboard - it's safer than the seat belt alone.


  1. Thank you so much for the tips Mira. I find them very useful and helpful. We're going to visit the Philippines in April or early May and Dana and I are already worried about Daniel on the plane. It's not actually his first plane ride but it'll be his first internationally, so it's not easy.

  2. Goodluck to your trip Debbie. It's just too long the trip to the Philippines so it's not fun for our young kids. The other problem that I see with Michael is he talks a lot and loud. I'm sure other passengers will find that annoying, so I'm bracing myself for it ;-)

  3. I think you had a very tiring experience traveling by the fight with your baby in stroller .Anyway thanks for the useful tips you gave, Next time when you travel by plane use Hauck speed sun stroller as it is very light in weight and easy to fold.