This is Haley Roberts and I am SO excited about my very first post! Recently I just traveled with my soon-to-be 2 yr old to Tampa Florida to visit Grandpa. ALL BY MYSELF. And sadly for me RIC does not have a direct flight. So what should be a 1hr 45 mins plane ride became two 1hr 30 min flights with layover. I know many have survived more difficult flights and layovers than me but here is what I did right, wrong, will do differently next time around. I hope this helps! And of course any advise you can share with me and other readers is much appreciated!
- Separate Seats If You Can Afford/Find It
Claire was able to fly as a lap child being 30 days under 2 years old and of course I wanted to save that extra $230 for shopping money when I arrived rather than spring for an extra seat. My flights on the way out we had an empty seat next to us both flights (score!) and I was so grateful! Keeping an active child in a seat is difficult enough-trying to hold an older child on your lap is quite another thing! I was not so lucky on the flight home. If you can afford an extra seat-do it! Your legs will thank you as well as the person sitting in front of you. (When a toddler has there own seat their little legs cannot reach the seat in front to kick) If your like me and buying an extra seat seems like to much luxury- pick an airliner where you can pick your seat. Find one in the middle back that has no one else in it. When you arrive on the plane, scout out empty seats and before the plane takes off-ask the flight attendant if you can move. Honestly- your seat mates will be doing the same thing because no matter how cute your baby is, they want to move away from you.
2.Fly On Tuesday
Not only will your pock-it book thank you, but so will your legs! This is not a super popular day to fly so the likelihood you will not have a seat mate is much higher. (or that your seat mate can move a way from you and your active toddler.) Having a whole row to ourselves that she could walk around and climb on was AMAZING. Also in comparing prices Tuesday was almost $100 less than flying on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
3.Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help
Traveling with child means-stuff, stuff and more stuff! Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most will take pity on you and help you before you ask. And it just might save you $40. When I did not ask for help, I paid $60 additional dollars to check my bag and carseat. On the way home I asked for help and the attendant waived the carseat as a checkbag (requires special authorization) and I paid $25 for only my checked bag.
4.Bring a Stroller
I brought a cheap, folding stroller and it was a Godsend. I could keep Claire in one place while unloading all of my things through TSA. You will eventually have to get her out of it, but put them right back in it while you repack your stuff. Also when you have to run to make a connection (I did) it will be a Godsend. It is also super easy to check at the flight door.
Smile at everyone as you get on the plane. We all know what people are thinking when they see you with a toddler. (Please don’t sit by me!) If you smile and are friendly it changes their thought process a little. If you look frazzled, tired, and unhappy it will only reaffirm their negative assumptions about your child’s probable behavior and they will be less willing to help you. I also try to say hello to those I sit next to, and let them know a head of time I appreciate them sitting next to me and I will do everything I can to ensure my child behaves on the flight to the best of my ability.
6. Research The Airliner
Each airliner has their own pluses and minuses and some are more child friendly than others. Find one that has wide seats. (United Airlines has the widest for Richmond airliners via Cheapflights.com.) Find out which are the most child friendly. Some such as Southwest and United have children play areas and toys in their section of the airport. It’s a beautiful thing!
7. Pack Snacks, Snacks, and More Snacks
Bring your child’s favorite snacks and some new and exciting ones they have not had before. Try to hold off on feeding them until during take-off and landing. This will help with cabin pressure on their little ears and who doesn’t LOVE to eat? Also bring an empty sippie cup so you can fill it with water before the flight. The last thing you want is mechanical problems stuck on a plane with not enough food and water for a grumpy toddler.
A bored child is a destructive child. I did a TON of research on what to do to entertain my child on the flights. Here is what was in Claire’s flight back pack.
- DVD player– This the number one entertainer. We are not huge TV people so it was a special treat to watch movie after movie for Claire. Be sure to get head phones and have your child use them before the flight. I did not do this and it was a struggle to get her to use to them at first.
- New Toys- Get a few new toys they have never seen before. You do not need to spend a ton of money. I made some of mine because that’s just what I like to do.
No mess coloring book and markers
Dress-up necklaces and jewelry ( just found old jewelry I no longer cared about-she loved it)
$3 new baby doll
Old wallet filled with old gift cards, fake money, etc.
Magnetic Princess dress up dolls
pipe cleaners (This I found as a recommendation online. We did have fun making these all kind of shapes, etc)$1 at Target
3. My back pack- Claire LOVED snaping and unsnapping the clasps on it. It entertained her for seriously 20 mins! Who knew?
4.In Flight Magazines
5.Window-Claire spent 15 mins just opening and closing the window shade.
We survived had a great trip and learned a ton! I hope this helps you in your future trips and adventures with a young child or around a young child! REMEMBER: No matter how rough the traveling is- It is all worth it for moments like this…