Flying with a Toddler {Tips & Tricks for 1-3 Years}



Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner (already!) and many of us might be traveling to see family. All of my immediate family lives back in Texas, so I have spent the last eight years visiting often.

Liam has flown a grand total of 22 flights in his short two-and-a-half years. Flights 23 through 26 are booked for him to take with us before the end of the year.Last month, I shared some of my tried-and-true tips and trick for flying with a baby under the age of one. Let’s just say that flying with a toddler is an entirely new adventure.

1. Get all checked in.

If your toddler is under the age of two, make sure to bring the birth certificate to verify their age. If they are over two, the birth certificate isn’t necessary (but I always bring it just in case since it is his only form of ID). At the age of two, they have to have their own ticket (boo to spending money!), but they will also get their own luggage allotment (yay for more stuff!).

If you are bringing along a convertible carseat that is awkward to haul around the airport, I recommend putting it in this inexpensive bag and checking it. Car seats are FREE to check and don’t count towards your baggage allotment! Since we visit my family often, I actually found an inexpensive car seat option on Amazon for my parents to keep at their house so we are never worrying about bringing along the car seat and installing it in the airport parking lot.

2. Breeze through the security line. 

The one plus about flying with children is that you get to skip to the front of the line. This is especially helpful with toddlers that are antsy and fidgety all the ding-dong-time. I keep Liam in his stroller so he doesn’t dart from me in a busy airport (Is my child the only child that darts? Please say no.).

In the security line, he has to get out of the stroller so they can check it, but the bonus is that he can typically hold his own bag and he doesn’t have to take his shoes off. Since putting on his shoes is usually an hour-long production, this saves us a lot of time.

3. Check your stroller at the gate. 

Like I said, I keep Liam in his stroller as long as possible. If he is out of the stroller, I then have a place for all of our bags. I just tag it when I get to the customer service counter at my gate, and then fold it up at the end right before I get on the plane. They stow it underneath the plane and then it is typically waiting for me soon after I get off the plane.

4. Pack for an adventure. 

Toddlers have a mind of their own and the way to their hearts is through food and activities. This last time around, I found a few cheap toys and activities on Amazon to pull out of my bag of tricks throughout the flight. This bought me some time while he stayed interested in the toys because they were NEW. Like, twenty minutes for each, but it adds up.

I also bring lots of different snack options: crackers, chex mix, cheerios, applesauce pouches, and fruit. I put them all in small bags or containers so they are easy to grab. Once he had his own seat on the plane, I also brought a small pillow and blanket for him. Sure enough, he dozed off for the last hour or so because it was his typical “nap” pillow and blanket.

5. Sit strategically. 

The best place I have found for a wriggly toddler is for them to sit by the window, me to sit in the middle, and the stranger to sit in the aisle seat. That way, he is confined between you and a wall, and he has to go over you to mess with the stranger who probably just wants a relaxing flight to themselves. I also try to sit closer to one of the bathrooms so that it’s not too long of a walk in case one of us has to go.

6. If they are potty training, prepare yourself. 

Liam was potty-trained just before 2 1/2 and just before we took his first flight with him being in “big boy underwear.” I didn’t want to risk being confined to my seat when he asked to go potty, so I let him wear a pull-up throughout the flight. He actually stayed dry, but it gave me peace of mind to not worry about any accidents.

This is completely up to you, but if you choose to keep them in underwear, make sure you sit close to a bathroom and take them to the potty whenever you are free to leave your seat.

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Overall, I have found that traveling with a toddler who has their own seat is pretty freeing for me. My lap is (most of the time) empty, I am not wrangling him as much to just sit still, and we each have our own space. However, I do have to keep him much more occupied in order for him to actually want to sit still. Any questions or additional tips? Let me know in the comments!


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