Happy Toddler, Happy Flight

Are you flying during the holidays? Holiday travel, especially a long fight flight with a toddler, can dampen anyone’s festive spirit. It’s tricky to manage everything when planning a trip; finding flights in your budget that fit with your schedule, reserving places to stay (Is the hotel close to the sites? Do they provide a crib?), putting together an itinerary, hiring a car (A quick tip: I recently learned about Turo – a car sharing company that has rentals all over the states, including airport rentals. It’s like the airbnb of cars. So convenient & helpful when traveling on a budget!), etc. Once you’ve done all that it can be exhausting to face the fact that you may be flying with a small child. Don’t worry. You can manage it. With a little planning ahead of time, smart packing, and low expectations everyone will survive and get to your destination.Happy Toddler, Happy Flight: Packing for a flight with a toddler. // Our Second Second City Over the past few years we’ve been on dozens of short flights (like Birmingham to Zurich or Chicago to D.C.) and several rounds of transatlantic flights with Daughter. After each flight I took note of the toys/snacks/games that were lifesavers and the items I wish had been handy during the flight. So, to help you be confident in your ability to travel happily during the holidays here is my list of recommended items for a smooth flight. Flying with a baby:What to pack for an easy flight with baby // Our Second Second City1. A baby snack: These little Happy Puffs were my lifeline on a really long flight with a 10 month old. I was even breaking the puffs into two or more pieces just to make chubby little fingers work harder and take more time to grab them. While handing these to her I remember thinking when will this plane start moving?!? And then realizing I had over 8 hours to go. Yikes. These got me through that. 2. A baby carrier (we used a homemade moby wrap, but any type of baby carrier works): Did you know most TSA agents will let you through security while wearing a baby? It’s the best. Who has hands to carry a kid through security? Between us taking off shoes and worrying about laptops and liquids, I don’t trust Daughter to stay by my side. Strap that kid down. 3. A new toy: We grab one or two Dollar Store (Poundland for us right now) toys before a big trip. As Daughter gets older it’s harder to know if something from Poundland will capture her attention for long, but the upside is both the price and the fact that if it gets lost or broken it’s no biggie. 4. An almost-guaranteed calming method: The nursing cover is symbolic. Bottle or boob, cover or not, for me nursing Daughter was always the easiest way to get her settled and give me some time to mentally rest. Additionally, feeding your little one during take off and landing will help their ears adjust to the air pressure. 18 Month Old: What to pack for an easy flight with a toddler // Our Second Second City1. A baby carrier, again: We have a Beco – but really we just had to update Moby to help us carry an older child. Daughter will still sleep in a carrier on my chest even now at two and a half years old. The longer she sleeps, the less I have to entertain her in a flying tube. 2. Stickers: ‘Nuff said. Stick them on your nose, her knee, Daddy’s cheek, the arm rests, wherever. I actually think we spent multiple hours last Christmas with just £1.50 worth of stickers. 3. Toy animals: Over the past year Daughter has been really into animal noises and we’ve played a lot with some inexpensive plastic animals like these. When they started to lose their appeal I’d hide one in a (clean) airplane sick bag and the animals would play a version of peek-a-boo. A friend recommended wrapping them up in tape or in tin foil so the child can peel the tape off piece by piece (time-intensive!) to get to the animal. Someday I’d love to have a full collection of Schleich animals, but at the rate we’ve lost the set we own I think I’ll wait a little while longer. 4. Snack to help little ears adjust: We use applesauce pouches like these to help Daughter’s ears adjust now that nursing is off the menu. Two Year Old: What to pack for an easy flight with a toddler // Our Second Second City1. Toys that are reserved for infrequent play: Daughter got this family of dolls for her birthday and they only come out on trips. Sometimes they ride the farm animals, sometimes they get their legs twisted into crazy directions, but the fact that they’re exclusive to trips makes them more exciting for her. She hasn’t been introduced to the grandparent dolls yet so that’ll be new this trip. 2. More stickers: This is stickers 2.0 – stickers and a book all-in-one. Daughter is just old enough for some of the activities inside instead of just placing stickers on our arms and tired faces. We also take a few sheets of blank paper and some crayons and markers as another activity that takes up time, but very little luggage space. 3: Snacks that never seem to get old (Or new snacks with lots of appeal): Daughter thinks these date & apple bars are sweets. I know she’ll figure out soon enough that dates aren’t candy, but for now I’m not going to correct her. I’ve found that a hungry kid is generally a grumpy kid, so pack more than you think you need. Consider using snacks to play a few games like tic tac toe (raisins vs. Cheerios perhaps). Or counting practice. This post has some great ideas. 4. Technology: The iPad comes with a caveat. It will not last you an entire eight hour flight. It will get a child’s attention, but their attention span won’t last that long. Neither will mine. Plus most airlines make you turn it off during take off and landing anyway. Recently a friend that lives in Ireland posted on Facebook looking for ideas to help with a long flight with two kids. Almost every comment suggested having headphones or specific apps to help. What? Don’t get me wrong, I will definitely be downloading a new show and a few new apps before we fly to America, but the iPad has to be my last resort. If I hand it to her too quickly Daughter become difficult to reason with and turns into a little grump. Some Honorable Mentions:What to pack for an easy flight with a toddler // Our Second Second City 1. I love these little single dose sachets of paracetamol (a pain reliever used in the UK). My 18 year old niece’s advice for our first long flight with Daughter was to “just sedate her.” We didn’t, but we did use a fair amount of baby ibuprofen our first week in the UK. Now that I’ve found these little packets – road trip or flight – I don’t travel without them. 2. For our upcoming trip I purchased these little guys from IKEA after a friend told me they were a big hit with her boys. Their heads and hats are interchangeable and maybe they’ll make friends with the wooden dolls? We’ll see. I’ll let you know how essential they are to our collection of travel toys! 3. I bought this headphone splitter so that we could listen to things with Daughter. Instead, we’ve found that Derek and I mostly use it while Daughter is sleeping. Either way it’s a handy thing to have. 4. Baby legs + a onesie for easier diaper changes (her legs stay warm and there’s no need to fiddle with trousers). 5. I have to reemphasize how valuable it is to have extra snacks. Be it Sunmaid’s mini boxes of raisinstrusty rice crackers, or little sweets. Whatever your child’s snacking habits, this may be a worthwhile time for an exception. 6. My mom gave us this toy and while it is insanely annoying at times, it sure entertains. (It is probably best for one year olds, but Daughter still loves it at two and a half.) While I try to avoid noisy toys in an effort to be polite, sometimes I have to decide what’s more annoying – a crying kid or kiddie music? We’ll also be packing an absurd amount of extra undies, little girl leggings, a big Ziploc for wet clothes, and pull-ups in our bags just in case. This will be our first flight without regular diapers! I’m really excited that Daughter is getting better with paperback books. I can pack so many more of them than board books. Hooray! A few more ideas: The most helpful advice I received before our first long-haul flight was to expect (and prepare for) the absolute worst. In other words, if baby doesn’t scream the whole entire flight when you expected her to, you’ll finish the flight feeling like you’re not a complete failure. Ha! But even with low expectations it is helpful to have packed and planned ahead to entertain, contain, and enjoy the journey with your family members. On the flight, we spend as much time as we can out of our seats and moving around when it’s allowed. Then when the fasten seat belts sign comes on we talk about what the steward(ess) is looking for (buckled seat belts!) and how to tell when it’s okay to stand up again. Walking up and down the aisle may make some passive aggressive enemies, but we’ve found it often gains us some new friends and fans. It’s fun to come across a gaggle of 60 year old women traveling together that are so excited to talk to a baby or a toddler. They’ll distract Daughter (and me or Derek) for a few minutes every time we make a lap. Bless them. This tip can be a difficult one to follow, but it can make a huge difference: Have energy and do things with enthusiasm. So often I don’t set aside time to sit down and play with Daughter for long chucks of time when we’re at home. Dinner or errands or something else tends to get in the way. The flight is a chance to give her all of my focus. If I get excited that we can see out the window, or that the seats are green, or that there’s velcro on the headrest, she gets excited too. A friend of mine (another expat with older kids) puts together bags with times (every hour or two) written on them for each of the kids. Each bag has a little snack or a small new toy and gets pulled out at its allotted time. It breaks up the monotony and adds some intrigue and excitement to the trip. What have you found that works for you? Will you be traveling for the holiday? Stay safe & good luck, travelers! Traveling with a Toddler // Our Second Second CityThis isn’t a sponsored post, and all opinions are my own. The topic was inspired by the people of Turo – a car sharing site that provides rentals at airports and in neighborhoods across the US.

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