Mama in the City

A blog about raising my family in downtown Vancouver

Advice Needed Please! Traveling With A Toddler

We have a trip to Arizona coming up in a couple of weeks to go and see some of my husbands family. We have never been to Arizona and a really excited. This will actually be our first plane trip with Ben. My husbands sisters and brothers will be meeting Ben for the first time and his mom hasn't seen Ben since he was a wee one at 5 weeks old. He's 18 months old so it is time to test the waters. We picked a short three hour flight with minimal time difference and that is the Vancouver to Arizona flight. We have been afraid to go on a plane with our child and afraid of traveling with him but the time has come.

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When Ben was an infant the mere thought of being on a plane with him would make me break out into a sweat. Ben was a challenging baby at home and I just could not picture wanting to see how it worked on a plane. Would he be the baby that makes everyone crazy with his loud crying? Yes, I am very sure this would have happened. We have been putting off any type of travel for a long time and so we are really excited that we finally feel up to it.

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I need any of your tips for traveling with a toddler. Send them my way via comments on this post. Show me the way people! I know a lot of you have probably flown with your family many times and so this makes you an expert. Should I carry him in a carrier or bring a stroller? Regular stroller vs. umbrella stroller? Do you book an extra seat and strap a car seat in or is this over the top? Tell me! Tell me! Do all hotels have cribs?


Sarah Funk said...

Call the hotel you are booked into a request a crib. They should have one for you, but I like to bring my own sheets and blanket for it. They are small and roll up in your suitcase ok.
You can gate check your stroller, so that means you can have it right up to when you get on the plane and its waiting for you when you get off. It helps when you have the long walk through the airport. But it will have to go through the x-ray machine so keep that in mind when you decide on the size you take.
When we flew with my son, he was 20 months and we didn't have him in a seat but I had something called a Baby B-Air vest Check it out. Its a little piece of mind.

Also I had some chewy snacks and his bottle for him to eat while we were taking off and landing to help his ears. Sucking and chewing helps keep their ears clear.

Don't be tempted to sedate him. LOL!! It could do have the opposite effect. LOL! And sometimes if the flight isn't full, the airline people may be able to put you and Alex in a row that has an empty seat or try to get the bulkhead so he has a little room to move.

And I found that even though you are allowed to board first, I like to wait til the end. Otherwise you are sitting on the plane with a little squirmer that much longer.

Good luck! Have a fun trip!

March 1, 2010 at 9:03 PM  
Mira said...

My brother travelled with his kid from Europe to the States when she was 18 months old, she is 22 now. they booked her a seat and took car seat. She is a very, very active kid but entire trip went much better then they have ever hoped. Kids do surprise you sometimes in a possitive way. You have much shorter trip so just relax and hope for the best. :)

March 2, 2010 at 1:20 AM  
Kristen said...

Hi Andrea,

Here's what I've learned about travelling with kids. Check out your airline and hotels ahead of time. Most are pretty good and kid friendly. Most hotels have playpens at no extra cost to you.
Travel as light as possible, definately the time for the umbrella stroller.
I'm cheap so we've never booked an extra seat for our under 2 flyer. This works well if the flight is light, the airline will try to keep a seat free by you for your little one, but it is very crowded on a full flight.
Let Ben run around as much as possible if you have a layover. Some airports have kids play areas, take advantage of them.
Pack as many snacks and distractions as you can. Once they are in the plane, you are there for a few hours.
I wrote some more tips for travel at my blog here
Hope this helps and good luck!

March 2, 2010 at 6:25 AM  
Mom2Two said...

I would say to have a new toy, book or game for each hour that you have to be seated on the plane.

March 2, 2010 at 6:28 PM  
Amanda Brown said...

Here are my survival tips: a portable DVD player (make sure you charge the battery!) and a whole purse-full of chocolate/suckers/treats.
You can just call me Supermom. :)

March 2, 2010 at 7:20 PM  
Nat said...

I always like the idea of having something new or that they haven't seen in a long time for every hour. In the past I have wrapped up these items so it is like getting a present every hour. I also try and get stuff that keeps them busy and occupied. New books with great pictures are good. I would take a stroller up to the gate in case the terminal is large or her gets tired. I have not booked an extra seat when mine was under two. I have found most airlines to be accomadating with kids.

March 2, 2010 at 9:52 PM  
Branham said...

I found a helpful websit, I have been reading it, we'll be taking our son to Hawaii (from Colorado) in May and I'm scared out of my mind.

March 3, 2010 at 10:29 AM  
Mama in the City said...

Thanks Kristen! Your link was very helpful and well put together! We aren't going to book an extra seat for Ben this time around. I am just anxious about him hollering and getting loud when he has to stay in our laps. Eeek! Will find out soon as it is just a few weeks away :)

March 3, 2010 at 12:56 PM  
Mama in the City said...

I am totally going to be ladened with treats. Ben won't know what hit him ;)

March 3, 2010 at 12:56 PM  
Mama in the City said...

Yes! You should know as you traveled with Nyla to Maui. I am curious about the whole car seat deal and renting one from a car rental versus something different. What did you do??

March 3, 2010 at 12:59 PM  
Mama in the City said...

Ahh thanks for the resource. I never wanted to be the parent with the screaming infant (which my son was!) so we are only now having to figure it all out. My husband said he is going to bring five dollar bills to buy the people around us a drink haha. I think he is kidding? Maybe not!

March 3, 2010 at 1:01 PM  
Mama in the City said...

You have given me some wonderful tips. Thanks Sarah! I was thinking of wearing Ben in an Ergo carrier during the airport. I wonder if it will be a big hassle having that while going through the security?

March 3, 2010 at 1:02 PM  
Mama in the City said...

I am hoping we will be able to say the exact same thing :)

March 3, 2010 at 1:02 PM  
Margarita said...

Good luck on the trip. We were so afraid of travelling with our daughter, we waited until she was 3 to put her on a plane, and she was remarkably fine. I say that because I expected the worse and she was awesome, but again, she is older.

She had a lot of problems with her ears when she was younger so I always feared her ears would bother her on a plane. Good luck!

March 3, 2010 at 6:17 PM  
Lise in Yaletown said...

Also check out if the city you are visiting has a rental service for baby stuff, which could cut down on what you need to bring. Larger stroller, car seat, maybe even toys? Not sure. Our 20mo has been on two flights, North Carolina and back (each way with at least one connection). Going down she was a colicky 5mo, but she (and we) were fine and coming back she was 8 months and had just learned to crawl. She fussed some, but spent the rest of the time playing peekaboo with the grownups on the plane. Just remember that you have paid the same price as the others on the plane and never feel bad if he's being fussy. A friend of mine always brought a box of chocolates to 'sweeten up' any grumpy grownups in the vicinity. On another note, for when you want to try a longer flight, or even a connecting flight, the best airport to be a parent is was Salt Lake City. Most people had kids with them, or were parents and completely understood any situation.

Good luck.

March 3, 2010 at 6:57 PM  
Koo & Poppet said...

You have received so many great tips!
Here's mine: We've travelled on a plane twice with Sadie, once when she was 4 months (and a plane-riding angel) and once when she was 13 months (11 hours of flying time).

on the 13 mth trip, I prepped beforehand by stocking up on dollar store crap. Seriously, cheap toys that were new and didn't really matter what became of them. they were a total hit - especially the hawaiian leis that look like they are made out of garbage bags - know the ones? probably a strangulation hazard though, oops! Also, we picked up some toddler-friendly snacks that she had never had before like baby cereal bars.

but honestly, the hardest part of the flight was, ironically, the fact that she slept most of the way from Toronto to Vancouver. A 23 lb toddler's sweaty sleeping body splayed out on top of mom or dad for an extended period of time in an airline seat makes for one NUMB BUM. I'm not sure there is any getting around this though....just be prepared for a sore tush if Ben sleeps the whole way! I think the drone of the plane really soothes toddlers though.

Have fun on your trip!

March 4, 2010 at 9:00 PM  
Anonymous said...

You have certainly gotten so many great tips. The only other thing I would like to offer is to only buy a seat for Ben if the plane is full. If you go and pretend to buy a seat on the same flight (same airline obviously) then go to "book your seats" you can actually look and see how many seats are open. If there are plenty of seats open, chances are someone will move so you can put your little sweaty on the seat next to you.

The portable DVD or laptop is also a must. The have tiny screens on the backs of the seats on most planes now but the image just doesn't seem big enough to catch the attention of a toddle (at least not mine). I found movies in the laptop to be much better. Maybe get him a dvd that he's never seen before along with one of his favorites.

The dollar store toy thing mentioned above is brilliant. Will definately be doing that next time. Also, Crayola has a great Travel Aquadoodle. It seemed to entertain Allison all the way up to Jasper last weekend. Don't shy away from the noisy toys either. The sound of the plane engine drowns out the sound so that only Ben can hear it. I've spend time taping up the areas where the sound comes out for the comfort of other plane goers only to have ripped it off mid flight.

My vote 100% is umbrella stroller to the gate!!! We could not live without our double Maclaren.

I always take some simple, no prep breakfast items when we stay in hotels in case you want to lie around in bed for a few minutes instead of jumping up to get down to breakfast. That way Ben can munch on something while you stay cozy in the sheets.

That's it for now, if I think of anything else I will let you know. I should be the expert in child flight recommendations by now eh??

Love Lesley Ring

March 5, 2010 at 8:39 AM  
Nat said...

I have heard of stories when the car rental places didn't have car seats etc. But we had no problem at all. If you do decide to take yours, I think most airlines will let you check it for free. We just didn't want to deal with all the extra stuff to lug around!

March 5, 2010 at 8:39 PM  

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