I Learned from Experience….Traveling by Air With a Toddler

Tuesday , 16, July 2013 Leave a comment

Well yes, I did it again. I decided that it would be a good idea to travel….on an airplane….with a 2 year old. What was I thinking? Did I mention that I was solo with him? No husband! No nanny! No college age niece! Nobody! Needless to say, it was an experience that I lived through, but do not quickly want to repeat. I learned a few things about what to do and not do, so I figured that I would share.

1) Pack Light

In this day and age, most airlines do charge you for  bags but when you are traveling with a toddler, this is not the time to try to carry everything on. For a working mom such as myself, I learned the hard way. If you would close your eyes and imagine me with a computer bag, purse, toddler backpack and a carry on suitcase. Did I fail to mention the stroller? Yes, I had all of this in tow along with my toddler. Not a pretty sight and not the most comfortable of situations. In addition to lugging it all, remember that everything apart from the stroller had to be stowed in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of me…….

2) Pack Toys

When I say toys, I mean anything that will keep the todd distracted. There are just a few things more embarrassing to me  than a screaming child on a plane. I remember my pre-baby days when I would think to myself “not nice” thoughts about the screaming child in seat 26F. Now, that child is my child and I have learned the hard way that whatever it takes to keep him preoccupied is what I will do. The IPAD was my best friend recently, and I am sure that any electronic game will keep them quiet for most of the duration. This is my only prospect right now since I do not believe in medicating my child with Benadryl.

3) The Seatbelt

Most airlines do not allow you to have the carseat or carrier in the seat because they are not FAA approved. I read up on alternatives before my trip and found a particular harness. My advice on this is “do not bother”. For my medium weight 2 year old it was just as easy to wiggle out of this as it was the seatbelt. My suggestion is to save your money and keep a close eye on your child’s safety belt. I am sure that your toddler is like mine, as he figured out how to loosen his belt before “wheels up”.

4) Be Prepared

On our latest excursion, we were stuck in St. Louis for 5 hours due to weather. We were both tired and restless. The airline offered to put us up in a hotel overnight, but guess what? With all of that carry on luggage that I had , the majority of what we needed was in our checked bag. That meant that they would have  had to retrieve our bags and I would have had to lug everything to a hotel and start all over the next morning. I could not even fathom having to do this. So we opted to wait for the 1a.m. flight. Next time, if there is one, I vow to pack what I need for an overnight stay in my carry on bag.

5) Take a Later Flight

Our flight back home was a later flight and lucky me around his bedtime. He slept the whole way home. SCORE!!!! I figured it out and will now book flights around naptime or late enough for him to go down for the night.


I learned this while my hubby and I were in a commuter marriage–pre baby. The age that you start paying for a seat for a child is 2, on most airlines. Not 2 and a half not 2 and a month, but 2. The funniest thing happened in the airport  on one of my trips to Atlanta. There was a couple that had purchased airline tickets  for themselves and were traveling with infant in lap. This meant that they had not paid for a ticket for the child. Well it turns out that they had been traveling with this same child for the last 3 years on the same airline….Yes the baby was now 3 and this was recorded in the airline’s database. At the end of the day, they ended up having to purchase a ticket for the child and the cost was triple the amount that it would have been if they had purchased it when they purchased theirs.

The moral of the story, if your child is 2 buy a ticket and don’t try to get over on the airline………

Just a few tips that have helped me and that I hope will help you if you do decide to take a walk on the wild side!


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