The first time I flew by myself with our son, he was 3 months old and had colic. I was unbelievably nervous and anxious that he would cry the entire flight. We were formula feeding so I had to travel with pre-made bottles, and I had to keep the bottles cool. FYI, you can travel with premade formula and you can take small ice packs through security with relative ease. They will do a scan of the bottles with their wands (the laptop wand) but otherwise, they are pretty forgiving. Now that we’re knee deep in toddler travel, I’m not sure it’s much easier but I definitely need less stuff.
Ever since then, we fly roughly 3 times a year with him and most of the time, it’s just me and him. As such, I have adapted to travel with a toddler that makes my life easier, as well as the lives of my fellow passengers. There’s still get the odd dirty look from people, but then you just have to believe that karma will take care of them for you.
I am a notorious over packer but I feel like I have improved over time. We are now down to one carry-on and a medium sized purse. I have my staples that I have to include, of course, but I’m getting better at determining what’s frivolous.
I’m still using our Fisher Price diaper back-pack I bought about two years ago because of the easy access to the wipes. They go in a side pocket that you can grab without opening anything. As such, I can just grab a wipe and wipe down as much as I can manage before toddler hands zone in on the space. I’m also able to grab wipes when he inevitably knocks over my drink or his snack cup.
What I pack
So other than wipes, these are my must haves:
- iPad – Yes, I am okay with him watching iPad
- Sticker books
- His own spill-proof, leak-proof cup
- My stainless steel coffee cup – a little frivolous but I’m not spilling coffee everywhere
- This is for after passing through security, obviously
- And no I have never had security issues with an empty stainless steel mug
- A multi-functional book – one with stories, I spy, different colours, etc. Something to keep him busy in different ways
- His cherished stuffy when the inevitable breakdown occurs
- A juice box for him to suck on at take-off (included in the picture but purchased after security)
- Variety of snacks to put in a sealable snack cup. I have made the mistake before where he took of the lid and distributed snacks EVERYWHERE.
- A lollipop – for landing. DO NOT give them a lollipop at take-off. I have made that mistake too! A sugar rush half-way through the flight sucks!
- A change of clothes for him
- Little dog poop bags for collecting any mess (small and compact)
He rarely ever gets a juice box or a lollipop so when he does, it is a real treat. It’s two of the only things he will happily take that’ll pop his ears. His meltdowns tend to occur at landing so I’m hoping the lollipop will take the edge off. By the time the sugar kicks in, I can hand him off to his grandparents anyway.
The other big change to our travel routine has been Netflix. Starting earlier in 2017, Netflix allowed downloading of certain content to watch offline. This was a game changer for me! Travelling from Canada to the US, I was able to download Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig. Now travelling back to Canada for a visit, I will be downloading PJ Masks and Lego Marvel. The shows are available for 72 hours so you’ll have to reload shows depending on when you’re travelling back.
If you have any additional tips and tricks, I would LOVE to hear them! Anything you have to offer is appreciated. Toddler travelling is stressful for everyone and I am all about information sharing.