In case you missed Part One- Planning Ahead, here’s a link.
Day of Travel Tips:
–Dress the toddler smartly– comfortable, layered clothing that is easy to change / do diapers changes in is best. Sweats or pjs are never a bad idea. This is not a day for high fashion toddler-wear.
–Make eye-contact with gate and security agents, have a good attitude, and be friendly. With all of our travels, we have never once asked to cut in line or be given special privileges at the airport, but more often than not we found ourselves taken to the front of a security line, put in much shorter “family lines”, or given special accommodation in airports. I’m not 100% sure why this is, but I’d like to believe that part of it stems from having a good attitude. Be sure to make eye-contact with airport officials so they know you are there and they are aware that you are traveling with a baby, be friendly, and leave it at that. If they help you out, you will appreciate it. If they don’t you’ll be just fine too.
–Pre-board, if possible. As we discovered on our trip, not all airlines are allowing families to do this still. Personally, I think it’s a great idea if you have the chance as it gives you time to find your seat and get your toddler interested in the plane without having to jump over other passengers or hold up the line in passengers trying to board.
-Less is best! Stick to the basics. Honestly you will probably end up actually needing a lot less than you think you will; and, in most cases you can always buy things at your destination in the case of a real emergency. If you plan ahead and pre-order some of your supplies like diapers and wipes online, you will also save space.
–Pack your carry-on bags wisely:
Again, less if best here. Remember you will be lugging your child and any carry on baggage all over the airport, so the lighter the weight the better. That said, here are some essentials to include:
-Plenty of snacks and drinks for your child (You can take milk, water and juice through security when traveling with a baby or toddler). Don’t bank on the airlines to provide these things for your baby- some do, some do not.
–Diapers and wipes– bring plenty. Wipes double as hand washing / clean-up cloths.
–An extra pair of clothes for the entire family– I can’t stress this enough. With a baby, you never know what might happen. The last thing you want is to be sitting in dirty or wet clothes covered in who knows what for several hours on a long flight. I ended up using my spare pair of pants myself on one of our flights when, actually by no fault of my daughter, water was split all down the front side of my pants. I was very glad I had those pants.
–A couple plastic bags– for trash, and other cleanup needs (such as wet pants- see above) that will arise.
–A couple favorite toys / stuffed animals / blankets / books- The idea here is to make your child feel comfortable. Only you know your child and what items that would mean. Our daughter has a special “koala” blanket that she sleeps with every night and loves to snuggle. It seems to help calm her when she is upset. It was an essential item on our list (don’t tell our girl, but we even brought our “back-up koala” in our checked luggage- just in case something happened to the first one- can’t lose koala!). There were also a couple books we routinely read her at nap and bedtime that also made the trip with us.
–A small bag of “surprises” (at least one “surprise per hour of flight time plus a couple extra) for your toddler to discover throughout the flight. They don’t have to be expensive for elaborate, toddlers just love to explore things that are new to them. These can be wrapped up as little gifts as desired. We found this helped pass the time and kept our girl entertained quite well. Some of our “surprises” included:
-wooden clothes pins
-a mini magnetic writing board and stylus
-a slinky (BIG hit)
-a small book
-a roll of funky ribbon
-post-it notes (another BIG hit)
-small key chains
-a sliding puzzle
– a little animal rattle bracelet