I never thought I could handle traveling alone with Greyson, especially internationally! But I’ve conquered my fear time and time again and I want to offer some advice/tips that I’ve learned along the way. It’s hard enough traveling with a child, but traveling SOLO offers heaps of new obstacles you have to overcome. *Cue all my biggest fears* How would I get through security with him and all of our things? How would I manage going to the bathroom with a baby on the plane? How do people possibly do this?!
Well you see, it’s one of those things were you just do it! I feel like the first few times I flew with him solo, it went okay… And then, I had one dreaded trip where just about everything went wrong and that’s when I really learnt how to prepare myself for the worst. I’m talking smoothie explosion on the way to our destination… (Warning: Do not open your kids sippy cup filled with a dark very berry smoothie mid air… it will explode from the pressure, and your face and shirt will be covered in smoothie). You’re welcome for the heads up! Also, our flight got cancelled on the way home at midnight… after waiting 6 hours to board… Yup, that means we had to stroll on back through customs, get our luggage and have someone come pick us up in the middle of the night and drive us back the next day. I did complain, got us a discount on our next flight which leads me to this last trip which I was far more prepared for.
I personally like to book non-stop flights. The idea of taking everything off the plane, and having to get on another plane, just sounds awful to me. It’s hard enough getting on that initial flight, why would you want to do it again? I prefer to get it all over with if that’s an option.
Picking the right time to travel for your kid is KEY. You know your child best, and I realize some kids won’t just sleep anywhere… But most kids will reach their limit at night. So red eyes are my favorite! Nap time also works, as long as I can plan it so he will be tired at some point of the flight that’s when I’m booking. So far, he’s always managed to fall asleep on the flights we’ve taken and in turn I’ve been able to watch a movie or enjoy reading a book.
Getting to the Airport
I like to go early, that way I’m not rushed and acting crazy. Trust me on this, I’ve arrived super early and super late, barely making my flight…. When I was early, calm, cool and collected Greyson was much better behaved. Children can feel your stress and the last thing you want to do is stress your kid out before flying.
Plan for the security line.
Slip-on shoes for you (toddlers don’t have to take off their shoes) you don’t want to deal with tying up shoes when you have a toddler on the loose, and while you gather all of your things as it comes through screening. A light umbrella stroller is your best friend when going through security — it will be easy to fold up at the last second and place on the X-ray’s conveyer belt. I suggest the Uppa Baby G-Luxe as it’s lightweight, has a basket, cup holder, a travel case (add on), shoulder strap, and reclines in case your little one falls asleep. I can’t imagine traveling without one! You can leave it at the plane’s door before you board for gate check, and it will be waiting for you at the door upon landing.
I always go buy some snacks, drinks, a new toy if I see something cool. If there’s a play area let them run free in there before you head to your gate if you have time. The more energy they let out pre flight, the better! I usually put out a spare blanket on the ground, this is when I bust out all the fun new toys I bought to entertain him. I save the ipad for later. He usually eats a snack, plays on his blanket with new toys while I pack up the umbrella stroller and get it ready for gate check. I always change Greyson’s diaper right before boarding and put him in his pj’s or super comfy clothing so he knows that it’s almost nap or bed time. Use the family room, bring your stroller, use the bathroom yourself, change your child and pray that you don’t have to deal with a bathroom trip for either of you while on the plane. Remember, if you’re travelling solo you won’t have anyone there to watch your things and you’ll have to squeeze both you and your child and all of your bags with valuable/important items into that tiny bathroom. Granted, I always end up having to make a trip, but usually only 1.
I always pre board, it gives me a little extra time to set Greyson up in his seat before the person next to us shows up. I always pick a window seat for Greyson, he enjoys looking out the plane window. Also, I feel like it blocks him in and he doesn’t notice all the people walking up and down the aisle and tempt him to want to do the same thing. Although, if you know your child won’t stay still and will need to walk, an aisle seat might be your best bet.
I always have the iPad filled with brand new episodes of his favorite show “Little Einstein’s”. In flight is the time to let loose on some of those parenting rules you may have, screen time, candy, whatever works! What I tend to do is as soon as the flight attendants are able to, I get them to fill his cup with milk, give that to him while he watches his show and he usually passes out pretty fast. It’s also a good idea to have new toys that they’ve never seen before in case your child is restless. But as mentioned above, I usually go through all of those while waiting to board. Since I go to the family restroom before boarding, change his diaper etc we usually don’t have to make too many trips to the bathroom on the plane. Depending on the length of your flight, it’s nice to minimize those trips as those tiny bathrooms are not ideal conditions for changing a child.
Don’t rush off the plane if you’ve gate checked any items, usually those items take a while and you’ll just be standing in the way. Just pull out one of those new toys or talk about the things you see out the window and try to patiently wait for everyone to exit. I like having space to take my stroller out of the bag and get everything organized anyway and it’s much easier to do so with less people around.
My favorite items to travel with:
- Lightweight stroller, I personally love my Uppa Baby G-Luxe. You can buy a travel bag for it that protects it and it’s super lightweight which is really important for when you’re going through security and when you have to carry it around when your child isn’t in it. Although I did see my friend with the baby zen stroller that also looks amazing for travel and would be worth checking out.
- My ipad, literally could not live without it. Don’t forget to get a good case/stand and a good set of child friendly headsets.
- Backpack as a diaper bag and the skip hop backpack for your child with the harness. It’s so important to keep them close in a busy place like an airport
- I’m a slight germaphobe so wet ones by the dozen, honest wipes travel packs, honest hand sanitizer. Personally I wipe down any surfaces that Greyson may touch (arm rest, window, wall, tray, etc).
- Disposable table covers for the tray in front of your seat….
- Mini Buddha board, he loves art so this is a great mess free art activity all you need is a little water
- Good snack box filled with delicious snacks and sippy cup that doesn’t leak!
- New toys, travel theme, travel themed books
Here’s to hoping that people are super helpful, friendly and understanding and will give you a hand if you need it. Safe travels and I hope that some of these items and suggestions help someone out just a little. Traveling with a child is hard work, but totally doable as a family or solo. We got this!
Note: If you can travel with a car seat, that is the safest option for your child on board a flight. FAA recommends a child being 40lbs + to use the airplane seat belt.