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Last month I traveled alone with a toddler for the first time in decades.
It was a trip with my grandson Alex to visit his great-grandma and other relatives in the Midwest.
The experience left me empathetic to fellow passengers in the same situation and renewed my appreciation of what parents do on a daily basis.
Making Travel Fun for Your Kids (and Easier on You)
I also learned what to do to make the travel experience better for both of us next time.
- Check baby equipment. Most (if not all) airlines will check baby seats at no cost. You can use the stroller to travel through the airport and then check it at the gate on the way onto the plane.
- Pack light. My daughter-in-law has a case for the car seat which has plenty of room to pack enough clothes for a short trip for both the child and caregiver. I decided not to do this but only because it was too heavy for me to carry with all that weight.
- Limit Carry-ons. I made the mistake on the outbound flight of having one too many carry-on bags. That made it hard to carry my grandson (when he refused to walk), his diaper bag and mine. I'm sure everyone I passed on the narrow airplane aisle was getting smacked despite my best efforts to keep everything contained. I consolidated for the trip home.
- Take Advantage of Early Boarding. My experience was that the airlines don't announce boarding for those traveling with young children anymore but have a designated time for this group. We traveled two different airlines and both had open boarding for anyone traveling with children under four or five between the high level frequent fliers and the next boarding group. This allowed us to get settled and put away all the stuff carried on without feeling pressured by a long line.
- Pack Snacks. The snacks for sale on the first airline were not items I would feed my grandson so he was able to eat the healthier items packed from home. You can't even count on the airline having snacks for free or sale so plan ahead.
- Plan Entertainment. I packed a travel-sized truck, a book and smart phone apps for Alex's entertainment. I strongly recommend toys without noise which can bother other passengers.
- Travel during Nap-time. Assuming the toddler/baby can sleep anywhere, it helps the trip go faster if they're able to sleep during a large portion of the flight.
Thoughts on Traveling with Kids
Advance planning can make the travel portion an incidental part of the trip so you can enjoy the destination to the fullest.
What is your tip for traveling with young children?