Chasing Davies: Flying with a Toddler

May 30, 2013

Flying with a Toddler

This past weekend, we celebrated the long weekend by extending it a day further and heading out west... all the way out west to visit family in California. Coming from the middle of the country and booking a bit last minute, we had a long flight (with one stop) ahead of us. We'd made this journey with Liam before, but he was only 5 months. Much easier and controllable a baby is, but a toddler forced to sit still and be confined to a small area for 3.5-4 hours... ufta!

So we did a few things right and a few things wrong...thought I'd share both in case you are near flying for the first time with your wild little toddler.

1. Flight Time
We flew out and and back midday, both ways had one stop (though we didn't get off the plane, at least). We were limited in our choices due to holiday weekend and booking only a few weeks out, but in the future, I'd do all I could to get the shortest trip possible, meaning non-stop/direct.  This is worth more money, especially for further distances.

And for us, I thought I could count on Liam taking a tap on the plane - but that hardly happened. On the way there, he was tired and definitely needed a nap, but able to fight it off enough. Finally he did fall asleep, but quickly woke up about 35 minutes later (typical nap is 2 hours). Boo. 

On the way home, our midday flight was delayed 2.5 hours back, so naturally Liam took a little nap in the airport. I thought all hope was lost for any sleeping on the plane. BUT I was in luck because our flight was later, he was less energetic and slept another hour and a half!  So I think in the future, evening/night flights would be best for our bundle of energy!

2. Entertainment in Flight
Personally, I think we did well in this area. We brought a few of his most favorite toys, current it books and beloved blanket.  We let him has his pacifier more than he typically gets it (only when sleeping) on the plane to help with his ears and keep him from being too loud. 

But we also brought a few new, surprise items!  A couple new books about his current favorite thing int he world, TRUCKS, and a small toy truck and a little bear he could cuddle. All these things were hits.  When you're dealing with a toddler who has an attention span of 2-5 minutes, options options options!

And when all else fails... SNACKS! We had lots of snacks on hand. Some favorites, some special treats and more filling options. That always helped get him out of a funk.

3. Dealing with Time Changes
We went back in time 2 hours from our time zone, and I was worried how Liam would react. We arrived in California at 5:30pm Pacific/7:30 Central (our typical zone and around Liam's bedtime). But because we were getting off a long flight, it was still bright and light out and we were seeing family, Liam was JAZZED! Plus, he still needed a proper dinner. So we had no problem keeping him up later. Because he napped so poorly, he actually slept in the next morning, too and ta-da, was quickly adjusted to Cali time!

Coming home was a different story. He didn't go to bed until 11pm Central time. So by 9am the next morning, he was still sleeping... we decided to gently wake him up and hopefully do so a little bit earlier each morning. We also put him to bed as close to normal bedtime the next few nights, at least being up in his room, reading books and doing his night time routine. 

4. Having Fun on your Travels... with a Toddle in Tow
I didn't even think about this before going. I just kept thinking about all the fun things we could do in San Francisco, CA! I mean, hello.. San Fran is a blast! I've been there so many times and have a few favorite restaurants and shopping areas and sights to see... 

Well this time was different. Liam has very different ideas of entertainment and eating at nice restaurants isn't one of them!  We did manage to sneak in one dinner out excursion for a little family reunion. We had a separate room and lots of people to entertain Mr. Liam - so that helped! But otherwise, forgo the dinner and just concentrate on the quick places, like In-N-Out (we did that, too). 

Also, if you can believe it - no shopping on this trip! Not at all!  We brought our midsize stroller, because it reclined so Liam could nap on the go and he also napped in the car to places (day trip to Santa Cruz, for instances), so we weren't confined home. But he needed time on his two legs and didn't have a ton of patience for long stroller rides (this boy has energy to burn, I'm telling you!).

We still had a great time because we were with family and friends and with each other, but if you're hoping for more adult activities, rethink bringing your toddler. 

What are your toddler travel tips?

I will have some fun photos from our trip and the things that we DID do soon!

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