Travelling with kids can be a lot of work, but it can be well worth it for a warm weather getaway in the middle of a long Toronto winter. I've been travelling with my toddler since she was a newborn and I recently flew with my two under two for the first time. Here are a few tips to make navigating the airport and plane with your little ones as seamless as possible.
Give Yourselves Extra Time
Arrive extra early so that you have plenty of time to get through security, customs, the terminal and onto your plane. Everything invariably takes longer with kids in tow and being crunched for time will just add stress for the whole family.
Get Your Baby a Seat on the Plane
Most airlines will allow children under 2 to fly for free on a parent's lap. While this may be more cost effective, children are safest strapped into a carseat. It's also more comfortable if everyone has their own seat, especially on longer flights.
Get a Folding Luggage Cart for your Carseat
If you're travelling with a convertible carseat and it doesn't fit in or on your stroller, use an inexpensive folding luggage cart to roll it around the airport.
Bring lots of snacks. Lots. Way more than you think you'll need. Flights get delayed, especially when you're traveling with kids in the winter, and hungry kids get cranky fast. Snacks can also provided much needed distraction and entertainment when you're waiting in long lines or have been sitting on the plane for hours.
Pack a Spare Outfit
Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on, for EVERYONE. Your toddler may have an accident, your preschooler may get airsick and puke all over himself and you, you may spill yogurt all over your shirt while trying to eat and care for a young child at the same time. Shit happens, sometimes literally, and there’s nothing worse than being stuck 35, 000 feet in the air wearing smelly, wet clothes.
Even if you generally avoid screen time, this is a good opportunity to break out the screens. No one wants a crying baby or whining toddler while they're stuck on an airplane, especially not said child's parents! Bring some small toys, a few books, stickers and colouring supplies, but when all else fails, don't feel guilty about turning on your toddler's favourite show. Netflix allows you to download shows and movies onto your mobile device, so you can turn them on in flight.
Don't Forget Your Baby Carrier
Even if you plan on using a stroller in the airport and on your trip, a babywearing is a particularly helpful parenting tool while travelling. Once you've gate checked your bags, putting your baby in a carrier frees up your hands to get yourself and your luggage onto and off of the plane. Carriers are also good for letting your baby nap on your lap after takeoff. A ring sling is a great airport carrier, as it folds up small to fit in your carry-on when not in use. A carrier is also useful during your trip. Your baby's routine may be interrupted, so a carrier can help sooth them if they get overwhelmed, it's handy if you go for a hike on uneven terrain that isn't ideal for strollers and it gives your baby a cozy place to nap on the go. If you plan on hiking, a Soft Structured Carrier or Meh Dai are good choices, so make sure to add one to your checked luggage.
What are your necessities when travelling with little ones?