Posted in Mom life, Two Cents Worth of...

Traveling with a Toddler

We recently went to Florida to visit my in-laws for my father-in-law’s 60th birthday and given everything going on, I certainly thought about driving there.

Once I accepted the actual reality of putting a 20 month old into a car for an 18 hour, give or take, car ride we decided against it and went with the option of flying on a 2 hour and 20 minute flight.

Mom brain makes you think all the worst of course. So rather than explain every single one I had, let’s fast forward to how we did for his very first flights to and from Florida.

I asked friends on Facebook for their best traveling tips for a kiddo on the plane and I went to the ever trustworthy Pinterest. 😉

I gathered all of the fun tips that truly did allow us to have a pretty awesome trip with our little dude.

Below are a few of them that maybe will help you or you can store for the next trip you take. Thank you to all of my friends who shared the wonderful tips for us to use and now pass along to others!

  • If you are traveling with a car seat, it flies free. This was for Spirit Airlines.

  • Said car seat is also NOT weighed by the airlines. Use this to your advantage. Strap in your bulky items. We packed his diapers, life jacket, wipes and our jackets into the car seat. This saved room and weight in our baggage. (This was my favorite tip given to me so I had to share it because I would not have thought of this!)

  • If you have a diaper bag, I’ve recommended this before, but get yourself the backpack types. They’re much easier to carry with a child than a bag over your shoulder.

  • Arrive roughly 1 ½ hours before your flight. Here’s my thought on it and it worked PERFECTLY for us both times. You always board about a half hour before the flight. This gives you about an hour to check your bags, go through security with a little cushion due to checking the snacks & drinks, and a bathroom break for everyone on the walk to your terminal. We spent no more than 15 minutes waiting in a seat before we could board. BOOM. Less time for him to be bored. This was in the Pittsburgh & Tampa airports that are rather large.
  • Bring the saving grace items. Ours is his binky (pacifier), that he is slowly getting rid of, but it’s used for naps and bed time. Well, it’s great for any panic moments on a plane too! Pop that baby in and you saved a mild meltdown for 20 minutes. Every minute counts. 😊 We used this both ways. No shame.

  • Pack an extra set of clothes & more diapers than you expect. Wouldn’t you rather be prepared than up a creek without a paddle?
    (I legit forgot the wipes in Florida for the trip home to save weight, thinking I had them. We also left the house at 4:30 am, sooo tired! Thank god for having the tiniest pack in his diaper bag from a sample and we had no poop incidents!)

  • Kid’s snacks and drinks are welcome. Pack them in a clear Ziploc bag to make security checks easy on yourself.
    To be sure of the snacks and drinks, check the TSA website. 
    Clear containers for drinks are allowed. I brought him a sippy cup of milk with us as well as Capri Suns since they have a clear bottom. Now, in Pittsburgh we had no issues with them but in the Tampa airport she told me Capri Suns weren’t allowed but she would allow us to proceed. (I call BS). They were all nice to us but it took a little more time in security for them to check those items. I’d still wait that long to ensure he has all his snacks on the flight!
  • You get priority boarding if your children are under 2 years old. This was golden for boarding and situating ourselves as we were first to board on both of our flights.
  • Allow them to snack while taking off and landing. Give up your mama rules people. He had a bit of trouble on the first landing with his ears, even while eating, but it wasn’t too bad. He grabbed and pulled on them but didn’t cry. I chalk that up to being his dad’s son. His father has trouble with his ears on every flight as well.
  • Keep it fun for them. Bring activities that fit within your diaper bag/backpack. We used his tablet for Netflix and Disney+ as well as the Melissa & Doug water wow books. He even had playdough that is allowed through since it’s less than 3 ounces and another board book. Bring what they like!

At the end of the day, make sure you keep yourself calm and the child as happy as you can. It’s a lot for you all on those travel days! You all will be tired once you arrive to your destination.

For us, it did offset his schedule for a solid day once we arrived in both locations. That’s a simple fact of changing their daily routines but as usual, you roll with the punches and adapt along with them. That’s your only option when it comes down to it.

Don’t overthink it, while I know you probably will. I did too. 😊

Happy traveling everyone! We have our first flight travel in the books now!


I'm a new mama to a beautiful baby boy and am married to my wonderful husband. We're on this crazy journey together and learning how much our little man can teach us along the way.

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