We have been traveling quite a bit with Isaac and now with Sophie. So I thought I'd share some tips for traveling with a young toddler that we have the privilege to learn the hard way, over the years ahahaha.
When you fly
1. Try to get your LO's nap times to work around the flights so that they will nap during the flight.
2. Let your LO run around the airport before boarding (if your LO has started walking). That really helped my kids let off some steam and wear themselves out before getting on the plane.
3. iPad. This is very convenient because there are apps on it that they could just play with and we also put their favorite shows or nursery rhymes on it.
4. People with babies are allowed to pre-board. This did NOT work for us. My advice, don't pre-board. If you are traveling with someone else, say your husband, let him board first and keep the hand-carry luggages in the overhead compartments and settle down. I will usually stay back at the boarding hall and let my kids play in the seats at the gate. We were always one of the last to board. That worked well because pre-boarding means you'd end up waiting for everyone to board the flight and that might be half an hour or so. That extra half an hour will just make your LO more antsy.
5. Snacks - take plenty. They would munch every now and then and it kept them occupied. And full.
6. Window shade can be a toy - I had read this before, but it didn't really work for us.
7. Goodie bags for other passengers seating near you - for when you are flying a long hour-flight. This goodie bags can contain ear plugs for when your baby screams, an apologetic note such as "I am so sorry that I cry and disturb your nap but I don't fly often and I am scared" or some snacks. I found people were generally NICE, sympathetic even, about traveling with a child but giving such goodie bag helps.
8. Books - We would take a new book and a favorite book. Someone recommended also taking sticker books, but Isaac had no interest in them. Sophie would just play with it for a bit and started getting upset that it didn't stay on my face when she stuck it there.
9. Toys - maybe a few, but really you shouldn't need more. Plus, both my kids throw them on the floor. However, this could be quite a game, they would throw them and they'd go back to it. Keep them occupied.
(But a little hindsight for #8 & #9, don't pack too much! The only thing I recommended to pack is 2 of your LO's favourite books, 1 toy and snacks. You will be tempted to bring more, but that gets in the way when you are trying to find something. Mine will be fascinated with stuff around them, like the tray table, the magazines and the window - use that to your advantage. Once they got tired of playing with one, I turned their attention to a book. Once they got tired of that, I turned their attention to the tray table, etc. Just cycle through the items and before you know it, you'll be descending toward the runway!)
10. If your LO needs to run a bit or is getting antsy, take him/her for a diaper change. It's hard - yeah, but the change of scenery would do him/her good (before going back to the seats).
11. Parents always think of bringing spare outfits for them kids but never really thought of themselves. Bring a spare outfit for yourself in diaper bag or in overhead compartment just in case. My first born once vomited on me and I had no choice but smell like vomit until we landed in Auckland. That was an eleven hour flight!
12. Wrap or carrier - for when your LO is sleepy and refuse to nap, wear them and walk them around and they will fall asleep in a blink of an eye.
13. And if you are a breastfeeding mother, that is the biggest bonus of all. Keep nursing your LO especially during take off and taxi - it'll help to reduce the air pressure in their ears and ultimately keep them active and happy throughout the flight. And it helps if you wear a nursing friendly outfits. it'd save you from lifting up the entire beautiful flowy maxi dress you are wearing teheee :)
Do you have any other tips? Share with me, please.