Travel with Small Kids

Dear yayas,

We have a family vacation planned this summer and I’m worried about flying with my 15 month old on a plane across the country. I’m afraid of how other people will treat us on the plane, that she’ll have meltdowns, and that it just won’t go well in general. Then there’s the what to do when we show up at our destination and our whole routine and time zones are out of whack. I’m nervous just thinking about it! And filled with dread instead of excitement…any tips on how to travel with a 15 month old? 

– Boarding with Baby

Hi Boarding with Baby! Relax! In my experience, my daughter is a better flier than most adults. I flew frequently with her around that age and she was marvelous. Kids are fascinated with places. Make friends with your flight attendant. Breastfeed (if you are nursing) or take a water or lollipop for take offs and landings (the swallowing helps their ears). Go prepared with sticker books, her favorite blanket or stuffed animal and try to get her by the window! Most of all, if you relax, then she will reflect your energy. Also, I highly recommend a baby carrier instead of a stroller if you have a layover. Enjoy your trip! – Cortney

Dear Boarding with Baby, No worries! The people who love babies on airplanes far outnumber those who don’t! My daughter and I were frequent fliers at that age and before take off I let her stand on the seat and peek over at our neighbors and we introduced ourselves. I know 15 months is too young for chewing gum, but if they can keep there jaws moving at take off and landing (eating something or bottle/pacifier?), then it helps with the ears. Also, massaging the earlobes works great. I also had a special bag that she helped me pack that had toys, books, snacks, etc. as we prepared for the “adventure.” And I also had some other activities that I would give her periodically throughout the flight. I had them wrapped up or in containers that took awhile to get undone. My daughter loved little boxes and animals. Also we played cards (a deck of horse pictures) and we would just “pick” from the deck and have our stables! Enjoy! Some of my best memories (then and now!) are traveling with my daughter. – Taren

I never traveled on a plane with my kids, but I have observed babies on planes, and I feel bad for them. If the mom is upset then the baby feels that too. Maybe wait to make a big trip like that until they are older. – Grama Claire Bear

I think the best way to feel better about traveling with kids, no matter what age, is to know that it’s okay to feel stressed about it and that it likely won’t go as expected. I’ve slowly found that to be true for most “big” events. However you expect it to go, try to let go of that and be okay with accepting things as they come. You can definitely do your research to have ideas to keep your little one “busy” on the plane and when traveling, and you can do your best to stay in tune with your little one’s needs throughout the trip. While you may run into a sour lemon while traveling, I think you’ll find that the majority of people are understanding of how stressful traveling with kids can be. The more that you can smile and roll with the ups and downs, the more likely your little one (and those around you) will too. – Diana

I flew a lot with my daughter before she turned two and she is a better traveler than me! Now she is running to the gate telling me to hurry up because we are going to be late. It cracks me up and I love traveling with her. I would take every negative thought you have and flip it for a positive one. What if the flight attendant is overly helpful and offers extra snacks and drinks? Or what if you sit next to a grandmother who loves babies? Or even better yet what if she sleeps the entire flight!? I have experienced all of these scenarios and I’m sure you will too or better. And if things do go wrong what is the likelihood you will see any of the people on the plane again? If they get mad at a baby for crying it says WAY more about them then it does about you as a mom. Just think positive and have an amazing trip with your little one. – Nadia

I traveled solo with two of my babies once. It was the trip from hell, but not because of other people or any of the situations I had made up in my head before the trip. It was because we found out the hard way that we are not red-eye people. My kids did great! They slept…I did not. And the not sleeping set me up for sickness. We all got the sickest we had ever been. It was horrible. I don’t tell you this to discourage you, but to be real. There is no one size fits all travel advice: some families do best with red-eyes, some do not. Some kids are great in the car, some are not. Look at your kids and where they are and factor that in. Don’t forget to factor in YOUR needs, too. (That was my downfall). As far as other people go, don’t give them any of your energy. Focus all of your attention on meeting your family’s needs and you’ll do great. It’s when needs aren’t being met that we start to melt down (children & grownups). Look up plane activities on Pinterest. Babywear. Do what you need to do to feel prepared to meet your needs and not the imagined needs of others. It’s a learning experience…and that’s okay! – Lori Beth

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