Traveling (Flying) with a Toddler - What I Packed & Learned

Traveling (Flying) with a Toddler – What I Packed & Learned

Summertime and the living is easy. I have embraced this weather and new season fully, and love the fact that as I look to the upcoming months, we have many weekends with open schedules. We fully intend on soaking in Lake Country and all it has to offer. That being said, we have had a few recent family trips (and a few more on the calendar) that have opened my eyes to traveling with a toddler.

Are you planning a family vacation (finally!) this summer or fall?  Will it be your first time traveling with your young family?  
Traveling with a toddler definitely takes some more planning and preparation but it can be done!  My husband and I just got back from our first flying vacation with our daughter, Lainey, who is 19 months old.  I didn’t quite know what to expect and was anticipating some hiccups, but honestly, everything went so smoothly! 
I am sharing the items I packed, what it was like flying with a toddler, things that worked well for us, and adjustments I’d made in the future.  I hope our experience gives you tips or the confidence you need to have an amazing family vacation!  


What I packed for our 19 month old, Lainey:

  • Multiple outfits/combinations for 6 days, 5 nights
  • Shoes (beach, tennis shoes, going out)
  • Sun hat
  • Swimming suits
  • Sunglasses
  • PJs (x3 or 4)
  • Jacket/hoodie (if cold)
  • A few long sleeves & pants (if cold)
  • Books for reading
  • Sleep sack
  • Portable sound machine
  • Monitor & camera (& charger for monitor)
  • Pack n Play
  • Tent for Pack n Play (more on that below)
  • Pack n Play pad cover
  • Mirror for car
  • Stuffed animals
  • Sippy cups, utensils, plate/bowl
  • Portable high chair
  • Medicine & bathroom bag (comb, lotion, thermometer)
  • Hearing aid travel bag (all necessary supplies & change of batteries)
  • Diaper bag with change of clothes
  • ID for Lainey (copy of birth certificate – did not need since Lainey had her own seat and is under the age of 18)
A tough decision was the sleeping arrangement for Lainey. I spent a lot of time visualizing how this was going to go. Our first big decision was where was she going to sleep? Lainey has a very early bedtime (we start the bedtime process between 6 – 6:30). If she were to sleep in the living room, she would see us (because we weren’t going to isolate ourselves in the bedroom starting that early). After thinking through other alternatives, we decided that she was going to sleep in our room with us – in her Pack n Play.  
Our next big decision was how was the sleeping arrangement in the bedroom going to work? After Lainey’s first experience camping, we learned that she could not see us sleeping in the same tent (or room) with her, because she’d want out once she saw us. We researched the SlumberPod, as well as black-out covers for the Pack n Play to obstruct her view from seeing us. We were set on buying a SlumberPod, but I slightly procrastinated and could not find any available online!  In a pinch, we thought creatively and decided to create our own set-up to obstruct her view from us. I found a large play tent on Amazon. It essentially worked like the SlumberPod, and it was perfect!  My husband and I would sneak into bed and sneak out in the morning and Lainey never saw or heard us!        

Other Items we packed:

For Beach
  • Sunscreen
  • Aloe
  • Beach towels
  • Beach toys
For Plane
  • Stroller (we bought a cheap one just for travel)
  • Car seat
  • Carry-on Bag, with bag of new toys
  • Stroller fan
  • Snacks
  • Suckers
  • Books
  • Juice cup
  • Empty water bottle
  • Crystal Light To-Go
  • Wipes
  • Extra plastic bags for garbage
Traveling (Flying) with a Toddler - What I Packed & Learned Plane

Flying with a Toddler

When we bought our flights, we decided to buy Lainey her own seat and that she was going to travel in her car seat on the plane. For our own personal comfort and her safety, it was important she was in a car seat, and also, there was no way she was going to sit still on my lap for our 2 hour flight!  We also made sure our flight was direct.  We wanted to get to our destination as fast and easy as possible!  
For the plane, I packed my carry-on bag with a bag of new “toys” and many snacks. I found a lot of great items at the Dollar Spot at Target. I also added a few other household items, as well as a few items I bought from Amazon. I also made her own picture book from items I saw in a magazine. I made sure that Lainey did not see any of these items before the flight.  
I had suckers packed for take-off and landing, as well as her juice. Lainey’s Pediatrician said we could give her Benadryl to make her drowsy for the flight, but to try it before going (he said sometimes children react oppositely and are actually very rowdy). We decided to forgo Benadryl altogether.
I was a tad nervous not knowing how the change in air pressure was going to affect her, but Lainey flew great! She had the window seat and loved having suckers. I didn’t even reach into her bag of toys until about an hour in, and then we only went through 2 toys on both flights! Descending seemed to bother her a little (she pointed to one of her ears and had tears welling in her eyes, looking uncomfortable) but no tears were shed. During that time, I tried to have her lick her sucker, drink her juice, or practice yawning. All seemed to work, or at least distract her enough to take her mind off of the discomfort. 
We bought a cheap umbrella stroller (under $30) for traveling. We have a BOB Stroller that I absolutely love, and I did not want it to get busted or broken being tossed on/off the plane so we bought a really cheap umbrella stroller for the purpose only of vacation. I sure missed my BOB but the cheap little stroller did the trick and I wasn’t worried if it broke during travel.    
Another thing we did which helped was we put in a Target pick-up order for items that I didn’t want to travel with. I really didn’t want to take up space (and weight!) with our luggage for items like diapers and wipes. Plus, many of these items we were going to completely use while on our trip so why even pack them in the first place? I made this list ahead of time and put in the order a day or so beforehand. Before arriving at our rental, we did the pick-up order at Target and it worked great!
Here is what I ordered from Target:
To Get at Target
  • Snacks for Lainey
  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Plastic sandwich bags
  • Protein powder

Lessons We Learned:

I thought traveling went very smoothly! I was expecting hiccups but we really didn’t experience any! I think our preparations served us well! There are a couple of adjustments, or things I will look into more, but nothing major.
First, I would weigh our luggage to confirm the weight is under 50 pounds. One of our bags (the bag with most of Lainey’s stuff like her Pack n Play) was 61 pounds! There wasn’t much we could do (nothing could get removed) so we had to pay the hefty fee – both ways, unfortunately! Next time, I will definitely weigh our bags to confirm they meet the weight requirements, before arriving at the airport. 
The only other minor adjustment I would make is to practice transporting our car seat a little better. We had a luggage strap that we used, and we strapped it to our roll-on luggage. The car seat was much heavier than the roll-on and we had to be very strategic about the luggage strap placement. It all worked but was just a pain! I’m not sure if there was anything we could have done better – car seats are just that big and bulky – but I will definitely research it a little more for next time!
Wherever you’re headed I hope you and your family have a fantastic time with safe and happy travels! 


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