The Big Green Parenting Experiment

raising a healthy family in a toxic world

travels with toddler

on October 29, 2012

Autumn has been so unbelievably busy for us this year! Birthday parties, weddings, interviews, international travel… and that’s in addition to all of the other craziness that comes along with having an active (& perpetually teething) toddler!

We just returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic where my sister-in-law was married. And if you spoke with me at all over the past month, you know that I was VERY stressed leading up to the first big flight with a 14 month old. Eek!

Well, all that stress was for naught because things could not have gone better! After plenty of googling, surveying and preparing, we successfully made it there and back without a single tear or fuss! Phew! I wanted to share what worked for us to help ease the mind of pre-travel stressed parents like us. Trust me. It can be done.

The advice that I received the most was to pack new toys. Little people are intrigued by new things that they haven’t seen or played with before. While I was shopping for the trip I picked up a handful of new things which cost me about fifty bucks. It didn’t amount to much and the more I looked at it, the less confident I felt that it would keep her occupied for a total of six hours of flights (each way). I returned everything. My advice: pack new objects, not necessarily toys. When I returned those toys, I hit up the dollar bins at Target. I always walk right by these things but they are a gold mine for cheap, interesting, who-cares-if-it-gets-lost-or-broken type stuff. The most successful item purchased was a sheet of fall themed sticky gel window decals. Schy literally played with these things for an hour or more at a time. She stuck them to the tray, unstuck them, moved them, stuck them to the window, etc. We used about a third of a sheet on the way there and another third on the way back. We still have some left. They cost one dollar. Enough said.

Some other ideas that worked well were slinky jr’s AND their boxes ($1 each from the same target bins), multi-colored jelly bracelets ($1 for about 20), wikki
stix
from the craft store (about $6), finger puppets & squishy koosh creatures from a local toy store (~$2.50 each). We also brought plastic links, a roll of painters tape which we didn’t end up using and a cuddly puppy for naps. And don’t forget how much fun can be had with a plastic cup or two! Flight attendants are more than happy to supply them.

Next, new books. I did splurge for 7 new books at Marshall’s that were about $4 each but we get TONS of use out of books, so that is always money well spent. Again, the newness thing is intriguing. Reading new books is equally refreshing for parents also!

Snacks!! Plenty of snacks! We carried on more than she could’ve possibly eaten, but better to be safe. Organic puff snacks and a spill proof snack cup are perfect for traveling. And of course, two sippy cups… in case something happens to one. You never know.
We packed the toys in a shoulder bag IN a carry-on so we could just take the whole thing out and keep it handy. It worked very well and made clean up easier as well.

Some other random tips…
Our layovers were short (~1 hour) and by the time we all used the restroom, had a diaper change (LOVE the family restrooms!) and stocked up on water it was basically time to board again. We did, however, pack a ball to play with in the airport. I tried to find an inflatable beach ball but couldn’t find one anywhere so I just grabbed a medium-sized bouncy ball at Target for a buck. We didn’t end up using it but it would’ve been handy if we were delayed, etc. We also packed a U-shaped neck pillow which was awesome for naps! I was able to prop Schy’s head up while nursing and napping and I don’t know what I would’ve done without that thing! Pack the Tylenol, just in case. We didn’t end up using it, but we did carry it on. You never know how little ears will react to the pressure change until it happens. We tried to have Schy nursing, eating or drinking on ascent and descent but even the one time that she wasn’t, she handled it well. All babies are different. It’s definitely best to be over prepared.

We opted not to bring a stroller. She is not much of a sitter, so we figured that it would be more of a headache to lug around. This worked out fine. The layovers were quick and we had no trouble carrying her. Others I have spoken to thought that I was crazy for not bringing one but it worked fine for us. Multiple people recommended a portable DVD player as well. Schy isn’t a TV watcher so we didn’t bring one. We did have an iPhone loaded with her favorite kid tunes, though we didn’t end up using that either.

After all of the stress before the trip, things went wonderfully. Our little girl is a natural jet setter and we are already trying to figure out where to fly next! We need to squeeze one more trip in while she is still a lap baby!

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