traveling with toddlers: long flight tips

Lucy has officially been on 25 flights in her 1.5 years of life! A few months ago, I shared a massive, detailed blog post with detailed flight tips for traveling with babies and toddlers. Since Lucy started walking (around 13 months) the flights she’s taken have been pretty short, minus one roundtrip flight from Nashville to San Francisco. We are gearing up for a couple LONG flights with Lucy in September and October. I’ve been preparing for these flights a little differently than our other trips with Lucy, given how mobile and wiggly she is, and now that she is on one big nap per day. A big difference for our upcoming trips is that we opted to pay for Lucy to get her own seat, rather than fly as a lap child. I’m hoping this helps make the flights a whole lot easier! ✈️I wanted to share a post specifically about what I’m packing to survive some of our upcoming long trips with our toddler. Hope you find this helpful!

This week, we are flying from Nashville to LA and then San Francisco to Nashville (and I’ll be solo parenting/alone on the return flight with Lucy and Jack 😅). Both flights are about 4.5 hours long. Next month, we are flying Marrakech, Morocco and then back home from Lisbon, Portugal. Our trip there there will be 8 hour flight + 5 hour layover + 4 hour flight and our return flight will be 8 hour flight + 3 hour layover + 3 hour flight home. YIKES! Are we crazy?!

Here’s how I’m preparing for the trips!

SNACKS

Fruit/veggie pouches, string cheese, fruit snacks (for those emergency situations!), cereal, fruit (oranges, bananas, blueberries), Annie’s bunnies, crackers, Bare Snacks, and of course, her water bottle and her milk cup. I’ll store snacks in our small Stasher bags.

TOYS/ACTIVITIES

Tip: don’t offer all of the toys all at once! I try to space toys and activities out so every 30 minutes to one hour I present something new, whether it’s a toy/activity or iPad time. This seems to make the time go by faster, too. All of Lucy’s toys/activities and most of her snacks will go in her small backpack.

Bunnies – Lucy is obsessed with her stuffed bunnies (she has like….6 😅) so we will bring two of them on our upcoming trips. The bunnies we have are from Jellycat, Manhattan Toy, and Hazel Village.

Matching Cards – My mom bought these ‘Animal Rummy’ cards for Lucy last month and they have been a huge hit! While the game itself is for ages 5+, Lucy LOVES to match the cards with different animals. We’ll definitely bring these on our trips – she can be entertained for 20ish minutes just with the matching game. Here’s a cute similar Eric Carle card set.

Melissa and Doug Water Wow – a mess-free coloring pad with a water-filled pen. It’s not messy and super compact win/win. We will bring two for each flight (one for each leg).

Melissa and Doug Puffy Sticker Sets – Lucy LOVES her reusable sticker pad but it’s pretty large. Thankfully I found these mini puffy sticker sets she can play with on the flights. I’ll bring one for each flight.

Small books and magazines – Lucy LOVES reading! We pack a few small, lightweight books like the Indestructible books (here + here) and her Highlights Hello magazines

Removable window decals – available in $1 section at Target. I’ll pick up a few before our trips!

Random items – a small felt play scene set ($3 at Target), stickers, painters/washi tape, small dot stickers, mini cars, a few sheets of construction paper, and a few crayons. A lot of these ideas came from the epic Busy Toddler blog/Instagam

ENTERTAINMENT

We load up an iPad with Lucy-friendly shows that we download from Netflix/Amazon/Hulu. She likes the Little Baby Bum videos the best. We have these kid headphones that she wears to watch her iPad. On the upcoming international flights, we’ll see what kid-friendly movies/shows they have on the seat TVs — I imagine she will like something new and different!

SLEEP

For previous flights, Lucy slept in the baby carrier. I will still bring one Wildbird sling on both trips, but we are aiming for her to sleep in her own seat on our upcoming flights. We will see! We bought an inflatable travel foot rest pillow that we will use for Lucy (hopefully) sleeping on plane. It will fit in our bag on the plane and after takeoff/before landing, we’ll have the foot rest pillow in front of Lucy’s seat for additional play space and ultimately, more room for her to stretch out and sleep. I’ll bring a small blanket to cover the seat and the travel foot rest and she’ll still be able to be buckled into the seatbelt. I seriously considered the Stokke BedBox, which is a ride-on suitcase with a small mattress inside so kids can have more space to play/sleep on plane. Ultimately, opted for the inflatable foot rest pillow because it’s much more affordable, easier to pack (fits in small drawstring bag that we’ll put in Eric’s backpack), and it seems like more airlines allow you to use compared to the BedBox.

Our flight to Morocco via Germany is a red-eye so we are aiming to do the full bedtime routine on the plane — change into pajamas, put on sleep sack, read books, give her the bunnies, and ‘put her to bed’ in her seat with the foot rest pillow. The SF to Nashville flight takes place during nap time, so I’ll be telling Lucy it is time to rest — very similar to what she does at school with her nap mat.

TRANSPORTATION

For both of our upcoming long trips, we will bring our travel convertible carseat (the Cosco Scenera Next) and our travel stroller (the Mountain Buggy Nano). I did a ton of research on travel carseats and strollers and both came very highly recommended. For the carseat, we use this backpack stroller bag; the stroller folds into itself and fits in a little bag — it even fits in the overhead compartment! The Cosco Scenera Next can strap into the Mountain Buggy Nano (here’s a how-to video) for easy transportation. This blog post highlights some options (check both at ticket counter, check both at gate, check carseat at ticket counter + gate check stroller, ask to bring carseat on plane) but for our upcoming trips we will likely check the carseat at the ticket counter with our big bags and gate check (or put in overhead compartment) the stroller. I personally like having the stroller in the airport to hold bags and give Lucy a break from running around.

Thanks for reading and of course, let me know if you have any questions! You can find similar blog posts here: flight tips for traveling with babies and young toddlers and tips and tricks for air travel with pets and shop all my travel items here. ✈️

 

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