Plane Travel with Toddlers
By Contributor Carolyn Bechard

Traveling with young children can be stressful at the best of times. But when you are stuck on a full flight with an irritable toddler who doesn’t want to sit still, stress levels go to a whole other level! And boy have I been there!

So what should you do to best prepare your child (and yourself) for those potentially uncomfortable hours in the sky? Here are a few of my suggestions.

1. Pack a ton of snacks
Seriously, snacks will save your life up there! When my kids are about to lose it, the first thing I go for is that bag of cheerios or fruit leather. It quiets them down for a few minutes and gives them something to do with their hands. Make it extra entertaining by packing treats they don’t usually get. Hello character shaped fruit snacks and fruit puffs!

2. Over pack and be prepared for all circumstances
Yes, I said over pack. I get that before you had kids you were probably trying to travel as light as possible, but now is not the time! An extra set of clothes (or two) for baby and you will be worth it when your child gets nauseous and throws up everywhere. And nobody wants to deal with the smell of a poopy diaper for three hours because you didn’t pack extras.

3. Have some way to relieve the pressure
Take-off and landing can be hard on your little ones ears. The first time I flew with my oldest I refused to give him Tylenol because I didn’t want to be that parent who drugs their child. It didn’t end up being a pleasant experience. The next flight I gave him some and it made things so much better. If you aren’t comfortable with this, be sure to give your child a pacifier, bottle or something to suck on to help relieve the pressure. I have heard some airlines will let breastfeeding mothers nurse at this time, but I have yet to personally encounter that.

4. Entertainment
Collect a few new small toys during the weeks before you leave and don’t let your child see them until you are on that plane. Pull them out one at a time or as they get bored and be sure to save some for the trip home. The best purchases we made were $5.00 sticker books from Costco and a Color Wonder  from Wal-Mart. Lately more airlines aren’t giving you free movies, so it’s a great time to bring along your tablet with a few of your child’s favorite shows. Oh and don’t forget to bring along that stuffy or blanket they won’t sleep without in case you get lucky and they doze off!

5. Go for the extra seat
If your flight is longer than a couple of hours and you can afford to pay for your toddlers to have their own seat, do it! It makes a world of a difference when they are strapped into a car seat that they are used to and not free to squirm in your lap or take off down the aisle.
If you travel off season you can sometimes score an extra seat for free. Call the airline the day before and mention that you are traveling with a lap child. Ask them if the flight is full or if there is the potential for an ‘infant block’ seat. Usually they will take your name down or tell you to check in early on your day of departure. You will need to be prepared to carry your child’s car seat through security and up to the gate either way.

Ultimately, don’t let having young children discourage your from traveling abroad. It can seem intimidating and it probably won’t be the best day of your life, but try to focus on the positive. You will soon be enjoying that vacation you so longed for!

Good luck and happy travels!

Carolyn Bechard is a wife and stay at home mother to two young boys living in the Fraser Valley of Vancouver. In her free time she can be found sipping coffee, snapping pictures, traveling and writing over at