11 Tips for Flying with a Toddler in 2021

Born to travel Tips for traveling with a toddler on a plane during the pandemic era

Here's what you need to know. Written by a first time mama traveling for the first time as a mama.

If you have a toddler, then chances are, they are a pandemic baby, and you are a pandemic parent.

Like so many, I became a first time mom just as the world began to shut down. We can all agree this was not ideal, however, my little family was fortunate to stay safe and weather this storm. For so many new parents, this was an extra challenging time without having family nearby to help out or share in the many experiences and milestones of our child’s first year on this Earth.

As soon as we felt comfortable to travel, we booked our first flight as a family of three to introduce our, now 16-month-old, toddler to the rest of my family for the first time — cue the waterworks. It was an emotional trip to say the least on top of the many anxieties of traveling with our toddler for the first time… Oh and then there was the whole pandemic element.

So, I thought I would share what I learned on our first plane ride as a family and some helpful tips for traveling with your toddler, during the COVID-19 era, that made our experience smooth flying.

Gentle reminder: It may feel like common sense by now, but remember to wash and sanitize your hands, your toddler's hands and surfaces frequently and adhere to all CDC guidelines during your travels. 

For reference, we flew from Los Angeles to Chicago in June 2021. This was a 4.5 hour plane ride and we arrived at the airport 1 hour before our boarding time. We parked at the airport parking lot and walked into the ticketing area.

Note: This post is not an ad and none of the items I suggest in this post were gifted to me or given at a discount. They are items that I found helpful on our first trip as a family.

#1 But first, nap time!

When it comes to scheduling your flights, consider when your child typically naps. Pre-COVID, there were several more flight options to choose from compared to now, so this may be difficult to coordinate. However, if you have the option, I recommend picking a time around your toddler's nap or sleep schedule. 

A more rested toddler is much better than an overtired one. But you already know this! Also, you know your child the best. Are they able to sleep almost anywhere? If yes, then the plane should be no different. However, if your little one is like mine, then they may only want to take naps or sleep in the crib. If that is the case, you may want to find a flight that allows your toddler to sleep in their crib prior to traveling.

If they will be sleeping on the plane, I have some pointers for that later, in Tip #4.

#2 More legroom, please!

When booking your ticket, you may want to splurge for some extra leg room. This one was a no-brainer for us. Our toddler is under 2 years old, and so he got to fly for free. Since we didn't need to spend money on an extra ticket, this allowed us to budget a little more for our seats. If you can swing it, get that economy plus or even first class ticket! Alternatively, if you have miles, this could be a great opportunity to use them to upgrade your seat. You will feel more comfortable and so will your child.

Ok! So you're booked! Now it’s time to prepare for what you need to bring.

#3 Compact, collapsible stroller, FTW! 

Listen up Mamas! Leave your fancy stroller, with all the bells and whistles, at home. Trust me on this. You do not need it and it is truly more of a hassle than anything. What you need is something that is compact, lightweight, and bonus points if it fits in the overhead compartment.

I researched online for something lightweight and collapsible for us to use. I ended up purchasing the GB Pockit Air Stroller that I found at BuyBuyBaby. In my opinion, it is not the best stroller for everyday use, but for travel, it was just what we needed. It weighs less than 10 lbs and collapses down to the size of my diaper bag. No joke! It also came with an over the shoulder carrier bag and fit in the overhead bin.

This stroller helped us get through the airport in a breeze. At security, we had to take our son out and collapse it — takes less than 10 seconds to collapse and opens in less than 5 seconds  in order to go through the security machine. I carried our toddler and we walked through the metal detector together. Easy peasy! No hassle traveling right there.

When we arrived, the stroller was super handy, too. I did miss our usual stroller but this one worked fine for the 1 week we were visiting family.

Alright, now what do you need to pack for the plane?

#4 Extra clothes for your toddler... and for you!

Accidents do happen. You may spill some of your drink. Your toddler may spill some of your drink. And it could be pretty uncomfortable to be confined to a small space covered in liquids, or who knows what! So pack a spare change of clothes for you and your little one in your carry-on just in case. We didn’t need to use our spare, but it did give me peace of mind that we were prepared. 

Another thing to consider if your child is going to be sleeping on the plane, is that you may want to bring their sleep sack, if they use one. Also, bring any other comforts they are used to for sleeping or napping. This may include a pacifier, or a favorite stuffed animal. Bring it! The pacifier may also help with their ears when the pressure changes on the plane.

PRO-TIP:

Ditch the black or gray outfit! Wear color matching outfits to the airport and on the plane. Sounds silly, I know, but hear me out! We are not used to crowds any more, and your toddler certainly is not used to them either. By wearing matching clothes with your travel crew, it will be easier for you to identify each other at the airport, especially for your child. They will be able to spot you from the crowd of people.

Alright, what else?

#5 Snacks. And also snacks. Oh, and more snacks!

Due to COVID-19 and airport construction, many of the amenities, including restaurants and shops at the airport, are no longer available, open or have limited hours of operation. Do not count on getting what you need at the airport. I repeat, do not count on getting what you need at the airport. For us, almost everything was closed, and we were at two major airports, LAX and O’Hare. One of the only restaurants that was open was sold out of almost everything on the menu for the day. The snack stands were slim pickings, too.

The good news is that you can bring a bag of food on the plane that does not count as a carry-on as long as the bag contains food and liquids only that follow the airline requirements. We packed so many snacks and cut up fruit, and even PB and J sandwiches for mom and dad. Any time there was a "fussy situation" we reached into the bag of snacks for our little one and we were good to go!

PRO-TIP:

Pack an empty water bottle to fill at the airport and an empty sippy cup for your toddler. Try to get you and your toddler to hydrate as much as possible. We also packed a bib in the carry-on which came in handy.

Another way to distract and entertain your kiddo is with...

#6 Books and toys

I recommend packing a few toys and books for the plane ride. Pick ones that are your toddler's favorites and some that are new. Bringing something that they haven’t seen before, or in a long time, may engage them a little longer. It will feel like a special plane ride present for them. When making your toy selections, think simple and compact, and not going to have lots of pieces that you can lose. We tried out water pen coloring books and a lacing toy. We also brought some toy cars, a bubble pop fidget toy, a book called, Planes, along with some other books, too.

PRO-TIP:

When in doubt, load up the iPad or your phone with some videos your toddler loves. For us, that is Moana! We only had to use this method for about 30 minutes of each plane ride. It was helpful, but our toddler does not have the attention span to watch for too long.

#7 One day's worth of diapers is all you need, seriously!

I’ve had some people ask me, how many diapers did I pack. Answer: I packed five, total. I only used three of them on the day we traveled. They can take up a lot of space in your luggage, so I only packed what I thought I would need to get us through the day. When we arrived at our destination, I bought a pack of diapers and wipes at the store. This was so much easier than packing enough diapers for an entire week!

PRO-TIP:

Pack your diapers in a super convenient location in your carry-on. You won't want to be digging for a diaper when you need one, trust me!  My carry-on had a separate bottom compartment that was perfect for storing diapers, wipes, changing pad and our extra clothes!

#8 Give yourself plenty of time at the airport and check your luggage! 

When you get to the airport, it may feel overwhelming. Especially if you are in a major city with a larger airport. Breathe, you got this! You are going to be okay. One thing at a time. First, head to the ticket counter, because you know you are checking at least one bag or item! We packed almost everything in one checked bag to make the airport experience a little more hands-free for us and I will do that every time we travel with a little one. I am so used to only going carry-on so this was a hard adjustment for me, but totally worth it.

If you did not purchase a ticket for your toddler under 2 years old, you will still need an infant boarding pass for the plane (there is no charge, but it will be needed to board the plane). At the ticket counter, the airline associate will ask for your child’s name and date of birth. Then they will produce a boarding pass for you and your toddler.

PRO-TIP:

Before you board the plane, find an open space where your toddler can run around and get some energy out before they are going to need to stay put. 

#9 Don't forget to make plans for the car seat

Okay, you may need to check your car seat, because you absolutely need a car seat when you get to your destination. In our situation, we were traveling to visit family, and I figured this is the first of many trips to see them. So I bought a convertible car seat, that was on sale, and had it shipped to my parents house.  I wanted them to have a car seat for us during this trip and when we come visit in the future, too.

If you do not have arrangements for a car seat to be waiting for you on the other end of your plane ride, then you will need to bring your car seat to the airport in a closed bag, with a luggage tag, and you will have to check it at the ticket counter. 

#10 Whip a Titty out

Okay, so breastfeeding on the plane… Many of you want to know about this one!  If you are still breastfeeding your toddler, I want to first say, ‘Congrats!’ Seriously, that is an incredible accomplishment. Way to go, Mama! You are freaking awesome. I am all about celebrating breastfeeding. My breastfeeding journey was the inspiration for me to start my small business, Titty City Design.

Breastfeeding can be a super useful tool for your plane ride. It is a simple way to comfort your little one if they are feeling scared or upset for any reason, including their ears popping from the pressure in the cabin, or the noise during take off. Sucking will help soothe that discomfort for them. Your toddler will feel more calm on the Tit, so use it! You are their comfort zone and you are allowed to comfort your toddler by breastfeeding on the plane.

It is normal to feel nervous or apprehensive. Block everyone out. They are not important. If it helps, sit in the window seat for a little more privacy, or do the two-shirt method.* Remember, no cover is necessary. You got this mama!  And you freaking survived a pandemic! You will survive feeding on the plane. If someone bugs you, tell them to look away. You may even get some accolades from some other mamas on the plane! You are a queen!

*PRO-TIP:

Use the Two-shirt breastfeeding method.

  1. Wear a tank top under your shirt.
  2. Lift your shirt and pull the tank top down.
  3. Whip out your Tit.

Your torso will be covered by your tank top and the top of your chest will be covered by your shirt while you are feeding.

#11 Choosing your mask

Everyone has their own preference on what type of approved mask to wear for traveling. You may prefer the N95 face mask or your simple disposable mask, and that is great. Go with what works for you.

For me, I wanted something that I would feel both safe and also comfortable wearing for a long period of time. So I did a some searching on the internet and found these adjustable face masks. I was pleased with the comfort level and they had great ventilation for me and my partner. We each brought our own pack of 3 masks with us on the plane. That way we could switch them out throughout our travel day when we needed to feel a little refreshed.

Since our toddler is under 2 years old, he did not need to wear a face mask. However, if your toddler is over 2, they are required to wear a mask for the entire time at the airport and on the plane, with the exception of eating or drinking.

PRO-TIP:

Use a mask chain. I bought and used this mask chain from Meesha Farzaneh, a small female owned business that I love. It was super cute and helpful. When I needed to remove my mask, I didn’t have to worry about it falling on the floor or my toddler taking it.  

 

Alright, everyone! That is all of my tips and recommendation for traveling with a toddler in this new world that we live in. We had an amazing time seeing family and look forward to many more trips in the future. Good luck with your travels and journey safely! 

Be sure to check out some of my other blog posts on my Let's Talk Titties blog or shop my body positive products

 

At Titty City Design, We believe that every boobie is beautiful, and that should be celebrated. We are a female owned and operated, small business here to spread self love and body positivity with our line of products for the home. A portion of our proceeds go to help support postpartum women and breast cancer patients.

Featured Products



All the Breast, xx Jessy



Related Posts

New Mom Gift Sets She’ll Actually Love
New Mom Gift Sets She’ll Actually Love
Are you looking for a new mom gift set for the brand new mama in your life? Whether it’s a friend, sister, cousin, or so
Read More
The Truth About Breastfeeding and Weight Loss
The Truth About Breastfeeding and Weight Loss
We've all heard the stories. You know the ones. When you breastfeed you automatically lose all the baby weight. Heck, it
Read More
Our Best Highlights from Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Our Best Highlights from Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Throughout October, we have provided education for breast health, support for the breast cancer community, and launched
Read More
20 Messages for Breast Cancer Patients When You Don’t Have the Words
20 Messages for Breast Cancer Patients When You Don’t Have the Words
When you’re going through a hard journey, a journey that is taking all your strength and perseverance, sometimes the rig
Read More
5 Breast Cancer Funds We Love Supporting
5 Breast Cancer Funds We Love Supporting
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month and every month, we advocate for breast health and celebrate all bo
Read More
Gifts for Breast Cancer Patients
Gifts for Breast Cancer Patients
The sad reality is that about one in eight women will develop breast cancer sometime in her life. And if someone close t
Read More

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published