Flying at 15 months: our game plan
In a couple weeks we're going to California to visit my family and I am SO EXCITED. I'm going to face plant into some in-n-out, drink delicious beer, take Logan to the Safari Park, and we may or may not have scheduled some family portraits with our favorite photographer in the whole world. Basically, I'm working on having the best week ever. But first, we have to do the unimaginable: FLY THERE. WITH A 15 MONTH OLD.
Okay, I'm being a little dramatic here. Logan has flown several times in the first year of his life, including a poorly planned flight to Wisconsin that required overshooting our destination by nearly 1000 miles, and has been an absolute trooper for all of our flights. But now that he's passed that 1 year mark, he's weaning and bigger and just. so. mobile, which has me increasingly concerned about our upcoming trip. So, I'm taking a little extra time to make a game plan for a (hopefully) successful trip:
- Mix old favorites with the new and novel- this is the big trick for us- with everything we bring, it's important to have a mix of things that are tried-and-true favorites and new, special things that will hold his attention. I try to make sure that there's a new small toy and a new snack for each day of flying we have ahead of us.
- Snacks on snacks on snacks- the best part of having a kid who loves to eat is that the right snack will keep him busy for a while! I'll bring tons of snacks. Old favorites include: fresh mandarin oranges, bell pepper sticks, goldfish crackers, apple sauce pouches, fig bars, and fruit leather. As for the new treats, I'll probably take a walk through our co-op a few days before the trip and pick up a couple things that I wouldn't usually buy (like chocolate bunnies or fruit snacks).
- Quiet, engaging toys - Annoying lights and sounds are a big no-no unless you want to be *that* mom on the plane (no, thank you!) so I try to stick with toys that are quiet and will keep Logan quiet without having 1000 pieces to get lost. Again, I'll follow my something old, something new strategy here. Old favorites we'll include in our travel bag include some toy cars and dinosaur figurines. I've already bought one of these water-reveal pads for some coloring fun, and have my eye on a buckle toy since Logan is obsessed with buckles, plugs, and fasteners. In the past, I've had success with a baby-friendly fidget cube and a spinning toy.
- Wet bags are your friend - I love wet bags with a passion that doesn't seem fitting for a lump of fabric and PUL but they're just so useful that I can't help it. I use wet bags to organize the diaper bag day-to-day, but it feels extra useful during long trips like air travel. I keep snacks in one, toys in another, and a third holds a clean change of clothes and fresh diapers/wipes. This way, snacks that spill stay contained, toys are corralled, and in the inevitable case of a travel-related diaper/clothing mishap we have a water-resistant bag handy. There are lots of options available affordably on Amazon, but some of my favorites are made by Luludew - we use the wipe bag for snacks and the travel bag for clothes or toys.
- Check the luggage- Before parenthood, I was the person in the airport who insisted on carry-on only. Now, I enthusiastically hand my bags over to the airline and am grateful to have one less thing to keep track of as I move through the airport. Yeah, we have to wait a few minutes for the bags when we land at our destination, but it's 100% worth it to not have to lug it around. Also, we usually pack just one large suitcase for all three of us, further streamlining our trip.
- Wear whenever possible - Hands-free is key to getting through an airport with a little one. I don't really like gate-checking a stroller unless I have to, and Logan still loves our baby carrier, which thankfully means he'll let us wear him through the airport. One of the biggest benefits to this is that TSA will let you wear your baby through the security checkpoint, allowing you to be hands-free when you go through the shoes off/shoes on/laptop rigamarole. You also will not be asked to go through x-ray machines. They will likely ask to rub your hands with a special cloth to check for explosives, but it rarely adds more than a minute to your passage and often means you cut the line of people waiting to go through the x-ray machine. On the plane itself, different airlines have different policies about babywearing during take-off and landing, but will let you know if you need to take your little one out. Otherwise, babywearing is fair game during the flight and can be an easy way to get your little one comfortable enough for a nap.
I'll update y'all in July once our flights are over and let you know how it went! Are you flying with your toddler this summer? What does your game plan look like?
Disclosure - Luludew sent me their travel bag for free as part of their brand rep program. I purchased the wipe bag on my own because I love the product. I have not otherwise been compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.