Updated: Apr 10, 2019
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Hey there! Some of you might know this about me, but I am a wedding photographer by profession. A lot of my work is in San Diego, so I often find myself flying down for weddings. Well, Ross is an attorney, so that puts us in a pickle with Maximus, which means typically I bring him along. He's happy cause he gets to hang out with my in-laws in Orange County while I work and my in-laws are happy because they get to see their grandson! So this has given me quite a bit of experience flying with a toddler all by myself (while having all my gear). So I thought I would pass on some things that I have learned through this process in order to help out other solo travel parents.
7. Pre-Download Nexflix movies & Shows
Max also loves to watch movies. He is basically in love with Tinkerbell right now. So I make sure pre-download movies from Netflix on to my phone for him to watch during our flight. Max is kind of cool/strange, but he can watch a movie even without sound and be perfectly happy. But If your child needs sounds, be sure to bring some nice and comfy headphones from home that they can use. Don't borrow the airline's headphones... dey nasty.
6. Book the Redeye
This might sound crazy. But book the redeye flight for international, or early morning flight for domestic. Planes have a lot of white noise and are usually dark. A perfect place to fall asleep. By booking the first or last flight of the day, you know your little one will be exhausted and most likely sleep for a good portion of the flight!
5. Bring something they LOVE
For some strange reason, my son loves toothbrushes. Maybe cause on a normal day, I don't let him play with mine. But when I am on a plane... I give him whatever I know will make him happy. In this case, my toothbrush. He ran down the aisle showing it to everyone and the other passengers smiled at how happy he was. The flight attendants thought it was hilarious. So think of something that would be a "treat" for your child to have.
4. Bring tons of snacks
Speaking of treats..... Max usually doesn't get candy, but on flights, I make sure to pack a bunch of suckers for him. It keeps him pretty occupied for the most part. Applesauce pouches, goldfish.. you name it. A fed toddler is a (usually) happy toddler. Obviously, try to limit sugar intake if it is a long flight. But for those hour and a half flights, whatever goes! I try to find snacks that take a while to eat. That's why I love suckers!
3. Don't be afraid to accept and ask for help
I remember once at IKEA, I was obviously struggling... I had a heavy cart full of furniture. Since the big carts don't have a car seat, I had max in one arm and was trying to push the cart with the other. This obviously wasn't going well. A kind man asked if I needed any help. He said that he had a son about the same age, so he knows how hard it is. But me.... being the strong independent woman I am foolishly turned down his offer because I was determined to do it myself. After struggling to get out of the elevator, I realized how stupid I was for turning him down. The man once again offered assistance and this time I gladly accepted.
Our first solo flight together was when I was photographing a wedding in Utah. Max was 7 months old and I was pretty nervous. This was only his second flight. Since I was shooting a wedding, I had a lot of stuff to bring.. all my camera gear, my under the seat luggage, Max's car seat etc... So putting my stuff through security was going to take time. Well, guess what... people in line don't want you to take up time. Haha. So when I asked for help, people all gladly assisted.A lot of people out there are parents. They know your struggle! So if someone offers help, ACCEPT IT! If someone doesn't offer, ASK!
2. Look good
I hate to say it, but we all know it's true... we judge and get judged on our appearances. If I get on a plane looking like a HOT MESS, my child is covered in who knows what and smells, people will judge! The people sitting next to you and the flight attendants will automatically label you and your child as trouble. Try to look your best and make your child look as cute as possible. It is hard to be mad at a kid that is freaking adorable. I'm not saying to wear your Sunday best. But don't wear that shirt covered in food and 3 other unknown substances and be rocking the "day 5" hair. Of course, accidents happen. While waiting to board, you got applesauce all over you or your child found the only live plant in the airport and is now covered in dirt.... This is why it's good to always have spare clothes for you and your child that are easy to get to.
1. Use a Baby carrier
I cannot say this enough. Use a baby carrier! Max is almost 2 and I still would not be caught in an airport without my Ergo Baby carrier. It has saved me from such a headache. I have both my arms free, Max can't run off and I cruise through security like a pro. Max and I had a trip to San Diego last weekend for another wedding I was doing and I saw a mom with a little girl a little younger than max running passed me in the airport. She had her luggage in one hand, her baby in the other and a backpack over her shoulder. I could just imagine how sore her arms were! I saw another mom running in and out of the line chasing her two year old, a look of exhaustion on her face. Meanwhile, max was safely strapped to my back and was dozing in and out of sleep. Once I get out of security and to our gate, I let him down so that he can get out all the wiggles before the flight. When it's our turn to board, I strap him back in for easy boarding. So easy and such a life saver!!! (use coupon code: jo8KbuYBBM to save 10%)
Do you have a trick you use for traveling with kids? Comment below and let us know!!