Tips for Traveling with a Toddler
I have it on good authority that traveling with a toddler is punishment for stealing in some countries. And despite that one time when I was seven and I accidentally took a book from the dentist’s office and I was too scared to admit it so I hid it in the car and claimed ignorance when my mom found it, I haven’t stolen anything remotely big enough to deserve the airplane trip that awaits me and my 20-month-old this holiday season.
I would probably have to lift a Rembrandt right out of the Louvre to deserve the 2 hour plane ride that I have to take with my high-strung toddler and my impossibly low-key husband. Once, when I accidentally lit the kitchen on fire, my husband calmly walked in, picked up the fire-extinguisher, put out the fire and then asked me if he should get Burger King. All without blinking.
My toddler is so high strung she spent ten minutes crying because George the monkey made a mess in the lobby of his apartment building.
You see my problem.
Consequently, I’ve been rounding up airplane travel tips from the internet, Facebook and Google and here is what I’ve come up with.
1. Treats: Target has all their stocking stuffer treats out. So, I stocked up on Swedish Fish, gummy Fruit Loops, mini M&Ms in an adorable little container and gingerbread man crackers. I also got a new treat cup and a Cookie Monster treat holder. Because I figure we can pretend Cookie Monster is eating all the treats until she starts sobbing.
2. Pacifiers: At 20 months old Ellis uses a pacifier only at naptime or when she is teething and I’m all, “Don’t you want to suck on this and shut up?” I got some new ones for the trip just in case we lose the old ones and to help with the whole ear popping thing.
3. Dum Dums: I bought my weight in Dum Dums. Which is an illegal amount of Dum Dums. I plan on keeping them in my purse and doling them out when things get their most dire. Or if she refuses a pacifier during take-off and landing.
4. iPad and apps: We have an iPad and I also have a Nook. And Ellis is better at technology than Dave. She loves the iPad, but we only let her use it during special occasions, like when mommy needs her to simmer down so she can finish her coffee. A friend recommended this list of iPad apps and I have them all and we aren’t letting her play with the iPad until the flight. I also downloaded a whole season of “Curious George.” We also have big soft, kid-safe headphones, so she can hear the sound without bothering everyone around us.
5. Earplugs: We have a gross of earplugs which I plan on casually offering to our seat neighbors should things get dicey.
6. A mini-airplane: In August, I left for New York for a week and I brought back Ellis a small airplane, which has become one of her favorite toys. We’ve been talking about airplanes and trips and the little airplane is going to be packed in her backpack to help us explain why mommy is passive-aggressively tweeting angry things about commercial airlines.
7. New markers: Ellis loves to color, so I bought her some new markers and a Mickey Mouse coloring book. I’m keeping those sacred until the flight. But I accidentally let her see inside the Target bag and had to explain that they were “special” for the airplane flight. Now, she talks about her “pecial airpain markers.”
8. Tape: A lot of people have suggested tape. I know my daughter. She is kind of OCD and I think tape might freak her out. I mean, girlfriend gets panicky when she can’t get a sticker off her finger. But I think it’s a good idea for bolder toddlers who can handle tape and messes. Apparently, I’m raising Howie Mendel.
9. Blanket: Ellis has a blanket that is her security item. She loves that thing, so it is going into her backpack to help her when things get rough.
10. Lotion, chapstick, Tide pens and anti-bacterial wipes: I’m not known for my cleanliness, in fact, I frequently cohabitate with spiders because it is easier than cleaning their webs, but even I am going to get freaked out when my kid’s hands touch the floor of an airport. Also, the Tide To-Go pen for when she smears M&M dribble on her shirt and mine. And the lotion for her chapped face, because it’s that time of year.
11. Stroller and car seat: We found out that you can check your stroller and car seat at the gate for free. So we are doing that. It’s almost a no-brainer. Plus, we picked a flight with no layover, so once we are on the plane we should be good to go.
12. A special little gift: I found a small baby doll at Target for $4. And since Ellis is obsessed with babies, I think it will be a great trick to have in my back pocket (literally) when the trip gets rough. And I know she loves it because she saw it in the store and immediately wanted it. I told her “no” but went back later to get it. I hope it can be a special surprise, but she’ll probably lose it and then spend a good five hours crying about it.
13. Benadryl: A lot of people have recommended doping her up. And I’m totally pro-drugging babies. But I’ve never given her Benadryl and I don’t want it to backfire on me and then have a cracked out ball of snot in an Elmo shirt to deal with. Perhaps, I’ll save that for the plane trip home.
Ultimately, I am hoping this trip will be fun for her. We’ve been hyping the trip, talking a lot about “special airplane treats” and going to see Mimi and Papa. And based on our flight there experience, I should have a solid plan for traveling back.
But in the end, I’m well aware my child will probably annoy people. But you know what? People who talk too much on planes and take all the elbow room annoy me and they don’t even have kids. It’s the circle of life.
Do you have any toddler travel tips?