How to Travel with an ACTIVE Toddler

Traveling is a big part of my family’s life. My husband and I have built so many memories in different places on this rock, but not nearly enough. We treasure our experiences and value the knowledge and culture you gain from travel. We refuse to believe that you can’t do it once you have kids. Now, we only have one kid. One VERY ACTIVE kid. She’s a beast tho, in the good sense. She’s been across the US at least 6 maybe 8 times by now and she’s not yet two. Now that she is a toddler, it is infinitely harder to get her to the ideal chill zone for the entire 4.5 hours (give or take) that it takes to get to our homeland Ohio. But I’ve gathered a few tricks along the way that may or may not help some of my fellow family travelers with little ones. And I’m all about the advice so…

My first tip- PACK SMART. Don’t wait until the last minute. Plan out what you will need. I do this on paper because I’m a visual learner/liver. I’m all about that making lists life. I write down everything I will need at home and make a checklist. I’m forgetful (self-diagnosed ADD, I taught school for almost 10 years… believe me I know the signs, lol) so if I don’t write it down or see it, it’s likely to be left behind. Look at the weather of your destination of course. I usually include the forecast on my list page somewhere so I don’t have to look it up a milli times.

I always start the packing process with my babe’s stuff. My daughter has her own lil carry-on. It’s a Moana bag that her Auntie got her for Christmas. I fill it with a small notebook, a FEW crayons (no need to bring an entire pack just to have it emptied onto the airplane floor), small book(s), iPad or tablet with earphones, and a few other small treasures of hers. She likes the choices and you know… the attention span of a toddler. My daughter is currently mega obsessed with writing/drawing, so that is why I chose a notebook and crayons. If your child isn’t into writing, choose something more specific to their interests. If you have a small magnadoodle, you are solid! No crayons needed. I try to save the iPad until last resort, but it’s only because our flight is long. If you have a two hour or less flight there is nothing wrong with popping a movie on. Peace be with you. As for clothes, I make sure I do laundry before we leave and I try to color coordinate our clothes (not with each other…although…maybe). It helps out with shoes which are a bitch to pack and makes your outfits more versatile. I’ll save more smart packing tips for another post though. We buy our daughter a seat now because like her mom, she is the tallest girl in town and needs the leg room. So she was only free the first few flights until we realized how much easier life was without her “sitting” on our laps the entire flight. If you can lug the car seat onto the flight it truly does make life So. Much. Easier. Gotta buy dat seat tho. MAKE SURE your car seat is FAA approved or they won’t let you take it on! It will be displayed on the side of the car seat in red lettering.

Next tip- BE PREPARED FOR BREAKDOWNS. It’s going to happen. They are toddlers. Think how fussy you are when you fly and how old are you? Mhmmm. Cut them a lil slack. I try to make sure we have something for her to drink during take off and landing. It helps with the pressure in their ears. When she was still on bottles, we had one for take off and landing and we never had any problems. Now, Boo Butt’s BFF is her zu-zu (pacifier) so that helps with popping the ears without a bottle. We are actively trying to break the habit though, so I will be experimenting with other things on our next trip. Stay tuned. People will react differently to kid explosions. In my experience, most people are understanding and you’re looked upon with sympathetic eyes. Try to realize that there is only so much you can control. It’s almost like you have to go to a zen place. Laughable, I know but true. Try to figure out what is bothering your child and help solve the problem. Once you’ve done that… try zen, lol. I usually keep my headphones on and by that I mean one headphone in, until my husband gives me that look like what in the actual fuck Carly…then I decide maybe this moment doesn’t need a soundtrack. (False, every moment does.) On our most recent flight, my daughter couldn’t get comfortable and we were trying to get her to sleep. The passenger behind us had her reading light on and it was unfortunately shining right in baby girl’s face. After awhile of trying to figure out a way to block it, I noticed she wasn’t reading but resting her eyes. I KINDLY asked if she would mind turning off her light. She quickly obliged. Shortly after boo bear was asleep. I felt bad because she too is a paying customer, but I decided to do it once I noticed her put down her book. It could have went either way. Another fun flight her ears wouldn’t pop on the way down and she WAILED. It was fun. I just held her and tried my best to calm her down. I hum, I don’t know what works for you guys? I’d love to hear though! Truly Share your experiences or ideas in the comments or hit me up. I love sharing hearing new techniques to try. Anywho, she eventually calmed down after what seemed like the longest moments of my life and fell asleep. Then we landed, lol.

Tip number 3- TRY TO DO SOMETHING ACTIVE before you get on the flight, wear the babe out. My husband lets our daughter run around the airport. Something I could never do because it gives me THE MOST anxiety. But I’m growing as a parent, and a person for that matter, and trying to be more laid back… and not imagine her being taken. It’s important that we trust each other’s instincts. Lol. But for real, my hubs feels comfortable with it and it does help me tremendously. I use the time to organize her stuff for the actual in flight time so it’s easy to grab. And meditate on the positive (try). It lets her stretch her legs and expend some energy which is seriously needed. Stay aware though. There are some crazies out there. Keep a close eye on your heart. Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with. If you bought a seat for your babe you can also let them stand on the floor and play with whatever toys you have on their seats. It lets them stretch their legs for a bit.

Last tip- BE KIND. Be kind to people and they will return that kindness. This was one of my dad’s mantras. I hold it very close to my heart and I try to be more patient and kind every day. It’s not easy, and patience is definitely not one of my more admirable qualities. But I’m a firm believer that the vibe you put out there is the vibe you attract. I had a good example of when this on our flight home. I left my phone at the Pittsburgh airport. Just left it setting on the seat in the boarding area. Yep. I’m dope like that. It was a new iPhone too because duh. In a frenzy my husband ran to look for it instead of me, which was counter productive since I knew where I was sitting. By the time he returned and I tried to go look for it, they would not let me exit the terminal. I was so frustrated because I knew exactly where it was (probably). I could have been rude and dismissive and rolled my eyes, but I was understanding. I’m not the only person on the flight. I screwed up, no need to punish everyone. I was sad, but understanding. I smiled and said something like, damn ok, I get it, but I said it suuuuuper somberly of course. A flight attendant on Spirit Airlines saw my pathetic, defeated face and was very kind to me. He even asked me if I remembered specifically where I left my phone. I explained where I thought it was and he told me he would have the gate agents look there and turn it into lost and found at the airport. We didn’t have the highest hopes but a life goal is to focus on being positive…so I tried. ‘Twas hard. And man did I feel like an ass the whole flight home. Low and behold we called the Pittsburgh airport the next day and they had my phone. People are good. I believe this. I want you to believe this. I want the goodness to spread. Within a little over a day I had my new phone back. I wish I remember the flight attendant’s name so I could give him a shout out. Thank you Spirit Airlines 🙂 But, I truly believe had I reacted differently I may not have received my phone so easily. And even if I did still get it back I could have spent those 48 hours sulking, but nope. This time I succeeded in putting it out of my mind and going on with life. Who knows? Maybe it was my dad’s way of saying hi. It’s certainly something he would do 🙂

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Just a girl from Ohio traveling around trying to LIVE and document this emotional rollercoaster of a life. The twists and turns have taken me everywhere from Jackson, MS to now Las Vegas, NV. I married a pilot so moving around has become habitual for us. It’s really enlightened me on how adaptaive I can be. I consider it one of my strong suits now. My mantra: “Nothing is permanent but impermanence.” Very Buddhist. I really enjoy taking photos and writing about the uniqueness of each city that we travel to or live. I’m the mother to a smart and sassy toddler diva and the wife of a real gem of a husband. I adore everything about them. We’ve created quite a lil story. Good and bad. We try to focus on the good :)

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