Below you are going to find out my best tips on traveling alone with a toddler on a plane internationally. As a bonus, I’ve done this traveling pregnant, AND with three other kids under the age eight – multiple times.
I did it everyone! I may just shout it from the rooftops, and I think that would be valid! If I can do it, you can do it too! But read my top 10 tips before you fly away.
So what was it like? You might be asking.
Traveling With a Nasty Cold
I woke up early that morning of February completely sick with a cold, pregnant with baby number five, and ready to take on 20 PLUS hours of international travel with my four other kids all under the age of nine.
Vancouver – Dallas – Dallas – Frankfurt
Fueled with good ol’ Canadian cold medicine, many prayers, millions of pounds of luggage, and SNACKS, we started off our hour long drive to the airport. Desperate to see my husband who awaited us on the other side of the ocean, I felt that I had to put on the mask of super woman and conquer this adventure, kids and snacks in hand.
Tip #1 Have PLENTY of Snacks
And when I say PLENTY, I mean, more than you think necessary. When traveling with toddlers, they are BOUND to get famished. Kids are somehow ALWAYS hungry. These bottomless eating machines are best satisfied whilst traveling.
On this particular day, it was great I brought many snacks because when we arrived to the counter the kind lady mentioned to us that the security line checks were long and we best hurry. We made our way past all of the wonderful Canadian food that I barely had a chance to say goodbye to: namely, Tim Hortons and scampered through security.
Once through, we were disappointed to see that at this particular airport, there was NO MORE FOOD! AH.
Just those stupid expensive “corner stores”. So our breakfast made up of lots of snacks… Raisins, crackers, and juice boxes that my kids ended up hating. Good thing I brought a bunch of them. Not.
Bonus Tip: You’re important too Mama!
If you are still nursing, make sure you have lots of water available and you make sure you’re nourished as well.
Tip #2 Don’t Wear Jewelry.
Going through security is a pain in the butt with a stroller. Be ready to have the toddler and baby out of there, and great ready to fold it up and shove it into the machine. Jewelry is just a nuisance (in my opinion) when trying to take out tablets, phones, computers, fold up a stroller and take off shoes if necessary… just skip the jewelry, and you save yourself hassle.
Also if you’re still nursing/breastfeeding, I find necklaces can be a bother when trying to be discreet. It always manages to fall and wrap itself up in my bra, the baby or toddler unlatches, the necklace falls between the boob and baby and it’s just plain annoying.
Tip #3 Have a GOOD ATTITUDE, and Laugh At All the Problems.
It’s something I told the kids over and over again, as we walked through Dallas International when they complained about walking across the airport with our way too many carry-ons.
Or when the flight attendant was irritated that my boys were so engrossed in the movie they were watching they could not respond to her questions about meals. To which she scowled and turned to me (pregnant and surrounded by a two year old and five year old), “I guess they’ll just get NO food if they can’t tear themselves away from the screen.”
I’ll be honest, I really TRIED to laugh about this, but I was feeling so sick at this point, embarrassed, and frustrated that the flight attendant couldn’t understand why boys (who were enjoying a really special treat of unlimited movies) couldn’t hear her snappy questions.
Assume things will go wrong, shrug your shoulders, smile and do your best to laugh at it… or laugh with yourself.
Tip #4 Bring Extra Clothes.
Someone is going to poop their pants, spill something, puke on you. Traveling with a toddler or babies alone is messy business.
Tip #5 Wet Wipes.
Wet wipes are a Mama’s best friend. I always feel like everything we touch is dirty, the kids get dirty or they get me dirty or I’m just so dang stinky that I need a quick “shower”.
Tip #6 Have A Baby Carrier AND Umbrella Stroller.
You never know what is going to happen with that stroller that they SAY will be stored for you so you can use it after you land.
MULTIPLE times I’ve had no stroller and a toddler or a baby who I’ve had to manage with all of our hand luggage, and other little ones. In fact, once I was 32+ weeks pregnant and flying alone with a toddler and had a layover in Schiphol , Amsterdam. That airport is huge!
To my horror, they had sent my stroller on to the next airport, and had no extra strollers to spare, nor did they offer me any help. It was a horrible, stressful experience trying to walk with my tired toddler, and very pregnant to the next terminal. In that case, a carrier would have helped me immensely.
Bonus Tip: Going through security with toddlers
If you have a stroller, make sure your little one is out of it, and get ready to fold it up quickly at security. We are now pros at this, and it makes everything go a lot faster especially when you have a herd of kids following you and needing to go through security.
Tip #7 Tin Foil Presents.
Wrap up little goodies that you get from the dollar store in tin foil.
I buy little books, little sticker packages and wrap them individually so my toddler can have a surprise when I notice he’s getting a bit fussy, or impatient.
Tip #8 Stickers!
Stickers are amazing for toddlers. I buy an empty notebook, and let him stick the stickers all throughout the notebook. It keeps him entertained for about one minute. Then we move on to something else
Tip #9 Get Kid Headphones.
Make sure they fit his or her little head. He’s maybe going to want to watch movies for a bit. My guy had little patience for a movie, but sometimes he wanted to listen, sometimes not. But kid sized headphones are a MUST! The ones that the airlines give you are way too big for his little ears.
Tip #10 Flexibility is YOUR Strength!
Most likely there is a lot of fear and doubt going on inside you about whether or not you should travel with little ones.
What if they don’t stop crying?
What if my toddler throws a tantrum?
Those things MAY happen, and if they do they will make you stronger. Just hold your head up high, laugh at the mess, get to know other travelers, and think about how this particular situation is gonna be a great story (after it’s over).
I’ve held on to this motto pretty much my entire adult life, and I know it will help you too. If you really want to travel with multiple little kids on your own, YOU CAN DO IT! I’ve done it. You’ll be tired after it, but honestly, it’s worth it if you want to visit your family, or go on that vacation, or be reunited with your husband.