Flying with a little can be quite the challenge at times. I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t worried about our first flight just the two of us.
See, in the past, Atlas has always done really well on flights – but we’ve always had both Josh and myself to keep him entertained. He could jump between our seats, giving him room to stretch out. So, this time with only one seat, and one adult, it was going to be a bit different.
I’m happy to say, he did wonderful.
After a slightly rocky start, he fell asleep and didn’t wake up until a half hour before we landed! Praise the lord. At first there was just so much going on: people to talk to as they boarded, windows to look out, trucks to see (while we were still on the ground, of course). And take-off was a bit of a puzzle to him; He couldn’t figure out all the noises. It didn’t scare him though – he exclaimed ‘airplane’ right as we took off! Adorable. At the very end when he woke up, he got a little antsy and didn’t want to stay sitting. He stood at my feet and ‘read’ the pamphlets in the seat pocket. He knew all the letters, which just amazes me. You can read more about our travel experience here.
In preparation for the flight, I asked for all the tips and advice people had for flying alone with children. And I was overwhelmed with the response! So, I’m just going to share a few that really helped us out.
- If you are bringing your car seat, like we did, buy a cover that both rolls and had back-straps. That way, your seat is protected and you can travel with it whichever way suits you best with what you have on that trip. No matter how great a bag, it will still be a workout carrying everything – just expect it. We bought the Brica Cover – it’s inexpensive and fit our giant car seat. It did the job well.
UPDATE: I was told you could put extra things in with your carseat – since there will most likely be room. On our flight to California, I stored our beach towel. On the way back, I was informed this was technically against the rules and told to remove it. It all ended up being fine, but just as a heads up, don’t count on this extra space when packing.
- Check as much as possible. Up front, I want to say we didn’t do this. I once lost a bag – for a day – on an international flight. So, I avoid it at all cost now. BUT for those of you who aren’t crazy… Get as much out of your hands as quickly as possible. It’s the smart thing to do.
- Gate check your stroller + car seat if you didn’t check check them. They take care of them from that point, and it’s free. Disclaimer: It’s free on Delta – I suppose I cannot speak for every airline.
- Load up on snacks. The more variety the better. Normally, Atlas is all about his penguins (Aldi’s version of goldfish, they are actually really tasty). But when I offered him some as we waited to board, he shot me down. You just never know what these little ones are going to want – and once they learn the word no, they love to use it.
- Stock up on new, but cheap entertainment from the Target dollar spot. Okay, it’s sounds sort of crazy when you have a million toys at home already, but hear me out… You can get ten different things for ten bucks. And we all know how quickly kids tire of toys – at least if they are new, they will focus on them long enough to figure them out. Also, if you misplace one, drop one and it goes rolling down the aisle or accidentally leave it on the chair in the airport, it doesn’t matter. It was a dollar. We scored some sticker books, a stretchy penguin that lights up, alphabet flash cards, a coloring pad, and a few dinky toys for next to nothing.
- Breastfeed, bottle fed, or having them drink water as the plane takes-off and lands, if they are awake. Never wake a sleeping baby. This will help to pop their ears. If this doesn’t work, I was told to bring along ibuprofen – it is supposed to help with the pain. I’ve never had to deal with a baby whose ears won’t pop before – but having it happen to myself once, I’d try pretty much anything if put in that situation.
- Bring along an empty sippy cup. Fill it up after you’ve gotten through security. This goes for people traveling without kiddos too, water bottles for the win. Save yourself the three bucks it costs to buy water.
- I know we all like to look out the window while we fly, and snap pretty pictures while we are above the clouds – Instagram mom right here – but, resist the urge and shut the window if your little is looking to nap. Less distraction.
- I stand by this statement 100%. The window seat is best with little people. Here’s why. There is no temptation to run up and down the aisle because it’s too far away. You can corral them using your legs and the ‘wall’ of the plane. You can rest your head. You don’t have to worry about the carts hitting their feet or heads when they lay. And there is a window to entertain them when they are awake.
- If your child is old enough to understand- explain what is happening to them. Even if they aren’t quite old enough. Flying scares some kids, so talking to them about it helps.
- Lastly, board first! You know when they say if anyone needs any extra time to board. Take full advantage of that and go first. You’ll have time to settle all your things. There will be room above your seat for your carry-on items. You won’t have people waiting behind you as you put everything in its place, all while trying to wrangle your baby. Plus, you can explore a bit. I know some people say the less time on the plane the better, so wait. But I think the rush and pressure of everyone else in line to sit down is way worse than a little extra time in your seat.
Atlas has now flown 5 times, 6 on our way back home. And we are already planning flight 7 and 8. We aren’t professionals yet, but I’d say we are well on our way.
Do you have any expert tips or advice I left out? I’d love new tips and tricks. Leave it in the comments below.