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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thoughts on Thursday :: Flying With a Toddler

Last week we returned from a wonderful family vacation in Estes Park, Colorado.  As I've said before, what I was most nervous about was Jack's first flying experience.  I think what I was most worried about was him throwing a crying fit and not being able to console him...and being stuck with annoyed passengers and hateful stares. 

I can tell you that while it was not 100% smooth-sailing, it was not as bad as I had imagined. 

What type of seat to purchase for your little one?

I posted a question on Facebook to all of my experienced mommy friends about whether or not to purchase Jack his own seat on the place or to opt to keep him on my lap since he is under two.  The feedback was pretty mixed so we did a compromise of sorts.  We had Jack on my lap, but in business class for extra space.  Turns out this was a great decision during one of Jack's meltdowns when I told them to keep the wine coming.  Seriously though, the extra leg room was great for when Jack got restless.  I was able to put him on the floor at my feet with the iPad.  Saved our sanity! 

Final advice on this topic:  Trust your gut on what will work best for YOUR child.  It really depends on their personality.  Take into account the length of your flight also.  Our flight was just over 2 hours.  Anything longer and I might consider a separate seat. 

To check or not to check?

I came across many differing opinions on this one.  What to do with our stroller and carseat.  We needed both for our Colorado trip.  Some people suggested services where you can rent these items, but I hated to spend money on things we already had.  Plus, Jack was already going to be in a new place.  I figured having the items he was used to and comfortable with might be nice to have. 

We ended up checking the carseat (Chicco Nextfit) and gate-checking the stroller (City Mini GT).  I was 100% happy with both decisions and offer the following advice:

-  Give yourself a refresher on installing your carseat in different types of cars.  We had a car pick us up for the airport so between that, my parent's car and our rental we moved that thing more times than I care to count!

-  Make sure you are comfortable with your stroller too.  Can you quickly break it down and put it back together?  

-  Purchase a nice cover for your carseat.  While this is not mandatory to check a carseat, there are a handful of reasons to do this.  1.) Protect your precious and expensive carseat, 2.) Germs, 3.) Easier to carry!  Our case had rollers and straps to carry like a backpack, as modeled by Jason below. 

-  Purchase a cover (cheap is great) for your stroller to gate-check.  We used this cheap cover to throw the stroller in.  Again, this is not mandatory.  Most other people we saw gate-checking their stroller did not have a bag.  I was so happy I did though because on our first travel day it was raining cats and dogs.  While everyone else's stuff came out soaking wet, our stroller was protected.  Our bag also came back with some grease on it.  I figured better on the cheap bag than the stroller itself! Another tip: consider buying 2 of these for your trip.  One for the trip up and one for the trip back.  Lots of reviewers online said that since the bags are cheap they often get ripped or torn.  Ours just came back dirty, but I'm now prepared for the next trip!

Finally - if you are using a City Mini Stroller, don't buy the "stroller bag."  It won't fit.  The car seat bag was a perfect fit for the City Mini...what would we do without online reviews!  A classic umbrella stroller would fit the stroller bag. 

What to bring on the plane?

Way too much in our case, but I figured it was better to be safe than sorry.  We gate-checked the stroller (City Mini for walking in Colorado) so we had something to put Jack in while we strolled through the airport.  Lifesaver!  Jack isn't walking yet and is HEAVY.  {Yes, you read that right that my 16 month old isn't walking...that's a whole other blog post}.  Defensive much, Chelsea?

Back to the topic - aside from gate-checking the stroller, we carried:

-  Purse {Louis Vuitton Neverfull}
-  Diaper Bag {Petunia Picklebottom Backpack}
-  Jason's Carryon Duffle {Jon Hart Daytripper}

The purse had all of my normal essentials {wallet, lipstick, hand sanitizer, phone} but I also threw in the iPad, gum, book, magazine and all of our flight info.  At the suggestion of something I read online, I also had a copy of Jack's birth certificate in case we got questioned about his age since he was sitting on my lap instead of a seat.  No one ever asked for it. 

The diaper bag had all of my normal essentials {read those here} plus LOTS of snacks, his favorite sippy cup and blanket, toys, and some medicine just in case: Tylenol, Benadryl and saline nose drops. It was nice to have the backpack while going through the airport.

Jason's carryon had more snacks, formula, change of clothes for Jack, and even more distraction {toys} for Jack.  I also threw in this blanket at the last minute which I'm glad I came in handy when Jack wanted to sit on the floor of the plane!  I even ordered Jack a few new toys before the flight thinking new toys would hold his attention longer:  Flash cards, Sketch Board, and Take-Along Shape Sorter.  He loved them all although I think Jason liked the sketch board more than Jack!

What to wear? 

When I dress for flying I think comfort, varying temperatures and ease for security.  You never know if you are going to be hot or cold and you definitely want comfortable shoes for those long treks through the airport. 

I opted for Leggings, Animal Print Flats and a 3/4 length Tunic.  It was perfect.  Comfy and easy, but I also didn't look like a slob when we arrived. 

For Jack, I put him in some camo stretchy pants, short sleeve polo and a hoodie.  All by Carter's. 

Other tips:

-  If you are traveling with someone else (especially your significant other) make a plan ahead of time of who will handle what.  This always helps me and Jason avoid stressful situations.  He was in charge of bags and paying attention about where to go.  I was in charge of stroller and baby. 
-  Overprepare
-  Organize your purse and bags ahead of time and make sure important items are handy
-  It's worth bringing your little one's comforts from home
-  Snacks, snacks, snacks, snacks, snacks
-  Sense of humor!!!

Good luck if you have a trip coming up!  Thanks for stopping by.  Did I miss anything? 

DON'T FORGET!!!  Tomorrow is the last day to signup for the scarf swap!!!


I'm linking up today with Annie and Natalie today for Thoughts on Thursday. 
Thoughts for Thursday


  1. Great list! The only thing I would add is to bring an Ergo or baby carrier if your kiddo likes to be held. It allows you to hold them and still have your hands free. We gate checked our stroller, had to deplane for mechanical issues, they transferred all luggage to a new plane and wouldn't give us our stroller back, so we were thankful to have our ergo for the additional 3ish hours of unplanned time hanging out in the airport.

    1. Yes! You are so right...a carrier would be super helpful if your child likes to be worn. Thanks for reminding me of that! Hope you have a great weekend.

  2. Thanks for the great tips! We're considering going to a wedding in Miami in February...yea, with 2 kiddos! We haven't even flown with one yet. Luckily, my mom would be accompanying us. But this will definitely come in handy...if we decide to fly.

    1. You would be fine especially with an extra set of hands! Have a great weekend.



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