When it comes to traveling, most people can agree on one thing. Traveling is stressful no matter if you travel via plane or a car. At least in a car, you are still somewhere comfortable that is almost like a home. But on a plane, you are in foreign territory surrounded by strangers, loud noises, strange contraptions, and what’s more, you have to deal with the issues that go along with being up in the air, such as jet lag and ears popping.
For a lot of people, these issues are no big deal because they do not have a one, two, or three-year-old toddler along for the ride. While flying on a plane is an experience that most, if not all, kids should experience at least once in their lifetime, it still comes with its own set of challenges. Flying is fun and exciting, but the preparations you have to make, plus waiting in long lines and sitting down in tight, cramped places can be boring, even a hardship, on a lot of young kids.
I personally have flown a fair amount of times, both as a child and as an adult. I would agree that flying as an adult is a lot easier than flying as a child. As we all know, children like to be active, to be stimulated both mentally and physically, and sometimes planes might not provide this kind of environment for young children.
But these things can be overcome! I will share with you a few simple tactics that I have used when flying with my two-year-old. Two is a very special age in that they are no longer babies but they are still too young to express themselves. As a result, when flying it is important that we make every moment fun while providing stimulation that their bodies crave.
Pretend that the security checkpoint is a rocket ship.
Security checkpoints at airports are an evil necessity that we must all go through. How are we supposed to explain to a young child that they have to drop off their most prized possessions on the conveyor belt to who knows where, and then take their shoes off before walking through a huge X-Ray machine. Fortunately, since my child is still so young, I did not have to take her shoes off. I carried her (after taking my shoes off, of course) through the metal detector machine and not the gargantuan X-Ray machine (Thank God).
What made this experience all the more bearable for my daughter was by telling her that we were about to board a rocket ship. It seemed to work, along with jumping up and down and spinning around.
Let your toddler meet the pilot.
On our last flight, my daughter got to meet the pilot! My daughter got to walk into the cockpit and say “hi” to the pilot. She also got her very own pilot’s badge!
So, the next time that you fly with your toddler, ask if they can meet with the pilot. This may seem like a small, inconsequential experience, but to a child, this means the world to them. No matter their age, this makes the experience of flying seem more real. Meeting the pilot is free (other than the $200 or so that you shelled out for your plane ticket of course) and maybe even life-changing. Who knows, you might even have a future pilot on your hands!
Just let your toddler enjoy the experience of flying.
If your toddler is anything like my daughter, they do NOT like to sit. My daughter loves to run around, jump, and climb over furniture. This presented somewhat of a challenge for me. How was I supposed to keep my energetic, lively, even rambunctious two-year-old quiet, still, and entertained for one whole hour?
So, I worked out a plan: I bought a few of my daughter’s favorite toys along for the ride. I figured that she could play with each one for about ten to fifteen minutes until she got tired of them and moved on to the next one.
But it turned out that we did not need these toys. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advising that you should not bring toys along for your small child. I am just saying that miraculously she did not get bored on the plane. My daughter enjoyed flipping through the pages of the complimentary magazine. She loved drinking her orange juice out of her very own cup, which the flight attendant gave her. She was also entertained by the view outside, but then again, who wouldn’t be? Who doesn’t enjoy watching the clouds or the minuscule sized houses and buildings way down below? Just trust that the experience of flying will entertain them all on its own.
It is the little things that count.
Kids like having their own things and toddlers are no exception! For our most recent trip, I got my daughter a small toddler backpack for all of our travel essentials, such as diapers, wipes, bandages, extra clothes, and some snacks. I also let my daughter hold our airline ticket and hand it to the officer at the security checkpoint.
Having their own backpack and trusting them to do something simple as handing over the ticket can make them feel grown-up and independent. This means that toddlers will have greater self-esteem as well as greater self-worth. After all, who can put a price on a child’s self-esteem?
The key to traveling with a toddler is to have fun. Flying on an airplane is a magical experience, even more so to a small child, so trust that they will be entertained by the very experience itself. Be sure to have a few toys and other tricks up your sleeve to keep your kiddo entertained while waiting in long lines or during flight delays. This is undoubtedly a unique, magical experience that every parent should share with their toddler. I mean, who doesn’t like to fly?