10 Tips for Surviving Airports and Long Flights with Toddlers: A Guide to Stress-Free Family Travel
Traveling with toddlers can be a daunting task, especially when it involves long flights and layovers in airports. But with a little bit of planning and preparation, you can make the experience a lot smoother and even enjoyable for the whole family.
Here are some tips and ideas for keeping toddlers entertained and happy while traveling:
1. Bring plenty of snacks and drinks
Let's face it - toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, and the limited food options at airports can be a recipe for disaster, depending on which airport you are traveling from (some airports we love and have a vast variety of food options include: Malaga Airport in Spain, LAX in Los Angeles and Bangkok Airport in Thailand). In any event all airport snacks and food options are EXPENSIVE! To avoid any mid-flight meltdowns, it's a good idea to pack a variety of healthy snacks that your toddler enjoys. Some good options include fruit pouches (make sure they are below the 100ml airport liquid security limit), crackers, granola bars, and sandwich bites. Don't forget to bring a refillable water bottle and a few sippy cups as well.
2. Create a busy bag
A busy bag is essentially a small bag filled with activities and toys to keep your toddler entertained on the plane. These can be purchased online via yours truly whichsaves you time and money, and lets face it, parents are busy these days, the last thing you want to do is run around the shops or overspend on Amazon or the airport shops! But these can also be successfully made at home using items like stickers, coloring books, playdough, and small figurines. The key is to choose items that are easy to pack and don't make too much noise. The reason for purchasing one of our famous activity packs is that every item will be new, interesting and something you may not have thought about before - tried and tested on hundreds of thousands of children worldwide.
3. Invest in a Plane Pal
If you're traveling with a younger toddler who still needs a lot of support while sitting, consider getting a Plane Pal. It's essentially a small inflatable cushion that fits in the gap in front o their seat and estends their seat to create a bed, and provides a comfy and secure place for your toddler to rest their feet and lay down. This can help prevent restless leg syndrome and make the flight more enjoyable for everyone.
4. Choose an airport with kid-friendly amenities
Not all airports are created equal when it comes to accommodating families with young children. Some airports, like the ones in Orlando and Phoenix and even in LAX in Los Angeles, have dedicated play areas with interactive exhibits and games to keep kids entertained. If possible, try to book a flight that departs from or arrives at one of these kid-friendly airports.
5. Consider splurging on a lounge pass
Airport lounges can be a godsend for families with young children. These quiet, comfortable spaces often have amenities like TV, Wi-Fi, and snacks that can help keep your toddler entertained. Some lounges even have play areas and children's books, access to cinema rooms, crafting stations and a whole host of other fun things for children to do whilst waiting for your departure. While a lounge pass can be a bit pricey, it may be worth it for the extra peace of mind and comfort. We recommend utilising one of your credit cards rewards and benefits such as the American Express Centurion membership which has a whole host of branded lounges and access to most of the airport lounges worldwide.
6. Plan for sleep
If you're traveling with a toddler who still takes naps, it's a good idea to try and plan your flight around their sleep schedule. This can be easier said than done, but if you're able to book a red-eye or overnight flight, it's more likely that your toddler will be able to sleep through a good portion of the journey.
If you're unable to book a night flight, try to get your toddler as much rest as possible before the flight. On the plane, bring a comfortable blanket and stuffed animal to help create a sense of familiarity and comfort. It may also be helpful to bring a small portable white noise machine or download a white noise app to help drown out any surrounding noises.
7. Don't be afraid to ask for help
Flight attendants and other passengers can be a valuable resource when it comes to keeping toddlers entertained on a long flight. Don't be afraid to ask for help or extra snacks if you need it. Most people are understanding and sympathetic to the challenges of travelling with children.
8. Plan for layovers
If you have a layover during your trip, it's a good idea to plan some activities in advance to keep your toddler entertained. Many airports have play areas, but if yours doesn't, consider bringing a small inflatable pool or ball pit for your toddler to play in. You can also bring along some small toys or games that are easy to pack and don't take up too much space.
9. Bring a stroller or carrier
A stroller or carrier can be a lifesaver when it comes to navigating airports with a toddler in tow. Not only do they provide a place for your toddler to rest, but they also give you a free hand to carry luggage or other essentials. Just be sure to check with the airline about their stroller and carrier policies before you travel.
10. Don't stress too much
It's important to remember that traveling with toddlers can be unpredictable, and things may not always go as planned. Try not to stress too much and go with the flow. It's okay if your toddler gets a little restless or cranky - it's all part of the experience. Just take a deep breath, stay positive, and do your best to make the most of the trip.
Ideas for sleeping on vacation
After a long flight, the last thing you want is for your toddler to have a hard time adjusting to a new sleep schedule on vacation. Here are some ideas for helping your toddler sleep well on vacation:
1. Keep to a similar routine
Try to keep your toddler's bedtime routine as similar as possible to what they're used to at home. This can help them feel more comfortable and secure in a new environment.
2. Use a white noise machine or app
As mentioned earlier, a white noise machine or app can be a helpful tool for helping your toddler sleep in a new place. The familiar sounds can help drown out any unfamiliar noises and create a sense of calm.
3. Bring familiar bedtime items
Pack a favorite stuffed animal or blanket to help your toddler feel more at home in a new bed. You could also bring along a nightlight or other comfort items if they're used to them at home.
4. Keep the room cool and dark
A cool, dark room is often the most conducive to sleep, so try to keep the temperature in your toddler's room on the cooler side and use blackout curtains or a sleep mask to block out any excess light.
5. Consider a separate sleeping space
If your toddler is used to sleeping in a separate room or bed, it may be helpful to set up a separate sleeping area for them on vacation. This can give them their own space to retreat to when they need to rest.
With a little bit of planning and preparation, you can make your family vacation with toddlers a smooth and enjoyable experience for everyone. Don't forget to pack plenty of snacks, create or purchase a busy bag, and consider investing in a Plane Pal or lounge pass to make the journey more comfortable. And don't forget to take a deep breath and go with the flow - it's all part of the fun of family travel!
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