In March Ruby and I flew to Florida to visit family. It was my second time flying alone with her, but this time I had a few more family flights tackled.
Navigating an airport with a toddler by yourself is by no means an easy task. But, this flight with my 22-month-old was, dare I say, actually fun. And she didn’t even nap on the way there! Granted it was a relatively short flight, but I finally felt like a seasoned family traveler.
So, I racked my brain of all of the tips I could think of to help you make your next flight with baby or toddler a fun one too.
flying alone with a toddler
it’s going to be ok.
My biggest tip when mamas come to me for advice for traveling is to try not to stress. I know flying for the first time (or any time) with a baby or toddler can cause a little anxiety. The first time I flew with Ruby, which was by myself, was hectic and crazy. I was nervous from the beginning.
Your little one is looking to you in these situations, if you’re calm, hopefully, they will be calm too. In the end, we’ve always made it, and so will you.
pick a flight during sleep times
All of our best flights with Ruby are when she is sleeping. If we can swing it, we try to fly during nap time or even night when she will be able to sleep on the plane. We run around like crazy through the airport to tire her out for the flight.
check your airline or call for rules
Airlines vary from each one what they allow. You can typically check a stroller, car seat, and pack and play without charge. As well, you can bring a personal item and a diaper bag usually. Some will let you bring your car seat on board if there’s an empty seat. It’s good to be prepared and know how they do things.
If this is your first flight with your little one read through the TSA rules for checking in through security with your child. You can bring a full bottle, food, and snacks.
pack light & well
As mamas, we’re used to planning and packing for all the scenarios. But, when flying alone your best bet is to keep it light and bring just the essentials. That might mean buying diapers at your destination or doing laundry if you can.
I’m not a light packer by any means, but to make traveling easier on us I managed to pack everything we needed in just a bookbag!
Just keep combing through your stuff as you pack asking yourself if you really need an item or if you can get it there.
Test out carrying all of your items by yourself before you head out!! You may need to have some help to check your bags and at your destination.
Also, keep in mind when you’re flying alone with a toddler, you will have very little room to access and dig through your bag. Make sure your in-flight entertainment and snacks are within reach and easy to get to!
wear your little one
Having your hands free to check in, get through security, and walk through the airport is incredibly helpful. Often you can walk right through security while carrying your babe.
check in at your gate & board last
I always make a point to ask if there are extra seats open and if I can sit somewhere by an open seat. You can do this when you check in too, but I often have the best luck at the gate. Many people are willing to move because they don’t want to sit by a child for the flight.
Unless you’re flying Southwest, I always board last because that means less time waiting in line.
make friends and break out the snacks & toys when necessary
When you get on the plane, don’t immediately break out your carry on fun bag for your toddler. Wait until you need it. Chat with the people next to you, you might luck out and be next to two grandparents who don’t mind helping out and keeping an eye on your child while you use the lavatory.
Make takeoff fun and exciting, look out the window. I mean, you’re flying on a giant plane, that’s fun, right?
By this point, you’ve probably have gotten through a solid 30 or 40 min. And then you can read through all the pamphlets and such.
And then, when it’s needed, we go for some toys or snacks. I don’t go overboard with books or toys, I bring a few. But, I do make sure to bring lots of snacks, because no one wants a hangry baby. We pack a couple books, a water wow coloring pad, a toy plane, and some small toys like animals or cars. Most times that’s all we need and if we need to we have NetFlix shows downloaded on to our phone that she can watch.
sometimes it doesn’t go well, and that’s ok
We’ve had flights where we look like all-star parents and everyone must think we have it all together. And then there are times, like our most recent flight home from San Diego, it was just miserable.
You can be fully prepared and then your little one is just not having it.
That happens. It’s called parenthood, it’s unpredictable. Have grace with your child and with yourself, the majority of the people on the plane get it. If you’re able and your flight attendant is ok with it, walk the aisle, or go for a diaper change to pass the time.
The hardest thing when flying with a toddler or baby alone, or even with your partner for the first time is really the unknown. It’s hard to fully imagine what it’s going to be like, so on our trip to Florida, I awkwardly filmed this video for you. 🙂 Hopefully, this can give you an idea of what getting through security to boarding an airplane will look like.
I hope this was helpful for you! Comment below with any questions or send me a message, I love chatting about travel.
p.s. see my toddler carry on tips HERE