My daughter-in-law is an expat living in Mumbai, India. She loves to travel back to her native city often with her toddler to meet with her family. It's a lovely and must thing to do. She also loves to explore new places, uncover local gems and, most of all, for my grandson to experience the culture in each place and connect with the locals. However, there are times she travels without my son and the thought of traveling alone with her 26 month-old toddler, Nathaniel, for his first solo flight with his mumma, this summer, was overwhelming to say the least. This didn’t deter her though, she wanted to be brave about it…
After reading what seemed like hundreds of articles to ready herself, she started to feel a little more at ease. There were all types of suggestions like "book the flight during nap time," "pack snacks," "bring these exact colouring books...."
She tried to gather more courage with dozens of questions she posted on mom-groups, crowdsourcing on Instagram, and spending hours methodically packing. She says, in all honesty, she was probably over-prepared but didn't want to risk a meltdown of any sorts—from herself or her toddler. She was getting prepared with the parenting mindset to having fun with her “terrible 2s toddler” and making it work!
Toddlers are wonderfully unpredictable – all would agree? But all in all – her little boy did well. Here are some tips, and in all my wisdom as a Nani and Dadi, I shared with her about what to carry, and what she should definitely leave at home.
Depending on your destination (a hotel, an Airbnb, staying with family), it's incredibly helpful to send as many necessities as possible ahead of time. After all, packing these things or loading them onto a plane with you, is just not feasible.
She was staying with family, so had shipped a car seat to her mom before she arrived. This way, she knew exactly what would be waiting for her once she got there. She also sent a pack and play crib (he is used to it) to her parents' home—especially because he is still in a crib at home. She just felt more comfortable having him "contained," especially in an unfamiliar room. She remembered to carry his sleeping bag that he is used to during sleep at night time.
Overall, my suggestion is to try to replicate your toddler's sleeping environment at home, as much as you can. After all, your toddler will be adjusting to so many other new things.
"Nate kept himself busy with a baby pigeon at the airport terminal, got excited looking at the huge aircraft from the terminal, the take-off and landing intrigued him… now I understand how some parents make it look easy", said my daughter-in-law.
Things that are essential for the Airport and on the Plane
When you are traveling through the airport and flying on a plane with a toddler, there are a few items that are an absolute must. Aside from the things you traditionally have handy in your purse or diaper bag—snacks, diapers, wipes, and toys—you'll also want to think about a travel changing pad, one or two change of clothes, a colouring book or hanging cloth book that he is used to, specially if the journey is expected to be long.. a travel stroller as toddlers tend not to walk fast or long enough. All of these should be handy and packed in your backpack.
Having a back-up plan
Travelling with your toddler can feel overwhelming. It’s advisable to have a back-up plan for those just-in-case moments..
It's normal to feel rushed when you have a little one. But, try not to stress over taking an extra minute to put your bag in the overhead or find your boarding pass in your giant purse. People are remarkably kind when they recognize that you are traveling alone with a little one. Plus, take advantage of the early boarding with small children. This will give you extra time to get settled in, and you will feel less like you are holding people up.
Traveling alone is stressful to begin with, and can be especially worrisome if you have a tot in tow. But yes, you can travel with a toddler. We hope these tips help you plan for a less stressful trip so you can enjoy your vacation or trip with your little one.