Saturday, February 07, 2009

Toddler Travel Tips

While our travel is fresh in my mind, I wanted to post these Toddler Travel Tips. Of course, we have pictures and stories coming soon. These are my best tips based on one week-long airplane vacation with an 18 month old. Prior to our trip, I got great advice from Jen based on her week in Mexico with Max. The stuff she told me was gold (and included here), along with some of our observations.

1. Dollar Store. Visit the dollar store or the dollar section of Target to pick-up some cheap, new entertainment options. We picked up some plastic farm animals, matchbox cars, flip books, and simple puzzles. Leave everything in the package until the plane, as that's half the fun.

2. Pace Yourselves. Bring out the toys or games one at a time. You don't want to be out of tricks with 4 hours of travel left. We still have unopened toys and books for our next adventure.

3. Take the stroller. The stroller was invaluable in the airport and for hauling stuff back and forth to the beach/pool. We just brought our little Combi, but Jen traveled with her jogger, and I even saw parents in Hawaii with their double strollers. You can take the stroller through security (doesn't count as a carry-on), and then drop it at the door of the plane. They tag your stroller, store it with the luggage, and have it waiting outside the airplane door when you land.

4. Rent the carseat. Unless you have a way to convert your carseat into a stroller, why haul the thing through the airport? I think Budget charges $15/day to rent a carseat, but with a maximum charge of $60. $60 for a week long rental is well worth it in my book.

5. Snacks, snacks, snacks. Even better if you can time a flight during meal time. Bring the foods you know your kiddo loves. You can bring all sorts of liquids through security, as long as you have your baby/toddler. They allowed us Owen's water, juice boxes, apple sauce cups, etc. We bought milk from either fast food places or starbucks inside security when we needed it.

6. Plastic Bags. Jen learned that the flight attendants can't take dirty diapers from you (bodily fluid issues), so pack lots of plastic bags.

7. Airplane bathrooms do have changing tables. I was surprised how many airport bathrooms do not.

8. Get an aisle seat!! On our flight over, we had the window and middle seat thinking it would be easier to contain Owen that way. It was, but with him in our laps, and the big Samoan in the aisle seat (REALLY nice guy, but still...), it was nearly impossible for either of us to reach the toys and snacks in the bag at our feeet. An aisle seat allows you access to the overhead bin and just that much more maneuver room.

9. Airport play areas! Every airport has them. Even our little Bend airport has a lego table. Owen was happy for at least an hour of our layover playing on the slide in the Seatac play area.

10. Consider pre-boarding carefully. If you know your carry-ons will fit below the seat, why spend an extra 45 minutes on the plane waiting for people to board? That's quality run around time.

11. Check your Hotel. Ours provided travel cribs and high chairs at no extra cost. Golden!

12. What's worth the Cost. I think it's well worth it to pay extra to have kitchen access and a legitamite bedroom. You can have immediate food access when needed and a door to shut during nap time. Owen was playing so hard all week that mealtimes and naptimes came in full force. Waiting 30 minutes for resturant food would have been ugly.

13. Take vs. Buy. Some things are better to buy at your destination than try to pack in your suitcase. Diapers, beach toys, and beach towels (if not provided), can all be bought at a grocery store for minimal cost. I do recommend taking a pack of disposable swim diapers, as they tend to be expensive at vacation destinations.

14. Enjoy! The world looks different when seen through the eyes of a toddler.


Katie said...

I have to agree with your list of travel tips and observations. We just took Molly Kate on her first plane ride out to Arizona to see Grandma and Grandpa Correia. She was an awesome traveler and I learned a lot about traveling with infants. The plane ride was 4 hours and Molly Kate was so good the entire trip. We decided to rent a car seat after my mom talked to your dad and he said that ya'll were doing that in Hawaii. It really was much easier. And the stroller is a MUST!!!!
I too bought cheap entertainment: stickers, books, etc. and they were new and wonderful to Molly Kate! Hope ya'll had a wonderful vacation. Can't wait to hear all about your trip.

angie said...

i did not know that about strollers at the airport. thanks for the info!

Tracey Yarborough said...

Hi Alissa!! All of your "travel" and "airplane" advice is true!! Molly Kate did so well on the four hour flight to Grandma and Grandpa's - it's a good thing, since we are going again March 10-17. She slept two hours on the plane (after she ate her baby-food lunch), and on the way home, she fell asleep as we were going up in the air, and we had to wake her up after we landed - what an easy trip. She may not be as good in March - you never know with a 12 month old!! The only thing you didn not mention, was the DVD portable player - we took it, and when Molly Kate saw Mickey Mouse on the DVD player, she got so excited, and it entertained her for a while!!! Our car seat was $13 a day at Hertz. I can't wait to see pictures of ya'll in Hawaii.
Alissa, check Molly Kate's blog - we have pictures of Grandma and Grandpa on it, and they look so good!!! Miss and love you.

Cailean said...

Wow Alissa, what great tips! We have never flown with our kids and probably won't until we are super-rich :) However we are planning a road trip and some of these ideas are transferable. I will direct friends of mine to this blog post so they can be prepared! :)

Colleen said...

Great tips! We've only had a handful of flights with the kids, and so far no disasters, but someday, I am sure, we will all be flying somewhere far...I hope so at least...and I will pull this post up to check them all out again!

Annie Parsons said...

I can't wait to have a toddler. :) You're so organized! I'm impressed with your tips! Glad you guys had a great time.