I’ve flown solo with my son Wyatt several times. Each experience has been completely different, depending on his age and what he was going through at the time. Flying solo with a toddler is all about survival. Toss out your normal rules of parenting. Your only goal is to make it to your destination intact, annoying as few people as possible along the way.
These tips aren’t the be all and end all of flying solo with a toddler; more so a few tried, tested, and true strategies that work well for us.
A few tips:
- Keep your kid confined. Be hands-free to deal with the security process, be able to find snacks, and fish out your boarding pass ten different times. Wyatt is always in a carrier or his stroller. Remember, you will likely have to take your babe out at security no matter what.
- We check his car seat and Pack’n Play (if we even need to bring those items) and gate-check the stroller.
- Carry-on: I have a cross-body diaper bag and small roller suitcase (which I pack with his diapers and wipes for the trip along with an emergency change of clothes for both of us). When Wyatt was forward-facing in the front, I packed a backpack instead of the diaper bag.
- Your diaper bag is your bag of tricks – your arsenal of items to keep your little one happy. Snacks, toys, movies, and stickers are life savers. The key is to unveil the items throughout the travel time. If you bring everything out right away, you’ll run out of options quickly!
- To avoid discomfort and pain from ear popping, bring something for your little one to suck on for both take-off and landing. Use your boob, a bottle, or a squeezy pack.
- Avoid overpacking! My biggest mistake when flying with Wyatt was packing more than I actually need. Having too many things can be stressful, especially when you’re parenting alone in the air.
- Dress comfortably. You don’t have to rock your gym clothes, but wear something you can move around in. I like to wear my hair up and out of the way.
- Book your seats either at the back of the plane and be the first ones to board, or at the front of the plane and be the last ones to board. Either way, you’re disturbing as few people as possible, and you have room to unload and reload. (You’re also likely close to a washroom.)
Keep your toddler occupied during the flight:
- Bathroom visits. I know…odd suggestion, right? Trust me. Don’t rush the diaper changes. We make faces in the mirror, take our time washing hands, etc. Look for anything to help pass the time and change the environment for your kid, while being respectful of others in line waiting to go.
- Don’t let him run the aisle. I know it’s tempting, but once he knows it’s an option it’s all he’ll want to do. I walk with Wyatt in my arms through the aisle for short periods of time, but he’s never allowed to run free.
- Accept help! The woman who wants to load your carry-on in the overhead compartment? Let her! The flight attendant who wants to hold your baby while you get settled? Absolutely! The man in front of you who is playing peek-a-boo with your kid? Bring it on. Any opportunity you have to take a break…accept it!
More than anything, try not to stress if your little one is losing it. I’ve found the majority of people I share the plane with are kind and sympathetic to my situation. Whatever challenge arises, remember: this too shall pass. You’ve got this!
What are your survival techniques to flying solo with a toddler?