Guest Post: Flying with a toddler

Hello, readers of The Mommyhood Chronicles! Sarah here from Nurse Loves Farmer! As a long time reader and “eFriend” of Melissa’s, I was thrilled when she asked me if I was interested in guest posting for her while she’s enjoying beautiful Maui! I’ve never done a guest post before, so I thought I’d share with you a post of mine I did a few months back on flying with a toddler,  seeing as how my family just went to Maui back in January.

The flying with a 2 year old thing? I was nervous. I was scared out of my mind, in fact. I already know my almost-2-year-old doesn’t reeeeally love his car seat. Never has. He tolerates it, which is usually fine by me. But when he’s to be trapped in it for 7+ hours on an airplane…cue anxiety for Mommy. I did a blog post asking advice on traveling with a toddler, and I thanked my readers SO much for their advice…but I also learned…no matter how much you try to plan, you gotta roll with the punches, which is exactly what we had to do.

Braden went to bed early at 6PM and we got him up at 5AM so he actually had a really good night’s sleep. He drank his milk on the way to the airport, but he wasn’t really hungry yet. I brought some instant oatmeal for us to make for him on the plane. We arrived at Calgary International Airport (YYC) at about 6:20 for our 8:10 flight. I was assured by many people that showing up 90 minutes before our flight, especially so early in the morning would be plenty sufficient. So we get there, it takes about the usual time to check-in…but then the line-up to get to customs was ATROCIOUS. I have traveled enough to know that this was not normal. Oh great. I thought. How are we going to entertain Braden in this ridiculously long line? We were supposed to eat breakfast, buy snacks for the plane, let the kids run around and watch all the cool airplanes take off…now what?!?

My husband Jay and I took turns taking Braden up and down the escalator. Jay went and got us some breakfast and we ate in the line-up. This was a good plan until the line started moving and we couldn’t do the escalator. Cue meltdown #1. Then, there were only like 4 customs agents or so to get our whole flight through…and it’s taking forever. Then security…then RUN YOU NEED TO BOARD THE PLANE!!! We had to haul Braden, our 3 carry on bags, and his car seat…but we made it.


But you know what? We made it. I had enough time to change his diaper right after we got through customs on a bench in plain sight. Oh well. I was mentally thanking my eBFF Marie for her advice on changing the diaper 1 more time before boarding, otherwise I probably would have waiting on the plane…and then had to wait even longer because of the no seat belt sign. It’s the little things I may not have thought of!!!

The flight was actually good! It was longer on the way there at about 7 hours. As you can see, he played with the iPad, even watched 2 shows that I rented on iTunes. That was worth the $5 each. It’s nice that he’s old enough to watch shows to entertain him. He even fell asleep for about an hour…which isn’t much, but was an hour more than I thought he’d sleep. The only problem we had was every time we’d take him out of his seat to change his diaper, when we put him back in he’d cry for a minute…but that was it!

Getting off the plane was no problem, but then the poor guy had to wait to get the luggage, wait to catch the bus to the rental car, wait to get the rental car…and then another 45 minutes in the car to get to the condo. What a day!

Fast forward to our travel day home…

We thought we’d be super smart by getting there early, check our bags, take our time and have some supper, return the rental car and walk right onto the plane…easy peasy. Not so much.

We got there at 5PM for our flight that was to leave at 8PM. Huge line-up to check in. NOT MOVING. Turns out their computers are down, only 2 are working…and of course the executive class gets first priority. For a long time they were only moving executive and not giving the rest of us a chance. I was in that line for well over an hour, so Jay took Braden and dealt with the rental car. Came back…and thank GOD for iPads!


For those of you who don’t know me, my child loves to sleep. Bed time is 7PM. End of story. So the farther past 7 that we got…the less tolerant Braden was of the whole process. I won’t bore you with ALL the details, but it went really well. We got on the plane, he happily played with the iPad for about 2 hours, then as soon as they turned off the cabin lights, he had a 3ish hour sleep for the rest of the flight. I’m so thankful for the earth’s rotation and a shorter 5.5 hour flight home!

Going Home

Then when we got back to YYC at 5 in the morning…Jay went to go get the vehicle from the park and jet…to discover a flat tire. Longer story short, I had to kill 2 more hours at YYC with a tired, cranky Braden…and we finally made it home sometime after 8. If that wasn’t enough, poor Lukey got sick on the ride home. This is how we killed our time… Bow down to the monkey backpack/harness…seriously people. Seriously.

Trolling #yyc airport waiting for Daddy to bring back the vehicle...
My son & my nephew killing time at the airport watching TV:

We made it. We survived!!! Here are some more traveling tips that were given to me before we left…and some that I’ve learned on our journey:

  • It may be a risk, but be there for your flight 90 minutes ahead vs. 2 hours. That extra 1/2 hour makes a big difference
  • When they offer pre-boarding, if you are traveling with someone else, get them to go ahead and install the car seat and store the carry ons, much easier to do then when everyone else is boarding the plane, plus you can kill time running around with your toddler/child before everyone else boards so they have less time on the plane. Talk to the people at the boarding gates and let them know you want to be last on
  • Take this time to change that diaper one more time
  • BUY AN EXTRA SEAT AND BRING YOUR CAR SEAT. It’s worth every penny, plus it’s for their safety Braden knew he had to sit in his car seat and never whined to escape (other than briefly after a diaper change).
  • Snacks, snacks snacks. Toys, toys, toys. He was always entertained.
  • Expect the unexpected. I planned to do the first 3 points, but with both boarding times…it just never worked out due to long customs lines and computers not working!
  • Expect the worst and hope for the best! I did…it was much less stressful for me this way!

I hope you enjoyed and found these travel tips useful! I always love to meet knew readers, so pop on over to our blog and say hi!

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  1. says

    We haven’t flown too many times. A handful with Aiden and only one trip so far with Rebecca. Aiden was actually pretty good. We decided to not use the car seats. Aiden is really good about sitting in his own seat and the last time that we flew it was when he was a year and a half so that was almost 2 yrs ago. Rebecca was cranky on the take off, but soon fell asleep. The return flight was worse since she couldn’t get comfortable. She only managed to sleep about an hour. Our saving grace was that the flight was just under 2 hrs. For a longer flight mentioned above I would have delfinitely gotten Rebecca her own seat to sit in. Also, I try to schedule flights around a naptime so that there is the potential that the kids will both fall asleep.

  2. says

    You rock mama!! We haven’t flown with the kids, but I will be coming to you on advice for this when it’s time!!