Expat Life, Family Life

Flying Alone With A Toddler


When I think back to my previous post ‘Flying alone with a baby’ I laugh at just how easy it was travelling with a baby in comparison to a toddler. Travelling is now a whole different game.

Babies might scream and need extra cuddles and soothing but at least they can’t run away from you at the gate or slap you in the face during a security brisk.
Toddlers are tricky little creatures. Their lives are completely ruled by their emotions ranging from sweet and kissy to full scale meltdown because Mummy wouldn’t let him eat a dog poop. Yep, that one really happened.

Travelling with a small child is never easy, especially when you are doing it alone. With some planning and preparation you can make things so much easier for yourself. If you are facing the same anxiety here are my top 5 tips on surviving a flight with a toddler;

1- Pack Light
What do you really need to take with you? Pack as light as possible. Well, as light as you can with that tantrum time bomb who may need their favourite comfort teddy, possibly some toy cars or, like my child, a vast buffet of finger foods and nibbles to keep him occupied and full. A hungry, tired and angry kid is a bad combo. I packed tubs with Cheerios, Croissant, Grapes, Cheese cubes, Bread sticks but the real winner for us was a juicy apple. He loved chomping on it and it amused for at least 45 minutes.

Outward I travelled through the airport with a stroller which was a waste of time as he wouldn’t sit in it at all, it’s only use was to hold my hand bag as I chased him. In the end I had to put on his reigns so he could walk himself and in the other hand I pushed the burden of a stroller. The stroller was quickly sold in the UK and we travelled back without it, so much easier. Moral of the story – don’t take it if you won’t need it.

Remember that anything you pack then YOU will have to carry. Don’t load yourself down like a pack horse. Keep it to light essentials.

001 Spence plane apple

2- Clothes and Spares
In preparation for the night flight I dressed Spencer in some super cute Pjamas, it’s harder for people to be mad at a cute looking kid, right? I also wanted him to be comfortable and feel like it was bed time. Bring a change of spare clothes, nappies and extra wipes just incase of any blow outs and spit ups as travelling can do funny things to their little bodies.

It can be handy to have an extra tshirt or scarf for yourself incase of spilt milk, drinks, smeared chocolate, vomit etc.

001 Spence jammas

3- Do anything to keep them busy
My kid isn’t the kind to sit still and watch a movie so that rules out my ideas from pre-baby days of read a book then watch a movie and before I know it we have arrived. Distant memories.
In the airport and on the runway we spotted planes, helicopters, trucks and Nee-Naw’s (fire engines) which was like a little boys dream!
After we had sampled everything from our snacks packed we then we put Cheerios from one tub into the neck of a water bottle so he had to concentrate and had to stay still. We also read books, the inflight magazine and played with a mini drawing set.
Friends had suggested to take lots of small toys wrapped in paper to unwrap them at different points of the journey. This was too fussy for me and I ran out of time but for some kids it’s a great idea.
Try singing songs, drawing sets, getting some baby friendly apps for your phone and taking a new book full of fun pictures.


4- In the airport, Let them run
Away from the main busy areas airports have plenty of space to let the little rascals loose and burn off some of that pent up energy. After being confined for so long on the plane they are unlikely to want to go in a stroller. Unless your child is an angel, then lucky you! Hopefully in the end they will tire themselves out enough to be calm before you board your connecting flight.

001 Spence airport connection

5- Keep calm, Breathe and Smile
Your kid might make this hard for you but as long as you are doing your best to soothe and control them then you have every right to give the other passengers the stares right back. Kids are kids after all. I kept telling myself that this is only a few hours of my life to get through, once I arrive my family will be waiting for us. Deep breaths always help.

You will survive this (Shhh, it also helps to have a small wine from the drinks trolley) and you will feel a great sense of achievement once you have landed at the other end.


Good Luck! Let me know if you have any suggestions of how to keep toddlers busy.

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