5 Tips on Traveling with a Toddler on a Long Flight

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Travel time from Manila, Philippines to the USA is usually between 16-24 hours including layovers. When we traveled, our son was 2.5 years old. He was very young and it comes with a lot of challenges!

For one, we were traveling with 7 big boxes, which we checked in. On top of that, we had three carryon luggage, my backpack, and a small bag for his needs. Here’s a list of 5 tips for traveling with a toddler on a long flight.

Anticipate your toddler’s needs.

Look at the number of hours you’ll be traveling, plan for her meal times and pack some formula, snacks, and other food items you will need. Security at the airport will let you carry some bottled distilled water as long as it’s sealed and unopened. Most airlines would also have food for young kids available. Do check with your airlines at least 2 weeks before your flight.

Make sure you have everything he needs for hygiene and cleaning up. Get enough diapers, wet wipes, powder, diaper rash ointment, and any other thing you need. Put all his needs in a smaller bag that easy to carry and could be stowed under the seat in front of you.

You won’t need any special car or airplane seat for your toddler. Our son sat on a chair between my wife and I and he did well. But bring an umbrella stroller if you have one. It will help you when you need to hurry up and catch a connecting flight in an airport.

When we arrived in Detroit, which was our first entry to the USA, we ended up missing our flight to Nashville because our son needed to go potty and before that, the immigration officer took his time before he let us go. We did not have an umbrella stroller then, but it would have made a difference when we were trying to catch our flight.

Try to sit together.

When you book your flight, try to get seats that are close together. This way, you and your spouse can take turns in taking care of your child. If you cannot sit together right when you’re booking your flight, ask a kindly soul if you can sit together as a family. Sometimes it works.

Your toddler will cry, it’s inevitable. People will just need to understand that if it happens, you’re just as upset as they are. Apologize if you want to, but other people will just have to deal with a noisy, restless toddler. They’ll get over it.

Bring some toys, books, and other things for him to tinker with.

Buy some toys and activity books that will help occupy your toddler’s attention. For our son, we bought some storybooks, coloring books, and a couple of toys to bring out when he’s feeling bored and restless. Delta also provided him a coloring book and a handful of crayons.

Alas, toddler’s attention span is very short and they will soon run out of patience and interest. It is so much more exciting and interesting to fiddle with the tray in front of his chair, to kick the seatback in front of him and to walk around and make some noise.

Keep your patience and your wits about you. Don’t take it personally. Toddlers really do have a lot of energy that they need to dissipate. Look for some games to play that will keep him occupied. Otherwise, you will end up saying sorry to the person sitting in front of your kid throughout the whole flight.

While you’re at the airport for the first time or when you are on a layover, let your toddle run and walk and play to dissipate her energy. You will end up with a tired kid, who will (hopefully) just sleep through the whole trip.

Download some videos from Youtube and store them on a phone, laptop, or tablet.

If the toys, books, and other surprises don’t work, then be prepared with some educational videos to entertain her. Use Keepvid.com or YouTube downloader to download some videos. Store them on your phone or on your tablet for the ultimate emergency moment.

You can also check if the plane you’re riding is equipped with In-Flight Wi-Fi. That’s the more expensive option, but it can still work.

Start syncing to the time zone in the US at least a week before your trip.

Jetlag is brutal to kids. When we first arrived in Nashville, our son would be awake at night until the wee hours of the morning. Then he’d sleep almost all day.

Before you leave, try adjusting your toddler’s bedtime and body clock by syncing with the time zone in the USA. You can let him sleep later at night and then let him sleep during the day.

When you get to the US, though, it’s important for her to get sunshine and engage in physical activity. When we brought him to the park to play, he enjoyed it so much, he got tired, and he said bye-bye to jetlag.

It is difficult to travel with a toddler on a long-haul flight. But by making some preparations, you can make it enjoyable, or at the very least, bearable for you and your kid.

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