We fly a lot and always bring our kids with us, so they certainly are no strangers to flying. That being said, yesterday I traveled by myself with my two children (my son is 4 months and my daughter is 23 months). We flew a direct flight from Des Moines to Detroit, the flying time is around 1.5 hours. Des Moines is a small airport while Detroit is a massive airport. I wanted to share a few tips that I learned yesterday while flying by myself with my two children.
- Wear the smaller baby through the airport- you don’t have to take them out of the carrier when you go through security. This will allow you to have your hands free to care for the older child
- Allow for A LOT of extra time. I have our airport routine down to a science but I assumed I would need about an hour of extra time given Oakley was going to be walking, I would be doing all of the ticketing and TSA stuff by myself, etc. If you are leaving from a small airport and you usually need an hour, give yourself two. Trust me.
- If possible, try to get dropped off. This will eliminate a long walk from the car to the airport or a shuttle ride to the airport.
- One child will need their own seat. So you would either one in a carseat in the seat next to you and hold one or have the older child in their own seat (no carseat) and hold the smaller one. Personally, I am not sure which option is best. For our ride out, I had Oakley in her own seat without a carseat. She sat for a lot of the time but we did have a lot of turbulence and she was standing in her seat for a few moments. It is difficult to wrangle a toddler while holding a sleeping infant. I think there would have been pros and cons to Dean being in his car seat and me just holding Oakley the entire time. Do what works best for you!
- I know all of the mommy blogs will tell you to try to plan a trip around baby’s naps but to be completely honest, I find that absolutely impossible and bad advice. There aren’t 900 flight options, naps are always changing for kids, and no two days are ever the same- so how would it ever be possible to plan a flight around a nap? It isn’t. So don’t stress about that. An infant will more than likely sleep on the flight at some point, usually at take off.
- Try to limit belongings to a diaper bag. I am sure other plane goers would assist in getting a carry on into the overhead bin but adding more things to carry through the airport just adds that much more complexity to getting yourself and two children to the gate. If you are flying on a small plane, having to gate check (and wait for) a bag with two children would not be very pleasant (to me anyways). I knew I wasn’t going to be able to use the bathroom on the plane so I wanted to get off the plane and jet bridge as soon as possible.
- ASK FOR HELP. Luckily, I had people willing to help at the ticket counter, on the plane, at baggage claim, and on the shuttle. I don’t think I could have made it through the airport without just a little help from nice strangers. The ticket agent helped me get the car seat in the bag. A woman on the plane entertained Oakley while I was getting Dean back into the carrier when we deplaned. A woman at baggage claim helped me get his car seat / stroller out to the bag. And a man on the shuttle stored my checked bag for me.
- Utilize the family restrooms in the airport- most airport maps have them clearly marked.
- If you are going on a long flight, call the airline ahead of time to see if they have bassinet system you can utilize on board (especially important for international flights).
- I also do NOT recommend your first flight with your kids to be a solo trip but that’s just my opinion!
- Snacks will be a lifesaver with the older child. I packed her favorite fruit, lots of cheerios, etc.
- While on the airplane, let the older child get a drink they may normally not get at home. For Oakley, that’s juice. I also asked the flight attendant to fill it half way and then asked for more about 20 minutes later. Oakley loved the interaction with the flight attendant and it was a little treat for her in the middle of the flight.
- When the plane takes off, start your stop watch on your phone so you know how much time has passed (and how much time is left) on the flight. This really helps me stay sane!
I hope these tips helped! I have many other blogs regarding infant / toddler travel on my blog!