My husband and I love to travel, which is a good fit for our jobs as engineers in the oil & gas industry because we’ve had to move every three years so far in our careers. We like to travel as often as we can and set aside money from our paychecks to our travel fund. We’ve both always loved visiting new places, but I think our wanderlust grew strongest during our time living in Australia. While we lived there, we used every single personal and vacation day we were given to travel somewhere new.
Moving back to the US and having a child hasn’t stopped us from traveling. Fortunately for us, all airlines allow a lap child to fly free until they turn two years old. We took advantage of not having to pay for a third airline ticket for him, so my son has been on more flights in his first year and a half of life than I did in my first 25 years. He’s flown to the east coast, west coast, midwest, southwest, and even Europe. And it was surprisingly easy! On his 20+ flights, he only cried on two of them.
My son was an angel. He’d smile and wave at people on the plane as we boarded, he flirted with the flight staff and anyone sitting near by, melting everyone’s heart. On one flight he even sat with (and slept on) the lady sitting next to us for the entire flight! They both were pleased with the arrangement and my husband and I were grateful for a few hours of quiet time to ourselves. Most flights he would look around, coo and flirt, breastfeed for take off and landing (which helped him tolerate the cabin pressure changes), then fall asleep for most of the flight. It was easy and peaceful. We didn’t know why parents were scared to fly with kids.
It began to get hard around the time he turned one and started walking; he didn’t want to be seated for so long, but he still was pretty good if we could entertain him until he fell asleep. But now that he’s a full-blown toddler, freedom is all my son wants. He doesn’t want to be trapped on his parents’ laps on the airplane for several hours. Our last trip a few weeks ago was torture for all three of us.
My son was bored, trapped and restless. He refused to nap, he wanted to kick and pull on the seats in front of him, and he decided to throw every toy, food, or book we tried to use to entertain him with into the aisle. By the time we got off the flight we all looked frazzled and exhausted.
Ok, so we get it now. Traveling with toddlers is hard! How are we supposed to do this?! We still have three more flights booked before he turns two, and then we take a break from traveling for awhile. After our last flight experience, I am not looking forward to those three flights like I was when we first booked them, but we will get through them.
I need your advice! How do you travel with toddlers? What do you do to keep them entertained? I’ll share our lessons learned after our final three flights with a lap child. 🙂