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Taking a Toddler Abroad: Part One flying with a toddler

Guys, this was it. This was the trip that was going to determine if it was now time to start traveling with a toddler. It was do or die time. We were headed to visit St Lucia. On a five and a half hour flight. That included a (gasp!) connection. To say we were nervous was putting it mildly. We weren't sure that having a two-year-old made it the best time to go to St. Lucia. 

Our dearest friends won a trip in a silent auction and invited us along with them. I say “won” lightly, because anyone who’s ever been to a silent auction knows that they ply you with drinks until you bid almost as much as the prize is worth. But anyway, it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.

But here’s the thing: our kiddo is crazy. Also fun. And sweet. And nice. But CRAZY. He’s the kid that teachers, babysitters, grandparents, doctors (basically everyone used to seeing crazy toddlers all the time), would look at, shake their heads, and say sympathetically, “Wow, he has a lot of energy”. Yep. So we were a little nervous about how this whole flying-to-another-country thing would shake out. Taking a toddler abroad – just the title of this blog sounds intimidating!

But guys, we did it! And it was amazing.

Taking a Toddler Abroad: Part One flying with a toddler

First up, the flight. Which we were the most nervous about. I mean, flying with a two year old? So, thanks to Pinterest, (which is jam-packed with awesome ideas for toddlers flying on airplanes – you're welcome) we packed little goodie bags for the people seated around us. We put in a note from C about how it was his first big flight and he might be scared, but that he would try and keep the noise down. We put in some candies, to appeal to their sweet tooth. And, most importantly, we put in earplugs. We got lucky in our seat assignment and were surrounded by parents – several of them even refused the bags, just saying “No worries, we’ve been there”. Most people accepted it…for the candy. No one even opened their ear plugs.

And it turned out they didn’t need to. He did great! We also loaded up his special iPad (a new treat for him) with games and movies, as well as a ton of individually wrapped little toys for him. We hit up the dollar store the week before, so as long as he was being good, he’d unwrap a tiny little notebook or a rubbery lizard to play with. That worked wonders. He had a slight meltdown when we wouldn’t let him kick the seat in front of him, but we distracted him with his iPad and that little storm passed quickly.

We also took him on walks up and down the aisles a couple of times but tried to limit that until it seemed like the pressure cooker was about to blow. Between the beverage cart, people’s feet, and his curiosity when it comes to, well, everything, we didn’t want to spend the entire flight telling him “don’t touch that!” But it was a nice little break here and there.

(Shout out to Delta for being an awesome airline for toddlers! They were super helpful, let us board early to install the car seat (a must for flying with a two-year-old who won't sit still easily) and kept us well-stocked in airline snacks and juice)

Customs wasn’t quite so smooth, but you can’t blame an active two-year old for not wanting to stand in a long line after having just sat (relatively) still for 5 1/2 hours. Enter, his first international tantrum. It turns out tantrums look the same in other countries. Loud and slightly embarrassing. But we garnered lots of sympathetic looks from the customs agents. I’m sure they see that daily.

I’m going to do a separate post on what we actually did in St Lucia, just so this doesn’t turn into War and Peace over here, but consider this your “You can do it!’ post. It really is possible to take a toddler on an international flight and come out with your sanity intact!

But in the next post, I’ll cover the one mistake we made on the flight home.

2 THOUGHTS ON “Taking a Toddler Abroad: Part One – flying with a toddler”

by Jessica

I took Ethan in his first flight this summer! He did great but it was only to Florida (50 min flight) so kudos to you guys for your bravery and having your flight go so well!

by Nicolle

I’m so glad you all had a great time and everything went smoothly! We’ve been looking to go on vacation with our toddler. Hopefully, someday soon! She does great on 5 hour car rides for the most part. Toddlers just have such short attention spans!