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Step 5: Solo Travel with a Toddler

Traveling alone does bring some new challenges. I seem to leave my ID in security nearly every time but we never miss a flight regardless of how haphazardly we roll through security and the airport. Being organized is by far the most important step of any travel, but when you're alone you don't have any one to lean on.

Our first solo flight was to Florida in the Fall. Other than a few hiccups of a total meltdown while waiting to board the plane and almost losing a phone- we were actually pretty efficient. Traveling with a baby is usually pretty easy because they fall asleep on the plane. As long as you can oogle at them and remember to give a bottle during take off and landing, you are all set. A toddler is a whole other thing. We have flown a lot with Billy but every flight seems to be different due to his needs. As they grow up keeping them entertained is key. That and lots of snacks. 

After making it through security and off to our gate I made sure to identify other parents traveling with kiddos like I always do. Luckily on our flight was a family clad in Ohio State gear so I knew I would be in good hands if I could find a spot next to them. Always make sure you are in line for family boarding especially if you're on Southwest. Your trip will be made so much easier if you can sit next to people who get it. Flying with a toddler is hard work. We ended up sitting next to the Ohio State family and were able to have 2 little ones in the middle seat with the moms on either side. The airline will only let you be in the same row as another lap baby if there are only 2 seats occupied. This is because there wouldn't be enough masks to go around if something were to go wrong otherwise. I have had this happen twice now, and absolutely think it's the way to go. We confirmed with the flight attendant that this wasn't a full flight before doing so though because if it were, one of us would have to move and probably get stuck in a middle seat. Avoid the middle whenever possible! It's better if your kid can only awkwardly touch one other passenger instead of 2. 

Once you have found you seat pull out everything you will need for the flight and I mean everything- you will not be getting up unless it's absolutely necessary. Hopefully you have packed your magic backpack full of all things baby to keep this kid occupied and fed. This is the part of our journey that I thought I lost my phone, make sure that you grab it just in case you need to document your child's behavior for your spouse or simply need back up in the form of Peekaboo Barn. At this point you should be able to settle into your seat with your baby and point out things like the wings of the plane or the people outside. For some reason this, and being able to open and close the window shade kept my son occupied for 20 minutes. Take it where you can!

We bring a kindle fire on these trips that we have downloaded shows from Amazon Prime or Netflix to for our toddler. This is his specific kindle fire (because it was only $35 on black friday) so he can goo it up as much as he wants. We only use it on trips so it's a special thing for him. We also have tiny headphones for him but this doesn't seem to be as important. He won't keep them on for more than 10 minutes but just having something to watch does help eat up the time spent on the plane. We also fill his backpack with age appropriate items from the dollar section at Target. I say age appropriate because I have purchased things that I thought might work that said 3+ on them only to find that they come with a million little pieces that are not suitable for an airplane. The glow wands at Target are wonderful as are the magnet games, little cars, stickers, etc. Steer clear of items you would be devastated to lose or anything that you think your child may use to annoy the people around you. We made a mistake with a ball early on but have since learned our lesson. I also fill this magic backpack up with snacks- mainly the staple that is the food packet of apple sauce but also with organic fruit snacks, granola bars, etc. Make sure to bring plenty of water or milk, and bring lunch if you're flying over a meal time. There is nothing worse than not having this stuff accessible because meltdowns happen fast. If you make friends with your seat mates they may even feed your child while they feed their own.



Billy and his Ohio State Girlfriend

We fortunately were flying to my father in laws house so he stopped by Starbucks at the airport before picking us up in baggage claim. Of course Billy was starving as per usual so it was awesome to have someone there to hand him a banana and a milk while we waited for our bags.


On the way home we unfortunately weren't so lucky when it came to our seating arrangement due to a full flight. One thing you can do is make sure your seatmates are cool with kids. In this instance we sat near the front and everyone that came to sit by us I told what our situation was. We were flying alone, Mommy was morning sick because of baby #2, and we were going to do the best we could because he was a lap child. We ended up sitting next to the friendliest woman who didn't seem to mind that my child was exceptionally drooly or that he stared at her for half the flight.


Traveling with kids is always an adventure so just remember to stay calm. Your kids will mirror you... sometimes. If you can spring for it, get your toddler a seat when you're traveling alone and it will make your life easier. Having a lap child that wiggles and giggles with every move you make does get exhausting. I will say though we only really needed to get a seat for our son once he was over 18 months- we didn't, but oh how I wish we had! 

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