Go to the airport before your trip with your toddler who has never been on a plane. Watch the planes take off, land and taxi. Watch people queuing up for security. Explain that this is what you will be doing. Let your toddler get excited.
Let your child help pack his/her own suitcase. Talk about what types of clothes that will be needed—for cold weather or warm, etc.
Let children pull their own carry-on bag. It gives you a separate space to pack your child's change of clothes, snacks, books and toys. The responsibility of carrying or pulling a bag gives your child focus and a sense of importance.
Run them through the airport. Make good use of the time leading up to boarding by helping your child to burn off excess energy, which is endless in toddlers!
- Use the advance online check-in option to print boarding passes and check seats. This can be done 24 hours in advance of the flight. Have any flight notifications, such as delays, sent to your mobile phone.
- Use curbside check-in to unload heavy bags before entering the airport (remember to tip the skycap).
- Do not check your stroller. Airports are always bigger than you think. Gate check your stroller when you are boarding the plane. Umbrella strollers are easier to navigate and stow away. “Wearing” your baby in a sling or other carrier will also be easier and less cumbersome then hauling the “plastic baby buckets” through the airport and onto the plane.
- Avoid prime time flights. Try the middle of the week and middle of the morning flights when the plane might not be full.
- Do not take the last flight of the day. Bad weather can cause cancellations and a night at the airport with the kids. Still, I have booked late flights, with the knowledge that the kids would sleep most, if not all of the flight.
- If traveling by yourself and need to catch a connecting flight in a terminal on the far side of the airport, request help in advanced (the golf cart shuttles).
- Most major airports have websites where you can get information in advanced about layouts and services. Try to avoid going through “difficult” airports, such as Los Angeles, Ca. and Newark, N.J.
- If traveling to the east coast, I prefer to have a layover on the west coast, and vice versa. Just long enough to stretch, get a bite to eat, and burn off more of that toddler energy.