It has taken me a bit to write this post because I wanted to make sure I had all my mom hacks ready to share with you when it comes to traveling with a toddler. First off, it’s definitely not an easy task, even when traveling with another family member. My mom, Jadyn and I went on this trip. While Jadyn is such an easy going little human, traveling for 14+ hours was hard on her little body.
Let me take a step back. The last time I took this trip to visit my family overseas, I was pregnant with her and that was a feat in and of itself. Battling the tail end of my first trimester nausea when ascending and descending was not fun. Can’t forget to mention the whole ears popping things – ouch! And jet lag. So watching my mini me go through this new experience and not understanding what’s happening broke my heart. In hindsight, she did really well.
On the non-stop flight to our destination, Jadyn did not want to stay on the plane once we got on. The loud noises and hundreds of people freaked her out (rightfully so) and she just lost it. I made the mistake of not giving her Tylenol before we took off for her little ears. Getting a toddler to suck on a pacifier when you want them to is really hard. No matter how much I lightly squeezed her cheeks, she was not having it. After about 45 minutes of excessive crying and hysterics, she finally fell asleep. I almost lost it because people all over the plane were looking at me like “is this going to be the child that cries the entire 14 hours?”
She slept for 10 hours on the flight there.
Once we got to our destination it was nighttime (about 11 p.m.), but really felt like morning for us since our flight was a red-eye. I bet you can imagine Jadyn wide awake. We were all tired from the flight, but our eyes were so open. After we got to my uncle’s house, showers were had and then we all tried to sleep. It took Jadyn till 3 or 4 a.m. to finally fall asleep and we then had to be up at 8 a.m. to go visit with my grandparents. It took Jadyn about a week to really get over her jet lag (our trip was 2.5 weeks long).
I’m so grateful that Jadyn got to meet her great-grandparents and spend time with her cousins. I’m also grateful that I got to spend time with my family because I don’t think I’ll be making this trip again until Jadyn’s a little bit older.
The flight back was a whole lot easier. I think this is because Jadyn already knew what to expect (she’s a really smart toddler) and I gave her some Tylenol before we boarded. So when we were flying home, she was already asleep once we started taking off. Also, the flight home wasn’t full, so we essentially had an entire row to ourselves, meaning Jadyn could stretch out between my mom and I. That was just pure luck.
Jadyn slept for 7 hours then woke up for a bit and fell back asleep for another 3, so during this 13 hour flight, she slept for 10.
Here are some of my mom hacks and tips on how to survive and international flight with a toddler:
Don’t over pack the diaper bag. I made this mistake on our flight there. I packed 1 diaper for every hour of the flight (which took up a lot of room in the diaper backpack!) along with three onesies, pajamas and a change of clothes. Too much stuff!
Bring new toys. This hack I found while watching Emily Norris on YouTube. This was a definite game changer because when Jadyn was awake, she was interested in the new toy for an hour or so which gave me (and others around me) a sigh of relief.
Pack snacks. I cannot stand airplane food and kids usually can’t either. Before this long haul red-eye flight, we usually catch a bite at an airport restaurant (I know, queue the uproar because it’s soooo expensive) which tends to hold us over for a majority of the flight. Packing easy-to-access snacks is a must on a 14+ hour flight. We packed pouches (albeit not enough for the return flight home), puffs and some crackers. We always made sure to eat before the flight.
Technology is your friend. Each parenting style is different and mine includes a little bit of monitored video watching. I can’t raise my daughter in such a tech-y world and not give her the option to watch movies on a device–sometimes and in moderation. I purchased the Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet and downloaded the Movies Anywhere app. We had access to Moana, Coco and some other Disney classics. This was a lifesaver not only on flights, but during the week-long jet lag recovery.
Bring remedies. Thanks to altitude climbing, our ears pop when we’re on a plane. Us adults can result to chewing gum to ease the popping, but it’s very hard to force a baby or toddler to suck on their pacifier or take a bottle to help with that. I always was sure to have Tylenol and/or Benadryl packed in my diaper bag just in case I needed it. I should have given Jadyn a half dose of Tylenol on the flight there to help ease the ear popping (and probably would have helped with the 45 minutes of screaming, too), but I was so anxious and panicky about her first flight that I forgot. I was able to give her a partial dose on the way back which really helped.
Buy an extra seat. If you can afford it, do it. Holding 30+ pounds for 14 hours is killer on your arms. Luckily on the flight back we had almost a whole row to ourselves.
Stay calm. As hard as it is to not freak out and feel judged by all those stares coming your way from others on the plane, stay calm. I almost had a panic attack those first 45 minutes because I was feeling so judged by those around me. Even the woman sitting next to me asked if there was something wrong because Jadyn was screaming so loudly and so much that she was afraid it’d be for the whole flight.
I’d love to know how you handle long flights and some of your hacks! Leave a comment below.