This is no simple task and I admit the road may be rocky but let me help smooth things out a bit before you take off!
First, choose an airline you trust. I trust Southwest. They have competitive prices and a military discount! Also, I’ve flown with them many times going long distances and there is something comforting in the consistency. It’s also nice that you get 2 checked items for free AND early boarding if you are traveling with children under 8 (I believe that’s the age).
When and How to Fly
Try to get an early afternoon flight, this allows plenty of time for wearing your toddler out before sitting for a long period of time. While we are on the topic of flight times, if you have to take a connecting flight, try to get one with a layover that lasts an hour or so. This allows time to go to the bathroom, change a diaper, grab some food or coffee and get some more energy out of your toddler.
January is the cheapest time of the year to fly, take it from me, it’s the only time I fly. The prices are nice, but the weather may not be. Check to see where your connecting flight will be taking off from. If it’s during a snowy season, try to avoid Chicago. I once spent 8 hours there when my lay over was only supposed to be an hour.
Carry on packing
The next thing you need to do is prioritize the things you will bring as a carry on. Bring ONLY emergency and entertainment needs, which I will list below.
Clothing: T-shirt for you, outfit for toddler, light jacket for both of you.
Entertainment: a tablet loaded with movies (Netflix has a download option now) and games, child sized headphones, quiet toys, mess free coloring, and anything else you find on Pinterest you thing your little one will go for. Bring a head phone splitter if you want to watch what your toddler watches. Honestly, I would tell you to bring something for your own entertainment but you probably won’t have time. It really does fly.
Comfort: comfort object if your child has one, neck pillow and a small blanket
Diapering; you probably won’t need too many diapers. I have 5 diapers, a pack of wipes and a small container of bag balm!
Snacks: fruit snacks, juice boxes, crackers.
Check everything else. I’m telling you, packing light is seriously a life saver. I checked 2 suitcases and just took a backpack and a messenger bag as carry-ons. I had both hands free so I could grab my son or carry him if need be!
Airports are nasty and there are a few tricks to keep from getting sick. Before you even enter the airport, put Neosporin in your noses! It supposably kills viruses! Also Hand sanitize frequently and use antibacterial wipes on everything you and your little one may touch (I wipes the seat, the arm rests and the tray).
Try to stay as organized as possible! Keep all child’s things together, electronics together, snacks ECT. This is another thing that will save a lot of frustration! Disclaimer; if you bring juice boxes and Medicine for baby, getting through security will take longer because the amount of fluids. I had to get a pat down because I had 4 juice boxes, a bottle of baby Tylenol and a bottle of Zarbees night time cough syrup.
I am in NO means telling you to drug your child BUT Zarbees children’s night time cough syrup saved my life this last time. Our first flight was short so I didn’t worry about it then. Our second flight was almost 6 hours so right after boarding, I gave my son the minimum dose. Luckily it was about Naptime anyways so he slept 3 out of the almost 6 hours or flight time. Thank God. With that being said, do your research before jumping right to medicine. Since it’s rated 2+ and my son will be 2 next month, I figured he would be perfectly fine! It’s also really nice to have in hand while you are in a drastically different time zone.
I wish you luck in your travels and if you have any flying with toddler advice that I left out, please leave a comment! Thanks for reading!