Family 9 months ago by Liz Adams

Our Tips for Traveling with Kids

Traveling with kids is terrible. Exploring new places with your children is amazing but getting there is the worst. I don’t know one mom who would say they would rather travel with their kids versus sitting in an airplane, uninterrupted with a good book, good tunes and a cocktail. If you are one of those moms then do you want to trade kids? I’m sure it gets better but a toddler confined to an airplane is not an ideal situation. In all honesty you guys, we have absolutely no idea what we are doing when it comes to traveling with kids. I think the secret is you have to go into it with very little expectations of your kids being good and you’ll think it went great!

Our trip to Denver was so much fun! We had a blast visiting our family and it was exciting to go on an adventure as a family of four. The trip down was pretty okay. Charlie had his moments and of course fell asleep 15 minutes before landing. Charlie is a huge napper so when he misses his window and starts to get overly exhausted – all hell breaks loose. I knew getting him to sleep was going to be tough (he wanted to say hi to everyone!) so I tried to keep his spirits up with sticker books, new trucks and videos on our phones/Amazon Fire. BUT, we made it in one piece and although Charlie was tired and cranky he perked up! Jack was a dream baby. I nursed him during take off and he slept the majority of the flight. 

 

Our flight home was a different story. My biggest recommendation is try to book flights around nap times if you can. If your baby is a good napper (unfortunately Charlie only really naps in his crib/day care) then fingers crossed they sleep on the flight. We couldn’t quite line up our flights with his nap so we ended up taking off about 2 hours past his typical nap time. #fffffffff 

I think he screamed 92% of the flight home. He hated being confined, the internet wasn’t working on the plane so he couldn’t access Youtube Kids (his obsession) and he was sooooo tired. Ultimately there is only so much negotiation you can do with a screaming toddler so you just kind of have to ride it out. 

I asked you guys to send over some questions you may have about traveling with kiddos and I received so many good ones! Seriously you all think of everything. 

Answering Your Questions About Traveling with Kids

Did you get a seat for your little one? We are traveling in April and can’t decide if we should get our daughter a seat or have her on our lap.

We did get a seat for Charlie but not for Jack. Once your child turns two it is required that they have a seat and honestly I wish we would have bought an entire row for Charlie. Ha!

How do you bring all your pump stuff and travel with milk? Any easy ways? 

I did bring my pump but did not bring any milk that I had already pumped. Honestly, I am not pumping as much with Jack. I have some milk stored in the freezer but if I do pump anything it is usually used right away (or the next feeding). Obviously this would be different if I were not traveling with Jack and had to bring home pumped milk. I’ve heard buying a little cooler and ice packs is the easiest way to get home without much trouble from security. It would be considered a carry on!

How do you manage car seats and kiddos in the airport and at your destination?

We always travel with both and check them at the ticket counter. We have the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio convertible car seat for Charlie and we use this travel bag. We have the Nuna Pipa car seat for Jack and use this bag. If we were going to take a longer flight, we may use his car seat in flight but we haven’t had to do that yet. When we only had Charlie we would snap his car seat into the stroller and then gate check both before boarding the flight.

Would love to know recommendations for travel stroller!

We love our Baby Jogger City Mini GT (pictured above!) and our City Mini GT Double Stroller

What do you bring to keep Charlie occupied on the plane? Do you have a recommendation for toddler headphones for use with a tablet?

We bought an Amazon Fire tablet that is filled with games and apps for him. We also have these headphones which he loves! I also like to buy stickers that he can use on the airplane windows and a few new toys that will spark his excitement once we board. 

How do you feed a baby on a plane? Ie if you’re pumping and also curious how one does that if they’re formula feeding (ie do you bring water bottles or a gallon of nursery water? And how to get through security with breast milk/formula and water)?

I usually always plan to nurse at takeoff (even if it means it is pretty close to his last feeding) to prevent his ears from popping. The swallowing helps! I am pretty comfortable nursing in public when I need to but I’ll make sure I’m wearing the right shirt and a cover. When Charlie was on formula I would buy a room temperature bottle of water after going through security and I would use this container with portions of his formula for bottles. 

When it comes to getting through your security with pumped milk, I think you should be able to carry on a mini cooler with milk and ice packs!

How do you keep everyone healthy and germ free in the middle of flu season??

I try to prevent this as best I can but it is hard to protect your babies all the time. Charlie gets sick but I also think he has a pretty tough immune system thanks to daycare. I use these wipes to wipe down the seats, arm rests and tray but he still manages to crawl all over places I haven’t wiped down. So just lots of washing hands! Jack stayed in my arms wrapped up in a blanket so I would wipe down his hands but otherwise he didn’t touch anything! I know these wipes aren’t natural but with all of the germs, sometimes I think you need the strong stuff. 

Where does each child sleep? Pack n plays?

Charlie sleeps in a Pack n’ Play and Jack was in a bassinet! We were lucky to be staying with family who actually had everything that we needed. We do have this bassinet for Jack (it can stay on a couch/chair/table) and we have been known to Amazon Prime a pack n’ play and donating to a hotel or renting when we can!

How do you deal with parking your car and getting to the airport with both kids and all of your bags? 

Dave usually drops me off with the boys and our luggage and goes and parks the car! We pack up the car seats and make sure Charlie is in the stroller before he leaves and then I get inside and wear Jack in my Solly Baby Wrap. We personally felt that this was the easiest (rather than taking our double stroller) since we knew we wouldn’t be using our stroller too much. 

Let me know if you have any more questions in the comments! xoxo

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  1. Thanks for sharing your tips! I agree that exploring new places with your children is so.much.fun. Traveling with them is SO hard and we end up staying home a lot because the task of taking them anywhere is too daunting. Now that I have some new ideas from you, I am going to embark on some smaller trips to get our feet wet and work on longer distances.

  2. One thing I have learned when traveling with toddlers is to bring the car seat on the plane and strap your child in. It was easier for my youngest (who is now 7😢) to sit still because it was familiar to her. Stickers are a great distraction, plus it works on their fine motor skills (bonus!).
    You can’t stop enjoying life and traveling because of your kids, it is more difficult but you need to take a deep breath and jump and know you will all make it to the other side! (Who cares who you piss of along the way 😜)

  3. Great tips! What did you do with jack as far as the time change? We’re traveling soon and I’m not sure what to do with my two month old’s schedule!

    1. We usually try to keep them on Chicago time! Unless it is a few hour difference, then we try to get them on that location’s time zone.

  4. TSA will let you bring breastmilk, bottled formula mix (already made with water), through security. Just make sure you pull it out and tell them. They scan it separately.

  5. I totally agree with all of your tips – having traveled w 2 toddlers a couple of times now. If someone is still looking for a “pump/milk” answer: I pumped exclusively for both kids so I did a lot of travel with pumping and carrying 20-30oz per trip. The Kiinde system is THEEEEE BEST – you pump right into the bag, and pop the bag into the “bottle” and can feed the baby basically freshly pumped milk. And their ice packs keep the milk I didn’t use freezing cold for up to 10 hrs. They are spill proof – and take up WAY less space than “bottles” do. It worked awesome for having to pump at work too – and not need to use the communal fridge for storage. I cannot recommend that system enough! TSA does do a finger and ‘pump stuff/milk bottles’ swipe and test it in their machine, but they never in 3 yrs gave me any trouble with that much “liquid” as my carry on. 🙂 Ahhhh, mom life!

  6. I agree with the previous comments on pumping and breast milk when flying! We have a 16 month old and we travel a lot for work and as a family. I always keep the water, her food pouches, breast milk , etc. separate and show it to TSA and they scan it separately. I have never had an issue. If you are kind and patient they are usually kind and patient as well and that goes a long way. We also use the Cares® Kids Fly Safe Airplane Safety Harness for long haul flights (+4 hours) and it works really well. You do have to ask the person behind you to put their tray table down to install it but we’ve never had an issue with anyone complaining. Happy Traveling!!

  7. For longer fligts, request the bulkhead. We just did Chicago to South Africa with our 15-month old, (because who wouldn’t take a toddler on a crazy long flight 😜), and having that space was a game-changer.

  8. Great post! What apps/games do you download for charlie? I usually just have movies on mine but my 1.5 yr old son loves to touch the screen (which makes the movies go away). Thanks!

  9. I am traveling next week to Europe to visit my husband’s family with a 4 and 2 year old! We are taking an overnight flight there which will be quite interesting with sleeping. Anyway, you mentioned you had the amazon fire and I was looking into the amazon fire kids version for our flight since currently our kids take over our ipads for flights and i want my ipad back! Are you able to download movies and shows onto the fire to watch on a plane with no wifi? Nervous that I will purchase the kindle fire then get on the plane and have the fire not work for what i need it for! Any games/apps you recommend on the fire for 2 year olds?

    1. We are traveling in a australia for 6 weeks with a 4,2 and 5 month old and have used the fire by downloading stuff when we are
      On WiFi and then it is available for plane and car

  10. If you have room to store it, I highly recommend a travel convertible car seat. Lucie’s list has a ton of recs. We have the Evenflo one and it is soooo lightweight, making it way easier to transport than our usual convertible.

  11. Hi Liz- on our flight home from
    Michigan to California we didn’t want to run into the internet not working in flight so we downloaded a few movies on Netflix and were able to have our 21 month old watch them. It was a life saver. We have older kids too aged 9 and 11 and every year gets easier flying!!

  12. Good tips! Traveling with a toddler is so much harder than with an infant! Keeping them occupied and in their seat is the roughest. I am going to look into those headphones if we have a flight again!

    Also, if staying at a hotel, many times they will have pack n plays to use during your stay (no extra charge). Definitely ask when booking so you don’t have to lug your pack n play. I have the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib and it’s so light and easy to carry (thankfully was a gift!). We love it and have used it a million times.

    I wrote a post here on traveling with an infant (flew from NC to CA with a 7 month old) if anyone is interested! https://penpaperstorm.com/2016/07/08/traveling-with-an-infant/

  13. We are traveling with our 19 mo old and got him a seat ( he’s a big baby!). We’re trying to decide if we need to or should bring his car seat onto the plane. I’d rather not but am thunking if we do maybe he’ll snooze or be more comfortable just chilling rather than trying to crawl around (he never stops!). Looks like you didn’t? Were there any issues?

    1. Charlie did not nap! It was terrible. But honestly, I don’t know if he would have napped in his car seat either. It was a little sensory overload!

  14. If at all possible (like your flight to your destination), freeze all the milk you bring that you won’t need on the plane. If it’s frozen, TSA doesn’t mess with it and doesn’t have to test it – since it’s frozen/solid and doesn’t fall in the liquid category for them.

  15. Hi Liz! Thanks for the tips. I’m taking my son on his first flight in a few weeks, he’ll be 6mo. I’m traveling solo on the way there, coming back I’ll have help. I have a Chicago specific question as that’s our destination… I wasn’t planning to take his car seat, once we get to the hotel I won’t need to put him in a car (I’m there for a work conference). As far as getting from ORD to the loop, I think my options are a car service with an infant seat, or taking the train. Which do you think would be best? Any other reccomendations? Thanks a bunch!!

    1. We used to take the train a lot with Charlie! You can also check the laws for traveling wherever you’re going. Some cities allow for babies and toddlers to sit on your lap under 15 miles. But I personally would probably request an uber with a car seat!

  16. Thank you so much for this! My husband and I haven’t traveled as a couple as much as we want to, but I’m 32 and we plan to start trying for kids soon. On our honeymoon we ran into a couple traveling with kids. They told us not to let kids stop us. It’s not as easy, but it’s definitely doable!
    http://www.holycitylife.com

  17. hi! how’d you travel with formula once you reached your destination? did you bring an entire container? how’d you deal with bottle cleaning? we are travelling for the first time with our 5.5 month old so i’m sourcing advice whereever i can!

    1. We traveled a lot with formula and I would bring the compartmentalized formula dispenser or the Enfamil single serving/travel packets for ease on the plane. I would put an entire extra bag of formula in my carry on if it was a short trip or I didn’t know there was a Target nearby. For washing bottles I would set up a washing station in the hotel bathroom or wherever there was room. I would bring a bottle brush that has the combo nipple brush and then I would bring a small container of dish soap. I would put dish soap from home in one of those travel bottles you can get in the Target travel section. They are under 3 oz so no issues with TSA. For reference we found having 4 – 6 bottles with us worked the best especially if the baby feeds on take off and landing that’s 2 dirty on the plane. Good luck!!

  18. To anyone traveling internationally, check the foreign country’s rules on taking liquids by carry on. I had a huge issue when I was traveling back home to Florida from Mexico City. A romantic weekend trip with my hubby (while I was pumping for my 10 month old) turned into a huge argument at the airport when Mexican security would not let me board with ALL of the milk I had pumped over 3 days. My milk was separated in 3 oz clear bags and in a smaller cooler with ice pack. I literally cried (hormones) until they let me through with my precious milk. Ha!

  19. I travel for work, sadly away from my baby, on occasion. I have researched all of the airline and TSA regulations regarding breastmilk carrying, limitations etc. and I thought I would share this very helpful information. The bottom line is that you are allowed to carry an unlimited amount of breastmilk in your carry-on. This is true even if you are not traveling with your child. TSA can inspect and test the milk but they cannot make you throw it out. This is so good to know for moms who pump while away from baby and want to save the pumped milk. I pack mine in a small cooler with soft ice packs.

  20. Was wondering how you pack for a trip. Do you use more than one suitcase for the family? How do you pack for the babies? I see you have one luggage and if that fits all your family’s belongings?

    1. I usually always pack for myself and the babies in one suitcase (if possible!). I always like to know if laundry is an option and that way I try not pack too much. I usually always pack a baby monitor, extra blankets, etc. which makes for extra room needed in my bag. Dave packed separately in a weekender bag.

  21. We have traveled a ton with our 15-month-old (I think we just took her 20th flight!) and have flown everywhere from 2-hour flights to a 14-hour flight to Tokyo! I totally agree with so much of this. I always wipe down the seats when we get on the plane the best that I can, bring snacks and a variety of them (we love the Bentgo boxes), and we bring her favorite toys (although, I have learned that for her less is better!). We absolutely LOVE the GB Qbit stroller. We have had a few issues with gate checking our strollers (small breaks and things) and the Qbit can be put in the overhead storage. It was SO easy and made a big difference. We are also big advocates for checking as many bags as possible.

  22. I read your blog all the time and love it! I have actually never commented but thought I would for this one! My daughter is 2 weeks older than your cutie pie, Charlie and I have flown alone with her to visit family every few months since she was 3 mo old. She has more frequent flier miles than most adults already! All your tips were great! I always gate check my stroller for ease of getting through the aiport (been delayed for 3 hours so having that was a lifesaver!) and when they are still under 2 always ask if there’s any seats with an available seat next to it when you get to the gate. They usually accommodate your request if they can. And its a stupid tip but a good one particularly if you travel alone with a toddler … wear a coat or cardigan (even lightweight one in warmer months) with tons of pockets!! You’d be shocked at how much easier it is to pull everything from cheerios, to wipes to little toys from there then searching through a bag under the seat or overhead! But biggest thing is to just ‘roll with it’ and expect it won’t go perfectly! And if you are worried your little one will fuss or cry during flight bring some chocolates for passengers around you – they may be annoyed about a crying baby but they can’t help but smile at a gift of chocolate! 😁

  23. I read your blog all the time and love it! My daughter is 2 weeks older than your Charlie and I have flown alone with her to visit family every few months since she was 3 mo old. A stupid tip but a good one if you travel alone with a toddler … wear a coat or cardigan (even lightweight one in warmer months) with tons of pockets!! Its so much easier to pull everything from cheerios, to wipes to little toys from there then searching a bag under the seat. And if you are worried your little one will fuss during flight bring chocolates for passengers around you – they may be annoyed about a crying baby but they can’t help but smile at a gift of chocolate! 😁

  24. I’m so with you & travelling with kids! We travelled from Melbourne Australia to LA in Dec 2016 when our little girl was 2 & 3/4’s old. Such a long way and it was her first long haul flight. She slept a total of 2 of the 14 non stop flying hrs and 2 hrs out of 24. She thankfully made it through the plane flight with only about 5-10 mins of screaming as I was rocking her to sleep, but then screamed at the top of her lungs for the entire 1 hr it took to get through customs and collect bags. I honestly wanted to turn around and go home at that point! It’s so not easy but the memories made outweigh the getting there and you want to do it all over again!