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by Larissa T | Apr 4, 2020 | Travel | 19 commentskids on a plane a family travel blog

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We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

kids on a plane a family travel blog
A toddler. How to travel with a toddler

Are you curious about flying with kids? Do you want to know what to expect when traveling with your little ones? Check out our kids on a plane, a family travel blog post!

Travel is a fun enterprise; I remember when we landed in Amsterdam, a stewardess said: “Welcome to Rio de Janeiro!” and while the whole plane froze in shock, she smiled and added: “It was a joke:).”

I hope each journey made you smile, and traveling with a toddler can be enjoyable if you follow simple guidance.

I fly with each child from the US to Kazakhstan and back to introduce her to my extended family. I do it before they turn 2 because they are strong enough to travel for 30 hours, plus kids up to two years old fly for free.

They fit in a cot on International flights that allows them to sleep the whole flight comfortably. And also, sitting on the first row in economy class gives me some extra legroom. What could be better?

I took 2 round flights from the USA to Central Asia and back. My trips usually last from 26 to 30 hours if you count door-to-door time. Each way involves 3 flights, 2 layovers, and one passport control. And my kiddos had absolutely zero meltdowns or issues.

Kids on a plane a family travel blog. Get free tickets for yourself

My husband and I took about 14 free flights within a decade. We applied for credit cards that allow you to accumulate points, and you can use them towards plane tickets and other travel expenses.

There are hundreds of credit cards’ loyalty programs, we used

CHASE Sapphire preferred

CHASE freedom and

United Explorer Card

They worked great for international flights. You can redeem United point for United flights and their partners. And you can turn CHASE points into points of other loyalty programs.

Apply today to start earning points for your next free flight!

So how to travel with a toddler for free?

Sleeping Schedule is your friend when you travel with a toddler for free

Flying with a baby can be tricky. If it is just you and there are no extra hands to pass the child to and to take a break, then planning around your child’s sleeping schedule would be a brilliant decision.

If you have to fly to the international airport first, schedule it around the baby’s nap time. That way the baby will sleep through the flight and make no distraction, no screaming or crying. Both my kids were sound asleep all 4 flights. It was amazing! No cries, no mess, no stress.

During layovers, let your child run around as much as she can and give yourself a good “workout” too. It will be a long flight and you want to make your legs tired.

I heard some kids cry during takeovers or landing because of ear pressure. If that’s the case, nursing or eating/drinking would ease it.

Once you landed, find your gate first and then care for everything else. I usually eat at a nice place and something nutritious plus something that I am sure my child will definitely eat. You never know what they serve on the plane, and I honestly prefer sleeping through the night rather than get interrupted with food.

The good news, they schedule most of the International flights from the US to Europe (and hopefully all others) at night time and the flight lasts for about nine hours, so if your child sleeps tight she will sleep through that flight too.

They feed you twice during the flight. Please do not wake your child up. She does not need to eat. It’s night. Let her sleep. And sleep yourself as much as you can unless you are hungry.

If you have to take the third flight, schedule it around the next nap time.

If at the final destination the time difference is closer to 12 hours and if you are staying there for less than 2 weeks, I would recommend sticking with your home time.

If you switch to the local timing, jetlag will last for 2 weeks and even if you do not care, the kid will get confused and might not cooperate, moreover in 2 weeks you will have to fly back, and reverse jetlag is even worse.

I usually stay for 2-2,5 weeks and sleeping through the day works just great. It’s my hometown and I am eager to see all my friends and family and to go to places but everybody is at work during the day anyway and places are open late/early so I still get to see everyone and visit everything I want.

Kids on a plane a family travel blog. Set up a routine.

We go outside in the early morning, then sleep through the day and wake up when everybody comes home from work. This is when the fun begins! We can go eat out, go shopping, visit friends, go to a park, swimming pools, etc. Anything that your toddler might like.

By the time locals ready to sleep, my kid is ready for a nap. After the nap, we eat, read books, take baths, play quiet games, do laundry, do some cleaning, eat supper and around 7 am are getting ready to go outside…

If your child sleeps for approximately 12 hours, it doesn’t matter which twelve hours she will doze, you still will have time for fun.

On weekends, when friends and family are off. I am able to sacrifice some of my sleep to stay up “late” and go out during the day, but honestly, most of the activities are scheduled for evenings, anyway. And with my baby sleeping, I can spend some quality adult time with my friends. It works great!

Also, there are some places that are open early, such as grocery stores, markets, beauty salons, saunas, gyms, and parks, just plan and go!

Staying on the “home” schedule has another advantage. Once you come back, you will be on the “correct” schedule right away. There still will be tiredness caused by travel, but you will not have to deal with two-week-long jetlag.

I enjoy flying with a toddler more than traveling with older kids or adults. Airports consider infants VIPs and as a parent, you get that benefit too. It includes cutting up lines for passport control, being checked in first, checked out first, boarded first too. You can bring in a bottle of water through security, and all airport workers will try to make your trip as easy as they can.

What are the absolute must-haves when you travel with a toddler?

large stroller.

I take a big stroller when flying with a baby. You might think the smaller the better. No. A large stroller allows your child to sleep or sit comfortably during the layovers while you surf around the airport.

It is easier to maneuver, and you can load all your cloth and an oversized diaper bag on it and give your hands/shoulders/back some rest, rather than carrying all that on yourself. I’ve been using Premium Double Tandem Baby Stroller for all my trips. It is big but light and compact when folded and still counts as a single-seat stroller on a flight. I like it also because it “grows” with your child, and fits both a baby and a preschooler. We took it on all our trips for the last 10 years and so far had to buy only two of them.

A spacious diaper bag.

You will be allowed to have only a diaper bag as a carry-on, so it has to be big. I usually take my weekender Vera Bradley bag and pack it with a change of cloth for both of us, along with regular diaper-bag stuff for the baby for two days.

Fruit/vegetable pouches and snacks.

This low mess food is handy when you need to feed or occupy your child, but other options are not available. We prefer organic pouches and use 5 best helpers to keep my house clean and organized.