Traveling with a toddler is ever evolving. No trip is going to be the same as the last. In fact in a previous article I gave some tips to help anyone flying with their infants. In an effort to keep an open dialogue about traveling with kids I want to talk about some things that ended up working and backfiring for us with the last trip we took to Walt Disney World. Hope you guys like this trip report from my daughter’s first birthday celebration. This is going to be a multi article post, because otherwise it would be wayyyyy too long.
Traveling to Orlando by Plane
We live in a suburb of Phoenix so flying to Walt Disney World is always going to be the best option for our family. Driving would take us about 30 hours, which I personally will never opt to do with a toddler. Momma has patience but not that much. A flight takes around four and a half hours, which is much easier for our family.
Now a lot of parents, including me, say to tire your kids out at the airport. Normally it’s a golden ticket. We let Kaitlyn run around the airport and make some friends. She was starting to fade when it was time to board the plane, fading for Kaitlyn is giggling fits and being very hyper in general. We were looking forward to a nice easy flight.
In a perfect world she was going to fall asleep in her car seat and spend the majority of the flight asleep. It was almost bedtime anyway and she hadn’t napped well earlier that day. Normally she’s pretty easy going so even if she woke up we would give her a bottle and let her watch Moana before falling back asleep.
This was the dream, but it’s a far cry from what actually happened during our flight. For starters the car seat didn’t fit properly on the airplanes seat. We were using an FAA approved seat so I’m not really sure why it didn’t fit properly when it was approved. Instead of Kaitlyn reclining in the position she is normally in she ended being tilted slightly forward. This was the beginning of the end.
Our flight was delayed after boarding. There were mechanical issues, which rightly shouldn’t be rushed, but toddlers couldn’t give a flying rats hinny why they are stuck in their car seat in a not moving object. We ended up sitting on the tarmac for about 45 minutes.
Combine this with the child sitting in front of your kid being pissed that he can’t recline. Now imagine someone slamming into your child’s car seat for fun. He did this through the whole flight! Could we have talked to his parent? Yes, but we really got the vibe from the Dad that he wouldn’t have said anything to his child anyway so we let it go.
Kaitlyn didn’t sleep for the entire flight, she dozed for a few minutes and then the lovely kid in front of us slammed his chair into her again. Que the crying, and trying to get out of her car seat. At this point I would have taken her out her car seat to stop the crying but there simply wasn’t enough room. Kaitlyn is really big for her age. She was already wearing an 18/ 2T.
This was a super frustrating flight for Adolfo and I. It seemed like everything that could have gone wrong, did. This is what I mean when I said even having the best laid plans mean nothing. Any number of things can go wrong while traveling and you just end up praying that it’s over soon and you will soon be in the happiest place on earth.
We tried everything in our power to keep Kaitlyn happy. We let her watch as many cartoons as she wanted, we had lots of snacks, and small toys. You name it, we had it. Nothing and I mean nothing was going to make our baby girl happy.
On the plus side the flight home was 100% better!!!! Kaitlyn did great and was in a good mood the whole flight as long as she was with mom.
Would we have done anything differently while traveling with a toddler?
Honestly there wasn’t much we could have done. On our next flight we are going to be skipping the car seat and use an FAA approved harness for Kaitlyn. It will save us a lot of time and headache. Carrying around the car seat and then having to get her in and out of it was a nightmare. The harness, obviously, is not for every child. It depends on their motor skill development and weight.
We have also decided to start staying at the Hyatt at the airport on arrival nights. We always end up getting in super late since we are using award flights to travel. It felt like it took three hours to get to Walt Disney World after getting off the plane, waiting for our luggage and getting the rental car. My husband assures me it was only about an hour and a half. Even that was too long with a cranky toddler that was hungry and tired.
In the future we are probably not going to go into the parks too much the day after travel. Maybe stop in to get lunch and use our fastpasses at a park but that’s it. We are even thinking of using it as a day to go to Disney Springs. Kaitlyn might need a day to decompress before we start hitting the parks full force.
What did work for us during the flight.
Earplanes. I know that I have mentioned these in the past but I cannot emphasize enough how well they work. Bring several pairs in case one falls out. During takeoff things went perfectly. After lots of fussing in her car seat one of them fell out unfortunately. Honestly, we didn’t even notice so landing did not go well. Adolfo had to resort to blowing into Kaitlyn’s face along with the pacifier to get her to swallow to clear her ears.
The tablet also really did help keep her entertained when she was getting grumpy. The only thing we would recommend is to bring a blanket or something to shove by the window. Kaitlyn threw the tablet several times and sometimes getting it was a challenge.
Lot and lot of puffs. They aren’t messy and toddlers can eat a lot of them. It keeps their hands busy and helps redirect focus.
Tsum Tsum or other small stuffed animal. You can carry a lot of them and if a child happens to throw them no one will be injured.
What about you guys?
Does anyone else have nightmare travel stories? I kept this pretty short and sweet and left out some details (like a spilled coke and sitting near a passenger that was clearly having stomach issues). Comment below and share a now funny story, or give us some of your words of wisdom on how to avoid a bad flight.