You’re doing what?! Are you crazy?! Just a few of the comments made when I told people that I was flying with our 3 month old and 3 year old by myself. Now I only flew one way with them and my husband was with us on the way back. It sounds crazy but with proper planning and organizing, it can be done!
We’ve been flying with our daughter since she was six months old and have flown a few different airlines. While they all have been good experiences, Delta has hands down been the best to fly with for children.
Having the right baby and toddler gear was essential for this trip. I used our large stroller, we have an umbrella one but the bag carrier isn’t big enough. I used a baby carrier for the baby and consolidated the baby bag and my personal bag to one big bag because I also had a breast pump to carry. Consolidating bags meant I was only going to have to carry two instead of three.
Booking Flight Time
When booking your flight, try to book it around your child’s sleep schedule. For example, when we flew our flight was at 3:15pm in the afternoon. While that is normally nap time for our daughter, I knew she wouldn’t be taking a nap on the plane but would likely sleep on the way to the airport, which was over an hour drive. Ideally, it would’ve been great for her to have a two hour nap but the forty-five minutes she got was enough to keep her from absolutely losing it on the plane. For our son, he’s so young and still sleeping pretty frequently, his schedule really wasn’t a factor.
Since having kids, we’ve used curbside checkin which has saved us quite a bit of time and also prevent us from having to stand in line inside waiting to check our bags. With this particular trip, my husband dropped us off. I immediately went to check-in and he started taking the luggage out of the trunk. Once they were ready for the baggage tags, I grabbed the suitcases. Next, I grabbed the stroller and baby carrier. We put our toddler in the stroller and the baby in the carrier. Once both kids were loaded up, my husband took out the car seats and checked them in. We were ready to head to security!
Traveling with young children usually (not always) gets you to a quicker lane to get through security. We were able to get to the shorter line but still had to wait. One thing that has been key for use when traveling with our toddler is she’s not allowed to get out of the stroller until we get through security. We use every motivation we can to keep her in there, wether it’s a snack or getting a balloon, we pull it all out. Once we get up to where we have to unload our gear, we unload all the bags while she stays in the stroller. The baby is in the baby carrier this whole time. After all of the gear is unloaded, our toddler gets out of the stroller and I break it down to go through security. Once that is done, the baby comes out of the carrier so it can go through security and I walk through the metal detector holding the baby and our toddler in hand. After we get through security, I put the baby in the baby carrier and get the stroller together. She gets in the stroller and I grab the bags.
Delta allows you to pre-board with young children before First Class which is a huge bonus because standing in line to board with young children is torture and we’ve had to do it with other airline carriers. The stroller needs to be gate checked so we get a tag once they have scanned our boarding passes (you can get this earlier from the gate agent which I recommend). At the end of the jetway, our toddler comes out of the stroller and puts on her travel backpack and I breakdown the stroller. We grab our bags and head to our seats. The flight attendants helped with our bags which was really helpful.
On The Plane
We put our toddler at the window seat so she can look out and see all the planes which she thoroughly enjoys now. I wait until the last second to buckle her in because she doesn’t want to sit down. She has her own travel backpack for the trip that has her iPad, coloring books, stickers (removable), small toys, and her favorite snacks. We usually have a few new movies and shows on the iPad to get her excited to watch it. She doesn’t always want to watch her iPad so it’s a mix of keeping her entertained with the lights on the plane to having her draw a picture. I also tell her how I need her to be my helper with the baby which she really likes too. The baby in the mean time is on my lap either eating or sleeping.
De-boarding The Plane
This trip we were in the middle of the plane and she was antsy to get off it, normally we would wait until everyone has gotten off the plane. When the descending process began, I gathered all of our items so our bags were ready to go. Once the seat belt sign turned off, I got up and put on the baby carrier and put the baby in it. I gathered the bag we had in the overhead bin and the one on the plane. I had our daughter stand in the row we were seated in and put on her backpack. Once it was our turn, she walked out in front of me and we got off the plane. By the time we got off, our stroller was waiting for us which helped. I put the stroller together, she went in it and our bags went underneath it.
We had family waiting for us once we got to baggage claim, which was a huge help because they watched the kids while I grabbed the suitcases and car seats. Since we were back in the Midwest for this trip, it was cold! So I put the carseats in first while the kids waited inside, then the luggage went in, and then finally the kids.
And just like that, it was over! 😉
This trip was a non-stop flight which if there was layover, this trip wouldn’t have happened on my own. To summarize everything, here’s how you can fly own your own with two young kids:
- Book flights during or around nap time or bedtime.
- Use a large stroller and a baby carrier and/or a double stroller if you don’t have a baby.
- Use one large big bag for your items and baby items.
- Have entertainment for the flight.
- Bring enough snacks.
- Pre-board if possible.
- Minimize layovers and use non-stop flights if possible.
Have you ever flown with young children on your own? How did you do it?