Traveling with a Toddler

Who has ever traveled with a toddler with zero cries? Nobody, that’s who!

Back in 2016, we flew with baby CJ and it was the first time we had ever traveled with an infant. At the time he was about 9 months old. He did great for a baby on the way to our destination, however, the flight back was another story.

From our first time flying with baby CJ, we learned that layovers are a must! Seems like magic flight time number is 3 hours or less at a time. Also, have plenty of things to distract the baby and plenty of food to pop their ears.

This time around, baby CJ is just a month shy away from being 2! There is a major difference between flying with an infant and flying with a toddler. For starters, infants sleep more and more easily. Toddlers, not so much. Now that he’s 100% mobile, he believes he can be like a grown up. He sees people walking down the aisle and he wants to do the same. He does not like being strapped in for long periods of time, or any period of time if the vehicle is not moving. Which coincidentally, it’s very hard to feel when a plane is moving, which means, he thinks we’re just sitting in a parking state.


Packing for this trip was easier than last time as well. We were only going to be there for 7 days and we did not need to bring the stroller or a breast pump, so that was two fewer things to worry about. We also did not need to pack heavy coats as we were destined for Arizona and we all know how nice their winters are, always in the 70s!

We decided to pack one big check-in bag. Husband packed his backpack with the electronics and I turned my camera bag into a diaper bag! I had plenty of padding for my camera and plenty of room for baby CJ’s in-flight snacks and enough diapers for 2 days. We also loaded his toddler backpack with a few toys and a tablet to keep him entertained. We opted out of bringing a horde of diapers to keep our bag under the weight limit and decided that we could just purchase a small pack of diapers once we arrived.

Here’s a complete packing list for baby CJ:

We arrived at the airport about 2 hours before our departure. As when we traveled with breast milk, I anticipated security checking baby CJ’s snacks which were relatively quick as it wasn’t as busy as we thought it’d be and I had strategically packed it in the diaper bag so that it would be just as easy to put away as it was to take out. Not having any carry-ons to wheel around or a stroller to push around, it really made everything so much easier to handle! Our flight to our layover was only about 20 mins long, so baby CJ didn’t get a lot of time to fuss. The layover was supposed to be 55 mins long, but we arrived late on top of being all the way in the back of the plane. We only had enough time to walk across the airport to make it to our connecting flight, which was fine because it didn’t give baby CJ any free time to get bored and fussy. Once we were in the air, about 45 minutes into the flight, baby CJ gave in and took a nap. A nap that lasted about 3 ½ hours! Our flight was about 5 hours long, so he woke up as we started descending. We don’t know if it’s related or not, but we gave baby CJ some sugars (fruit and a piece of glazed donut) before we even left home and we are assuming that the nap was from the sugar crash. Either way, it worked out!

On the way back home, our flight departure time was in the morning so we had to pre-pack the night before. After dropping off the rental car, we arrived at the airport about an hour and a half before our departure time. We checked in the bag and made our way to security. It was again, easy without carry-ons, but the lines were long so that gave baby CJ some complaining time because we wouldn’t let him run off. We got to our gate with 40 mins to spare before boarding time, so baby CJ got to run around for a bit. Although our airplane was there and we boarded on time, our flight did not take off until an hour and a half later. Baby CJ was not amused. About 15 minutes after we took off, he fell asleep. He slept for a couple hours and we gave him some snacks after to keep him occupied. When we arrived at our connecting airport, we found out our flight was delayed 3 hours due to snow and of course we were parked on the tarmac for about 30 minutes, so baby CJ got antsy and irritated. Once we unboarded the plane, we had time before boarding, so we got dinner. 10 minutes before boarding we were notified our flight was canceled. At this time, most flights had been canceled so nearby hotels were sold out. The next flight that would be able to accommodate the 3 of us wasn’t going to be available until 2 days later. Needless to say, it was already kind of late so baby CJ was not having it. He was tired and cranky. We ended up hitching a ride with a guy heading to our destination whose company got him a rental car. Baby CJ fell asleep right away once strapped in his car seat. We got home in 2 hours and within 20 mins of getting home, baby CJ was out again! We had never gone through such an ordeal and we felt so bad for baby CJ. Our 9 hour travel day (counting wait times), turned into a 15 hour day (counting driving).

Our flight back goes to show you that anything could happen and sometimes it’s just out of your control. So be prepared! Baby CJ’s essentials were in the diaper bag, so we didn’t worry about our checked in bag, which we left at the airport after being told it would take around 5 hours to get it.

Overall traveling with a toddler isn’t too bad if you have enough snacks and some distractions, such as a kid-friendly tablet. Baby CJ did very well compared to what we have experienced in the past with other passengers children and we were even complimented a few times!

Have you traveled with a toddler before? How was your experience?

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KarlaWife and mother to a toddler boy and 2 kitties! Enjoys life and adventures. Loves writing, Pinteresting, and pumpkin spice everything!
2 replies
  1. Daisha
    Daisha says:

    I have never traveled anywhere by plane. Our kids are older now, but I can only imagine trying to travel with them when they were smaller. Hopefully one day we can travel together as a family and make memories that last a life times.

    • Karla
      Karla says:

      Yay! Hope you do travel, it is lots of fun and it’s always great seeing new places. It’s never the same experience, all we can really do is try to prepare! 🙂


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