Advice on Traveling Alone with 2 Young Kids

Updated on April 06, 2007
C. asks from Littleton, CO
10 answers

I am going to be taking a trip in May with my 2 girls ages 3 and 9 mos. I will be flying alone with them and have family to meet me at my destination. Any helpful words of advice to help me keep my sanity. Do I pack an extra bag with toys, games, activities and snacks? Do I skip nap that day in hopes they sleep on the airplane? Do I have my 3 year old walk through the airport? My older daughter is potty trained (except at nap and bedtime), Do I ahve her wear a pull up on the airplane? What do I do with my younger one if I have to take the older one to the bathroom? Is it best to fly at night or day. Any advice from experienced traveling moms is greatful!
Thanks in advance!

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answers from Fort Collins on

Wow! I have done this, and it is not easy. I would definately not forgo nap time. If they are tired, they may be cranky instead of sleep since there will be so much going on. If you have a sling or back carrier for the 9 month old, use it! And for the 3 year old, just make sure she has books, games and maybe music and headphones? Make sure you take some advil since the baby may have trouble with her ears. In fact, I would give it to her pre-boarding just to head that off at the pass. If you have a portable DVD player by chance, that would be a lifesaver for sure! Good luck and just ignore all of the glares you get if they are noisy. Some people think children don't have the right to be on a plane, like you are just supposed to FedEx them or something. I hope all goes well for you.



answers from Provo on

HI C.-

I have flown MANY times alone with my kids. First of all, I always expected the worst and the kids were always so good so try not to worry too much. If your 3 year old watches movies, take along a portable DVD player. Also, I always went to the dollar store and picked up 3 or 4 new toys for my older one. I would probably put a pull-up on just so you don't have to worry, but I had a flight attendant come back to the bathrooms with us once and hold my baby while I went in with my older one. I never pre-boarded - that was just more time that we had to sit there. I always had my baby eating or sucking on a binki for take-off and landing and my older eating a fruit snack or something, just as long as they are swallowing. (I've had my ears bother me on a flight once and it was horrible) Also, even if you travel during naptime doesn't mean your child will for sure have a nap - sometimes that would back fire and there would be NO napping on the plane. I would stay away from flying at night, you don't want over-tired kids. If you have a double stroller, I would totally take it. Just drop it off right at the gate when you are boarding and it's there waiting for you when you get off. If there are empty seats on the flight and you are sitting next to someone, don't be afraid to ask them to move to give you more room - chances are they will be wanting to anyway! GOOD LUCK! I hope this helps.




answers from Denver on

I travel quite a bit with my boys (now 7 and 10). My best advise was to make sure that you have something they can chew or suck on when the pressure changes. Young ones like those can't explain why it hurts, just be prepared or the whole flight could be miserable. I always carried a backpack just for all their stuff, snack, toys. I would only imagine these days if your 9mos still takes the bottle you would have to purchase water. If you use powdered formula, portion it out ahead of time and put it in a little container. Try to keep thier routine the same as it is. I used to bring a deck of cards and in the airport or on the plane be able to play Go Fish, memory, blackjack (for lack of better terms). Audio books or CDs would be good for your 3 yr old. Another "trick" I used to tell them was everytime they hear the "beep" on the plane, that meant somebody undid their seatbelt and the Captain knows!
Good luck!



answers from Denver on

Hi C.!
I took my first trip with my two girls alone when one was 3 and the other was 3 weeks! It was an adventure, but you can do it! My suggestions are to borrow a Kelty Kids backpack for your 9 month old, and have a stroller for the 3 year old. That way you are always in control of where everyone is. Secondly, I wouldn't skip any naps because you might end up with a melt down instead of a napper. I would talk to the three year old way ahead of time about riding on the airplane and how much fun it's going to be. Talk about "airplane rules". (We have to stay in our seat, we have to be quiet, etc.) If you have the opportunity, I would bring a DVD player for your three year old, and also some activities. I think it's fun to bring things that they don't usually get to do. They have those paint with water books, and I just filled up a little baby food jar with water, and that occupied her for a long time. I have even brought one color of playdough before. Have her be in charge of "clean up" after each activity with her wet wipes in her bag. I would let your 3 year old wear a pull up if she's not super opposed to the idea. Better safe than sorry. With the Kelty Kids backpack, you can set it on the ground, and it will sit up with your 9 month old in it, while you are helping your 3 year old with the potty. For the 9 month old, I would bring a small amount of a huge variety of snacks. So when she is bored with one, you have something new to move onto. Bring some different options for drinks. One day of having juice isn't going to be too bad. Remember that you can check in your stroller at the GATE. Ask the ticket agent for a stroller check in. All you do is stroll down the ramp, and leave the stroller all folded up right next to the door, and turn and go on the airplane. I would put the backpack in an overhead compartment so you can put the baby on your back right away when you land. When you come off the plane, your stroller will be sitting there- load up your 3 year old, and you are on your way! Easy peasy! :) Well, maybe not, but I bet those relatives are worth the effort!
Have a great trip!



answers from Las Vegas on

It is best if you take them both in a stroller some airports are really big. Don't skip out on their naps because you don't want to count on them sleeping.( the little might fall a sleep). If you need to get up and use the bathroom you can either ask for assistance from the flight attendant or something that I have done in the past is ask another mother who was sitting close to hold my daughter. Every mother who has flown knows what its like. Bring toys and snacks. I always try no to bring loud sing-y toys so that they don't annoy others. If your 3 year can chew gum give her some during takeoff and landing and for your little one a binki or a bottle will work. Good luck and have fun, but don't be afraid to ask the staff for help.



answers from Denver on

My daughter is only 20 months old, but she has been on 20 different planes, so I know how it is with the little ones! Definitely pack extra toys and snacks! Even for little ones, rather be safe than sorry! My daughter use to sleep on all planes, but stays awake a little longer as she gets older! It isn't a bad idea to skip naps, but I wouldn't suggest it, just in case they get too excited about the plane and don't sleep, it could make it harder on yourself! I wouldn't have your 3 year old walk, just cause it gets so crazy! I would have her where a pull up, in case she does sleep, you don't have to worry about accidents if she does fall asleep! The flight attendants are usually willing to help when there are little ones on the plane! If you are okay with it, you can ask them to watch your younger one while you take your older one to the bathroom! I would say fly in the day, unless your girls are really good sleepers! I have found that, even with a young one, the excitement of seeing family and getting loved on is just too much, and keeps them up and gets them out of their schedule!

Good luck!



answers from Grand Junction on

When I flew by myself with my 2 kids were younger, I made sure I had snacks and toys. I put them in a bag that my oldest could carry. As far as in the airport the stroller that my oldest could push so I could handle the luggage was a life saver. We had a layover and if I did not have the stroller I don't know what I would have done. Make sure your 3 year old goes to the bathroom before getting on the plane. I would put her in pullups just because you never know and airplane bathrooms can be a little scary for little ones. Also that would save you the problem of what to do with the younger one. If your youngest is sitting on your lap before getting settleded into your seat be sure to make sure they have put you in the right seat with the 2 airmasks. I sat down got my kids situated, they made a mess with their snack and then they made me switch with another passenger. I felt so bad that person had to sit with a bunch of cheerios and other crumbs. Not to mention I had to resettle my kids. I'm sorry if I repeated anything. I didn't read all the responses before writing mine. Don't worry it will be stressful but you can do it. Just think of the relaxation you will get when you get there. And don't be afraid to ask airport personel for help.



answers from Denver on

I took my daughter on a plane for the first time when she was three. She had her own small wheely carry on that she pulled throught the entire airport. She had coloring books and crayons and small quiet toys. I also brought a portable DVD player with headphones, our plane had a place to plug it in under the seat. I also gave her a half a dose of dramamine, not that she gets motion sickness but to help keep her mellow. I would also reccomend a non-stop flight. Ours had a layover and a plane switch which I would not wish on anybody.
Have Fun!!



answers from Denver on

I had to travel with my then almost 2 year old and 2 1/2 month old. It was an aweful trip! The first flight wasn't so bad. We left mid-day. My 2 year old slept a little on the plane. We traveled on a slow day so there were extra seats to change the kids on. The flights home were the worst. They were overbooked and late at night. My 2 year old was so tired, she just screamed and cried until the plane took off (which was a while). The trip was unexpected so there were many things out of my control. I don't think I'll travel like that again for a long time, but if I had to, these are some things I would do:

1. Take a flight that departs as close to nap time as possible. Too early and they won't sleep, too late and they will be over tired.
2. Take toys and snack. The airlines don't give you anything for free anymore. Take cash in case you want to buy snacks, blankets, pillows, etc.
3. Use a double stroller in the sirport if your older one will stay in it. It keeps everyone contained, you have someplace to put your stuff so you don't have to carry it, and you can walk faster to get to a place where you can all relax. If you don't take a stroller, I would use one of those leashes. One less thing to have to worry about.
4. Don't bother weighing down your carry-on with too much for you. You won't have time to read a magazine or touch up your make-up. It's just more to carry.
5. They say to stay hydrated, But you won't be able to go on the airplane. Drink only what you can get out before you board and then rehydrate when you get where you're going.
6. Ask for help when you need it. Most people are more than happy to help. People will probably be asking to help you anyways.
7. Bring a change of clothes for each of the kids and a shirt for you too if you have room. Kids make messes.
8. A blanket can be the most versitile item. It can be a play spot, something to warm a sleeping child, a peek-a-boo game, rag to clean up a mess, cover for a mess you can't clean, pillow, comfort object, instant calm for a baby (I put mine over my baby's head to block out light, noise and plain caos). Bring a good one!
9. Get there early. It's one less thing to worry about. Plus, it will give your children time to play a little before they get stuck on the plane.
10. Change/potty everyone right before you board.
11. Board the plane towards the end. There will be nice people to help you and your kids won't be stuck in their seats for an extra 20 minutes.

That's all I can think of. Hope it is helpful. Good luck!! I'd love to hear about how it goes and anything else you come up with to help.




answers from Austin on

We used to be stationed in Italy and I had to fly with my daughter at different ages. I also saw other military moms fly with their kids too. I would bring those COLOR WONDER books for your 3 year old. Some soft toys, nothing hard or noisy. I don't know how you feel about junk food but CHEETOS were a lifesaver for me. I would recommend skipping the nap only if the flight is close to their nap time, otherwise you risk them being too tired and cranky and not willing to sleep at all. When I traveled with my daughter I put one of those harness things on. I guess some people call is a leash, but with the bustle it felt safer for me and then she could walk around and I didn't have to worry that she would run out of sight. I would have pull-ups on stand by but she might be excited to use the airplane potty, just be careful because my daughter fell off the toilet in horror with the sound of the flush. When we flew to Tucson last year I asked the flight attendent to hold my 4 month old while I took her sister to the bathroom. When I came back 3 of them were there cooing and wanting to hold her. Night flights might be easier but I know people are crankier on night flights and not very nice at all. People were much more kinder and receptive to our children during day flights. I guess it all depends on the length of the flight. Hope this helps, I do tend to ramble on.

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