7 Tips for traveling with a toddler

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Every summer we travel across the country, from Yellowknife, NWT to Charlottetown, PEI (a grand total of 6,200km and 16 hours of travel that includes a three hour time change) with a toddler that doesn’t sit still in life, and this year a baby. It’s always a crazy adventure, but we always manage to survive.

So, how do we survive 16 hours of travel that started at 4am? Well, here’s a few tips that helped us get through what I thought was going to be an ‘effing nightmare.

  1. Upgrade your seats. If you’re Canadian your toddler can travel for free up until 2 years old, so book with WestJet and then upgrade to “PLUS” seating, and make sure you book the front row. The only reason I say to book with WestJet vs Air Canada is that the amount of leg room available with PLUS, and the guarantee of no one else sitting with you, is well worth the extra $60. What having PLUS allowed us to do was put Z down on the floor, and me to put my leg up to prevent his escape, and then he had a nice sized play pen to occupy himself in. Air Canada does not provide this same option if you upgrade to First Class, and the cost is significantly more. (And no, I’m not working for WestJet or getting paid by them for this. I’m just trying to help you out with this advice). If you’re not Canadian, hopefully you can book with an airline that allows more leg room at the front of the plane and removes the option of a 3rd person sitting with you.
  2. Bring lots of snacks. This one may seem easy, but make sure you bring more food than you think you need. A full baby is a happy baby. And a fully dad is a happy dad.
  3. Load up an iPad with Paw Patrol (or their other favourite shows). Like, a lot of it! Even if you’re one of those parents that doesn’t allow their kids to have screen time, like we were, you’re going to want to temporarily become one. Z didn’t actually watch a tone of it on our travels, but it definitely helped when he was so exhausted that he didn’t know what to do anymore, and it actually put him to sleep on our longest flight. Thank god! Paw Patrol is kiddie crack, so use it with caution, haha.
  4. Buy a light, cheap, small stroller and gate check it. This tip I give my wife 100% credit for. I wasn’t going to do this one because I thought it would be annoying to carry around, and thought I could just walk with Z or pick him up when necessary. But my wife, being the intelligent woman that she is, explained to me that she is almost seven months pregnant and that she wasn’t going to be able to help me much in the rangling of the child department and she was correct. The stroller also gave us another option to burn off some of his energy.
  5. When you have a layover, run him. We were in the air for 10 hours, and I still did over 13,000 steps that day. We had 2 three hour layovers and when we were on the ground, I literally just chased the kid around. We played chase and tag and went for walks. I did as much as I could to tire him out, so he’d sleep on the plane.,
  6. Buy some small, new toys for him to open on the plane. This created excitement and distraction for a few hours when we gave them to him. Three small toys, still in the wrapper, one given to him on each flight for him to open. I think the total cost of the toys was $9 and he loved them and was happy.
  7. Don’t stress. I won’t lie, i was VERY stressed the week leading up to this. But now that I’ve gone through it, It wasn’t that bad at all, and my stress made it worse to begin with. After we got on the first plane and things were good, my stress went away and I realized that I was worked up for no reason at all. Enjoy your trip and your time, wherever you’re going.

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