Yup, you read that title correctly. I did the unthinkable and willingly flew to Florida with my toddler + 10 month old. Solo. AKA no Daddy present. And, might I add, my goal was a relaxing and restful getaway?
Call me crazy, but I love a good challenge. There’s something about doing what most are hesitant to do that makes me come alive. When the thought first crossed my mind, I immediately swept it away, knowing there was a zero percent chance that I could possibly accomplish a trip like this successfully. But that sneaky little thought came creeping back, promising sunshine and sand, ice cream and naps, and I was left helpless to resist. So, I did what every other mom in 2018 would do: I shipped myself a nice little going-away present from Amazon Prime.
Other than being so nervous that I couldn’t even drink my gatorade, the trip to the airport went great! Since I’m a planner, I like to rehearse everything I do about fifty times before it happens. So, there I was, in the passenger seat, trying to envision how each step of the trip would go.
Tip #1: Check in early.
Before we left our house that afternoon, I downloaded the “United” app on my phone and completed the check-in process. Most airlines (if not all) have an app that allows you to type in your confirmation/flight number in order to do online check in. Easy peasy!! By using the app, I eliminated a step in the airport plus the need to carry paper to the gate since our boarding passes were on my phone. Not to mention, I was able to pay for my luggage ahead of time as well. Win, win!!
Tip #2: Don’t be afraid to put your kid on a leash.
When we got to the airport, Nate helped me arrange the kiddos: baby girl in her stroller and mister two-going-on-ten in his dinosaur leash backpack (yup, I’m one of those moms). We said our goodbyes and went to wait in the security line where buddy proceeded to say hi to each person he saw. The backpack, particularly the leash, was a LIFESAVER. I looped it around my waist before securing it to his bag, keeping him a maximum of 18 inches from my side at all times and leaving me hands free. Talk about peace of mind for this mama!!
Tip #3: Don’t lose your ever-loving mind through security.
There’s nothing quite as infuriating as having a bag perfectly packed and being forced to remove everything, knowing it will never go back in the same way it came out. When we got to the security tables, I emptied my bag of our snacks, water, electronics, lavender oil, and infant tylenol into the various bins. I then proceeded to remove little man’s backpack and break down my carseat/stroller combo while simultaneously trying to keep him from running willy nilly through the throng of people who were backed up behind us. I had moved baby girl to my Ergobaby carrier right before it was our turn in the line, as babies cannot go through the metal detectors in strollers. Luckily, we made it through without incident and waited while our food was slowly inspected, piece by piece.
Tip #4: Everybody pee.
After I haphazardly repacked our bags, I rushed us through the terminal to find our gate. A quick glance of my phone showed that we only had minutes until boarding, but I decided a potty break was priority. Mamas, this step is important!! Everybody knows that kids have small bladders, and it can often take an hour from boarding until the seatbelt sign is turned off and you’re permitted to use the aircraft facilities.
Tip #5: Board early.
When we finally made it to our gate, the boarding process had already begun. A quick look at our tickets showed that we were to board in Zone 5, meaning we would be last on the flight. After waiting for several minutes, I decided to ask the gate agents if we could board ahead of our zone in order to get the kids settled. They were kind enough to usher us on without hesitation.
(Sidenote: They typically offer early boarding for families, but we were late to the party, so I missed this boarding call on our first flight. If this happens to you, don’t be afraid to get up there and ask to cut in the line! Most passengers know it’s difficult to fly with kids and are more than willing to let you board first.)
Tip #6: Take advantage of the stewardess.
As I was breaking down the stroller and car seat at the gate, my sweet man started having doubts about flying. He was begging for me to hold him, but I simply had no room as I was wearing baby girl. Luckily, the stewardess met me right inside the plane and offered to hold him for me as we found our seats. After lots of fruit snacks and an interlude of the Little Einstein theme song, he warmed up to the idea of flying.
During that first flight, I had to use the tiny potty on two separate occasions. I called the stewardess to come watch the kids, which she was more than happy to do. I took little man with me on the second trip to the back, and he proceeded to wake every sleeping person that he saw by touching their arms, leaning in, and saying, “Hi!!”
Tip #7: Bring. all. the. things.
You guys. The best thing I did for these flights was bringing lots of things to entertain the kids. It’s hard enough for me to sit in the same spot for three hours, let alone my energetic two-year-old. By far, the favorite was the iPad, as Nate had loaded a bunch of movies onto it. I also packed several books I didn’t care about, construction paper, stickers, and loooots of snacks (those tiny bags of pretzels just don’t cut it). We read books and ate pretzels during take-off and landing (chewing also helps with ear pain = two birds with one stone) and then watched movies during the flight once electronics were allowed. I left my mom-guilt in Ohio and fully embraced TV as entertainment for my toddler during those 2 hours and 46 minutes.
All in all, flying wasn’t hard. I’ve come to realize that most people are quick to point out the difficult things in life every chance they get. While it would be easy for me to list all the hard things about flying solo with two kids, I’d like to go against the grain and say, you got this, mama!! If you’ve been considering a trip with your kiddos or you’ve completely ignored the idea because you thought it too hard, I beg you to reconsider!! The first time is always the hardest, but once you’ve got one flight under your belt, you’ll be ready to conquer anything!!
Below are some of my favorite items that I used for the trip and links on where to find them (*eh hem* Amazon).
Dinosaur backpack + leash: Keep those toddlers close!!
Ergobaby Carrier: Perfect for carrying your little ones through security and onto the plane.
Stroller: Most airlines allow you to check strollers and carseats at the gate, free of charge. My favorite is this stroller frame that matches our carseat. It’s lightweight and can easily be (un)folded with one hand. (Read here for more of my baby favorites!)
Headphones: Perfect for toddlers.
Now that you’ve read my story, I hope you’ll brave the unknown and go for it!! And if you’ve already flown with kids, what are some of your favorite tips/tools? I’d love to hear about your experience!!
P.S. If you’re not on my email list, sign up below to get more tips on flying with kids to your inbox in the May newsletter!!
*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I may be compensated via the affiliate links in this post. All products mentioned are ones that I’ve used, and come with my personal recommendation. I am an independent blogger and all opinions expressed here are my own.