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7 Sparkling Tips to Travel with a Toddler | Pinay.com

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Ana Viajera

It’s bad enough that you have to endure a long-haul flight with a crick in your neck, seated next to an overweight smelly passenger. Factor in a screaming toddler in the other seat next to you and you have yourself a 14-hour long nightmare. Oh, and the toddler belongs to you.

Because I am a Filipina living abroad, flying back to the Philippines—without the hubby who has to work—is a reality that I deal with often. And I’ve managed to lug luggage and little one across the world a few times with no battle scars to contend with save for jet lag. Here’s how I did it without having to take out a bottle of Benadryl.

Tip 1: Prepare now

Not days before. Not even weeks before. I mean NOW before you’re even planning the trip, because a well-mannered child is a great travel companion. My son is by no means perfect. We’ve had our moments. But I’ve never had to deal with a tantrum. I’ve either been lucky or maybe the following parenting technique works:

I never give him an audience. If he cries for no reason and I’m sure he’s not hurting or needing something, I let him cry it out. I explain why his behavior is unacceptable, and if he still doesn’t let up, I leave him alone for a bit.

I believe that trying to appease will only teach him that if he cries long enough, he’ll get what he wants. If you don’t believe in the “crying it out” technique, then try a little distraction (“I’m sorry we can’t go to the store now, but we can start packing instead, because we’re getting on an airplane! Should we bring Teddy?”). Be quick with the distraction before the waterworks start. Sometimes a change of scenery will help. Take him outside. The key is consistency. “No” means no, not yes after the 10th “no”. If you buckle, he’ll eventually figure out that persistence pays.

Tip 2: Use your golden ticket

Your child is your golden ticket. In most cases, they give special treatment when you have a tyke in tow. Most airlines have kiddie meals and little toys for younger passengers. If the flight is not full, you may be bumped up to preferred seats which can give you and your restless travel companion more room. Other airlines also offer assistance at boarding especially when you have a lot to carry. You can also request for priority boarding so you don’t have to wait in line and get off earlier if you wish.

Tip 3: Have a good seating plan

When my husband once traveled with us, he had this idea of leaving one seat between the three of us. His rationale? Rarely does one want to sit in the middle. Besides who can refuse a request from a mother and child to scoot over to the next seat? The plan worked, because nobody dared to take the middle seat, giving our boy an extra seat to stretch in.

Like I said, you may have the option to take preferred seats for free, but I choose not to because they usually have arm rests that can’t be raised, so my toddler can’t lay on my lap and stretch over to his seat for a more comfortable sleep. I also prefer aisle seats so we can easily get in and out without having to jump over a sleeping passenger.

Tip 4: Pack an arsenal

Bring toys, crafts, apps, and movies he has never seen or played with before to keep it interesting. And don’t bring everything out at once. In fact, while he’s still happy hanging out, leave him alone. Take your arsenal out one at a time and hold off for as long as you can especially if it’s a long flight.

Tip 5: Give him a workout

Most airports have playgrounds where he can get the sillies out while you sit back and relax or do some stretches yourself. Walk around as much as you can, so when you’re in the plane, he’ll be tired enough to just chill.

Tip 6: Bring a stroller

When you’re running from one gate to the other to make your flight, you don’t want to be slowed down by a sniveling tot. Snap him in an umbrella stroller and run! When you grow tired, a stroller is also mighty convenient to hang your heavy bags on and give your shoulders a rest.

Tip 7: Discuss the itinerary

Explain everything to him days before. Kids are smarter than you think. Make him understand that the trip is going to be long, but it will be an adventure. Remind him that a seatbelt needs to be fastened to keep him safe. Explain why you cannot be late for your flight, so he needs to get on his stroller quickly. I find that when a child is mentally and emotionally prepared, he is more able to cope.

Read more practical ideas on travel, health, beauty and relationship building in our Sparkling Tips series. All images are courtesy of the author.

Ana Viajera

Ana Maria Lykes left her job as an editor-in-chief for AsianTraveler magazine and as a travel columnist for a local paper in the U.S. to answer to an even bigger boss: a demanding three-year-old. She continues to contribute for a few publications here and abroad while pixel stitching and light chasing. She has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, a master’s in Creative Writing, and a doctorate in potty training.

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