Have Tot, Will Travel
Ask any parent who has flown with a toddler and they'll tell you that at 10,000 feet, the friendly skies can turn very cranky, very fast. So how can you survive the trip long enough to make it to your destination and keep your little one from winding up in Whiny City?
Take a page from the travel book of Lacey Stewart. The Hilliard mom of three boys, ages 5, 4 and 2, knows the ins and outs of air travel with little ones, thanks to years of visiting family all over the country.
"Flying with little kids is definitely my preferred mode of travel," Stewart said.
In addition to parents, no one knows the logistics of travel quite like AAA. Along with Stewart, the resident travel experts of AAA Ohio offered their advice for parents with little travelers.
Before the Trip
Pick the right time to travel: For some children, this could be early morning or right after naptime. Stewart prefers late morning because it tends to be less crowded.
Discuss the experience: Before the trip, talk to your child about what will happen in the airport and on the plane to create excitement rather than worry, suggested AAA.
At the Airport
Be prepared: To minimize security-line stress, dress kids in minimal layers, slip-on shoes, and no belts. Also, go through your diaper bag beforehand to get rid of anything that is prohibited, said Stewart.
On the Plane
Get the window: "With a lap child, most people sit by the aisle so they don't have to bother people to get up," Stewart said. But the access to an open aisle may actually encourage fidgetiness, she said, adding: "In a window seat, the child is entertained and you get up less."
Pack smart: A DVD player, books, familiar toys, a new and inexpensive toy, and easily portable snacks such as raisins, cereal or crackers are always in Stewart's travel bag. To keep the carry-on clutter in check, AAA recommended using DiaperBuds, a new line of vacuum-sealed, full-size diapers that easily fit in a pocket or bag. You can order them through their website at diaperbuds.com.
Plan for pressure: Pressure from takeoff and landing can be hard on little ears. Give kids something to suck or chew on, like a pacifier or lollipop, to reduce the pressure, suggested Stewart.
Relax: "Most people understand that kids get fussy or restless," said Stewart. "It's just part of being a kid. Most people either remember how it was or have recently gone through it themselves.
Know the Rules
AAA Ohio offers parents a reminder on the latest U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration
•For most airlines, children over age 2 are required to have their own seat. Children under 2 can travel for free as a lap child. However, as AAA recommends, it's safest for them to have their own seat.
•Breast milk, formula or juice in quantities greater than 3 ounces are permitted as long as they are separated from other liquids and presented for additional inspection.
•All strollers, car seats and carriers being used in the airport must fit through the x-ray machine. An agent can help gate-check these items if needed. Strollers must be gate-checked.