The first time I traveled alone with two children, I was terrified. My children were 2 years old and 9 days old, and the thought of being trapped on an airplane with them for five hours made me break down in tears. Fortunately, I had enough notice that I would be traveling to be able to come up with a strategy for the flight. I knew how I would get through the airport, how I would board the plane, and what I would do during the flight to keep both children entertained and happy. Traveling alone with two small children is by no means a pleasant experience, but it can be done while keeping your sanity if you follow a few simple steps.
1. Make a plan
The most important part of traveling with children is to have a plan of action. How will you get through the airport with both children? Will you use a stroller? How will you deal with diaper changes? What about a potty accident? If possible, see if a friend or relative can help you through airport security and walk you to the gate. This will ease a lot of your pre-flight stress by allowing you to be able to go to the bathroom by yourself, deal with diaper changes and feeding your infant, as well as just having an extra person to help keep your toddler entertained.
2. Pack snacks
Make sure you have a sufficient amount of snacks for your flight. As someone traveling with children, you will also be allowed to take liquids for your little ones onto the plane. You are allowed to bring juice, water, milk, and formula. Having a snack handy when your child gets hungry will be a lifesaver when you’re mid-flight and it’s not refreshment time yet. All parents know that children eat on their own schedule, so it’s important to be ready. Most grocery stores carry individually packaged snacks, such as goldfish or crackers, which are easy and small to throw into a diaper bag or purse.
3. Be flexible and ready to improvise
Some airplanes do not have changing tables. You will be forced to either change a diaper on top of a dirty airplane toilet seat cover, or change the baby in your lap. If you don’t have a full flight, ask a flight attendant if you can use an extra seat to change your baby’s diaper. Most flight service members are more than happy to help a parent traveling alone and will do everything in their power to assist you.
Also be ready to react if something else doesn’t go according to plan. What if your baby spits up on his last outfit? What if your toddler spills a drink onto the seat – or worse, onto the lap of another passenger? How will you respond to a temper tantrum? Remember that children rarely act the way we want them to, so be patient and ready to react to any situation that you may encounter.
4. Bring toys
While it may seem an obvious idea, the desire to pack lightly may discourage many parents from bringing toys. It’s important to avoid this trap and bring a wide variety of toys for your children. Be sure to bring their favorite toys, as well as a few new ones. The novelty of a new car or doll will be enough to amuse your child for awhile on the plane and will give you a bit of a break while they are playing. Some parents even wrap up the toys with wrapping paper to give children a few extra minutes they can spend unwrapping the toys.