It has been almost a year since we took our last plane trip and although it was from Orange County, CA to Chicago, IL to London, UK, Monkey was not walking/talking/throwing tantrums/etc… This flight was going to be different and different it was.
I asked other moms who had flown with a similar aged child for suggestions and heard the same things – different snacks, new toys, videos, apps, etc.
I was booking the flight and all the bells and whistles so I decided to go with a direct flight which was not easy (apparently IL to ID is not a popular flight). I chose this option because I thought this would lower the chances of meltdowns (and loss of toys!) although it was the more expensive option. Remember under two flys free with lap-sit… positives – free! Negatives – no room! With the car, we decided to bring our own car seat, this did mean we had to check the car seat but it was free. Generally for short trips we only do carry on, but this was an exception. We did not have a crib or pack-n-play because I picked a room with a King bed so we could all sleep together… that was interesting. I have never heard “Mummy?! Mummy?! Mummy?! Nite, Nite!” so many times at 1AM, but I am getting SO side tracked.
The flight was scheduled to take off at 5PM – scheduled – it really took off at 9:30PM – Thanks Chicago weather. A 4 hour delay is a long time for anyone, when that anyone is 22 months old and it is way past her bedtime it is stellar!
We packed sandwiches for dinner that we knew she was love – PB&J – and had a little backpack filled with toys new and old. She did well for the first hour or so, but then she was over being in the airport and so were we. In O’Hare’s Terminal 2 there is a children’s play area, what a wonderful idea! We let her run around while we watched and hoped the weather would clear. O’Hare has a number of child-friendly activities – check them out here.
We returned to the gate only to find out that things had gotten worse and it was now dinner time. So we ate and waited and waited…. then changed her into her PJs and waited… she began to meltdown around 8PM (bedtime is around 7:30PM) so I started to walk her in the stroller around and around the terminal (that stroller was a savior multiple times on the trip). She did not sleep, but got in my 10K steps… Alas, she was Mummy fixated (likely due to the unknown surroundings) so Daddy was not a good Mummy substitute.
Overall having the following things at our fingertips helped keep our sanity and mostly stopped Hubby and I from yelling at each other:
Our Toddler Must Haves
A special bag – we used a backpack, but it could be anything that is theirs and they know is theirs. Monkey was very attached to her bag and wanted to take it everywhere. Very cute to see a Toddler dragging a toy bag around the airport.
Various toys – we raided The One Spot at Target and got a little car, couple of flip books, coloring books, and stickers – we also brought some Little People and Thomas toys from home. We made sure to split up the toys so there would be some for the trip out and some for the trip back. The toys assigned to that leg of the trip went into the special little bag, the rest when into our bags hidden away.
Snacks – snack pouches (yogurt/fruit/etc), granola bars, Goldfish, Animal Crackers, etc. Some new and some old favs. The TSA does allow you to bring liquids for children so the snack pouches are perfectly fine! I had 4 of yogurt and 4 apple sauce in a zip top bag. We use a Munchkin Deluxe Snack Catcher because you can seal the top up, a plus when it’s hanging out in a diaper bag. Make sure you have a sippy of some description! We forgot one and had to find a BRU when we arrived at our destination.
Diaper Bag – I love love love my Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy Backpacks because I can use them as a shoulder bag or a backpack – which in an airport is just wonderful! Plus the built in changing pad means I can change her anywhere I need to, including the tray tables of a plane (not the best situation, but it happened). In said diaper bag make sure to have easy access to extra clothing, diapers, wipes (also for cleaning PB&J), snacks (for everyone!), and your wallet – because who has a diaper bag and a purse (and who needs one when you have PPB – shop the Outlet!).
Movies/Apps…? – Okay, so I am anti-here-is-technology-hush-up-kid, BUT, when traveling and there is a chance of a delay a Tablet with Thomas pre-loaded is AMAZING! We did download some apps, but the only one she really liked was a Sprout app with Nina and Star. Also, not having internet access made many of them useless. Drawback? Monkey now knows my Tablet has Thomas… She also loved the Saber-toothed Squirrel from Ice Age – over and over again.
Diapers – I did use disposable. We had a few left from our trip to NC at Christmas and I still haven’t found my disposable inserts for my Flips. They are in the crawl space somewhere… along with my bigger Boxy Backpack…
We arrived at out hotel at 1AM (2AM IL time) and then the “Mummy?! Mummy?!” and then kisses and kicks began… love her, but I was so happy when we got home and she went back to her bed!