Thursday, March 1, 2012

Flying Solo With A Toddler

Summer is fast approaching and you probably are making travel plans already. Our summer is usually just spent in my hometown in Antique and this year is not going to be any different. I love coming home to my parents because I get a break from meal planning and budgeting and other household duties. Summer is the time I get to be just a child (while tending to my own child I hope you get what I mean). 

Maia and I have flown a countless times together. But we were always with company - with either her dad, my mom or our yaya. Flying with a toddler was never easy so I always made sure I was armed with help each time we flew.

On a flight back to Manila from our short but truly enjoyable Davao vacation last Aug 2011 however, I was left to fly solo with our hyperactive toddler. The good thing about it though was that I knew we were going on that adventure months ahead so I had ample time to prepare for it.

What did I do in preparation for this?

1. I made sure I had enough entertainment to last the approximately 2 hour waiting period at the airport. I bought pocket puzzles, a notebook, pens, a pocket coloring book and toys. If all else fails, I also downloaded free interactive puzzles and iStorybooks in my phone. I also packed Maia's favorite stuff toy Georgie to keep her company.

I bought this toy story pocket puzzles in Toy Kingdom for less than P50/6 pcs
2. Have her wear comfortable clothes. A toddler becomes really fuzzy when she's too hot or too cold and I didn't want to be dealing with that issue the last minute.

3. If your toddler is already potty-trained, make sure she goes to the potty before you board the plane. Or better yet, don't let her drink too much liquid a few hours before so you won't have to deal with emergency potty issues.

4. Make sure you pack light. In our case, Tibs and I have already decided I will only bring small tote bag with me. Just big enough for Maia's snacks, our travel docs, my entertainment pack (see #1) and a set of clothes for Maia and me (just a shirt for me). My medium longchamp bag was just enough to fit everything in and it was sturdy enough also for me to lug around so I wouldn't have to worry about straps snapping from all the weight I'm carrying. And I also don't have to wait in line for my luggage so that's another huge break for me. 

5. If you can, bring along a sling to put your toddler in in case she doses off last minute. Maia was already around 14kilos at that time and that's already too heavy for me. Good thing she was awake the entire time so my small arms were given a huge break. You can bring an umbrella stroller but to me that's already bulky and I don't think I can handle carrying that and running after a very hyperactive toddler around the airport premises.
our ever-reliable Next9 sling. too bad Maia's too heavy for my back now but this sling served us for a good 2.5 years. Amazing, right?
6. For messy mommas like me, zip lock bags are a big help. What I usually do so I have easy access to snacks, clothes, clean up stuff (i.e. wet tissue/alcohol/handsoap) and entertainment pack is put them separately in big zip lock bags and arrange them flat in my bag. 

7. Lastly, make sure your tot is tagged. I keep two ID tags on hand each time we travel. One on our luggage and one in my hand carry bag just to be sure I have one on hand each time. I attach it to the little girl's belt or belt loop so it won't be a bother to her. I make sure it has the little girl's name on it and me and her dad's contact numbers.
Maia's trusty ID tag. 
The flight from Davao to Manila is only about an hour and 15 mins long so these tips are really just for those kinds of flights. That's the longest we've been on so far. I'm sure long haul flights are a whole lot different and I couldn't imagine being alone with a toddler on one. But you know moms, we always manage to pull it off so I'm sure if that time comes I will be able to figure something out. 

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