Traveling halfway around the world with a toddler

It’s been a week since we landed in the States, and I can say that we’ve recovered from jet lag. No more mommy daycare at 3 am and no more serving meals at 5 am. :p In late June, my family went back to Indonesia. Many people asked how our flight was considering that it was Alia’s first long-haul flight – we’re talking about a 20-something hour flight! So I thought that I’d share some tips on how to survive (and enjoy) a plane ride with a toddler. img-20160912-wa0000

<– Alia and I before we left Jakarta 😀

The three of us flew together to Jakarta, but it was a mother-daughter trip back to the States because Alia’s dad came back early. Being the only adult taking care of a young child is very different than having a partner to help you. But whether you fly with your entire family or just with your baby/toddler, packing lightly and efficiently is key! Okay, I know… Most of us feel that we need to bring the entire house with us heheheh, but I learned that to survive a long-haul flight and all the walking at the airport, you have to pack efficiently. 

What to pack when you travel with a toddler? 

  1. A car seat or an airplane safety harness (we use this). I don’t think the seat belt on the plane is secure enough for a petite toddler like Alia. 
  2. Your child’s favorite snacks and drinks: TSA allows you to bring breast milk, formula, and juice on board (https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures/traveling-children). We also bring bread that Alia likes in case she refuses to eat the plane food.
  3. A change of clothes, toiletries, diapers (or portable potty if your child is toilet trained), a ton of wipes and tissue to clean the entire plane :p 
  4. And then… stuff to keep your toddler busy during the flight: 

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This was what I brought on to our flight to Indonesia (click on the images below to see details). Honestly, most of the stuff didn’t even see the inside of the plane :p But I was nervous about our first long-haul flight, so I overpacked.

 

 

Learning from our experience and being the only parent on board, I packed fewer items: snacks and drinks, playdough kit, stickers, markers and papers, animal figurines, Kindle, Alia’s headphone, and her favorite soft toy (Hanna the pink cat). I also packed them in small tote bags and I placed them underneath the seats. This way I didn’t have to open the overhead compartment multiple times to get stuff for us. 

Now what happened during the flights? 

Alia pretty much slept during the first leg of the flight. If your child is under 2, I recommend that you get a bassinet. You’ll be seated at the front row, which gives you plenty of legroom. And it allows you and your child to rest better. Be sure to call ahead if you want the bassinet. I also suggest that you dress your child comfortably (Alia wore pajamas :p). 

Then in between sleeps, she played with stickers, drew, and played with her soft toys and animal figurines. I also let her watched as long as she liked, and she was thrilled hehehe! But hey, it was a special trip, wasn’t it? 

While we were at the airport, I had to carry Alia and our stuff. I didn’t have our stroller once we checked in, so the carrier came in handy. But carrying a toddler isn’t always an option if you have a ton of suitcases to push… Luckily, Hanna the cat saved the day! Alia sat on the floor playing with Hanna while I looked for our suitcases or got some rest. 

It was a long, tiring flight… But interestingly, the flight back to the States didn’t feel that long, and I think it’s because I had a wonderful travel companion! She entertained me on the plane with her songs, stories, and silliness… I look forward to many miles of voyage with you, Alia!!! 

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