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Travelling with a Little One – The Plane Ride

By Christina Pilarski

I still remember my first plane ride – I was 21.

My parents did not prioritize travel when I was a kid, so when I had kids I knew that I wanted to make it happen.

My boys first plane ride was at 11-months. An almost five-hour trip to Mexico. Plane rides are interesting – I’m one of those people that could be asleep on a plane instantly if I could be so now adding a restless little one to my lap is a challenge.

In my experience the plane ride is about two things – keep the kid 1) happy and 2) busy. And, hope to God that at some point they fall asleep.

At the beginning of my travel experience I used to try to book planes to coordinate around naptime thinking I had beat the system – wrong. My kids are not plane nappers … so this strategy was not a winning one for us. My advice would be to just make whatever time work. Travel means you are going to be making some adjustments anyways so you might as well start on the plane.

So how have I kept my toddlers happy and busy on plane rides? Here are my must haves:

  • 2 Carry-Ons – one for you and one for your partner – pack one with the adult stuff (lap tops, your wallet, travel docs, etc.) and one with the kid stuff. I made the mistake a few times of having some baby stuff in one and some in the other. When you child is screaming at 35,000 feet you won’t remember which bag the diapers are in so having everything related to baby in one makes your life easier.
  • Stickers!!! Especially it they are 1+. Stickers are fun and challenging. You can tell a story about each, have them take time to pick favorites, have them stick them on paper, your face, their face, the flight attendant’s hand ….
  • On our hour plane ride to Abbotsford our boys ate the entire time. It was awesome. They are in a ‘I love yogurt’ stage and only want to eat it with their own spoon. Yes – a bit messy and yes – very time consuming. This makes it an airplane win! Bring food that is easy to clean up and you know they will eat; for us that’s berries, grapes (pre-cut), yogurt, milk, water, baby cookies, cheese, and crackers. Pack this in a grocery bag so all the food is easy to pull in and out of your carry on – they will want to look at it going through security. Ask for like 20 napkins from the flight attendant on the way by. This also leads me to the importance of having a garbage strategy – I use the barf bag in the seat pocket. Open it shove all garbage in their as you get it and keep it under your seat. Garbage can get out of control with a toddler and you have nowhere to keep it.
  • Naptime comforts. Bring everything you need to ensure naptime can be as comfortable as possible. Maybe even a favorite story.
  • A new toy on the plane is like finding buried treasure. A new toy is going to keep their attention for the maximum amount of time.

And my final bit of advice – the amount of people who are understanding out weigh those that aren’t. And, in my experience, lots of people want to help. Don’t be afraid to ask people on the plane for help, stop and chat with those people who make faces at your baby (every way to help time go by helps), and remember that even if your kid is going 100 miles a minute if you are keeping them happy and busy you’re winning.

Happy flying!

Christina Pilarski is a mom of twins. Her boys were born in September 2016 and she knows they will only keep getting louder, quicker, smarter, and funner! She runs her own public relations firm, CIPR Communications, and she is the true definition of #momboss. Born and raised in Calgary and now raising her family there too; she loves the outdoors, politics, her two dogs, and her partner (in life and business – Peter!). Website: , Twitter @crontynen , LinkedIn cpilarski, Instagram twobabiesandabusiness,