Top tips

10 Lessons learnt from flying with my toddler

So I threw my own “flying with kids rule book” out the window when I booked our most recent flights:

I totally ignored the rule about flying at times that fits with toddler’s routine.

What can I say? Money talks! The morning flight, which meant an insanely early start from home, was so much cheaper!

10 top tips and tricks for airport travel flying with toddler


Lesson 1

Expect the unexpected and give yourself a bit more time for this

Expect the unexpected and give yourself a bit more time for this


We woke at 4 am to catch a 4:40 coach to the airport. The coach was over 40 minutes late and there was fresh snow on the roads.  I was stressing to say the least!  We shivered in the bus stop uncertain whether the coach had actually gone before we got to the stop (National Express state to arrive 10 minutes early in case the coach is early and we only got there just on time stated on our ticket for the coach to arrive). I was glad we’d had breakfast and had energy to stomp our feet to keep warm.  I was also glad the coach to flight connection actually gave us a buffer of about an hour.

Lesson 1: build in lots of spare time, especially with a toddler.  You will go at a slower pace, you will have to stop, negotiate, coax.  Spare time is your big friend!

Lesson 2

When the coach actually arrived, the driver uttering a half-hearted apology, my carry-on went into the hold, the laptop came onboard with me, as did Max’s Trunki.  Getting on with a child, laptop, small handbag and Trunki was a comical sight and one that the driver, who was already running very late, did not appreciate.

Lesson 2: Have as few items to carry as possible

Lesson 3

It was good to finally take our seats and have the coach set off.

Thankfully with the lights dimmed, I could gently talk Max into putting his head on me.  He refused to have my shawl over him (the main reason I had decided to take this with us), instead Max insisted I drape part of my coat over him. I obliged. I was treading on egg shells talking softly, probing and giving in easily. I was not about to unleash the toddler beast.

It worked!

Lesson 3: Be a softy: This is not the time to be a strict parent; Bend and yield to toddler’s will (within reason) to keep the peace.

Except if it’s about annoying other passengers! (like kicking the seat in front…my pet hate)

Lesson 4

Max soon fell asleep, as did I. Only to be woken once in a while by the distinct ratcheting noise of the ABS kicking once in a while.  Some of the roads we traveled were still ALL WHITE, no black tracks in them even.  It was better to sleep and ignore the road conditions, trusting the driver.

We both awoke just as we were pulling into the airport.  I had to wake Max suddenly and he was slight  groggy as we arrived at the airport and alighted the coach.  With my laptop back in the carry-on I only had a water bottle to carry. (It was too much hassle to try to slot into my carry-on).

Arms were needed to carry tired toddler, that or face consequences. 😉

It was only some smilie faces in snow that got Max out of my arms onto his own feet.

Lessons learnt at airport and flyig with a toddler 05  ©Familymadventures

Lesson 4: Encourage toddler to fall asleep, but give toddler ample time to wake, gently. Wake suddenly, then you may face the wrath of Toddler Beast.

Lesson 5

This was Max’s first time travelling with a Trunki.  He borrowed his brother’s Gruffalo trunki and his sister’s saddle bag for it.  At first he just wanted to pull it, just like I was pulling my bag.  It got him lots of coos in the airport.

I’d have preferred that I could pull him along on the Trunki, but again I was not going to argue for fear of unleashing the toddler beast.

We made our way to the check in desk, queued, got to the front of the queue and were told we actually needn’t have queued as we had only hand luggage and had checked-in online. Nice that no one told us 10 minutes earlier.

Lesson 5: Check details of where you need to be when before you travel.

Lesson 6

Saying that, the queue was good for one thing:

I got Max to sit on Trunki.

From then on he was not getting off.

“Yes!!!” I punched the air mentally. This meant accelerated pace for transcending the airport.

He sat on Trunki, I pulled him along.  There were some close moments when we glimpsed the Toddler Beast: A strap not  put properly, me not pulling at the correct angle; small things, mostly controllable. All was disarmed through sweet talk, a  smile, going faster or slower and squealing a “Weeeee!” while pulled him along

Lessons learnt at airport and flyig with a toddler 01  ©Familymadventures

Lesson 6: Trunkis are great!   

Lesson 7

We made it through security- dumping our water from the water bottle right before and refilling it straight after. Max understood he had to stay by my side while I unpacked gadgets and liquids, took coat and shoes off. This was the time he had the biggest chance to create chaos.  Thankfully he didn’t!

Throughout I carried on talking to him about what is happening and why.  I was distracting him from the prospect of coming up with his own little adventure.    (Had he been more fidgety on the morning, I think I’d have sat him in a bag tray while I got everything ready to go through the security check.)

Lesson 7: Distract, engage, distract. If in doubt, confine.

Lesson 8

Once through security, we made our way into a crowded waiting lounge. Pulling a toddler on his Trunki with one hand and relatively big hand luggage with my other was not without its challenge.

Lesson 8: Having 2 pull-alongs is not practical! Next time I need a rucksack to have my hands free.

Lesson 9

I’d forgotten hand cream and desperately needed some, going into Boots with toddler and 2 bags made for some comedy again. I’m sure the security guards sitting behind CCTV screens have a ball when they see people like me weaving my way through a shop, knocking things off, re-stacking shelves & knocking more off, all the while trying to keep toddler from choosing chocolates, condoms and lipbalm.

In the end we came out of it unscathed, but with my nerves slightly shredded.

Lesson 9: Make a list of things you need to take and check it off as you pack.

Take food, a water bottle and lots of snacks. Shopping is no fun with bags and a toddler!

Lesson 10

Our departure gate was announced and we headed there.  I tried hooking on the trunki strap to my trolley bag.  It sort of worked. That is if you consider a train of luggage suitable for a very busy terminal.

The wait at the gate was relatively short.  Max entertained himself by looking at our plane standing outside. Our Wizzair plane was a pretty pink and purple.

It was only during our wait that I realised we hadn’t had a toilet break yet.  I asked Max if he needed to go, but he said he didn’t.  I check if he’d already had an accident and I just hadn’t realised. Well, he sort of had, but his lovely daddy had put a pull up nappy on him. That saved my day!

Lessons learnt at airport and flyig with a toddler 04  ©Familymadventures

Lesson 10: If your toddler has the odd accident once in a while, play it safe and put on a pull-up.  There is so much excitement at an airport, things to see and do they can easily forget about asking to go.  

Have you traveled with your toddler?  What would you add to the list?




Categories: Top tips

2 thoughts on “10 Lessons learnt from flying with my toddler

  • i love this, you have captured the reality and comedy of travelling with a toddler perfectly. I’m going to get my husband to read this as he brings out strict parent when it really isn’t the most effective 🙂

    • Monika

      Strict parent is so wasted at times when you need to move fast. We hardly ever have chocolate, I had chocolate and raisins in my bag and used it liberally to bribe toddler into submission.

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