30 Flying Tips with a Toddler During a Pandemic

Random Observation/Comment #673: I’m okay with not flying for a while

Why this List?

In order to move cross country, we decided to suffer 4-hours and take the airport risk rather than driving over 3 days and take the hotel risk. Here are some tips we used on prep and execution for this flight.

Prep – Things to Buy

  1. We limit screen time, but having a tablet was critical. We bought an Amazon Fire7 tablet for $60. Comes with a nice kid proof case.
  2. These over ear headphones were in case the lift-off got too noisy for her.
  3. Sugar-free Gluten-free clean teeth flying lollipops -It was her first lollipop special for travel
  4. Cover for Car Seat – We had to check our huge car seat – Check online with your airline as car seats should be a lower cost for check-in.
  5. Kids toilet seat with handle – Airplane toilets are so gross. Definitely get a seat with a big handle so she doesn’t touch the actual seat
  6. Clean disposable floor pads – When we entered the airplane, we put these by her feet and also on her chair in case her food falls on the floor
  7. Disinfectant Wipes – We’ve been looking for these for a long time, but luckily we had some we could keep on hand. Recommend buying these online ahead of time because they’re sold out at most places.
  8. Favorite snacks – Whether it’s goldfish, snack bars, or craisins, you really need to get some options. When she got fidgety, we basically leaned on having a snack for 10 minutes of non crying.
  9. Face mask with favorite character – We eventually bought her a cute peppa pig face make she likes to wear. For day-of, we used one of my mom’s face shield invention.
  10. Buy First/Business Class tickets – You may think you can’t afford it, but my Delta Comfort+ tickets were only $50 more. It’s a completely separate search result from economy/economy+, so at least check it out. It was definitely worth it for the extra legroom and boarding options. Our flight was not full and middle seats were not booked.
  11. Try to book a morning flight – Morning is easier for the toddler because there might be a nap time (it didn’t happen for us). She just wound up being cranky the last hour.

Prep – Things to do a Week in Advance

  1. Setup the tablet and download shows for offline usage – We installed Disney+ and downloaded 3 movies and most of Mickey Mouse Club House. She didn’t watch it all, but it was an idea
  2. Download an offline game – We installed Toca Pet Doctor and she really likes making the animals feel better and feeding them. There are some pretty weird ones in there.
  3. Get her used to wearing a mask – We had an awesome face shield my Mom made, but in retrospect, it would have been great to have her wear a mask. With a 4 hour flight, it was literally 6 hours of flying
  4. Get her used to wearing the headphones and tablet – She had a good 2 or 3 hours of usage.
  5. Read her a book about planes – We wanted to make sure she knew we were going on a plane to get her excited. Do not overlook this step because it’s better to not make this long trip a surprise. The plane book went through the airport.
  6. Make sure she has her documentation in order – We had ordered her passport before she turned 1, but these may take time with covid.

Day Before

  1. Make sure all devices are charged – Amazon Fire turned out to have a 5 hour battery life, which was pleasantly surprising.
  2. Pack a toys backpack – This has her tablet and a few other random toys she likes.
  3. Pack a convenience bag for access to snacks – We had so many snacks…
  4. Pack a clean bag for access to wipes, hand sanitizer, and masks – This was used very often. Put it in a fanny pack if you have one.

Flight Day

  1. Bring a fold-able stroller – I can’t emphasize how important this was. It will be checked by the plane and we tried to keep her in the stroller at the airport until she cried to get out.
  2. Don’t arrive too early (1.5-2 hours is fine) – The airport is not that crowded, although you should be there slightly earlier if you have a lot of luggage to check. If you’re there too early, you wind up standing too close to the arrival gates around people. All the lounges are closed.
  3. Be ready to go through security – Pack your things such that you can go through security quickly. That means no metal clasps on shoes or jewelry for the toddler.
  4. Take your time walking and have fun on the sky walk – My daughter loved going on these escalators. We burned 30 minutes getting there and it was better than sitting down by the gate.
  5. When time to board, have one parent go in first and have the toddler enter last – My wife setup the whole area properly and wiped everything down while I hung back. It’s not that much less time in recycled air, but she liked waving to people boarding the plane.
  6. Don’t put down the disposable floor mats until after take off – Apparently the floor mat is a hazard. We wound up picking it up and putting it back down.
  7. Don’t forget to show her the view of clouds and mountains – She sat in the middle seat during take-off, but we entertained her by switching seats a few times. She loved looking at the fields and little cars.
  8. Snacks saved us – Also remember to buy a small package of milk with a straw. We basically skipped lunch and just ate junk food for 4 hours.
  9. Have a drink – Yes, it was 10AM, but don’t judge me. I’m flying with a toddler during a pandemic.

~See Lemons Fly During a Pandemic