Last week I posted a blog about our recent trip to Mexico. It was Norah’s first international trip and landing back in Denver marked her 42nd flight at 3.5 years old.
I have been flying my whole life. Having family in aviation coupled with divorced parents living on opposite sides of the country for years (I’m not exaggerating either: one in Washington and the other in New Jersey) and add in a love for travel means flying has been a part of my life since before I was even born!
My mom was a flight attendant when I was little and I’d get to fly with her and help her pass out jolly ranchers to passengers. Apparently that was ok back in the late 80s. My dad was a mechanic for Continental Airlines when I was young and with those benefits, we’d take frequent trips to aspen, or last minute trips like when he’d pick me up early from school and surprise! We’re headed to Boston for a couple days. My step-dad was a Captain for Alaska Airlines and until I graduated college and got married, I had full benefits. Meaning free flights which I took advantage of as much as possible.
I feel at peace in the airport. It doesn’t matter where the plane is taking me, I’m happy to be flying 36,000 feet in the sky. Thankfully my husband is the same. We’ve been traveling together since we were freshman in college and “just friends”. Our travel dreams have only expanded. Those dreams didn't end, just expanded when we found out I was pregnant with Norah. Ever since we decided on naming her Norah, we have been calling her “Norah the explorah”.
When it came time to take her on her first flight I felt almost like a first time flyer! Flying solo, that’s nothing. I was flying by myself at age 9. Flying with a baby? This was foreign territory. I read several posts on pinterest and asked friends with kids before that first flight.
Turns out it wasn’t scary at all. Norah is naturally super curious, super flexible and content. She was enthralled by everything. Jake and I were calm and hopeful she’d do great, and she was exactly that. She was 8 months and older than I’d originally hoped for her first flight, but it was such an empowering experience.
We’re way out of the baby stage. Flying with a baby is a bit different than a toddler, but thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned flying with Norah!
Go to the bathroom before flying, bring a change of clothes, check your bags at the sky cap instead of inside (saves on carrying tons of luggage up and down and all over to the ticket counter. Just don’t forget a few dollars to tip), if nursing, nurse during take off and landing to help with popping ears. If not, they can eat or suck something during this time. (This has never been an issue for Norah but I always took those precautions when she was younger) etc etc. You can find all sorts of practical tips all over Pinterest but here’s a few (perhaps unconventional) flying with a toddler tips.
Food: I always bring a mix of her favorites and some new fun things! I know many use this time as an “anything goes” while flying, but we still prioritize nutrient dense food while traveling for several reasons. Of course I bring her fun (low sugar) treats, but filling a kid with sugar on a plane where they have to stay seated for extended periods of time, longer than they are likely doing on a daily basis, doesn’t seem super logical to me. Another note on food: I always get her a kombucha before boarding. She loves it and it’s great for boosting gut health that can be tested while traveling. Another tip on snacks. I pack a separate gallon sized bag of snacks in our checked luggage so we’re set for the flight home or some extras during the trip.
Activities: Here's something that may surprise you. We've NEVER brought an Ipad. She doesn't even have one! And we've survived (dare I say thrived) every flight! I pack her little backpack with a few new activities that she opens when we are on the plane. I used to spend too much on this. Then I learned about Hobby Lobby and their cheap seasonal crafts. I usually pick up a few packs of those tacky little things that Norah loves. Instead of bringing a whole coloring book or drawing pad, I often print out some coloring pages and a few blank pages of paper, fold them and stick them in a quart size ziplock bag with some crayons and markers. I usually bring some stickers that she loves to stick all over the blank pages. Other favorites: stamps, WaterWows, a few smaller books, paint with water (just get a extra cup with a little water when the drink cart comes around), binoculars to look at clouds out of the window.
Health Do your kids seem to get sick after flying? We went through a little stint with this. It was like clock work. 3 days after returning from a trip, Norah would wake up with a stuffy nose. Thankfully we haven’t had that for a while and here’s what we did that I think helped. A few days before leaving for our trip, I boost her immune system with vitamin C, echinacea, and elderberry. Sometimes we don’t have all 3. I just give her whatever we have. She takes JuicePlus gummies daily, but I give her an extra leading up to the trip, during, and a little after. While flying, I spray our little area with Peace of Mind (anti-viral spray) from Savitur Botanicals. It’s a beautiful blend of essential oils perfect for cleaning the air! You can even spray it on hands, seats and tray tables too. I honestly don’t stress about that as much. I know many families whip out the sanitizing wipes and wipe down all surfaces their child could possibly touch. I don’t do that, but do spray her hands more on travel days than I do on a regular day. We use the Peace of Mind spray or DoTerra’s On Guard Hand Sanitizer (which is super moisturizing too, and it doesn’t have any of the junk on traditional hand sanitizers. I could write a whole post on the over sanitization). I give her a detox bath the first night of the trip and the night we get home to help support her sweet little body process and rid of what she was exposed to. Again, I’m not stressed about it. I care too much about travel to worry about that. It’s just a simple step that seems to really help.
Number 1 tip: stay calm and positive yourself! While I do think a kid’s innate temperament does play a role, Norah feeds off ours too. We love flying, we don’t stress in an airport, or lose our minds if there’s a delay. We recognize flexibility is a must with travel, so delays don’t throw us into a tizzy. Knock on all the wood, but Norah has handled all the delays and bumps with such ease and grace. I just know it’s going to go well. I just know she’s going to do great and love it as much as we do. That’s the mindset I go in with.
As I am writing this I am pregnant with our second, so soon I'll be figuring out flying with two! Do you have additional tips you'd add? Post them in the comments below!