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Graduating to toddler travel - any advice?

Graduating to toddler travel - any advice?

Old Aug 11, 15, 1:17 pm
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Graduating to toddler travel - any advice?

Thanks to the help received from many of you in this subforum, my wife and I were able to successfully navigate our rookie experiences travelling with a baby. From the poop explosions on a RJ to overseas travel, we felt fully prepared for everything.

Now after a break of several months since our last trip, we are about to head overseas to HKG with our toddler who is now a running, talking 25 month old.

I was hoping to solicit any general advice specific to travelling with toddlers, as this looks like it will be a different kettle of fish compared to what we're used to. The reason I posted this thread is because a friend of ours who is a mother of 3 toddlers reminded us to bring kid headphones to use with our phones, as the games and apps tend to be noisy. It hadn't occurred to us at all (I ordered Califone kid headphones from Amazon), so I started wondering what else we might be forgetting.

Here's what I've done to prepare so far:

-Jr. will be secured with a CARES harness

-He will be entertained with a bunch of small noiseless toys, crayons, books and other amusements that we will bring with us

-He will probably spend a fair bit of time playing games and apps on our phones. We now have headphones on the way for this purpose. I'm assuming he won't be terribly interested in the IFE?

-We got the kid meal (AC is the carrier)... he is a picky eater so I have no idea how this will turn out

-He is not potty trained yet so there will be a pile of diapers and a couple changes of clothes, just in case

-He'll have a soother and blankie with him (we've been waiting for this trip before weaning him off the soother)

-We'll bring a small backpack for him to put some things in, but he won't be carrying much

-We'll have an umbrella stroller which we'll be gate checking as per usual

-Flight leaves early afternoon, we come into HKG at about 5 PM HK time (which is 4 am at home)... I'm hoping he will get something that at least approximates a half night of sleep or more, or is that overly optimistic? (On a 12.5 hour flight, I'm counting on him being conked out for at least 5 hours!)

...anything else? Grateful for any ideas that we've overlooked!
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Old Aug 11, 15, 8:36 pm
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Don't know if you're familiar with HKG, but it is incredibly crowded. Consider using a leash/reins/leading string/whatever PC name you like for your active child. My kid was a runner, and keeping him on a leash saved me much stress and probably saved him from getting lost/run over.

Also get a mesh bag for the handles of the stroller. They weigh next to nothing, but can stretch to hold quite a lot. When you check the stroller, just slide it off and tuck it into your diaper bag.


p.s. keep in mind electronics can be very stimulating to the brain so giving a kid your phone or iPad on the plane might backfire and keep him awake when he should be sleeping. (I'm one of those mean parents who didn't let my kid watch videos or TV until he was over 3, and then only in very limited amounts).
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Old Aug 12, 15, 10:09 am
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I've been to HKG years ago, pre-parenthood, so I wasn't looking at things from that perspective! But yes, I do remember the crowds, particularly in the Kowloon area... good call on the leash. We were planning on bringing our son's small backpack, and it does have a clip to attach a strap, so we'll be sure to do that. Excellent reminder, thanks!

Good reminder too re: easing off on the videos before sleep. Given that the flight is 13 hours I figure that some screen time will help keep him entertained.
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Old Aug 12, 15, 10:29 am
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Ipad, ipad, ipad. IFE can be interesting too with a novelty factor once they know everything on ipad.
Most other toys, crayons etc provde to be too brief of a distraction to carry.
While we control tv watching at home i dont think the plane is the place to enforce those rules - if they wanna watch 12 hr straight so be it - gonna be easier to sleep in arrival. With jetlag it will be messed up even worse if ypu try to enforce regular sleeping hours. One of ours pulled a couple all nighters but now yhey both watch a few hours and then go to sleep by themselves. Just keep headphones on and stay quiet. This also becomes a good behavior incentive. Ymmv of course.
Get your kid a small backback - put diaper, snack, headphones, sunglasses maybe some clothes and a few other necessities - that trains them and gives a sense of being like adult.
Prob a good idea to keep pacifier - on a first trip without it one of mine chewed through cables of both our and in cabin bose headsets. I only found out when she said her headphones werent working anymore. The other one has no problems adjusting... again ymmv.. have fun
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Old Aug 12, 15, 2:10 pm
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Originally Posted by azepine00 View Post
Ipad, ipad, ipad. IFE can be interesting too with a novelty factor once they know everything on ipad.
Most other toys, crayons etc provde to be too brief of a distraction to carry.
While we control tv watching at home i dont think the plane is the place to enforce those rules - if they wanna watch 12 hr straight so be it - gonna be easier to sleep in arrival.
I've never met a toddler capable of understanding the concept of different rules for different places. Get a kid used to the screen in one place and they're going to expect it anytime and any place. Plus, arriving after a 12+ hour flight with a sleep deprived 2yr old kid = disaster. It's not about jet lag, it's not about time change, it's about a kid being too damn tired to cope, lying down on the ground and screaming until they conk out. Mine never did that, but I've many who have, and I used to work with children, so the sample size I saw was large.

A well rested kid copes better, and makes the trip better for everyone.
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Old Aug 12, 15, 2:59 pm
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I'm probably leaning to azepine's approach when it comes to screen time on board, given that it's a 13 hour flight that leaves at 1 pm (3 pm home time)... I'm guessing that means maybe 5 hours of awake time before gearing down to sleep? (He usually goes to sleep around 8 pm)

With 5+ hours to kill and only so many options for kid entertainment on board the plane, I think it's fair to say there will be a good dose of youtube clips and kid apps. I'm not sure how people kept their toddlers occupied on longhaul flights before the days of smartphones and tablets, but I'm not going to hesitate to take advantage of this newfangled option!
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Old Aug 12, 15, 4:52 pm
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Healthy shelf stable snacks. So often the only options for sale were chips and the like.
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Old Aug 12, 15, 7:03 pm
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We are not nearly as strict with screen time limitations on planes as we are at home, and I haven't found our laxity on planes to adversely affect our ability to stick to rules at home, but obviously YMMV. I agree that the screens can actually keep a kid awake. So switch off the screens an hour or two before you want him to sleep, and go through your regular bedtime routine (for us that would be changing into pajamas and brushing teeth, reading storybooks, maybe listening to some music that's not too upbeat). But also be prepared that he might not sleep, and IMO there's no shame in handing over the iPad or whatever if he's still going strong an hour or two after you've run out of entertaining-the-toddler-without-Steve-Jobs's-help steam.

Other stuff to bring:
  • Lots of healthy snacks, including fruits and veggies (be sure to throw out leftover produce BEFORE going through customs).
  • Big water bottle that you can fill up airside before boarding so you don't have to track down an FA if the kid gets thirsty at 2am.
  • External battery packs to keep your electronics powered (unless you know your seat will have a power plug)
  • Headphones that the kid likes (for a week or two before our first trip with a toddler, he "practiced" wearing headphones during all screen time)
  • Pajamas, toothbrush, storybooks and any other bedtime accouterments
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Old Aug 12, 15, 8:35 pm
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Originally Posted by heraclitus View Post
I'm not sure how people kept their toddlers occupied on longhaul flights before the days of smartphones and tablets,
Books - old favorites and brand new. A picture guidebook of our destination, which we went through page by page. I prepped him for all things we'd see.

Color Wonder - markers that only write on their special paper, not your clothes.

Looking out the window and discussing everything you see. Is your kid talking? Mine was his first TATL flight, so we named everything we saw on the tarmac and then after take-off I asked him to name everything he saw and we made a list. You might be surprised how many things your kid can remember.

Snacks.

SkyMall - we "discussed" all the weird things in it.

Two favorite stuffed animals (onto which I had sewn loops that enabled me to attach them to the stroller) played on his tray table

Photos - we looked at all the photos in my wallet and I told him family stories.


A long flight can be an excellent way to actually interact with your child in a meaningful way. How often are children just seen as another task to be dealt with or plugged into the electronics instead of being perceived as individuals with their own unique perspective?

This isn't a personal attack on anybody, more just a continuation of I conversation I had with a friend today how few people actually like their kids as human beings. A wise person I know once told me you get out of your kids what you put into them.
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Old Aug 13, 15, 10:38 am
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I agree with suggestions and we went through some of those activities but they are probably more practical on 2-3 hr flights. This is 12-15 hr here - perhaps i am just not creative enough...

I do prefer having tired kids on arrival than well rested - never had any problems with tantrums - they would just drop asleep at hotel and we all get nice rest. On a couple occasions they were wide awake after sleeping in flight while we were dead tired and it was quite miserable.

Again ymmv - i only comment based on my experience.
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Old Aug 13, 15, 10:59 am
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I agree with the suggestions above our oldest went to 5 countries before her 1st birthday, she is now 2. We travel quite a bit and now its with the two yr old and a newborn.
Definitely ipad, then close to bedtime switch off and do night time routine. We usually try to take overnight trips so we keep the routine. Around 7pm, the ipad gets turned off, we head to the loo and change her into jammies. Back to the seat, two bedtime stories and then its night, night. We usually keep a bag handy with crayons, coloring sheets, snacks, and her camelbak water bottle. Take a favorite cuddly or two. We have a Gansevoort goose this year which is her traveling buddy.
Instead of taking an umbrella stroller we usually take an SSC (its like a backpack to take kids in...Becco or Tula come to mind). The concierge at the hotel can arrange to have an umbrella stroller ready at check-in and for while you're on the ground.
She is about to hit 10 countries and we have yet to have a tantrum or breakdown. We usually arrive and hit the ground running, she is well rested and so are we and the explorations begin!
Most of all you know your child best. Go off their cues and don't worry so much. Its all a learning process and how you handle the stress of it will definitely shape their reaction.
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Old Aug 15, 15, 7:00 pm
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This is a great book to share with young toddlers -- talks about all the things you are likely to see/do en route to getting on a plane. We did a lot of the stressing of "putting on your seatbelt" prior to first rides in my kid's own seat:
Amazon Amazon

Also, has your kid discovered stickers yet? We used to take sticker books *everywhere* -- he was a huge fan, and could sit with one for 20-30 minutes.
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Old Aug 16, 15, 9:41 pm
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Originally Posted by Anna Phor View Post
This is a great book to share with young toddlers -- talks about all the things you are likely to see/do en route to getting on a plane. We did a lot of the stressing of "putting on your seatbelt" prior to first rides in my kid's own seat:
Amazon Amazon

Also, has your kid discovered stickers yet? We used to take sticker books *everywhere* -- he was a huge fan, and could sit with one for 20-30 minutes.
Stickers are a great way to pass the time but please make sure the stickers are going into a book or on a sheet of paper. It's not unusual to see kids plastering them all over the window, the tray table, the wall etc and most don't remove them before they deplane. Some of those stickers are hard to remove and the next occupants of that seat aren't happy Same thing goes for crayons, paint and regular magic markers. Thank you
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Old Aug 17, 15, 10:27 am
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Originally Posted by Anna Phor View Post
This is a great book to share with young toddlers -- talks about all the things you are likely to see/do en route to getting on a plane. We did a lot of the stressing of "putting on your seatbelt" prior to first rides in my kid's own seat:
http://www.amazon.com/Airport-Byron-.../dp/0064431452

Also, has your kid discovered stickers yet? We used to take sticker books *everywhere* -- he was a huge fan, and could sit with one for 20-30 minutes.
Good advice re: the book!

And I have tried to get his attention with stickers but he just doesn't seem to go for them... he's more into markers/crayons... we'll definitely be bringing a pack of washable markers on board
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Old Aug 17, 15, 11:01 am
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Originally Posted by heraclitus View Post
And I have tried to get his attention with stickers but he just doesn't seem to go for them... he's more into markers/crayons... we'll definitely be bringing a pack of washable markers on board
Look for Color Wonder markers. They only produce color on the special Color Wonder paper. This has two advantages: no worry about the ink washing out of your clothing and because it doesn't show up on other surfaces, kids usually don't try drawing on other things more than once with them because there's no results.
http://shop.crayola.com/art-and-craf...52211A003.html

http://shop.crayola.com/art-and-craf...521430010.html


There's also stubby colored pencils which make much less mess than crayons - especially when they get left in the car on a hot day. You just need to remember to get a wide slot pencil sharpener to go with them.
http://shop.crayola.com/art-and-craf...841081011.html
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