How to Survive Air Travel with Toddlers

How to Survive Air Travel with Toddlers | Duluth Moms BlogThere are two types of people in the world. There are those who smile and share a kind comment about how adorable your young children are while they walk down the aisle of the airplane towards their seat. They might nod knowingly to the parents and send them a silent blessing or a heartfelt, “you can do this.” Then there are people who roll their eyes and nearly audibly sigh as they pass by your seat, annoyed by the very fact that your small humans will be occupying the same air as them for the next several hours. These, along with the fear of how children will behave in the air, are some of the many reasons that families may choose to avoid air travel with kids. In another life I may have turned out to be one of those people, but when I married ‘a born in Ireland, Irishman’, I knew that I was signing up for a lifetime of international travel. We’re about to embark on our third international flight with our twin toddlers, their fifth flight overall, and I can tell you that flying with them is definitely challenging. We’ve certainly struggled, but we’ve survived every time, and we have some great stories to share about our journeys.

How to Survive Air Travel with Toddlers | Duluth Moms BlogIn preparation for our next flight we’ve been reminiscing about some of the experiences we’ve had along the way. Specifically, the experiences that have helped us become better prepared travellers. First, there was the time that I overfed baby Frank and he projectile vomited soaking me down to my underwear. I’m not exaggerating here, I literally had to wring out my underwear in the airplane bathroom sink. To make matters worse, we were half way across the Atlantic Ocean and we still had a connection to make for our flight to our final destination. Cue the tears. A friendly passenger offered to hold the wailing baby while I attempted to clean up. My husband juggled baby Claire in one arm while tying to soak up the vomit from my seat with paper towels. From that flight on, we’ve kept a full change of clothes in the diaper bag not only for each twin, but for mom and dad as well.

Another memorable incident that is forever etched in our brains happened a couple of years ago. To return to the US from abroad you have to go through airport security twice, I kid you not. Then, once you complete that nightmare, you walk down a narrow hallway and you encounter a room completely full of people snaking slowly through a single file line to clear customs. We had accidently cut it a little close timing-wise and we were rushing, we truly feared that we might miss our flight. By the time we reached this line we were drenched in sweat, our hearts were pounding, and the twins were both boisterously voicing their displeasure with the situation. I had one twin strapped to my chest in a carrier and one in my arms. Julian was pushing the double stroller and carrying the diaper bags all while trying to fill out our customs forms. We stepped to the side of the line to strap the kids into the stroller, but they were kicking and bucking their little bodies so much that we couldn’t. Everyone in the room was staring at us, and Julian and I looked at each other knowing that if we entered this line there was a good possibility that we were not going to exit it a married couple. We were in full-blown panic when out of nowhere an angel in a TSA uniform swooped over and guided us to the head of the line. I was in tears handing our passports over to the customs agent. Following this experience, we always arrive at the airport extra early; we don’t ever want a repeat of this situation.

My least favorite experience that we’ve had was when we were waiting in line for our rental car in Dublin airport last September. We overheard a gentleman from our flight complain to his friend that his flight was terrible due to “these twins that cried the whole time.” It was surprising and hurtful because we had just been celebrating about how great the kids were throughout the flight. They slept in their bassinets (available in the bulkhead seats on some airlines) for several hours while we ate our meal and we were even able to doze off for a bit. The twins struggled with ear pain due to the air pressure and they did have moments of crying, but once they were lifted into an upright position they would fall back to sleep. My instinct was to go all “mama bear” on that guy and give him a piece of my mind, but Julian held me back. In retrospect, it’s possible that the man was right, maybe they did cry quite a bit and I blocked it out due to sleep deprivation. However, I really don’t think that they did. This situation taught us that regardless of how well our children behave on a flight, we’re not going be able to please everyone.

How to Survive Air Travel with Toddlers | Duluth Moms Blog

There are always going to be people who disapprove of young children on airplanes and want to criticize their behavior when maybe they are just acting like normal kids. We shouldn’t let that stop us from traveling. We can’t let someone else’s negativity get in the way of exciting family adventures. I encourage anyone who is on the fence about flying with young children to just go for it. It certainly has its challenges, but you will survive. In the end, you won’t regret it.



How to Survive Air Travel with Toddlers | Duluth Moms Blog{ Photo credit: Three Irish Girls Photography }

Kristina is a native Duluthian and a mom to boy/girl twins who are two years old. While in grad school in Boston, she met her husband who is originally from Ireland. They returned to Duluth 5 years ago to be closer to at least one of their families. Kristina works as a nurse practitioner in a local urology practice. She enjoys planning vacations that she hopes to actually take one day, using a label maker to organize all the things, and going on adventures with her family. 

One Response to How to Survive Air Travel with Toddlers

  1. Pat December 11, 2017 at 1:18 pm #

    Well done Mom and Dad!!! The check points can be murderous. We had two trips across the pond this year with our one year old. It’s worth all of the extra work:-)