Air Travel Tips For 3 Year Old - Mothering Forums
Life with a Toddler > Air Travel Tips For 3 Year Old
jackaroosmom's Avatar jackaroosmom 04:36 PM 07-22-2006
We are planning to take our ds to Florida (a 5+ hour trip from CA) on his first trip by plane. He will have just turned 3.

I would love suggestions from anyone who has traveled with a 3 year old. I am planning to buy a second car seat for the trip, which he will also sit in during the flight. So here's what I would love tips on:

1. travel toys- portable tray?
2. must have's for flight
3. Brand suggestions for light weight car seat and stroller- type attachment for seat?
4. What to do when all else fails and ds melts down!!!:

We will be going to disneyworld, so if you would like to share tips for that- I'd love it.

cloudswinger's Avatar cloudswinger 08:29 PM 07-22-2006
I don't have a 3 year old yet(dd is only 2), but I live in Florida, and Disney World is huge for a child that age. My dh took his previous child there at about that age and said he'd never do it again. The place is pretty expensive now. If you're coming anytime within the next 3 months, it'll be hot, unless it's rainy. But I guess you're already commited, so if I were you, I'd get a hotel on site(or really close) and go for a few hours in the morning, go back and chill at the hotel pool for a while and come back in the evening. Don't try to do everything. Use lots of sunscreen.
JBaxter's Avatar JBaxter 09:28 PM 07-22-2006
I just did DC to CA w/ a 2 1/2 yr old. I suggest a portable DVD player w a new DVD, new little toys ( still in the package -- unwrapping them is time consuming) I always wait till the toys/ coloring wears off to break out the DVD. It only has ha 2hr life LOL. He fell asleep during his new Bob the builder. Favorite snacks Nathan LOVES grapes pirates bootie and bunnie crackers. Stickers ,new coloring books etc. Nathan has always done well on flights we did not have him sit in his car seat this time. Last trip he kicked the seat in front of him the WHOLE trip and I really felt bad but he is a big kid ( 35lbs 39in) and his feet pushed right up against the seat even w/out his shoes on and you cant use the tray table if you use the car seat. He got a little fussy about 30 min before landing this last trip. I think my layover in Denver ( 1hr) was a life saver. We had lunch and it broke up the trip nicely.
lizette's Avatar lizette 11:15 PM 07-22-2006
I have an almost 3 yo DD. We have flown literally dozens of times since she was born. The best advise I can give you is don't take alot of big crap that you have to lug around!! Why are you buying/taking an extra car seat?? It is not required on the airplane and is a huge PIA. We fly at least once a month and I rarely see any children in car seats on airplanes. Also, you will really appreciate the ability to easily switch seats with your son after turning your head the same direction and looking down while entertaining him for a couple hours. Buckle him into the regular seat belt just like everyone else. If you need one once you get there, your rental car company can supply one.

Does your child like to read? Books can occupy my daughter for an hour at least. A portable DVD player is extremely valuable, but I do recommend you have headphones. Unfortunately I learned the hard way that people around you will not want to listen to Baby Einstein or Elmo even of it is keeping your child from screaming. Get the noise cancelling kind of headphones that cover their whole ear so you don't have to have the volume turned way up just so they can hear it over the noise of the plane.

As for an awesome stroller, I recently got the Maclaren Quest Mod Stroller and I LOVE it!!! It is so light weight and easy fold down and set up one handed. I used to travel with a Zooper Sport and it was a big pain. The Maclaren is awesome and easy to push. I have even used when I was out for a run when my baby jogger was in the other car. The only small complaint is that the basket underneath is a bit small, but on a lightweight stroller that's pretty typical.

Another thing that can help is my daughter always wanted to pull our siutcases when we traveled and got very frustrated when she couldn't. So for Christmas, we got her her own "suitcase" which she is in love with. She can pull her own little bag with her stuff in it and when she gets tired it goes on my back as a backpack. Slick!! (We got her a child's rolling backpack from LLBean with her name embroidered on it.)

Lastly, do not ever get on the plane first. When they allow people with small children to board early don't do it!! Get on the plane at the absolute last moment you can. That is that much less time your little one has to be confined and quiet. Sometimes, especially if it is a large plane, it can take forever for them to board. Also, since you are getting on last don't bring a lot of stuff, the overhead bins may already be stuffed. Make sure everything you are bringing on can fit under the seat in front of you.

Sorry, I know this is long, but tons of experience teaches you lots of lessons...

straighthaircurly's Avatar straighthaircurly 02:34 AM 07-23-2006
I have always travelled with the stroller from One Step that folds into a carseat, we love it, but I wouldn't buy it at this point in your child's life. I like having a car seat along because my son can be very wiggly and he feels most comfortable in his carseat since he is used to it. However, we plan to stop using it this next winter when he is 3.5.

We fly from Minnesota to Costa Rica and from MN to Maine every year. We get to the airport early enough that we can let him run laps right before getting on the plane. He still never sleeps on the flight but it takes the edge off at least. I don't own a DVD player and frankly it wouldn't hold my son's attention long enough to make it worthwhile. I always pack some new small toys, stickers, coloring stuff, new books. I wrap some of them so it adds to his interest and uses more time. I also pack some favorite snacks. If he gets really fidgety we break up the monotony with a trip to the bathroom and a stroll down the aisle to visit with other kids and friendly passengers (my ds can be a charmer). If you worry about him kicking the backs of seats be sure to ask for bulkhead seating when you get to the airport.
jackaroosmom's Avatar jackaroosmom 03:33 AM 07-23-2006
Now I feel confused. In reading other posts I felt I was asking for turbulence to come and fling my ds to his death (LOL-I think!?) if I didn't have him in a carseat. Also, I didn't know I could get one from the rental car company.

I am only starting to organize this trip as it is more than a year away-November 2007! I like to plan ahead!

Please, keep the tips coming, I really do appreciate them.

Also, please way in on the carseat debate!
Jennisee's Avatar Jennisee 05:03 AM 07-23-2006
We recently flew with our DD, although she was 2, not 3. A few things I learned.

--I understand the debate about car seats on planes, but my DD would never sit in it. She hates her car seat and would scream the whole time. We bought her a seat, buckled her in, and sat her between my DH and myself so she couldn't get out. She also spent time nursing, just sitting on our laps, and sleeping. You would also have to haul the seat all through the airport, and that would be an enormous PITA.

--You might consider checking your car seat, though. We were supposed to rent one from the rental car company, but when we got there, they were out. Fortunately, we were visiting friends, so they loaned us one of theirs, but otherwise, we would've been without a car seat in the rental car. Maybe if you call ahead directly to the local branch, instead of the 800 number, you can speak directly to the manager and VERIFY that you will have a car seat waiting for you.

--The biggest hits for my DD on the plane were stickers and food. A 3 year old might enjoy books and coloring more than she did, though.

--Definitely wait as long as you possibly can to board. It's much easier to entertain a toddler in the airport than on the actual plane.

--I have friends who swear by walking with their toddler walk up and down the aisle, when the flight attendants aren't pushing their carts, but we never had to.

--Check as much as you possibly can, so that you carry as little as possible through the airport. The only things we brought on the plane with us were our diaper bag and a duffle bag with toys, snacks, extra diapers, etc. The baggage claim area is usually right near the rental counters and shuttle buses, but you may have to walk a LONG way to get to that area.

--In the airport, we had a little bit of trouble with our DD not wanting to hold our hands but also not wanting to be carried. She kept wanting to run ahead. We found a great trick, though. DH would take one of her hands, I would take another, and every few steps, we would pick her up and swing her and say, "Wheeeee." We made it through huge stretches of airport quickly and easily by doing this b/c she wanted to hold our hands the whole time. Again, though, it was possibly b/c we only carried one small carry-on bag each. It wouldn't have been possible if we were schlepping a lot of luggage or a car seat.

--We borrowed our friend's umbrella stroller, but I almost wish we had checked our stroller and brought it instead. It is more comfortable for our DD and has storage room underneath. However, if you're going to DW, you can rent strollers there. They don't recommend taking your own stroller b/c you can't take it on a ride, and stroller theft is rampant. It might be handy to have your stroller if you're doing local, non-DW sightseeing, but if you're doing only DW, I would just rent one there.
JBaxter's Avatar JBaxter 09:07 AM 07-23-2006
** info reguarding bulk head seats you must store you bag overhead unlike the other seats where you can store you bag under the seat in front of you. Keeping our bag of small toys and snacks handy is a must for us. It would drive me crazy if I had to stand up and get my bag out of the over head bin every time he wanted to switch from coloring to his cars to snacks.

Nathan has had 5 DC to CA flights and 3 DC to FL flights I stopped using his car seat when he as 22 months because of the hassle. I have a cheep umbrella stroller we use because Im not lettting them beat my good stroller when I gate check it.
straighthaircurly's Avatar straighthaircurly 12:15 PM 07-23-2006
Originally Posted by JBaxter
** info reguarding bulk head seats you must store you bag overhead unlike the other seats where you can store you bag under the seat in front of you. Keeping our bag of small toys and snacks handy is a must for us. It would drive me crazy if I had to stand up and get my bag out of the over head bin every time he wanted to switch from coloring to his cars to snacks.
That is why I have never asked for bulkhead seats, but if I had a kid who was going to spend the whole flight kicking seats it would be worth it rather than battling over the seat kicking. Some parents swear by the bulkhead seats.

I am glad we always had the carseat for my ds on the plane. I like the peace of mind. getting my ds to adjust to having a seatbelt instead of a five-point harness would have been a pain in our case, and I do prefer to be as safe as possible. Having it also be a stroller was extremely efficient. We never brought any other strollers along.
Jennisee's Avatar Jennisee 05:14 PM 07-23-2006
One note about bulkhead seats is that the arm rests do not lift up like they do in regular seats. So, as a plus-size person, I probably could not fit into the bulkhead seats.
NicaG's Avatar NicaG 12:32 AM 07-24-2006
My ds is only 15 months, but we fly with him a lot. Personally, I feel ok about him riding on a plane without a carseat, because statistically air travel is the safest possible way to travel. It is safer than walking on your own two feet, for goodness sake.

We have a Touriva Regal Ride carseat that we use for traveling (we check it on the plane and then install in a car on the other end). It is great: cost around $50, very easy to install, very light for carrying, and narrow enough to fit into airplane seats (if you decide to do this). On our last trip, our luggage (including carseat) got mistakenly sent to a different city, and we had to rely on a carseat provided by Continental Airlines. What a piece of garbage! After that experience, I personally wouldn't trust rental agencies to have decent, working carseats either.
KathinJapan's Avatar KathinJapan 02:39 AM 07-24-2006
ITA on taking as little as possible. We fly from Japan to the states and back again once a year. I go with just the little one, no DH. Light and portable are key. I generally only take toys that I don`t care if they get lost or whatnot.
some faves are playdough in a baggie, pipe cleaners to make into shapes, animals etc... and penne pasta to lace up on string. Others are coloring supplies and a book. You can get a lot of milage out of found objects in the plane.
My DD has her own seat and sits in it some of the time. She has food allergies so I have to take enough food for the both of us to last 12 plus hours. It is nice to not have to be on the airlines eating schedule.

I also agree board LAST.

primjillie's Avatar primjillie 06:02 PM 07-24-2006
We just flew from Ca to Minn and back and took my 2 1/2 year old niece. We brought her carseat and since she was used to it, she rode in it almost the whole time. She slept a lot and we gave her a little tote bag full of new little toys and snacks. We bought her books, mini magnadoodle, playdoh, crayons and coloring book and a couple of cheap little toys. She had such a good time and since we let her run her little legs off between the flights, she was more than ready to veg out and nap. We had quite a bit of turbulence and I was grateful she was in her carseat.
jackaroosmom's Avatar jackaroosmom 09:01 PM 07-24-2006
Great suggestions everyone. I am definitely taking the car seat on board. I'll just make my husband drag it around

Can someone tell me more about the attachment that makes a car seat into a stroller?
Zach'smom's Avatar Zach'smom 09:52 PM 07-24-2006
There is one called the sit 'n stroll in the One Step Ahead catalog. The seat of the stroller is the carseat. The carseat detaches and the stroller part folds up.