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Suggestions for air travel with 3yo dd

588 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  mama-aya
I will be travelling alone with my dd for a long weekend (Detroit to Denver). I have made this trip several times with dh. I think she will do fine on the flight (non-stop), so I'm looking for suggestions that will help us get from the car (with luggage etc.) to the check-in to the gate, then off the plane to the luggage claim to the rental car bus, and in the car as stress-free as possible (and without me having to carry it all!).

I was thinking that I'd take the umbrella stroller, and put her carseat in that, then check the stroller at the gate. This way, she'll be more comfortable on the plane and we'll have our own car seat in the rental car. I just hope she doesn't end up wanting to be in the stroller becuase I won't be able to push her and carry the huge carseat and pull the suitcase. Should I get a booster? She is 35 lbs.

Any advice would be much appreciated!
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We have travelled a lot with our children. There are a few important things. First, give yourself lots of time so you are not rushed. Second, avoid having a child in lineups if possible. That may mean having someone else at the airport before departure to entertain her while you check in. Third, take some familiar but fun snacks for the long waiting times. Fourth, don't expect to read your own book or do your own thing. If you are there, you are an entertainment machine. Sing silly songs, take the time to find the children's area at the airport (most big airports have them) and be willing to do what it takes to make her happy. Three year olds are pretty easy to keep happy... a hot dog, a pack of gum, another ride on the moving sidewalk, another ride on the moving sidewalk, another ride on the moving sidewalk, another ride on the moving sidewalk....

As for a booster, aren't they for kids over 40 pounds? If so, she just wouldn't be safe. Check and be sure.

As for carrying everything, don't be ridiculous. You can give her a package of gum. She will carry that. You can carry the rest. Spend the money on one of those luggage carts. You'll be glad you did. She may even share the gum.
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I second the luggage cart, it's well worth the $3 and half the time we can find one for free if you keep your eyes open. The other great thing was a cassette walkman for ds, 3.5, on the plane. He didn't care if it was music or a story, something about it being his own personal world?
curbside check-in

I travelled this summer with dd 3 1/2 and ds 7months, and getting rid of the luggage at the curb was super.
my dd doesn't really like her carseat and is compliant with seatbelting on the plane so she sits in the seat without carseat (I check it as luggage)
I also recommend bringing the stroller and gate checking it.

Boosters aren't by weight they're by height, if your daughter is tall (over 40") the booster is worth it-it is for shoulder seatbelt positioning in the car, but otherwise I'd wait.

and don't be silly--you will have to carry it all and maybe her too.
Thanks for all the great suggestions. I am working on talking dh into dropping us off at and picking us up from the airport (logistical, work, ds issues there).

I love the walkman idea, and the pack of gum! She's never had gum and I'm sure it would keep her occupied for a long time. I also thought this would be a good time to get a new sticker book, and we'll bring some other art stuff in her backpack. 2.5 hours isn't a long flight, but I know it could seem like an eternity!

She is 39.5 inches tall (and 36.5 lbs), so maybe not quite big enough for a booster, so maybe I will check the carseat. I do need to investigate that.

I am chuckling to myself over the "don't be silly, you'll be carrying everything" comments. I'm sure you are right!
I'd also like to suggest a large backer style backpack for luggage instead of traditonal luggage. I love mine. You can put it on your back and still have two hands free.
This is what works for us-
a wheeled carry-on soft suitcase, as large as possible, small backpack for DS(3yo), my backpack, carseat
no checked baggage means way less hassle, except, check the car seat at the gate. Seriously. We only started doing it this year, but it is so much nicer. DS wants to climb around and spend half the flight adjusting the lights and air, checking out the bathroom, etc., plus its just a pain to try to get that nig old seat down the plane aisle without knocking anyone out. If you can check it at the gate its waiting as soon as you get off the plane. And we always tie the tether strap to the bottom of the seat and loop it over the handle of the rolling suitcase so its no hassle to haul it around. No stroller- I think its easier just to have DS walk than to maneuver another item.
If you have to check your suitcase then check your carseat at the same time, and bring the stroller and check that at the gate. Its expensive to rent a seat, plus you don't really know whether they've been in a wreck or not, buts that's an option, too.
Definately get a new sticker book, gum, water bottle, walkman, and a couple little treats- little kid cards, finger puppets, tiny notebook and crayons, a new tape, sunglasses. We always pack more stuff than we need for the flight, somehow. Keep some things in your bag, and dole them out like special presents.
The flight will go faster than all of the waiting and lines, which is why I always try to pack as few clothes as possible. Its often possible to do a load of laundry if you have to.
Have fun!
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