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Traveling on a plane with children under 2… Don’t be scared!

Traveling with toddlersMy husband and I decided it was finally time for a getaway, and packed up to head to Hawaii with our 17 month old last month. This was not our first trip with Juliette, but it was the first where she was more mobile and busy, so we were nervous about flying with her for 6 hours from San Francisco to Kauai. I did a lot of research and read a lot of blogs to come up with a plan of action to reduce the chance of screaming melt downs along the way.

TIP #1- This may seem obvious, but even though we know it’s Reno Tahoe Airport and it’s rarely busy, still plan for being to the airport 2 hours early. You can’t control for things like, say, all of Reed and Spanish Springs High School JROTC programs flying to Hawaii at the same time as you and making the security line down the hallway, which then makes you run with the stroller and carry on bags just to make it to the gate as the door is closed and they tell you “Sorry, too late”. This may then extend your travel day by, oh, 6 hours which is sort of a bummer with a baby you woke up at 3 am.

TIP #2– If you are thinking about bringing Benadryl, Tylenol, or Motrin to help calm or sedate your child, plan on an experimental dose first, particularly with Benadryl. We did bring Benadryl for emergencies (luckily Juliette was remarkably good and didn’t need it) but I’ve seen parents make this mistake before… Some children have the opposite reaction to Benadryl and can become very hyper (think sugar high x 10), which is probably not the effect you want while trapped on a tiny plane for 6 hours with a toddler and 100 people.

TIP #3– Bring your child’s favorite snacks! Nothing got Juliette out of a fit like offering her a graham cracker or a squeeze applesauce (yes- they let you bring those through security, even if they are over 3.4 ounces, and they are separate from your quart bag limit of other liquids). And if things got even more hairy with her, we brought out the big guns – freeze dried yogurt drops! I kept her entertained for at least half an hour with this! And my husband likes them too, so I had 2 happy campers.

TIP #4– Pack them their own little backpack with little gifts they can unwrap every hour or so. This kept Juliette pretty happy, digging into her bag every so often to look for the next surprise, which she would play with for a while… Or just the tissue paper I used to wrap it, typical. I think kids who are a little older would benefit even more from this, understanding something new was coming every hour.

TIP #5– Pack at least 2-3 extra cheap outfits for you and baby in your carry on. You just never know what to expect, from vomiting to major blow outs, and you don’t want to be stuck in poopy vomit clothes for a 6 hour flight, or have to carry above mentioned poopy vomit clothes along on the rest of the trip

And above all else, don’t be afraid to travel with a small child! The memories made on vacation far outweigh any little hiccups along the way!

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About Amanda Magrini

Amanda Magrini
Amanda Magrini, MD, is a board-certified family medicine physician at Northern Nevada Medical Group’s Los Altos location in Sparks. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Nevada, Reno and her medical training at the University of Nevada School of Medicine. Dr. Magrini has practiced family medicine for seven years, including residency, and enjoys her specialty, because she likes taking care of the whole family, from newborns to grandparents. She likes preventative medicine, helping people take care of themselves and the relationships she is able to form with her patients. Dr. Magrini grew up in Sparks, NV and likes that it is a safe place to live with great educational opportunities and beautiful scenery. She thinks Northern Nevada is a great place to raise a family and looks forward to raising her own children here. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, camping, boating, running and traveling the world. Dr. Magrini is also very close with her family; she is married to her high school sweetheart and values spending time with him and the rest of her family. Disclosure: "The author is a licensed physician practicing with Northern Nevada Medical Group, but all opinions expressed are solely the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Northern Nevada Medical Group or any other affiliates of Universal Health Services, Inc."

One comment

  1. Excellent read. Will be excited to try the little surprises for next long haul. Thank you!

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