As I am half-walking, half-jogging through Dulles Airport to catch the tram to find the flight’s gate, I am even more out of breath as I am lugging my 3 year old on my hip literally gasping for air at this point. 

Traveling is exhausting. Airports are exhausting. 

But traveling with a toddler ALONE…that hits the top tier level of exhaustion. 

With vaccinations becoming available nationally and globally #getvaccinated, we will all venture out of our homes to travel once again. Some of us may begin to travel with our cute toddlers and preschoolers for the first time. 

Traveling with a little one (or littles ones) is stressful. I NEED to pack efficiently and appropriately to avoid reaching maximum level stress. Here is a list of the 5 essentials I pack for every flight (usually solo) when I fly with my toddler.

1. Snacks.

Ultimate Guide to Packing Healthy Travel Food (Best Foods and Tips!)

Did anyone ever tell you the myth about not bringing food to the airport? #fakenews

The snack area of any convenience store, the airports included, are filled with sugar-filled, unhealthy candies and food choices. My daughter loves it. Me…not so much. 

I cannot mentally handle her sugar-high-self in an enclosed space such as an airplane. So every single flight I make sure to pack my daughter snacks that are individually wrapped and sealed which I store in a resealable, gallon-sized bag. 

Additionally, I always pack my daughter a metal water bottle with a snap-close lid (these are my all time favs!). When convenience stores in the airport are closed in the wee hours of the morning, you may have to walk super far what feels like miles to find a drink. BUT good news, they have refillable water bottle stations around the airport.

Before being seated, I make sure to find a station to fill her water bottle. It prevents me from listening to “I’m sooooo thirsty” as I frantically search for an astronomically overpriced beverage. It also prevents the inevitable spills from the cups the flight attendant provides while on the airplane. 

2. Lollipops.

When flying on a plane, we always fear the inevitable from happening; as pressure rises, our ears pop. Chewing gum is a common go-to for many to avoid this painful popping. However, as a mom traveling alone with a toddler, gum is a no-no. When mentally preparing myself for my first flight along with a two year old at the time, I imagined giving gum to my daughter. Ackkkkk within minutes, gum would be stuck in her hair. My stress levels were already high enough. 

So instead of gum, I packed lollipops. Similar to the chewing of gum, the sucking (and constant biting) of her lollipop prevented her cutsie ears from popping. 

Did she eat over 15 lollipops each flight? (maybe… don’t judge!)

Did her ears ever pop? NO! 

Did she complain about her ears hurting on or after any of her many flights? Also, NO!

3. Sound control headphones.

My daughter is a talker. It’s mind boggling that she has soooo much to say every hour of every day. A plane ride is no different. If anything, she talks more on the plane than usual. The only thing to keep her occupied for more than a one minute span is her tablet which is great to play educational games on and every so often watch creepy adults play with children’s toys on Youtube. Butttttttt she likes to hear the sound. As a result, it’s a constant battle between her and I over the volume of her tablet. In order to avoid this disaster, I purchased her sound controlling headphones. This way she can watch and listen, but at the same time, I know she cannot blast the volume in any way that could potentially hurt her ears. 

4. Immigration forms and ID.

Traveling outside the USA with your little one(s)?

You’re feeling more stressed! Traveling outside of the country is tiresome as is, and with children, it’s even more so. When traveling abroad, make sure to have all passports handy (I always pack in my backpack). Additionally, save time and energy on the plane by completing required immigration forms online, if possible. You can complete and print all forms out ahead of time. Instead of searching/waiting for a dirty pen and completing the forms, use your time to sleep, watch a movie, or relax prior to your flight’s descent. 

Based on data from the U.S. Travel and Tourism Office, here are the top international country destinations that are most traveled to by those residing in the USA. Included is also a link to checklists to those countries when traveling:

5. Self-care items for Mom.

Mama, you’re going to be exhausted. Especially if it’s the very first flight (possibly solo) with your adorable child. As adorable as they are and as prepared as you may be, at the end of the day, you will be EXHAUSTEDDD in every single way. As a person who suffers from chronic migraines, I can typically feel my head pulsating prior to any flight’s departure. So I pack Tylenol. For you, that may be a pack of tums, a Diet Coke, or a pair of extra comfybvn shoes. Whatever it is, don’t forget to pack for mom too. Taking care of yourself is key. 



Safe travels.

And do not forget to take an infinite amount of photos!

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