Tips for Airplane Travel with Toddlers

by Stephanie, Toddler parent

Many families in our coop will be traveling by air throughout the year, so I thought I’d share some tips our family recommends when it comes to traveling with a toddler. We’ve flown both internationally (Lebanon, France) and domestically (Florida, New York) with our 28-month-old … and so far, we’ve made it there and back in one piece!

TSA Precheck & Global Entry for Everyone
I highly recommend making sure the entire family has Global Entry to ensure TSA precheck on domestic flights and of course to expedite entry into the USA from international flights. While minors can tag along with parents in the TSA precheck line, this is not the case for entry through passport control – each family member needs to have his or her own Trusted Traveler ID/Global Entry clearance.

Toddlers will need to go through the same Global Entry application process as adults, which also includes an “interview.” And yes, they will be asked if they have ever been arrested! 😉

Have a Car Seat Plan
Know what your car/car seat needs will be at your destination. Also, make sure you are up on the local laws around car seat use, especially for taxis. For example, car seats aren’t required in taxis in NYC (whether you are comfortable with that is another story). Services like Uber sometimes have a car seat option (for a fee) in bigger cities. We have also booked town cars with a car seat when we knew we only needed one between the airport and the city, such as in D.C. (once there, we just walked or used the metro).

Depending on the age and personality of your toddler, taking the seat on the plane can be helpful since they might be more apt to remain seated and even nap better. But keep in mind, this makes going up and down the aisle a bit of a pain!

Optimize Chances for a Free Open Seat
Most of us know that kids under 2 fly free. Don’t be shy to ask the staff if there is an open seat. We also try to book and aisle and window seat hoping the middle will remain open. If you have status on an airline, work it!

Happy Flying!