Back in December I took Piper on a flight back to Canada and I was so nervous about it. I have flown with Piper many times, but always with my husband, never solo. This would be the first time flying just the two of us since she was a newborn and I was having serious anxiety about it. Add to that the fact that I was 5.5 months pregnant at the time and it seemed like a recipe for disaster!
BUT I am happy to report that it was our most successful airplane trip to date. After a lot of trial and error over the last few years I’ve narrowed down what works for us and I wanted to share it with you. Each kid is so different but at this age (Piper was 2.5 at the time) I seem to have figured out a few things that help keep her happy on a 5+ hour flight!
Here’s what we brought:
- This was something new we tried and it was AMAZING. I ordered mine from Amazon thanks to a reco from my friend Liz. It has 12 small compartments for different snacks! I made these goodies last the whole flight by telling her she could pick 5 treats at a time. She spent several minutes each time contemplating which snacks she would choose and then we’d close up the container and put it back in my bag. Every half hour or so she would get to pick out a few more and so on. She loved that I stocked it with a mix of things she loves (dried fruit, puffs) and some new snacks too (yogurt covered raisins and mini pretzels).
- This one seems obvious but I figured I’d mention it anyway! We only brought 3 on the plane and I made sure they were longer ones that I could read to her and really kill some time. Short board books are fun but she flips through them so fast it’s not worth the precious real estate in my backpack 🙂
- This was a total lifesaver. It’s a flexible tray covered in wipeable fabric that clips around their waist (or their carseat if you’re in the car). It prevented all her stuff from constantly rolling off her lap or the airline tray table. There are mesh pockets to tuck little things in if you want to. We’ve used this on a few long car rides too and it has worked great every time.
- Piper is totally capable of using regular, washable markers at home but I honestly did not want to deal with any accidental coloring mistakes on her seat/clothes/face 🙂 These are clear markers that only show color when used on Color Wonder paper. I bought her a Frozen Color Wonder book and surprised her with it on the plane. She was so happy!
- Similar to the last item, I’m all about limiting mess and removing opportunities for accidents that I have to clean up. These Melissa and Doug books are so cute. They come with a little “paint” brush that you fill with water and they can paint the pages of the pad revealing all the colors. It’s reusable, so as soon as the page dries they can color them again! We’ve had ours for over a year and we bring them on every flight.
- I bought a tiny notepad from Muji and a few sheets of stickers from the Target Dollar Spot. Gosh, how I love the Target Dollar Spot! Bigger shapes are easiest for her right now, otherwise she gets frustrated. Tiny little stickers are cute but she ends up ripping them apart or asking me to peel them off for her.
- Piper didn’t have a tablet, but we managed to pick up an Amazon Fire Tablet on sale right before our flight. I am so glad we did! We have tried bringing a laptop on the plane before so she could watch a movie, but she gets so distracted trying to bang on the keyboard she never watched the movie!
I downloaded a bunch of educational games and a few movies on the Tablet and obviously she was more than happy about her new “toy”. It was such an amazing tool! Shockingly I only needed use it during the last hour (of our 5 hour flight!) All the other activities kept her well entertained. She watched about 30 minutes of Finding Nemo and fell asleep which is very unusual for her!
Piper thoroughly enjoying her Snack Container
I chose about 6 of the Color Wonder Markers and put them in a ziplock bag to keep them contained in my backpack when she wasn’t using them.
A few other things to remember if you’re flying solo with a child:
- Unless it’s a fully packed flight you can always ask the flight attendant if there is an empty row at the back. We were stuck beside a rather grumpy woman at first but we were able to move to an empty 3-seat row and it was sooo much better!
- bring a backpack instead of a purse or over the shoulder bag. It’s much easier to handle a busy toddler with both hands fully free, especially while getting off/on the plane.
- Gate check your stroller. Piper is a runner! I kept her strapped into her stroller the whole time we were at the airport and checked it just as we boarded the plane.
I am sure there are so many other things I’m forgetting so if you have any suggestions of your own, please leave them in the comments! I’m always looking for new ways to keep her entertained when we are on the go 🙂
*This post contains affiliate links*