My husband, 4-year-old son, 3-year-old son and my pregnant self are heading to Michigan this week to visit family before baby boy’s arrival in September.
We have not traveled in a while for obvious reasons.
I forgot (or maybe chose to block from my memory) how much work it is to plan and pack for a trip with small children.
Two years ago, we flew to Portland, OR which was a much longer trip, with much younger kids. But… I didn’t have the added element of simultaneously being pregnant. This means I have to be conscious of how much I pack in my carry-on bag, be sure to purchase quality compression stockings and pack healthy snacks that will fill be up without weighing me down or causing heartburn.
How to Pack for a Flight with Toddlers
1. Make a list of what clothes to pack.
Consider if you have access to a washer & dryer on the trip and then begin making a list from there. Number of shirts (long and short sleeve), pants, shorts, bathing suites, socks, underwear (or diapers), rain jacket, sweatshirt(s), and shoes (at least 2 pair, I like sandals & tennis shoes).
2. Don’t forget the entertainment.
I prefer to leave technology as an absolute last resort so I bought pencil boxes and filled them with new activities. Wiki Sticks, mini-coloring pad, mini-notebook, crayons, colored pencils, stickers, and action figures. I also bought LED writing pads that auto-erase with touch of a button. And for back up my husband & I each have three movies downloaded on our phones (don’t forget the headphones).
3. Bring all the snacks!
I saw great ideas online where families used fishing tackle boxes to fill with a variety of different snacks, all organized in their own compartments. Pick your children’s favorites & fill. Think protein and substantial carbohydrates, not just sugar.
4. Car safety.
Do you need to bring your own car seats or does a family member have some you can borrow at your destination? Renting seats from a car rental is an option, but I have heard from mom friends that they are often dirty. If you are bringing your own, will you bring it directly on the plane? Plane side check it? Or check it under the plan? Also consider a carrying cart and/or bag; to protect the seat from damage if checking and to save you the hassle of trying to carry a heavy seat through the airport.
5. Comfort items and health.
Don’t forget the lovies and blankies that your children love. Bringing a small first aid kit and a limited supply of medicines (Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl) is never a bad choice. I also include toothbrushes, toothpaste and shower supplies in this category as well.
Tips for Flying While Pregnant
Check with you care provider first and/or consider you gestational age. A general rule is to not fly any time after 36 weeks for a domestic flight or after 28 weeks for an international flight – some airlines even have a strict rule about this.
Dress comfortably. You likely would already do this but it is extra important when when traveling while pregnant to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Dressing in layers can also be helpful, as temperature swings in pregnancy can be unpredictable. It is also a good idea to wear compression stockings/socks to reduce the risk of blood clots and swollen legs/feet.
Healthy snacks. Depending on the airports you go through the time available in each it can be difficult to find healthy options to eat. Take the guess work out of the food and pack yourself fresh veggies and fruit, nuts and dried fruit.
Prepare for germs & potential nausea. COVID aside it is always a good idea to bring hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Masks are also a good idea regardless of COVID because as we know the air in planes gets continuously re-circulated throughout the flight meaning the person that is sick 10 rows back could potentially spread their germs to you.
These lists are not all-inclusive but are the main things I have done in preparation for my own trip. I feel prepared as I can be for an unpredictable voyage with young children.
If you have any of other advice, please let me know!