Kids on a Plane: I Did It Alone and So Can You

About a week and a half ago, Jason had a meeting in Dallas, Texas and Ty, Emily Grace and I got to tag along. The only catch was, Jason had to work a shift and then fly to Dallas, which had him arriving 10pm.  Way too late for our good little sleepers. But I really, really wanted to go on a trip and stay at a hotel.  I wasn’t going to let a little thing like flying with a two year old and a seven month old keep me from that free hotel breakfast.  I volunteered to travel alone with the kids.

I have flown alone with Emily Grace and Jason and I have flown together with toddler Ty, but alone?  I know Jason thought I was crazy, but we’ve been married long enough that he doesn’t doubt my ability to do just about anything. It didn’t take me long to convince him that we could do it and the preparations began.

One of my dreams is to write a travel guide for flying with children and I figured this would be a great opportunity to get some good material.  And really, how convincing could I be if I never actually traveled alone with children. I mean, even it was a total failure, at least I would have some good content for my blog.

When travel day finally came, my mom dropped me, Ty, Emily Grace, two car seats, a double stroller and a backpack off at the Charleston Airport. Jason was able to come to the curb to meet us, but as soon as we got our passes, he had to run back downstairs for a meeting and I was alone. Me, Ty, Emily Grace, two car seats, a double stroller and a back pack cleared security with no problem.  I was mentally prepared to be fumbling and chasing a toddler while holding a baby, but it went really smoothly.  I knew what I could carry through the checkpoint (click here for I wore easy to slip on shoes and I put Emily Grace in the front pack while we were waiting in line so I would have my hands free.

Once we were through the check point and put back together the lady who had gone through behind us told me, “You did a lot better than I thought you would back there.” I took it as a compliment.

The rest of the day went ok.  When we landed in Houston I had the worst headache of my life.  I wanted to just sit in a dark corner and cry.  My hands were shaking and I was having trouble concentrating or thinking.  I bought some medicine as soon as we got off the plane.  By the time we boarded our next flight, I was feeling a little better.

All things considered, it was a great trip and flying with children shouldn’t be something you are afraid of.  If you are planning to fly with children soon I have one thing to say to you:

 “You can do it!”

On a practical note, here’s a few tips I picked upped during the adventure.

1)      Pack everything you need, too.  I had baby Motrin, back up apple juice, spare clothes and food for the children, but not for me.  I wish I could have taken a couple Tylenol at the first sign of a headache.  It would have changed my experience dramatically.

2)      Lower your expectations.  It will take longer to clear security, board the plane, claim your luggage, grab lunch and transfer from gate to gate.  That’s ok.  It’s not a race (which is great news, because you would totally loose.) Give yourself more time than you need. Give yourself and your precious children an extra dose of grace.

3)      Give yourself plenty of time between flights. A close connection to shorten your overall travel time is a bad idea.  The computer will let you buy a ticket with as little as thirty minutes between connecting flights. You need at least an hour and a half.  Adding an hour or two to the trip to prevent a cross airport sprint is a fair trade.  And what if you miss your connection completely?  Do you really want to get stuck in Chicago all day waiting for a flight that can accommodate all y’all? I don’t!

Want to know what I pack in my carry on?  Check out this post.

What is your best piece of travel advice?  I’d love to hear it.


  1. Melissa says

    I flew to Japan to surprise my husband who was on deployment there with my then 5 year old and 2 year old (freshly potty trained by about a week, nonetheless). They did absolutely amazing for the 12 hour flight. The only downfall was my two year old throwing up 30 minutes before arriving at our destination…. all inside my purse, on my passport and ID’s and my shoes. It was a smelly reunion. ;) (And yes, I still had to present my puked on passport for customs to stamp!)

  2. says

    Oh no Melissa! On your passport? But the fact that you would do that for your husband is awesome. You are one brave woman, but I guess that comes with being a military wife:)

  3. Hope J says

    Wonderful piece Abbie! You did a great job. I’m sure I would have been in the fetal position hiding in a corner…

  4. The Educational Tourist says

    Oh, my what wonderful advice. I have been traveling with mine since they were itty bitty, but the first time alone was when they were 2 and 11 weeks. Whew! That was an experience. We made it and they have learned the ropes over the years.

    All I’ve learned I’m putting on a blog of my own – Visit for tips and downloads for the slightly older kiddos. Happy travels!

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