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Home » Blog » Tackling the Airport With a Toddler

Tackling the Airport With a Toddler

We all know the summer holidays are a busy period for holidays and queues at the airport can be lengthy. I must admit, looking at recent news reports, we were worried about extended wait times when we arrived at our local airport. It’s annoying enough for an adult to deal with queues, but when you have a toddler along for the ride, it’s even more exhausting. 

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I thought it would be useful to share my recent experience with you. And some practical tips on how to make your experience a little less exhausting. 

The airport

All in all, the experience wasn’t too painful for us! Going through Jet2 check-in was quick and friendly. At Leeds-Bradford airport security there was a bit of a queue, but again friendly people and pretty painless. 

We got a nice six-seater table in the bar. Granted, a bar that cost £9.99 for a large glass of wine and £16.00 for a burger. But we were comfortable and the little one was parked. Cue Burger King takeaway bags in the pub. Which everyone was doing, by the way. And we had toddler entertainment on hand to ensure our little one stayed put. For at least five minutes anyway! 

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It was nice to leave the bags with one of our party and nip to the toilet, or make a cheeky airport purchase. My little one decided she wanted nail polish, “like Mummy” and I found myself on the hunt for some children’s nail polish, which washes off. Boots didn’t have what I was looking for, but luckily we both saw the children’s accessories stand in Accessorize. We picked up an amazing Frozen nail polish set, discounted from £8.00 to just £2.50, and the problem was solved. It also bought me some more, much needed, entertainment time. 

The Frozen nail polish set was a feature most evenings when we got ready to go out on the balcony. And these mother-daughter moments make me so happy. Memories I will never forget!

Given the circumstances, my little one did well. A comfortable seat and a few breaks in between seemed to work. And she was excited to board the airplane. 

Taking off

Take-off was a novelty. Even for us, because we haven’t traveled abroad since 2017. The waiting around isn’t great, but luckily we arrived at the airport about three hours before the flight. Therefore, missing the bulk of the queue for passport control. 

Getting on the airplane was also friendly and painless. Security staff and every single Jet2 member of staff were amazing with our little one. This made a huge difference to how our airport and airplane journey went. 

I will be honest and admit that the return journey wasn’t all that great with a three-year-old in tow. We were all tired and an unfiltered toddler will voice all of the hassles everyone in the queue is feeling. While cute, it’s also exhausting for a parent to deal with. 

Just to mention

It is no secret I long for some holidays where a toddler isn’t the main focus of our plans. I recently wrote my travel bucket list and I’ve also been checking out the packages on Travelsphere – a chauffeur service when you arrive. Something I can dream about and hopefully manifest! We are due a honeymoon we never had, after all!

Tips for making the experience less exhausting 

Pack the essentials in an easy-to-reach location

In the past, I’ve been known to take up the full hand luggage weight with platform shoes and heavy clothes items. Those going-out days are gone and I’m over the moon they’ve been replaced by family memories. Packing is just a different ball game now. 

This time we opted for less hand luggage each, but a small compact rucksack, mainly filled with toddler essentials. This means if one parent is preoccupied with getting a food order or collecting suitcases cases, someone else is able to take the toddler to the toilet. We had a few personal items, but mainly supplies for entertainment and changing nappies. You are also able to keep these bags at your feet on the airplane, which is an absolute must.

So what did we have in the bag?

Blanket

I chose to take the ones she had as a baby, which meant being nice and cosy but less weight in the bag.

Extra clothes

You never know what mess a toddler will get in. Even on a normal day out, I take a multitude of clothes for her and we have been caught in situations where nappies have busted, no leggings in the bag and the poor thing was covered with coats walking home in the pushchair. 

On an airplane, there is nowhere to get more clothes. You need to be prepared! 

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Nappies & wipes

I don’t really need to explain – take enough! And also don’t rely on one pack of wipes. Even the adults ended up using them.

Entertainment

For us, this was mainly a tablet and headphones. We also had a few coloring books and small travel-sized packs of crayons. Daddy’s phone also came in handy for drawing, as he has the stylus pen.

Snacks 

Because we were setting off early in the morning and my little one is not a morning person, we bought some pre-packed pastry snacks. Even I ended up eating them on the airplane. 

Sunhat/suncream/ sunglassses

We were arriving In Lanzarote just as the sun was going to sleep, but these essentials are always handy to have. Should the sun pop out in the UK before take off, or upon landing.

We also have a toddler who is currently eager to wear sunglasses as a fashion accessory. So we must always have them to hand!

Pillow

Our travel pillow is currently part of the dress-up box at home. However, it is essential for a flight with a sleeping toddler. Buy one or pack it!

Prebook your seats 

This is an additional cost before you travel, but an absolute must for a family traveling with a toddler. The last thing I would want is to be sat with the toddler alone. No thank you! 

Ride on luggage for the little one 

We all know airports can be exhausting and there is often a lot of walking involved. This can be extra tiring for a little one. The ride-on luggage proved to be a real hit with our toddler. She sat on it and played at the luggage check-in desk. Had loads of fun riding down the corridors, and even took it to grandma and grandad’s apartment, when we had a few nights off on holiday.

Morning departure 

When we booked, we were pretty adamant we wanted a morning flight. Ours was 11.30 am, which meant we could get up and travel to the airport. I can’t think of anything worse than dealing with a moody toddler all day, having them become overtired, and then doing the airport. Morning flights only, please. 

Pre warn your toddler on what to expect 

We have a very intelligent and inquisitive child. You cannot fool her and she always does better when she understands the situation. We have regular conversations about what is coming up throughout the week. 

We, therefore, started these conversations about a month before our holiday. It was made clear that the airport even annoys adults and there is a lot of waiting around. Having these conversations early definitely helped us on the day.

Until next time

I hope you enjoyed reading all about our airport experience!

Do you have any tips to share? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

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11 Comments

  1. October 1, 2022 / 12:40 AM

    Great tips! I have not yet travelled with my littles ones yet, but even travelling with my oldest pre-pandemic we covered off some of this. Another tip is an electronic (tablet) or whatever pre loaded with their games/shows and colouring books and crayons! The simplicity is surprising.

  2. October 1, 2022 / 2:07 PM

    Thanks for the tips! We’ll be taking a 7-hour flight with our kids in December, any advice helps!

    • October 6, 2022 / 9:09 PM

      I am glad the post was helpful and good luck with the flight!

  3. December 3, 2022 / 9:42 AM

    I am yet to take my toddler abroad, but I am hoping to do so next year! Its good to read how your experience was and take some tips from it! Thanks for sharing!

    • December 29, 2022 / 8:52 PM

      Glad you found the tips useful and I hope you all enjoy your first trip abroad.

  4. June 15, 2023 / 3:04 PM

    This is something I am yet to do with my toddler, no idea how she is going to cope haha but its great to read others experiences and take good ideas! Thanks for sharing!

    • June 30, 2023 / 12:56 AM

      You just have to go for it and be prepared – but you won’t think of everything. Just the way it is, haha.

    • October 30, 2023 / 8:39 PM

      Thank you – a little guide is needed in such a stressful situation.

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