Overseas travel can be a challenge for anyone; even traveling moms don’t like to be belted into an uncomfortable airplane seat for seven hours or more. But for a toddler, it can be pure torture. One traveling mom offers her tips for transatlantic travel with tots in tow.
My first tip to those of you traveling with a carseat for your toddler: Book the bulkhead seats! It seems obvious now, but didn’t occur to me when speaking to my travel agent. Then your child’s legs won’t be squashed up against the seat in front, as my poor daughter’s were, especially when the person in front reclines his/her seat. This annoyed her greatly, and as we all know, annoying a 2-year-old is asking for trouble. Besides the legroom, if you are in the bulkhead you will get served food and drinks first, and be close to the bathrooms.
The husband and I were relieved that the flight passed uneventfully, except for when my son threw up as we were landing. Tip No. 2: don’t forget the Dramamine! Oh well, at least he gave us advance warning and quietly barfed neatly into the barf bag. We landed in Philadelphia and had a tight connection to Norfolk, Va. I had booked a two-hour layover, but it turned out to not be enough, as we had to go through customs and VERY thorough security checks — necessary nowadays, but very, very slow.
So if traveling to or from one country to another, Tip No. 3 is to allow three hours between flights. Besides allowing you plenty of time to collect your baggage and pass through customs, it also will give you time to get from one side of a massive airport to the other. If I had to do it again, I would also bring my Buggy Board on the flight, so you can get around huge airports with small children relatively quickly—those conveyor belts are often out of order, or not everywhere that you need one.
We were headed to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We could have flown into one of the larger airports, such as Raleigh, N.C., but the drive to the Outer Banks is longer, so we opted for the shortest drive, which was from Norfolk, Va. (about two hours).
However, we learned that flying to a smallish airport like Norfolk on a Saturday means flying on one of those vomit-inducing small propeller planes (luckily, my son slept through that flight). Those little planes are hot, too, and the toddler’s carseat didn’t fit into the tiny seats. So Tip No. 4 is to fly to smaller airports only on weekdays before 7 p.m., which means you will get a normal-sized jet (for all the business flyers).