Staying Healthy & Sane on a 6-Hour Flight With a Toddler + Giveaway

Disclosure: I’m proud to partner with CVS/pharmacy for the #FindYourHealthy campaign. I am being sponsored by CVS/pharmacy for my posts and activities, but all opinions expressed are my own, and all product claims or program details shared should be verified at CVS.com or with the appropriate manufacturers.

We did it! We survived a cross-country flight to Portland and then a nearly 3-hour drive to Black Butte Ranch with a toddler. Holy cow. We did it. I’m happy with how things went overall, so I wanted to share how we managed to stay healthy and sane during our travels!

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WE GOT ORGANIZED

This, of course, is the #1 thing that made our trip go so smoothly. If you happen to remember my post about traveling with an infant, I mentioned tips like creating an insanely detailed packing list, buying covers for your car seat and stroller, and using a backpack as a carry-on to free up your hands, so we were already somewhat comfortable flying with Quinn, but we took things one step further and really got organized this time. This was especially important because we had a lot more stuff. Check out our “light” packing…

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But, seriously, here’s what we brought and how we packed it to avoid extra baggage fees:

  • Two carry-on size suitcases – we divided Quinn’s stuff between them
  • Quinn’s diaper bag
  • Backpack – Mal and I shared this as our carry-on (I know we could have each bought one, but we didn’t want to carry more)
  • Tre Jogging Stroller
  • Car seat + base
  • Hiking backpack
  • Pack ‘N’ Play – borrowed from a family member in Oregon
  • Highchair – borrowed from a family member in Oregon

With regard to Quinn’s diaper bag, it was key that it was well-organized. The last time we flew cross-country, we didn’t do this well and we were a mess trying to find things when we needed them. This time, I bought a couple of zip cases from CVS to keep things nice and neat inside.

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One of the two cases held Quinn’s toys while the other contained all of his health-related products, including disinfecting wipes, CVS Hand and Face Wipes, CVS Baby Sunblock SPF 50 (I transferred some to an airline-friendly, 3-ounce container), CVS Kids Sunstick SPF 55 (much easier to apply to little faces), and CVS Children’s Pain & Fever Suspension Liquid Grape Flavor (we brought this just in case and then Quinn started getting some molars yesterday, so we were really happy to have it).

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I also brought along Quinn’s lunch box to keep his snacks together.

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Quinn’s snacks:

Our snacks:

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We were all packed up and ready to go the night before our trip, so we waited until the very last minute to wake up Quinn before we drove to the airport.

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WE STAYED CALM

We made it from our house to the airport without any issues, but when we arrived at the terminal… holy cow. Mal’s face in the photo below says it all. Being the day before a holiday weekend, it was total madness. There were so many people, insanely long lines everywhere, and we had a buttload of stuff with us. I knew checking our things and getting through security would likely be stressful, so I reminded myself to stay calm in the moment.

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Keeping my cool definitely rubbed off on Mal (and likely Quinn) because, by the time we made it to our gate (and grabbed Starbucks), everyone was in a great mood!

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WE TOOK ADVANTAGE OF EARLY BOARDING

This was also huge for us. Prior to getting on the plane, we still had our stroller, car seat + base, hiking backpack, Quinn’s diaper bag, carry-on backpack + a toddler, so when the gate attendant announced that families with small children could board first, we were all about it. Having those extra minutes without all of the commotion of boarding a plane made such a difference for the three of us. Plus, Mal and I were able to drink some of our (much-needed) iced coffees before our adventure really began! Haha!

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WE BATTLED GERMS

Planes are breeding grounds for germs and potential illness (remember what happened when we flew to Seattle?), so I made sure to wipe down the arm rests and tray tables in and around our seats as soon as we got onto the plane. I also frequently cleaned Quinn’s hands as well as my own. None of us wanted to be sick on our vacation! (Aren’t the airplane disinfected wipes super cute? They were just $2 at CVS.)

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WE FUELED RIGHT

Another important part of staying healthy and sane on our flight was fueling well for our travels. When we flew to Seattle back in February, I remember frantically shoving not-so-healthy food into my mouth while trying to navigate the airport. This time, I made sure to start my day with a nutritious and satisfying breakfast (Starbucks oatmeal), which I ate during take-off when Quinn was enjoying a bottle (to help with the changing cabin pressure in his ears).

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Mid-way through the flight, I started to get hungry again, so I snacked on a Hemp Bar + some dried figs, which was an awesomely satisfying snack with the combo of protein + fiber.

IMG_4563 (800x600)I also packed a week’s worth of women’s multivitamins to fill any sort of nutritional gaps in my diet since you know how vacation goes sometimes. I mean, it’s not like you can always eat Oreos for breakfast, right?

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WE STAYED ORGANIZED

Organizing Quinn’s stuff into three separate bags worked really well on the plane, so it was a piece of cake finding exactly what we needed when we needed it. And putting things back exactly where we found them was also really helpful. That way, we weren’t constantly asking each other questions like “where did you put the wipes?” or “what happened to that bag of animal crackers,” especially when dealing with a fussy kid.

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WE SLEPT WHEN OUR LITTLE GUY SLEPT

Quinn fell asleep shortly after take-off and snoozed for almost 2 hours.

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I watched TV for a little bit and then decided I should probably take a nap too since we still had a long day of travel ahead. It ended up being a great idea because we both woke up in a great mood!

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WE HAD SOME FUN

I know I’ve said this before, but Quinn is a very active little boy. He never stops moving and he always wants to be walking/running/throwing a ball, so we knew having him sit in a confined space for 6 hours was going to be a challenge. Instead of stressing out about the situation, we decided to make it as fun as possible for the three of us. Here are just some of the things we did to keep the little guy entertained!

We bought Quinn a few new toys to keep him busy on the flight.

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These Dive Fun Pool Buddies (from CVS) were a huge hit!

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He must have played with them for a solid 15 minutes, which, for Quinn, is a long time.

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Pool Buddy in a barf bag = absolutely hilarious!

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In addition to playing with toys, we also looked out the window of the plane.

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Turned the overhead light on and off.

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Wrestled with Dada’s headphones.

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And played with a straw. Good times.

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After a couple of hours of playing, Quinn started to get really cranky. I’m not sure if he was sick of being on the plane or just tired, but he basically had a meltdown– crying, flailing, arching his back– so I ended up walking up and down the aisle of the plane for quite a while trying to calm him down. He eventually relaxed and fell asleep for the remainder of the flight, but it was definitely one of those moments, which brings me once again to…

WE STAYED CALM 

Staying calm was truly essential for us. It made all the difference when dealing with Quinn’s meltdown on the flight and then when we deplaned and discovered that the airline had broken our beloved jogging stroller. The gate check attendant’s response: “Sorry. It’s not covered by the airline. You’re shit out of luck.” Ok, I added that last part, but, jeez, what a buzzkill. They gave us a $100 travel voucher, which we appreciated, but they still kind of screwed us considering how much we rely on our stroller when we travel.

When we arrived at our destination, we ended up having our stroller fixed. The man who fixed it said he needed to use a vice and hammer to straighten the bent frame, so he guessed it was likely run over since there was so much damage to it. It’s a heavy-duty stroller, so I can’t even imagine what was done to it.

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Despite the stroller snafu and a meltdown on the plane, things went well during our travels to Oregon. Let’s hope they go as smoothly (or smoother!) on the way home!

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Ok, giveaway time!

Here’s your chance to win:

To enter: Leave a comment on this post with your #1 tip/trick for keeping your sanity when you travel. I will randomly pick a winner on Friday. Good luck!

501 Comments

  1. I keep my sanity by being overly organized and trying to have everything I need in case things go wrong, extra cash, a change of clothes in my carry on, good book , head phones, etc.

  2. I travel so infrequently that I keep telling myself in a Frodo voice, “I’m going on an adventure!” I have no kids or husband, so I really only need to look out for me. I’ve only had one solo meltdown, and it was at TSA. I was also exhausted and ready to go home, so there’s that. But overall, I look at it all as an adventure.

  3. I make sure to have a power source handy for electronics. Either I bring a wall charger, or I recently bought a small power bank that has a USB port. That will come with us to Hawaii. Also, if I’m going somewhere I’ll be driving around at, I bring a car charger with me, too. Came in handy one year when my wall charger broke. I totally agree that snacks are key, even for shorter travels!

  4. Drink lots of water!! It’s so easy to forget, but it helps me stay healthy and refreshed. No one likes being puffy from flying!

  5. I make a packing list and try to stick to it! I don’t like checking a bag unless I’m traveling for longer than a week so staying organized is key!

  6. Staying calm and positive will always be my #1 travel tip. As hard as it may sound, it can make the world of a difference for a day of travel. Also, bringing an empty waterbottle in your carry-on to fill up – staying hydrated keeps me most happy!

  7. I couldn’t live without my battery pack while I’m traveling! It even has built in cords, so I don’t have to worry about digging one out!

  8. I try to stick to my normal schedule as much as possible. No matter how badly I want to watch that movie, if it’s time for “bed” I go brush my teeth, take out my contacts, wash my face and settle in my seat with a pillow and the lights off. It is so helpful in falling asleep and getting some sort of rest on the plane.

  9. In my particular case, the iPad usually keeps my kid busy with games and such for long periods of time. That and snacks are a must.

  10. I need a few items to keep me happy on the go. My kindle, snacks from home, empty water bottle i can refill in the airports and lastly wipes and sanitizers, those planes be nasty.

  11. I love your travel tips! I printed off your recommendations our first time traveling with our son back in April. He’ll be one come August, so it’s fun to see what Quinn is doing each month!
    My husband tends to be the calmer out of the two of us”¦ so he’s usually the one keeping me sane! But, staying organized and making check-list for pre travel really helps keep me calm.
    Cheers!

  12. Deep breathing always helps me to stay calm and deal with stressful traveling situations, like turbulence on a plane.

  13. I always leave tons of extra time so that poopy diapers or tantrums don’t turn into being stressed about making it on time.

  14. Awesome tips! My main travel staples are healthy snacks (quest bars, trail mix, apples/bananas) and my Kindle. As long as I have food and a good book, life is good! 🙂

  15. I try to not be so rigid on vacation. Everyone has a better time if they get to do something different – like eat dessert before their lunch. It helps everyone stay more relaxed.

  16. Have new toys and take them out slowly through the flight. My other suggestion isn’t healthy but it got us to Hawaii with a 23 month old – dum dum suckers are amazing for entertainment and a treat that lasts for a long time!

  17. I HAVE to have reading material, it helps me keep to myself and stay relaxed instead of getting overwhelmed by the insane amount of people watching thats possible at airports.

  18. “Go with the flow” and take an empty water bottle along to fill at the water fountain. I’ve also started taking a deck of cards along when I travel with my hubby. He gets as restless as a toddler and the first time I broke out the cards — and the cribbage board app on my smartphone — he was super excited. Great way to pass the hours.

  19. I get really antsy on flights and I can’t fall asleep easily while sitting up so I have to make sure I have plenty of things to keep me entertained! Old school crossword puzzles are a favorite.

  20. I love this post because we’re flying for this first time with our toddler this Friday! I think your travel tip would be similar to mine – just stay calm, breathe, and know that no matter what happens, it’ll pass.

  21. I always eat a giant healthy breakfast before leaving the house. It prevents me from wanting to graze through the trip 🙂

  22. I try to keep in mind that, no matter what happens, I’ll either have a great time or end up with a great story, and frequently I get both.

  23. My #1 travel tip is carrying an empty water bottle to fill up after you go through security and bringing snacks. As long as everyone in my family has a satisfied tummy and is hydrated, everyone seems to feel better and then the long lines or flight delays (as in let’s sit for 2+ hrs on the runway) aren’t too terrible!

  24. I don’t travel that much but when I do, it’s rarely by plane. I just try to stay organized and have a game plan. If I can get ahead of my plans, great but if not, there’s room for delay (which we all know happens….Hertz is the worst even when you have an appointment). I also get super snack on long car rides so I try to pack healthier snacks to graze on. Glad you guys have had a good trip so far!

  25. Stay organized! We are flying for the first time with our seven month old in September, so that should be interesting. Thanks for the tips!

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