This will be short and sweet. I did so much research and bought a bunch of things and made a bunch of things, but this little list is what made it SOO easy for us and traveling 6 different flights over two weeks with a 15 month old.
When I found out we were traveling to from New Orleans to Portland, from Portland to Salt Lake City and back to New Orleans I really started freaking out. I've never flown with a toddler, I don't even know anyone who has other than the online friend here and there or someone I follow. I did reach out to a few people and read a lot of blog posts and researched every mom site I could find.
So here is my quick break down list that helped us.
The car seat, we bought just your run of the mill car seat, it is light and easy to carry around. We got this bag to carry it on our bags. Every airline allows your carseat to fly free. So with the extra space of the bag we were able to stuff extra diapers and toys and blankets for him, ALL FLEW FREE in this bag! I liked that it wasn't bright red and didn't scream car seat. The extra space was definitely nice for those few things we really needed but took up so much space.
As far as renting one with the rental shop you never know what you are going to get. It doesn't hurt to have an extra car seat laying around. We use the GRACO all in one as our every day car seat. Traveling with a free extra bag really was so nice when we needed to shove something somewhere.
For the plane, we got these little pull back plush cars. I am pretty sure they were our best investment because he seriously loved them. I didn't open them or even show him them until we got to the airport and on the plane. I only took two with us for the trip anyway. They are LIGHT which was a huge thing for me, if thrown they are plushy so no one would get hurt. If lost we had two back at home and one more hidden in the diaper bag.
If your kid is anything like mine he is obsessed with books and most importantly flip books. We got all three of these. Pulled them all out at different times when needed. They really occupied him when we needed them to.
1. Elmo's Big Lift and Look Book
2. First 100 Words
3. Dear Zoo
I got this little Color Wonder watercolor book, but we never ended up using it on the flights or at the airport. But since have used it and he really loves these. I think just picking some up for your little one would be so fun!
The number one thing that probably saved us big time were these bead storage boxes. I got one from Micheals for $4 and washed and cleaned it thoroughly before using it of course. I wouldn't recommend using them all the time but for a flight I think its magical. I went and shopped around the grocery store and found healthy snacks Kett had never tried before and put them in different compartments. He was able to play and choose what he wanted to eat. He also is in the stage of putting things together that look alike so when I would disorganize it he would really reorganize it back to the way it was. Another really fun trick to keep them entertained.
We also brought washi tape to tape to the window or back of the seat but never got to that either. A friend recommended an old yogurt container with holes punched in the top and some small pom poms he could stuff down the holes. I think that would have been a super fun cute idea.
Mostly we pushed him hard with the nap schedule. We didn't have the luxury to schedule a flight around his and really had to take the cheapest flights possible. So once we pushed his nap time back an hour which wasn't fun but once on the plane and in my arms he had no chance of lasting and was asleep before we were fully in the air.
All in all, you can totally do this mama! I have faith in you! If you have any Qs of course reach out and let me know!! Feel free to look around my amazon to see if anything sparks you or your kids interest, find link here. We brought our stroller, ALSO FLIES FREE, can be checked at the gate which is so nice and frees up arms for everything else.
I feel like the biggest take away here though is SNACKS SNACKS SNACKS and WATER!