Tips for Solo Travel With Your Toddler

Of course I'm smiling. It was early in the day. Or what I like to call Before.

Of course I’m smiling. It was early in the day. Or what I like to call Before.

Our family travels as much as we can. In fact, we just spent a lovely week on Family Vacation in Ft. Myers, Florida. The end of the week saw a bunch of us going our separate ways for various reasons, so that’s how I found myself yesterday, traveling solo with my three year old.

It was an interesting day, in which I had a few thoughts about what could have made it better, and I wanted to share those learnings with you, dear reader. So here we go.

Tip number one.

Don’t go out drinking the night before you have to travel cross country, alone, with a three year old. Especially if you are waking up at 6 am to go to the airport. I don’t care if it’s your ‘last night of vacation’, the next morning when that alarm goes off and you have to unglue your eyeballs and wonder where your pants are, you are NOT going to be a happy camper.

But being the consummate professional that I am, I hopped out of bed and got right to it. Showered, packed, family up, ready to go, not killing each other, out the door at 6:45. The day was off to a fabulous start.

Casey was heading to Pittsburgh, and Jones was heading back to Houston with me, so I thought I would be a super smarty pants and check everything but my oversized purse, so we wouldn’t have to lug bags around during our layover.

Tip number two.

Do not check all of your bags for your entire day of travel. It is incredibly likely your three year old is going to dump an entire cup of ginger ale all over himself on the airplane, and if you don’t have an extra set of clothes, he is going to be Mr. Ginger Ale pants till you get those bags. At the very least, stuff an extra set of clothes in your purse.

All bagless and smug, we say our goodbyes. I stop at Starbucks because mama needed a triple espresso, and we make our way to the gate.

This is where things start to go downhill a bit. For some strange, inexplicable reason, my normally laid back three year old starts racing around the crowded boarding gate screaming “I’ve got a bear on my penis!!” at the top of his impressive lungs.

Tip number three.

Have a chat with your kids before traveling. Sit them down. Do some expectation setting.

Getting ready for take off! Let's act like there isn't a set of screaming twins behind us! JUST KEEP SMILING I LOVE ALL BABIES.

Getting ready for take off! Let’s act like there isn’t a set of screaming twins behind us! JUST KEEP SMILING I LOVE ALL BABIES.

It’s boarding time, so me, Jones, and his penis bear get on the plane. Jones is actually really good on planes. His first flight was at three months old, and he’s flown plenty since, and yes, I know I’m very lucky. I know this because the 75 other kids that were on our flight were having none of it. They knew for a fact that their parents had loaded them onto some pressurized chamber of doom, and it was their personal job to act as sirens for the rest of the plane so we all knew.

I briefly considered ordering a drink, but decided that screaming kids or not, 9 am was pushing it.

Tip number four.

Pack a flask. Then the passengers on your 9 am flight can’t judge you.

Other than Jones dumping his drink all over himself (see Tip number two), it was an uneventful flight from Ft. Myers to Chicago. By the time we got off the plane at Midway, he was starting to show signs of PMDW (pre melt down warning).

There was the Running Ahead, the Fall to the Floor and Lay There Limply While You Try To Not Dislocate His Shoulder, followed by the I Want Pizza No I Want McDonald’s Can We Get a Puppy WHY CAN’T WE GET A PUPPY.

I finally get some food and wrestle Mr. Ginger Ale Pants into a seat. An airport worker was bringing a very nice woman in a wheelchair into our boarding area, and he stopped her right by our seat while he talked to the attendants. I could see Jones looking at her. In a flash, I knew what was going to happen next, but I was helpless to stop it.


Very nice lady – Well, it’s hard for some people. That’s why I have this chair.

Me, desperate to make this all Go Away – Jones, isn’t it great that there are ways to help people get around?


He then proceeds to scowl at this poor woman. Now there is literally nothing I can do to extract myself from this situation, so I just sit there and burn with shame and dream up tip number five.

Tip number five.

If your child is showing signs of PMDW and someone in a wheel chair approaches, taser them. Your child, not the person in the wheel chair.

So close to being tasered...

So close to being tasered…

We board our flight to Houston, and like the good little angel I know he can be, Jones slept almost the entire flight.

Sleeeeeeppppp little man of mine. Sleeeeeeppppppp.

Sleeeeeeppppp little man of mine. Sleeeeeeppppppp.

We land, head to baggage claim, and there I pause. I have one large shoulder bag, one giant suitcase, one carry on size suitcase, a car seat, two arms, and a squirming toddler. Now some people might get one of those luggage carriers, the kind were you can load all of your bags on one handy cart, and wheel them effortlessly outside. But I’m not some people. I tied the car seat to the big suitcase, Jones to my leg, and She-Ra’ed our stuff to the cab.

Tip number six.

Get the luggage carrier.

We have arrived!

We have arrived!

I don’t know if you’ve been to Houston before, but the heat and humidity had been known to actually melt people. I mean it. Look it up. So why I didn’t have the cabbie go through the parking garage to the third floor to drop us off is beyond me. I had him drop us outside the entrance, so now I had the exact same issue as I did at in baggage claim, only this time I had three flights of steps and it was 9 million degrees.

Tip number 7.

Live on the first floor.

After much sweating and groaning and swearing of the words, we made it. I was victorious! I DID IT.  I, of course, celebrated with some ice cold, much needed, margaritas. I traveled all day, two flights, with a toddler, by myself!!!! Which brings me to my final tip;

Tip number 8.

Don’t ever, under any circumstances, travel with a toddler by yourself.

Yours in More Margaritas, please,

Excuse me, sir? Why is this EMPTY??

Excuse me, sir? Why is this EMPTY??



3 thoughts on “Tips for Solo Travel With Your Toddler

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