Our Best Experience Flying With A Toddler So Far

traveling toddler
Cruising the airport getting ready to board!

We traveled to Ohio and Indiana this past weekend to celebrate my little sister’s graduation from college. It is always great to travel and visit with family, but as Cullen has gotten older, we have really started feeling the distance of the 4.5 hour (minimum!) flights back home. Oh how I now long for one of those ten hour car rides that I used to dread!

Our flight out last Wednesday was horrible. We risked a red eye and it did not pay off. Cullen skipped his nap that day, sending us into a hellish vortex of overtired and overstimulated. I felt under medicated. He was so sleepy, and my grand plan was that he would be tired enough to just pass out on us for the duration of the flight. Things were going really well until all of the sudden – BOOM! – florescent lights beaming straight in our faces. For some reason – even on a red eye at midnight – the policy is to turn on the harsh overhead lights during drink service, which happened to last for 90 excruciating minutes. Cullen thrashed, cried, and desperately begged for sleep that I couldn’t give him because of the lights. It was awful and we swore we’d never fly again.

But of course, we had to fly again because we had to travel home. Monday morning we jumped on a direct flight that left at 9am. Also known as – the best time to fly with a toddler, as I now know. Cullen had plenty of sleep the night before, had a nice big breakfast, and was in a great mood as we got ready to board. The iPad was fully charged, our seat mate was friendly and talked to us about traveling when his kids were little, and I had an arsenal of snacks ready to go.

I don’t know if it was a fluke or just a good time of day, but Cullen was great. He played with his apps, read books, ate raisins, and eventually started rubbing his eyes. I handed him his blankie and lovey, and the next thing I knew he was curling up on my lap and putting his head down. I mouthed to Casey, “Are his eyes open?” and he shook his head no. We were floored. He seriously just put himself to sleep! For the first time in 18-months, I actually got a book out on a plane and read something like fifty pages. It was absolute heaven.

He snoozed for about an hour, and popped his head up with only an hour left to go. Don’t get me wrong – four plus hours in the sky still felt like an eternity, but it was a drastic change from the wrestling matches and crying fits we’ve dealt with during recent travels. We got home just in time for him to take another nap at home in his crib while I showered and unpacked.

We don’t have any trips planned until later in the summer, but I’m hoping our next one is as successful as our trip home was this time.  We’ll definitely be booking morning flights from now on!