Advice Needed: Traveling with a Toddler

In one month, Nellie and I will be flying by ourselves to Chicago to visit my family. Yeah, I’m willingly putting myself into a flying metal contraption with mobile, curious toddler. Snakes on A Plane is mild compared to Toddlers on a Plane. Seriously. Chaos and carnage. Anyway.

My grandfather turned 90 years old (!!) earlier this month but his party was pushed back to late September so my cousin (who was very pregnant on his birthday.. So pregnant, in fact, that she had her daughter on his 90th birthday!) and her family could attend. Joshua wasn’t able to get the time off work, so Nellie and I got our flights booked and we will be flying solo. I’m really excited to be going home to Chicago, because it’s been almost three years since I’ve been and my grandfather has never met Nellie. His wife, my late grandmother, is Nellie’s namesake so this is a really special visit.

The flight is only about an hour and a half long, but I am begging you for advice. What is your #1 tip for flying with a toddler? I also have a few questions/worries that I’ve been obsessing over wondering for a while. Such as:

  • Nellie has her own seat and I planned on putting her car seat in it so she’d have something comfy and familiar to sit in. Since my husband can only come so far with me into the terminal, how the shit am I supposed to wrangle a 20 month old, luggage, my purse, and a car seat? The car seat is the main thing. What the hell am I supposed to do with it?
  • Should I get a baby leash? I hate them normally but the thought of Nellie in a crowded airport surrounded by plague-carrying, baby-snatching, brain-eating strangers makes me a little panicky. STAY AWAY FROM MY BABY OR I WILL CUT YOU.
  • What are guidelines when it comes to sippy cups? Am I going to have to carry several thimbles full of milk/juice/Jack for Nellie to sip on during the flight or do they make exceptions for sippy cups?
  • Anyone have an iPad I can have borrow? I swear there’s almost a 43.1% chance I’ll bring it back. Those are good odds. C’mon.

In all seriousness, I would love your advice for flying solo with a toddler. Lay it on me. Also, please send vodka. For me, not Nellie. She likes margaritas.