Flying with Children: Nothing to Fear When You Do It Alone

 In Travel Tips

I am not the only mom wandering around with two boys under the age of 4. Nicole from Arrows Sent Forth recently flew with her little men and discovered that even when it looks like disaster is looming things really can turn out better than we expect. 

The thing I love most about Keryn’s blog is that she inspires me to push past what others might consider a bit crazy or daunting when it comes to traveling with young kids. And because her boys are roughly the same age as mine, I can genuinely say to myself, “If she can do it, so can I!” When I heard she was tackling part of her European adventure without her husband, including the flight there, my admiration for her bravery really grew.

So when my husband broke the news to me that he had to travel to Minneapolis a few days ahead of our planned family trip there due to a work commitment, I channeled my inner Walking on Travels and forged ahead. Don’t get me wrong, I was still nervous—I had visions of inconsolable baby meltdowns in flight, preschooler tantrums in the middle of the terminal, and fears of just how overwhelming it would be to get all three of us and our stuff from point A to point B.

And certainly, it IS overwhelming. But, as I kept reminding myself, 3 hours after arriving at the Indianapolis airport, I’d be landing in Minneapolis with nothing but four days of fun (and helping hands) ahead of me. A pretty good return on investment, don’t you think?

He may not have had a window seat on the plane, but my oldest son got a great view of zookeepers feeding the seals at the Como Park Zoo in St. Paul, Minnesota.

What I can look back on and laugh about now is that solo parenting for the few days leading up to the trip was far more challenging than the flight itself.

Approximately 48 hours prior to our departure, my oldest son (age 3 ½) got what appeared to be a nasty cold, which soon blossomed into an awful stomach bug. With less than 24 hours until we were due to board, he was still vomiting and running a fever. I began to wonder if this trip would even happen. But as quickly as he got sick, it just as rapidly vanished and he was back to his usual rambunctious self the morning of our flight.

As I began to breathe a sigh of relief and switched gears from Lysol clean-up to packing, my baby (10 months) started bleeding from his nose. Did he bonk his head or just get his first bloody nose? I wasn’t sure, but it continued off and on for several hours. I dressed both of us in red shirts to board and made room in our carry-on for clean-up supplies. At this point, I didn’t care about dirty looks from fellow passengers or unhelpful flight attendants. I merely wanted to land with two healthy kids in tow.

And that’s exactly how it played out. The flight was uneventful. There were a few fitful cries from my youngest as he settled down to sleep.  Which he did for 45 minutes, almost half the flight, while his big brother and I watched cartoons on the iPad. Dare I say it was actually kind of relaxing?

Our family of four, together again, after a smooth flight from Indianapolis to Minneapolis.

The only tantrum I had to handle from my oldest involved a broken promise. (Apparently not all window seats really have a window… we were seated in that awkward aisle that is between the windows.) His disappointment was easily managed with the unveiling of a new Lightening McQueen coloring book. Kachow, indeed!

And when we filed off the plane, all three of us were smiling and not the least bit bloody or feverish. We wrapped our arms around dad and all was right with the world again.

We had an amazing trip (you can read more about how we spent our time in Minneapolis here). I’m already contemplating meeting up with my husband on his next business trip, even if it does include a solo flight with our boys.

Keryn’s motto is “when you won’t let kids stop your wanderlust.” I know I haven’t, and after this flight, I won’t let fears stop me either.

Nicole Wiltrout is a mom and freelance writer living in Columbus, Indiana. At her blog, Arrows Sent Forth, she writes about the adventures she takes with her 3-year-old and 10-month-old sons. You’ll find posts about family vacations, day trips around Indiana, travel tips, and her favorite products. Keep up with her on Facebook and Twitter too. 

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Showing 7 comments
  • Agness (@Agnesstramp)

    I always thought that once I get pregnant and have my own kids and start a family, I will stop travelling. However, you guys are the best example that travelling with your kids and family can be even more awesome than travelling solo. Good luck and keep inspiring people to travel! Great post by the way.

  • Lisa Wood

    Sounds like two little ones are born travellers! Glad you had a good flight and all went so well 🙂

  • Adam Sommer

    So many folks seems afraid to fly with kids…glad you gave it a try and it worked! Our toddler has been all over the world – it gets easier the more you do it!

  • Alyson

    I took mine from Australia, via Hong Kong, to London and then on to Florida and back last year. Without Dad! Yes, I was nervous, but the boys were fantastic, at 7 and 5 they had a concept of helping Mum while Dad isn’t around, doing their bit with luggage and trolleys. We had the best time and I found the whole thing really empowering, driving around Orlando in my big hire car with my kids was great. We had a few disasters, 2 hospital visits, got lost a few times, but it was all worth it and I think maybe, it made us an even more tightly knit little group. I tell everyone to just do it, don’t be scared. Glad it all went well for you, babies are more tricky!

    • AdventureBee

      I’m glad to hear from other people who are willing to try solo travel with kids. My 4yo and I have been traveling around Canada & the USA since she was 1 1/2yo. I’ll say that in the beginning it was a bit of an adjustment but we are now accustomed to it.

      It is not impossible to travel solo with a child and actually is an amazing bonding experience!

      So while my Hubby stays behind and works at his dream of climbing the corporate ladder, we are able to tool about and explore our dreams…just the child & me!

  • Jenna

    Glad to see people who are brave to at least try it. My fear is flying with two little ones by myself overseas. My husband and I are each in charge of one kid and it works pretty well, but I have a friend who flies with two (ages 4 and 1) to Brazil but had a hard time on a couple of those flights. Short flight, OK, but a loooong trip would scare me. That being said, my older son is now 5 and is getting to be responsible enough that he could almost help take care of the younger one on a long flight.

  • bcn

    I´m glad the flight went well. I remember the first flight with our little 5 month old, we were so worried she would scream and annoy everybody, but she just slept the whole way. Another perk is we got preferential treatment at airport security, and were able to board the plane first!

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