Miracle or Marvel: A Toddler Travel Success Story

Travel with young children is no easy task, especially when said kiddo is a teething toddler who just learned the powerful world no and somehow can shriek it in three different languages.

That’s no, nein, and nee, for those keeping score.

Our trio took our first family vacation ahead of the spring break crowd. This specific trip involved two layovers and an international flight. To say I was terrified to travel with our toddler would be an extreme oversimplification of my stress status.

You name the travel question – I attempted to Google the answer.

How do I keep her entertained on the flight? How do I make her sleep on the flight? What if she screams? What if she screams the entire time? How do you deal with a sick child midair? How do you change a diaper in an airplane? Where do you go to replace a carseat if the airline breaks it? What if our bag is lost? What if we lose ALL THE PACIFIERS?

I read. I researched. But none of it prepared me for what was in store.  

We stocked up on snacks and stories, armed ourselves with activities, extra t-shirts, and a pathetic number of pacifiers. None of these items helped. Our toddler wasn’t the problem. Her parents were.

The flight out 

Our alarm didn’t ring at 4 a.m. before our flight out, and no backup was set.

We arrived at the airport 30 minutes before takeoff and begged our fellow flyers to let us cut them in line at the check-in counter and in security. They obliged. (Thank you, Iowa nice!) We made our flight. Once aboard, it was smooth. Our 16-month-old ate her weight in raisins, played with her various activities, and instead of screaming and shrieking, she pleasantly greeted her neighbors with a wave and (repeated) ‘hi.’

She was a complete flight delight all the way to our destination.

Miracle or Marvel: A Toddler Travel Success Story

The flight home

On the way home an hour delay made for an incredibly tight connection, which included multiple swings through customs, a stop by a TSA officer who thought a mini marker was a weapon, and a sprint to the gate with a car seat, stroller, and toddler in tow.

Again, we somehow made the flight. As we boarded (late) we got the canned eye roll and sighs from some of the other passengers, but again, our toddler was tame. She snacked and played, and even toured the plane with our friendly flight attendant. Success!

It’s certainly a miracle we made it to our destination and back on time, but it’s also a marvel that our toddler (who was completely oblivious to her parents’ stress) did fantastic on her first flight.

Sometimes a kiddo can really surprise you.



Katie is a spouse, mother, and professional communicator. She became acquainted with Iowa City as a student at the University of Iowa, earning degrees in Journalism, Political Science, and most recently her MA in Strategic Communication. Katie and her husband met and fell in love in Iowa City, deciding to never leave. Their family can often be found eating their way through downtown, walking their dog in City Park, or cheering on their beloved Hawkeyes at live sporting events.


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