Baby/Toddler Travels: Cross Country

This past weekend we packed ourselves up and took to the skies traveling from Portland, Oregon to Charlottesville, Virigina via Dulles Airport. This was Neil’s first time flying with Edith and my second time flying cross country with her. I know that there are a ton of posts floating around about tips for flying with a baby and/or toddler but I still feel the urge to share what worked for us so here I go.

Edith Flys United Airlines (1 of 1)

  1. Flights: We had a number of options for flights so we tried to be fairly methodical when choosing which one we would take. We ended up deciding to take direct flights both ways because they start time of both were when Edith usually naps. We also took into consideration that our other flight options basically took us directly south and then across the country which really didn’t do anything for us except add 4+ hours of travel time to our day.
  2. Airport & Boarding: We chose not to be overly early for our flights. Instead we arrived 60-90 minutes before our boarding time and we had no issues getting through airport security. We then spent the remainder of the time running Edith ragged. We wanted her tired out and ready to sit and relax on the plane and hopefully sleep. I changed her diaper about 10 minutes before boarding time so she was already to go. When it came time to board we did not board first.  I cannot emphasize this enough that you should wait until at least half of the plane is full before boarding.  Babies and children get antsy on the plane so let them have as much freedom as possible before getting on. If you are traveling with a husband, friend, partner, family member, ect. you can always have them get on first and settle in before you bring your little one on.
  3. Seating: When it comes to seating on the plane we like to go with a middle and a window seat. I know others suggest the aisle and middle but it worked for us because Edith loved to look out the window. As for which seats to choose we made a rookie mistake and decided to go with the regular economy seats (we flew United) and between all of our things, Edith on our laps and the two kids in front of us who decided to recline their seats all the way back we did not have enough room for a 5+ hour flight. On the way back we decided to change our seats to economy plus which had more leg room and bonus because we switched our seats when we arrived to airport we were able to get a row to ourselves (huzzah!) That all being said if your little one is going to be riding on your lap I really suggest upgrading for cross country flights. If we were only flying 2-3 hour we probably wouldn’t bother but for 5+ hours it makes a huge difference.
  4. On The Plane: When we first got seated I took out my nifty calming balm and rubbed a little below Edith’s nose.  It is apparently supposed to calm babies and help them to relax and go to sleep. I am not sure if it was the calming balm or the time of day but Edith slept for about half of the flight there and the entire flight back. In case Edith didn’t sleep I packed up a small bag of toys which included books, crayons, coloring pages, flashcards, stickers and playdough. I also brought some headphones for Edith and loaded the iPad with some really awesome baby friendly apps.  We didn’t really end up using many of the entertainment items due to Edith’s amazing ability to sleep on the plane but they did come in handy for entertainment while we were at our destination.

Edith Flys (1 of 1)

I have to say we had an extremely easy time flying.  We don’t have anymore flights planned right now but with family and friends on the opposite coast I imagine we will be making another cross country flight in the near(ish) future.

What are you tips for flying with a baby or toddler?

You can check out everything I brought on the plane in our diaper bag here.


  1. Kaycee

    What kind of baby balm did you use? We are going on a trip to Florida (4+ hours) in January and our plane leaves at midnight. Lemon would normally be asleep by then, but nighttime has been a big challenge for us lately. I’m a little stressed about the flight… OK, really stressed!! Anything will help!

    • First don’t stress! The more stressed you are the more stressed she will be! Also try to get on the flight close to last so there will be less time just sitting in the airplane. Either you or your husband or a family member take your things on and one of you hang out and let Lemon run around a bit before getting on the plane.

      The calming balm we used was Badger Balm Night Night- it’s a tiny round tin that you can just put in your purse. I think it worked but who knows. I used it on myself as well and it was fairly relaxing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *