1) J now gets his own seat! When your little guy turns two, you are required to purchase a seat on most airlines. We fly Delta about 99% of the time and they require you to purchase the seat for age two and up. While it hurts to pay the extra money it is well worth it. When it is just J and I traveling, I've recently started booking the window and the isle seat in hopes that no one will book the middle and we can have the entire row. I figure if someone ends up in the middle I can always offer them the window or the isle. It worked on our last trip!
2) The CARES harness might be one of the best inventions ever. It basically turns your child's seat into a car seat. Without the harness J would be able to get out of his seat belt. I told J that once we are on the plane, he has to buckle up and now he knows this is just part of the trip. You have to be very careful about the placement of the strap, it should be at their shoulders and not above or below.
3) A portable DVD player. We bought the cheapest one we could find (why give my two year old an expensive one). I will admit that we have issues with him opening it up and pushing the buttons, but we've learned that Thomas will disappear if we do that. I also put stickers over the buttons or travel with scotch tape. We use earphones that I already had, but they also make toddler earphones. A friend of mine has them and loves them, I just ordered them for our next trip since above mentioned earphones I already had were involved in an accident on our last flight. (More on that later...)
We also love sticker books! Handing your child an individual sticker and having them place it into a book can burn a good 30 minutes or so. I pick sticker books with themes that J is currently "into" to help keep his attention. On our last few trips we've had the following:
6) Crayola color wonder is the best. They advertise that they are mess free and so far they have been such a great help to us. I bet Delta didn't even notice that we tried to color on the back of the seat and the windows. Thanks Crayola for your invisible markers and paints!
7) We travel the most to our families in the South so we don't have to bring our car seat that often (our moms both have their own), but when we do need to bring our car seat we use the jl childress cover and check it with our luggage. It has straps to carry it on your back and wheels (but they don't work that well).
8) Traveling with a two year old can be hard because chances are they are going to act out. I don't allow the trip to be an excuse for bad behavior. On our last trip alone, J kept poking the man next to us. I asked him not to do it a good 3-4 times and he continued to laugh and do it. I took him out of his harness and marched him to the back of the plane. The stewardess saw that "Mom look" in my eyes and actually moved the cart out of my way. I told J he was going to time out and I placed him next to the door in the back of the plane facing the corner and sat behind him for our standard 2 minute time out. Yes, I gave my child a time out at 30,000 ft and he quit the poking.
I also learned NEVER to put J in the middle seat. Even though Delta took him out of his window seat and I didn't want to put him on the aisle (little hands and carts don't mix). I should have just asked the man to switch to the aisle, he probably would appreciated that more than being poked. Lesson learned.
9) Don't forget a change of clothes. One of these times you are going to need it (above mentioned accident). On our last trip A and I were upgraded to first class. J was not. HA! The plane was overbooked and I'm guessing Delta didn't want me to put J back there in coach by himself, so A gladly went to coach so J and I could travel in luxury. If you have the funds (or the miles) that is the WAY to go. J was SCREAMING for milk (I normally fill his sippy cup right before we board) and the sweet stewardess immediately obliged. J then became memorized with his own his personal tv and we were good to go! When we were being served dinner, I learned the options were not kid friendly. Not to worry, I wasn't expecting dinner anyways so I popped out J's peanut butter sandwich. The stewardess asked him if he wanted anything and he told her, "cake, please." Ha! She showed up with a brownie seconds later. (Nice service, hope he doesn't get used to it!) I actually cut the brownie in small pieces. I don't normally cut most small soft foods anymore, but for some reason I did this time. Good thing. Minutes later, J was stuffing his face with the brownie and started gagging. I had just been served my plated dinner and a glass of wine and was toasting my life when this happened. I automatically held my hand out for him to spit out the brownie and he proceeded to throw it up...in my hand. Thanks J. The stewardesses scrambled with hot towels to assist me in the clean up and removed my dinner tray so I could begin the clean up process. Daddy randomly showed up (thank God!) to help and I was able to do a quick change of clothes thanks to my extra set. That my friends, is why you have an extra set of clothes in a gallon size quart baggie. Gross clothes went in the baggie, I washed my hands and we went back to watching satellite tv in first class.
10) I bring my diaper bag (my stevie is green and white stripes if you were wondering and I love it as a toddler diaper bag!) and a Vineyard Vines tote for all of our trips. I pack the VV tote with all the fun stuff (books, snacks, etc) and the diaper Bag has only necessities. I love that the VV tote is just the right size and it has a zipper so that things won't spill out all over the floor of the plane.
Hope these tips help you on your next plane ride with your toddler!