Navigating the Airport Alone with a Toddler


I received the product mentioned in this post in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts & opinions are 100% my own.

Recently my almost two year old and I traveled from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Denver, Colorado with a layover in Newark, New Jersey (going there and coming back). This was her first time on a plane (aside from when she was in the womb haha) so there were lots of unknowns!

I was optimistic that everything would go well because she is pretty laid back most of the time and because since she’s been born I haven’t changed my lifestyle just because I had a baby. I still do all the things I enjoy, just adjusted now in order to meet her needs. So from that stand point this would just be another thing that mama took her along for.

As optimistic as I was however, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous! There were going to be a zillion things she would be experiencing for the first time. And the big one, the fact that I was traveling ALONE with her!

Now here’s the thing! Navigating the airport and traveling by airplane are two VERY different things! This post is about navigating the airport. I wanted to write about this because when I was planning for the trip I read countless posts about airplane travel. While that’s all well and good, I hadn’t much thought about actually getting through the airport alone with an (almost) two year old. There are hundreds of people, a lot of unfamiliar ground, timetables you HAVE to meet, and in our case, gate numbers that often change drastically.

Spoiler alert: It was (mostly) a success! We got to all our flights on time, we only forgot one bag*, and we found all the restrooms, food, and gates we needed! Overall, it was a stress-free experience.

Since it went so well I figured I’d give you my best tips! I’d also want to share what I should have done differently in some instances:


Pack as lightly as possible. 

Plain and simple, the lighter the load, the easier to carry! And remember to actually think of weight, not just size. For example, my blow dryer could have easily fit in the corner of my suitcase, but it is a heavier item so I decided to leave it behind. And as far as suitcases go, it brings us to my next point.

Check items/bags if possible. 

While you still should pack as lightly as possible to avoid overweight bag charges, if you have a little extra in the budget just check your suitcase! You are running a risk of the bag getting lost and are adding extra time since you’ll need to pick it up at baggage claim, but it definitely makes navigating the airport easier.


Use bags that can be easily worn. 

My suitcase and carseat bag were not able to be worn on my back, but boy am I thankful for having found a diaper bag backpack prior to our trip! This bag from dapperbag literally made travel SO much easier. My old diaper bag would slide down my arm and I’d by lying if I said it hadn’t conked my little one in the head a few. This bag is super deep so I was able to carry what I wanted as well as most of my little one’s toys. It also has a section at the bottom just for wipes and diapers and it comes with a changing pad. (Mom win, for sure!) Aside from those amazing features it has many different pockets and sections for smaller items or items you need to get to quickly. I highly recommend checking out this company!

Have travel documents in an easy to reach place. 

This one is vital to traveling stress-free through an airport at any time, but particularly when you have a little one in tow. You have to have your eyes on your belongings and your child at all times so put your travel documents in one easy to reach pocket. Extra tip: Also put them in the order in which you’ll be needing them so you don’t have to take any time or energy shuffling through them once you pull them out.

Check twice when you move on. 

I learned this one the hard way and it was actually before having children. (My husband and I were on a cross-country trip and I left my jam-packed toiletry bag in a hostel lobby in Nashville and didn’t realize until we were in St. Louis. No turning back at that point!) Ever since having that happen to me I always collect our belongings, take a few steps away, and then scan the table, chairs, area, etc we were just at before leaving. I have caught things many times doing so and it’s saved me quite the headache in the long run. (*I failed to do this while chasing after my daughter in a public restroom and that is when I left one of our bags. Thankfully, we ended up getting it back a month later)

Always ask. 

It’s not shown in the above pictures but I also had a wheeled car seat bag with me that was checked at the gate. It was definitely the most difficult item to travel with because of it’s weight and awkwardness. Because of that immediately upon arriving at a gate I would ask an employee of the airline to check it right away. I don’t know if this is something they’re technically allowed to do because sometimes I was told no. Other times, however, they gladly checked it and it freed at least one hand. So that’s why I always say to just ask. And this of course doesn’t just apply to carseat bags and airline employees, if there’s any questions for any employees at any time at the airport, ask them. The worst that’s going to happen is they’re going to tell you “no.”

Invest in a carseat bag. 

As I stated above, traveling with a carseat was no easy task. I can’t believe less than a week before this trip I hadn’t even thought to get a carseat bag! I am so glad someone suggested it to me because I truly don’t think I would have been able to lug that thing through their airport. You forget just how heavy they are sometimes!

Wear you child. 

Yes, yes, yes! I waited until we were through security to wear her because I’d heard mixed things about whether they’d let me wear her through or not. (FYI: The consensus seemed to be “yes,” but I had to have my hands swabbed and then the swabs tested for traces of explosive material). Regardless, any and all times I was wearing her life was exponentially easier! Toddlers typically love to run around and they are also likely to get stepped on in the busier airports. Wearing her just made sense! It was also the only time she got a nap one of the days!

I hope these tips are helpful to you! Let me know if you think there’s anything I should add!



Pin it for later! 

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Disclaimer: The above information is solely personal and opinion based. While these are actual facts of what happened when we traveled, any and all information should be verified by, but not limited to, the airport you’re traveling through, TSA, and the airline in which you’ll be traveling. Happy travels!




6 thoughts on “Navigating the Airport Alone with a Toddler

  1. Momma To Go says:

    This is a great post. I flew many, many times with my son, alone and the airport navigation is the hardest. once you are actually on the plane there is only so much that can happen, right! I was a big fan of baby wearing, and the backpack car seat cover!


    • Chelsea McKinney says:

      That’s exactly how I felt! Before the trip I put all my energy into being worried about the flight! I hadn’t even thought about navigating the dern airport! haha Thank you for reading! And thanks for your kind words!


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