Unless you’re willing to drug your kid with Benadryl, entertaining a toddler on an airplane requires some serious planning. But the even greater challenge is getting to and from the plane safely and with as little gear (and stress) as possible.
The solution? Car seat-stroller hybrids and the CARE system. Our expert gear guy, Jamie Grayson, weighs in on the options:
SIT ‘N’ STROLL “It’s a decent blend of car seat and stroller, but not an exceptional car seat OR stroller (since the wheels aren’t built for city streets). It’s rear and forward facing, and you can actually attach a (rather small) sun canopy to it. But to expand the wheels out of the carseat, you have to take the child out of the seat or have someone hold up the seat while you push the wheels out, so it can be a bit tricky. Still, it’s great for whizzing around the airport.”
GOGOKIDZ TRAVELMATE “I love the Gogokidz. It’s very lightweight and the wheels are the same type that you would find on a Razr Scooter. It attaches to most toddler car seats with a somewhat complicated strap system, but it’s GENIUS with a Britax car seat—you just use two simple screws. The best thing about the Gogokidz is that your child will be more comfortable traveling with a seat that they are used to.”
CARES (Child Aviation Restraint System): “CARES is basically a loop with a shoulder harness that you put around the child’s airplane seat. It works with the airplane seatbelt to make a modified four-point harness, enabling your toddler to sit in his or her own seat, big-kid style. It’s FAA approved and a great alternative if you don’t mind checking your car seat-stroller combo planeside.”
Jamie also recommends the Eddie Bauer toy organizer, which clips onto the back of the seat in front of you, and triangular crayons that won’t roll during turbulence (brilliant!). “But the most important thing to remember is PRACTICE FIRST,” he says. “Get comfortable attaching and detaching all of these pieces at home, so that your stress level at the airport is a little bit lower.”