How About NYC: Traveling with a Toddler


A couple weekends ago, I traveled to New York to visit my dear sister. It was my first time flying in years, let alone with a toddler, so suffice it to say that I was a little nervous. I envisioned Cadence throwing a monster tantrum on the tarmac resulting in us getting kicked off the plane, head-shaking flight attendants and pilots staring us down from the cockpit. Maybe a few crumpled paper cups thrown at us for good measure. I even toyed with the idea of making these to pass out to people. But then I realized it would be extra work in my life.

So after a lot of mulling, I put together a loose plan of attack (defense?) that consisted of the following:

1. lots and lots of screen time. I downloaded Blue’s Clues and Max and Ruby episodes onto the Chromebook like nobody’s business.

2. lots and lots of bribes. Fruit snacks. Lollipops. Gum. Everything forbidden on land became fair game in high altitude.

3. packing light. Of course, it helped that I was staying with my sister with access to a washer and dryer and the ability to borrow clothes, but for a four-day trip I packed something like 1.5 extra outfits for myself and Cadence.

4. babywearing. It had been a while since I’d worn Cadence in a sling, but I borrowed an Ergo knowing that Screaming Bloody Murder in the Stroller at the Most Inconvenient Times is one of her favorite games. There’s no sense in pulling a carry-on, hauling a diaper bag, wrestling a toddler AND pushing a stroller one-handed. Although if you’ve mastered it, please teach me.

5. early check-in, boarding, and e-boarding. While some suggest boarding late to let your kids get extra wiggles out, I found it easier to board early. It’s an extra 10 minutes, so it’s not even that long, and you’re guaranteed space in the overhead cabin to stow away your (light!) luggage. Printing your boarding pass is not exactly mom-friendly, I find. All those coupons you print and stash in your diaper bag that mysteriously disappear at the checkout line? Exactly. Plus, if you have any spare room in your bag, you should be stuffing it with lollipops and gum.

6. look into car services with carseats. My sister did the heavy lifting here, researching the guidelines and rates. Carseats in taxis are not mandatory in New York, but I wanted one for safety’s sake. She found Legends Limousine, which charges $10 for the carseat.

All around, things went smoothly. A couple things I didn’t know that are helpful to know:

1. security. Kids under 12 get to keep their shoes on. You can go through security while babywearing, but will get your hands swabbed.

1a. Kirkland baby wipes are an apparent security risk. For some reason they looked suspicious on the scanner. Both going there and coming back.

2. eat. We ate a late breakfast and picked up a muffin before boarding, but I didn’t think to pack a proper lunch. Cadence was fine (her forbidden fruits) but needless to say, I was starving when we landed.

3. airline reading material is more fascinating than cartoons. Maybe it was the newness of her surroundings, but Cadence wanted nothing to do with the carefully curated videos. She leafed through the Christina Applegate-cover magazine and pamphlets instead.


4. kids (at least mine) don’t nap well.  I figured that waking up extra early in the morning, plus the movement of the plane, would lull her to sleep. It did, but only for about five minutes.

5. people are more tolerant of babies than you’d think. The guy next to me clearly wanted out of this arrangement. But there was a tween-brother-and-sister-duo right behind us who squabbled over everything. As in, why’d you get pretzels, I’m getting pretzels, you should get cookies, I don’t want cookies, quit touching me type of thing. He didn’t say it, but he didn’t have to: toddlers > tweens.

When we landed, I called the car service, which was already there waiting for me at the gate. The carseat (a reversible Evenflo) was installed correctly and securely, and the driver was friendly. Highly recommend.

Out and About

We spent most of our time in Battery Park, which is New York for “family paradise.” It’s CLEAN, right off the river with a view of Lady Liberty, and boasts public parks, massive playgrounds, and a shiny new library. The area being so close to the financial district and Tribeca reminded me a lot of Lincoln Park or West Loop, minus the yoga pants and SUVs. Bugaboos and Mini Kicks rule the sidewalk, and the outfits! Every kid looked like Quinoa’s BFF. I almost felt bad dressing Cadence in a $10 Circo outfit, but then remembered how much I saved with Cartwheel and felt much better.

We filled the weekend with food and soy lattes I still think about two weeks later, and general all-around kid-friendly romping. Cadence loved it. So much so that when the car picked us up and we were strapped in, she pointed to the window and whispered, “More.”

Which, undoubtedly, there will be in the future. But by then, I was ready to return to sweet home Chicago and reunite with three boys that I’d missed terribly.














Battery Park//Laughing Man//MoMA store//Russ and Daughters//Smile Cafe in Shinola//Lupa//milk bar//Locanda Verde//catching wanderlust

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