epilnk wrote:We never traveled with car seats, we rented them with the car if necessary. Our primary stroller was a small but sturdy umbrella stroller which was easy to stow and gate check.
We regularly prefer our own car seats to those that the car rental places rent. With both our child and ourselves familiar with the seat and installation, we found it to be more comfortable and confident for all. Since checking a car seat is free in most/all cases, I'd check the seat that you know, even if that means buying one that is just for travel.
epilnk wrote:Traveling with toddlers is all about the planning. We preferred to schedule a layover on cross country flights to give the kids a break from keeping still and being quiet (my boys were very high energy). Airports are fun for toddlers, so pretend the layover is a themed amusement park, not an inconvenience to endure, and you'll all have a better time.
+1 on this. Coordinate either sleep on the airplane or the car ride after the airplane.
Regarding the pack and play, is it possible that your 2yo would sleep in an inflatable toddler bed instead? http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.js ... agpspn=pla
Our daughter has slept in this in and outside the US; its easy to pack within
luggage (although watch the weight limits as the electric pump is heavy).
As said before, entertainment on plane is key - stickers, crayons, paper, books, modeling clay, etc and DEFINITELY snacks and an extra change of clothes AND a pull-up diaper.
PS - if your 2yo girl is already potty-trained as ours was, please consider that she may be an exception to the seat-belt rule. In one moderately turbulent flight when our daughter announced that she had to go potty, my bewildered face must have been significant as the flight attendant came immediately to me and said, "If you
think it's safe, go ahead and take her!" And we went with my understanding that I was taking the risk (not the airlines; the attendant had warned me); with loo door wide open as I crouched down on the icky floor, she had a successful trip to the bathroom and the rest of the flight was peaceful.