6 Tips For Traveling With Toddlers on A Plane

You’re planning on flying with your toddler...congratulations, you are truly a brave soul!  

No, seriously though, you’ve got this!  Here are our top 6 tips for embarking on the adventure of flying with toddlers. 

1. Managing Travel Stress & Expectations

First of all, let’s face it...flying can be stressful for adults.  Long flights, tight spaces, uncomfortable ears from the changing air pressure, layovers, delays… waiting in airport lines...waiting, waiting, and...more waiting.  It’s enough to make adults cry, never mind toddlers.  

As parents all we can do is our best.  We can try and comfort our toddlers when they feel frustrated, tired, uncomfortable, and flat out cranky...but that’s all we can do.  If our toddler has a melt down in the airport or on the plane, all we can do is try to comfort them, and guess what...if they continue to cry—so what.  

Please, do not stress yourself out for something that is beyond our human (toddler) nature.  It is natural for toddlers to cry. It is not our job as parents to guilt ourselves over the comfort of other grownups.  Most adults will understand that toddlers cry...it’s part of life. And for those who may give a little side eye—oh well.  Don’t stress yourself out over their lack of empathy.

2. Prepare Them For What To Expect 

If your toddler hasn’t been on an airplane yet, you may want to familiarize them with what to expect beforehand.  

You could try building their excitement and positive associations buy using pictures and videos to help prepare them for what to expect on travel day.  

Show your toddler photos of happy flight crews—pilots and flight attendants in uniform,  Chat about what their job is on the plane. Role play flying on a plane. Pretend to fly around your living room, pretend to be a flight attendant making the opening announcements before take off.  Make it fun!  

If your toddler hasn’t spent a lot of time in busy, crowded spaces, maybe you could bring them along to the grocery store or mall to prepare them for being in wide open, crowded spaces with lots of stimuli around.  

If you use a child carrier with your toddler, it’s a great option to help you be hands free in the airport too.  

3. Toys, Crayons, & Fidgets

Keeping your toddler entertained on the plane is the name of the game.  An entertained toddler is a happy toddler!  

Be sure to pack some of their favorite fidgets and small toys that will give their little hands something to do.  Packing a variety of toys will help them to not get bored too quickly. 

Using a durable, toddler friendly carrying case to hold their toys, fidgets, and crayons that can either slip right into their backpack or they can carry themselves in their hand, is a great way for them to have easy access to play while in the airport waiting to board the plane and while in flight and it also allows for a quick clean up when it’s time to move on.   

Check out Life Made Better’s awesome collection of lightweight, easy to carry for kiddos, carrying cases that are the perfect choice for traveling with toddlers.  They allow your toddler to have a mobile playstation!  

4. Backpack Fun With Lots of pockets To Explore

A backpack filled with plenty of different storage compartments will not only keep a toddler busy playing and exploring in each compartment, but is great to hold different types of items in an organized manner that will optimize the space available for your toddlers carry-on personal item.

Kids love to carry their own backpack.  Choose one that is comfortable for your toddler while being as spacious as possible and the more compartments the better.

They’ll love exploring through their backpack to see what’s been packed for them.  And although you may want to give them the responsibility of having them help pack their luggage, packing their backpack for them will help them stay entertained with the element of surprise.  

Consider hiding a few surprises in there too!  Maybe a new coloring book, a new toy you know they’d love, and even a special snack that is usually reserved for a treat.  

Some other items you may want to include are:

  • Books—on the smaller/thinner side is best for optimizing space.
  • Electronics.  Screen time rules go out the window when it comes to flying with toddlers.  Our parenting goal is to keep them entertained in flight… so trying to loosen the rules for this special occasion is helpful.  Games, movies, and favorite shows are a great way to pass time while in the air.
  • Headphones—A must have for any device they’ll be using. 
  • Comfy clothes.  Flights can get chilly no matter the season.  Packing soft and comfy sweatshirts and an extra change of clothes in case of an accident or lost luggage is smart.
  • Soothing objects like their favorite blanket and stuffed animal may help comfort an upset or tired child and are perfect to have on hand for in-flight naps
5. Snacks, Snacks, and More Snacks

When packing snacks for your toddler, remember TSA rules regarding liquids.  Snacks like yoghurt and apple sauce are a no go and will hold you up when passing through airport security.  Check out the list of approved food types before deciding which snacks to pack.

Whatever your child’s favorite dry snacks are—cheerios, raisins, dried strawberries, pretzels, popcorn—be sure to pack plenty for the wait in the airport, on the plane, and whatever traveling you have to do to get to your hotel or other accommodations you have once you arrive at your destination.

Don’t forget to pack an empty, dry, no-spill sippy bottle.  One that can be clipped to their backpack makes for easy access for when they get thirsty or fussy.  Having liquid in there will also hold you up when going through security so we recommend packing it empty and then buying them their favorite drinks at one of the airport convenience stores after passing through security to fill their cup.  Remember to buy enough for refills so you don’t have a thirsty child waiting forever for drink options on the plane only to find out they’re all out of your child’s favorite apple juice.  

6. Let Them Socialize

Finally, let them talk to strangers on the plane.  Most people are happy to chat with your toddler, and if you’re super lucky, there may be another child seated next to you that will happily converse with your toddler.  

If your toddler strikes up a conversation or is interested in who’s sitting in front or behind you, it’s okay to let them peak through the seats and communicate with their neighbors.  

Silly faces, giggles, and chatting are all natural, healthy, and welcome opportunities to pass a few minutes here and there during your flight.  

If you feel like the communication has played its course, then you can take your child for a walk down the aisle and refocus them upon returning to your seats.  

We hope these tips are helpful!  Happy travels!