Best tips for easier flying with toddlers

Best tips for easier flying with toddlers

So, you’ve booked your trip away and are ready to take a flight with your toddler in tow. Any parent who’s ever had to travel with children will tell you that it can be more than a little stressful, not least because of the worry that your child may have a tantrum or just be full of energy on the plane.

I know this personally, because I’ve been there myself, having traveled regularly with my kids since they were just 4 months old. It would be true to say that I’ve learned the hard way, how just a little planning can go an awfully long way in ensuring a smoother trip - especially when sitting with young children on an airplane for hours.

I recently went on my first trip in more than a year with my own children, you can read about my journey here.

Happy kids, happy parents!

When you travel with children, it’s very much a case of happy kids equaling happy parents. It really can be as simple as that! 

However,  traveling with toddlers is not without its stresses. This blog is about minimizing that stress -  not eliminating it entirely, as there is no such thing as stress free air travel, when flying with children!

The truth of the matter is that when you’re up in the sky, you will spend the majority of your time cleaning, entertaining and trying to make your child fall asleep.

The sooner you realize this, the better off you are.

Getting prepared is key when flying with toddlers

Whether you’ve booked a day or night flight, it’s important to plan things out beforehand and not leave everything to the last minute. You should aim to arrive at the airport early and buy your child a solid meal. Avoid candy or sugary snacks in favor of a simple, meaningful meal that you know your child likes.

After eating, try to find an indoor play area for your toddler (most airports have one), so that he or she can climb and run around. This will allow them to get all that energy out before they’re forced to sit in their seat for hours on end.   

If there is no play area, create your own toddler game in an empty boarding area. With no one else there, it’s possible to run around the seats as an alternative way to get rid of some energy. Or you could locate a drugstore to find things to occupy them, like sticker books and crayons. Maybe even get some of their favorite chips or crackers while you’re there. 

You can keep going with this approach until it’s almost boarding time. Now your little one needs to be washed down from all that running around, as well as having their diaper changed and tucking them into their pajamas. Even if you are traveling on a day flight, it’s more comfortable for your kids to wear comfy clothes.

You’re now half way to enjoying a successful and largely trouble free flight!

On board & ready for take off!

So, you’re now on board, with your child sitting next to you on the plane and you have, of course, packed their favorite blanket, teddy bear or pacifier. If you didn’t have lunch/dinner before boarding, have it now, as you’ll need to stay fed to be at your best for the whole trip.

Traveling with children, boys in the cockpit

Keeping their minds occupied

The trick for enjoying a meal when flying with toddlers is to make it fun!  You could wrap a few small gifts in colorful paper. It doesn’t need to be expensive, rather it could be a little handy book or some fun fidget toys.

The idea is that your child will be entertained trying to unwrap the gifts or place stickers in the sticker book one at a time. Even window gel clings are fun for children and are easy to remove afterwards too. Also, if you have an old wallet with used credit cards to bring along, your child will be busy playing with it for a while.

Bringing these small items along with you makes it possible for you to enjoy your meal, while watching your child being entertained.  

Remember to sanitize anything your plan to give to your child to play with, as they often bite on them!

Maintaining your focus on them

If you’re flying with toddlers at night, sleep will come easy, however, if you’re on a daytime flight, a nap is still important if you’re on a long haul flight.

Perhaps your child falls asleep more easily when a TV screen is on, however, if not, you can ask for a seatbelt that connects to yours, so that your child can fall asleep in your lap.

Once asleep, you can carefully place your child back in their own seat while sleeping, with their own seatbelt on. If possible, you should try and get some sleep yourself. I know it’s tempting to watch a movie or two if they’re playing, but if you want the energy and alertness to be able to entertain your child when you arrive, getting some shuteye when you travel with children overnight is crucial. 

Be ready for when they wake up!

If your child wakes up unhappy or just not ready to fall asleep again, be sure have a device ready

with his or her favorite shows downloaded. Remember, there’s no WiFi in the sky! Small bags of crackers can come in handy in your travel bag too!

An hour before your flight lands, you should aim to change your child’s diaper. You will have plenty of time and so you shouldn’t have to hurry. If you leave it to the last minute, you’ll have people being impatient knocking on the door. Needless to say, that would be super stressful!

Preparing for landing

I recommend that your child stays in their pajamas, as changing clothes in airplane restrooms can be a little complicated. There’s very little space to work in and there are lots of germs in there from other passengers who are not always cautious when it comes to restroom hand washing.

As the aircraft descends, the drop in altitude often results in a significant drop in pressure that can cause ear pain for your child. If you want to avoid your toddlers from getting upset from the discomfort of ear-popping, be sure to have some liquid or chewy snacks close to hand that can release the built-up pressure.

I’ve seen so many children on flights crying and reaching for their ears, which is bad for them and stressful for you, so don’t make the same mistake of not having something to comfort them with.

Awesome, you made Ii!

So, you’ve now reached your destination safe and sound, so well done!. I have only one last tip for you before you depart the airport. Boys on the beach

When leaving the plane, find a stroller and check your child’s diaper again. You never know how far you might need to walk before reaching customs and the queue there can be cruel. With a stroller, a clean diaper and some new fidget toys, you’re ready to explore your destination together with your happy child.

In summary, your travel bag should include:

  • Diapers
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Wet wipes
  • Changing sheets
  • A trash bag
  • Pajamas
  • Their favorite blanket
  • A pacifier
  • A Teddy bear
  • Small bags of crackers,
  • Wrapped presents, like a small book or fidget toys
  • Crayons & paper
  • Stickers and sticker book
  • Old wallet with old credit cards
  • Digital device (with downloaded favorite shows)
  • Water or juice

So, there you have it! I hope you have found my blog useful. Whichever of the tips you do or don’t use, I hope you have a trouble-free trip next time you travel with children.  

Travel safe!