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Tips for Flying with Your Toddler

Nobody ever said traveling with your young child would be easy, but it doesn’t need to be impossible! If you’re planning a trip that includes a long plane ride, try these tips and tricks to help make your journey with your little one just a little easier. Don’t let the fear of traveling stop you from enjoying any one of the thousands of exciting family-friendly activities around the world.

1. Book a Non-Stop Flight

airplane flying with your toddler

When you’re traveling with a young child, the goal is to get to where you need to be as fast as possible. If you can, try to book a non-stop flight and search for a time that aligns with your child’s longest nap.

Obviously, this isn’t always possible. You know your child best, so use your best judgement when it comes to booking your flight. Can he handle being tired if he misses a nap, or does he meltdown? Can he make do with a shorter nap? Is it easier to take one long flight, or does it make sense to break it up into a couple shorter legs? Ask yourself these questions to determine your best course of action.

Finally, if a layover is inevitable, try scheduling one that allows for a few hours between flights. This will give your child a nice change of scenery and the chance to get the wiggles out before having to sit still again.

2. Don’t Board Early

airplane boarding flying with your toddler

Many airlines allow parents with children to board first. While getting on and settled before everyone else might sound like a nice idea, consider the fact that it also means an extra half an hour or so of sitting. Skipping this option might make more sense, especially if you’ve got a long flight in front of you.

3. Book an Aisle Seat, Too

airplane aisle seat flying with your toddler

Climbing over strangers isn’t fun for anyone. Although your child might initially want to look out the window, you’ll be glad you booked an aisle seat when he needs to use the bathroom for the hundredth time.

4. Be Ready for Security

Baby Security flying with your toddler

Long lines at security are nothing new, but your child doesn’t know that and his patience is likely to wear thin pretty fast. Guided activities, such as a game of I Spy, can help pass the time. When that gets old, treat your child to his favorite app or video to keep him distracted.

Remember, organization is key. Keep your boarding passes and documents in an easy accessible place, have your liquids already in a plastic bag, and make sure to wear slip-on or easy-to-remove shoes so you can get your whole family through the metal detectors as fast as possible.

Additionally, look into getting your child a Trunki. These adorable ride-on suitcases can be the perfect distraction while waiting in the security line or at your gate.

5. Pack Portable Snacks

Plane snacks flying with your toddler

A hungry child is a “hangry” child. Keep your bag well-stocked with your child’s favorite easy-to-carry foods so you can offer him a snack the minute he starts grumbling about being hungry. And don’t forget — variety is key for your child’s ever-changing palate.

Read up on the TSA’s procedures regarding bringing juice and ice packs on a plane.

6. Don’t Forget the Lollipops

lollipop flying with your toddler

Speaking of snacks, make sure to throw a couple lollipops into your carry-on to offer to your little one during takeoff and landing. Sucking on a lollipop can help alleviate any ear pain she might feel. Plus, offering her a treat is a great distraction to help calm any jitters.

7. Pack Portable Toys and Extra Supplies

airplane kid toys flying with your toddler

As a parent, this seems like a given, but it’s worth repeating — load your carry-on with as many toys as you have space for. Coloring books, crayons, and stickers are all easy to pack and relatively mess-free. Try to avoid any small toys or toys with small pieces, since those will likely end up on the floor or under the seat in front of you (and are a nightmare to try to pick up!).

Also, make sure to pack an extra set of clothes (and an extra shirt for yourself!) in the event of a spill, accident, or other mishap.

8. Invest in a Tablet

Tablet flying with your toddler

Electronic tablets can be a life-saver when you’ve got a bored and antsy child sitting next to you on a plane. From age-appropriate apps, movies, e-books, and games, you can load it up with hours of entertainment for your child. If you tend to limit screen time at home, letting him watch a few hours of his favorite show will be the best treat ever!

9. Create a Travel Goodie Bag

goodie bag flying with your toddler

Who doesn’t love opening presents? Take a trip to the dollar store and load up on small toys, coloring books, travel activities, candy, and other trinkets, and wrap them in gift wrap to create a travel goodie bag. When your child starts to get bored or frustrated, let her choose a gift to open. Each present might only buy you 15 minutes or so, but at the very least, it will distract her enough to (hopefully) avoid a meltdown.

10. Ask for Help

flight attendant flying with your toddler

Finally, think of the flight attendants as your friends and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Airline employees are often more than happy to help a struggling parent keep their little one happy during a flight.

11. Don’t Forget to Get Excited for Your Trip

trampoline flying with your toddler

With the stress of traveling with your little one hanging over your head, it can be hard to keep your eye on the prize — your destination! During your flight, talk to your child about all the fun and exciting plans you have.

Are you looking for some ideas? Let us help! If you’re traveling to a big city, a walking tour is a great (and easy!) way to see the sights. Try one of these 10 free walking tours.

If a laid-back beach vacation is more your style, these family-friendly activities in the Caribbean are easy, breezy, and lots of fun.

Finally, no matter where you’re going, keeping your kids happy is always the ultimate goal. Use these tips to keep your kids engaged, excited, and most importantly, tantrum-free.

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Comments 4

  1. These are really great tips. I don’t have kids yet, but when I do, I don’t plan on stopping my travel addiction…never thought about not using that early-boarding time, but it totally makes sense. And as much as I cringe at the thought of using a screen to babysit a kid, sometimes (in public places) I totally get the need — tablet is probably a lifesaver.

  2. Nice tips especially the one about Booking an Aisle Seat, the last time i traveled with my kind I had an unpleasant experience with the person next to me because my kid had to go to the several times.

  3. Flying with toddler is not comfortable, especially if you’re first timer. I’ve had a lot of struggles to settle my daughter. It took about 4 times before she become comfortable with flying.

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