Flying with a toddler? Try these tips, tricks and ideas to make your trip easier!
I recently took my newly-turned two year little girl on her first plane ride. She joined her sisters and me for a girls’ trip out west, and none of us could wait to go! I’ve flown plenty of times before, but it had been awhile since I had a toddler with me since now there are eight of us, we do most of our family traveling by car.
I think toddlers are in general the hardest age to travel with, but especially flying. Not that they aren’t perfectly adorable in every way, but they are at a age where they want to be down, running, and moving, and a plane is probably the most limiting. When you’re in a car, you can stop and stretch little legs and take a break, but that’s just not always possible on a plane. That said, to make it as easy and stress-free as possible for both toddler and parents, it’s good to have a game plan, and plenty of tricks up your sleeve for the trip.
For our own trip, I had a few new ideas I wanted to try, and some others I had done in the past, but I also asked my awesome Facebook readers for their ideas. They did not disappoint, and I knew I wanted to share them with all of you! When it comes to entertainment, obviously you can’t take everything, or try every single idea, so I suggest choosing ones that you think your toddler will enjoy the most, or what they might need the most, and start there.
These are ideas for things you can pack for entertainment–to keep those little hands busy! Some affiliate links included.
-Make a Cheerio or Froot Loop necklace for them to wear and eat! I LOVE this idea–I would probably make more than one!
–Dry Erase Activity Books: I made these for my kids a couple of years ago, and they love them just as much today as they did then–and so do I. You can easily erase with baby wipes, and they can color the pages over and over!
-Stickers, Post-it notes, plane tape, etc. Have notebooks for them to put their stickers on, so they don’t go on the seats or windows.
-Box of paper clips: they can string them together
-Color Wonder markers and paper: I LOVE not worrying about markers!
-Quiet play items: pipe cleaners and a bag of foam beads or pipe cleaners made into rings to thread onto yarn or twine
-SNACKS!!! Oh my goodness, can you ever have enough snacks? I always pack more than I think I’ll need, no matter how we travel. If all else fails, bring out a snack. :)
–Melissa & Doug Sticker Pads: My kids adore these sticker pads, and play with them all the time. The only downside is that they’re a little on the bigger side, so they may not work if you are limited in space when you’re packing bags. However, if you can fit them, they are wonderful, and entertain for hours!!!
-Calculator: This is so brilliant. What is it about calculators?
-Dum-dum suckers: I like these because they’re smaller in size, and even though they can be a little messy, they usually are great for getting a toddler to quiet down or for distraction when you need it.
-Dollar store items: Bring along items they haven’t seen before, and ones you won’t worry about if they get ruined or lost!
-Headphones & Portable DVD Player: We just bought a new portable DVD player that we love. It’s light, super easy to put into a diaper bag or backpack, and the screen swivels. It was perfect for not only the plane, but for our looooooong layover. I’m excited about being able to use it for any of our trips in the future, not just flying.
-Coloring books & crayons: Good old-fashioned coloring books and crayons will always be on the list! I like to out crayons in a wipes case for easy traveling!
-Starburst candies–they take a long time to unwrap and eat. :)
–Magnetic Tins: My kids love these, and they are perfect for little hands. Since it’s magnetic, they stay in place, and it closes up neatly for storage.
–Finger Puppets: These are so fun, and pretty small, making them easy to pack!
–Clipboard–wipes case that holds crayons: Often it’s easier to have a hard surface to play on. Yes, the airplane trays come down, but sometimes those aren’t available or convenient. If you can fit a clipboard in your bag, it’s something to consider.
ITEMS TO BRING:
These are things that are important to have with you…just in case! These are the “must-haves” for me! Some affiliate links included.
-Wipes: Can you ever have enough wipes? Seriously. I think I buy more wipes than anything else. These are great for messes, dirty fingers, sticky faces, and surfaces that you want to wipe down before your toddler touches them.
-Extra clothes & diapers (twice as many as you think you’ll need): Every time I don’t bring extra, I need them. It’s Murphy’s Law, right? Now I always bring along more than I think I’ll need, and I’ve never been sorry that I did. Only sorry that I didn’t. :)
– Disposable Placemats and disposable bibs: When you’re going to be using a disposable bibs more than once while you’re traveling, it’s just SO nice to be able to throw it away! No trying to wash it, clean it, or stuff it in a plastic bag to save for washing later. Disposable Placemats come in handy on the plane, but also in airports.
-Blanket: I think planes always get cold–and I’m normally really hot! It’s just nice to have a blanket for so many reasons, and I always make sure I take one along. Usually it’s a lighter blanket that makes it easier to pack, but it depends on the weather both coming and going.
-Something chewy for takeoff: Licorice, chewy candy, even their sippy cup works!
-Sippy cup: Bring it empty to the airport, and once you’re past security you can fill it up with whatever you like. Flight attendants have always been helpful to fill them up as needed on the plane.
-Make sure YOU visit the bathroom before getting on the plane! If traveling by yourself with a toddler, this is especially important–they won’t necessarily fit in the bathroom with you, and even if the do, if a baby or toddler falls asleep on your lap, you won’t be able to move! This happened to me on our last flight, and while I was so glad she slept for three hours, it was a really good thing I didn’t have to get up!
-Going through security can be hard with a toddler, because off all the things that have to be done. They don’t have to take of their shoes, but you do, so try and wear shoes that are easy to take off and on. You also have to fold up a stroller and send it through security, which means they have to come out, all while you’re trying to get everything up and through where it’s supposed to be. I try and prep everything ahead of time–putting all items in one bag that have to come out, like laptops, medicines, liquids, etc. Then I don’t have to search or scramble or take more time than necessary. You can always quickly put the items back in the bags you really want them in after you go through security–and your toddler is safely and securely back in their stroller. I also limit jewelry, belts, and anything else that might require extra time in security. Have your boarding passes and drivers license ready to go, and keep them in a place that’s easy to access but won’t get lost.
-Place magazines, tablet, and your water in the pocket in front of you when you get on the plane–if a child falls asleep, you’ll have something to do without trying to move and wake them up. I always prepare myself as much as possible for the event that a child falls asleep, because once they do, you don’t want to risk waking them up by bending over and trying to grab your phone, tablet, kindle, magazine, water, or whatever else you might need.
-Even if your child isn’t quite two, and could technically be on your lap, you may want to consider buying them their own seat if your budget can swing it. Caroline had just turned two the week before we left, so she had her own seat, and I’m SO glad she did. With all of our stuff, and her, and trying to get things in and out of our bag, it would have been hard to have someone next to us. I think if you’re sitting next to another family member, it would be easier–and they wouldn’t mind as much. :) However…we do what we have to do, for sure! I have flown with a toddler on my lap, and we had someone next to us, and we made it work–it’s totally doable, of course–just food for thought!
-Most of the ideas here can be utilized not only on the plane, but in an airport as well. We’ve had really long layovers in the past, and while some airports are more child-friendly with areas to play, others are not. I’ve always been so glad when I had plenty to occupy kids while waiting for our next flight, or in the event that there’s a delay or cancellation.
Happy Traveling! XOXO