So, your baby is a little older now and ready for another flying adventure, or maybe it is their first ever flight? Either way, it is bound to be an exciting and memorable experience for them. We hope that our flying with a toddler checklist will help make it a smoother experience for you.
This guide has been written based upon our experience of over 50 flights with babies and toddlers both long haul and short haul. We hope that we can offer some valuable insights to anyone who is preparing to take a young child on a flight.
The thought of taking a toddler on a flight can be pretty daunting. Even now we dread it every time but I can honestly say that it is never as bad as we fear it is going to be. Good preparation is the key and having enough new and exciting things to keep your little ones entertained can make all the difference to your flight.
Many of the tips listed in our Flying with a Baby Checklist will still apply, so please have a read of that post to get the full picture.
Flying with a toddler is a little different from flying with a baby. Your child is mobile now and may not be so keen to sit on their seat for extended periods of time, but you are also better able to communicate with each other now which helps in so many ways.
They are likely to be super excited by all the sights and sounds of the airport and the plane, our little one even finds the taxi ride to the airport one of the most exciting things ever! Even at 4.30 in the morning.
Travelling with a baby or toddler?
Check out our guide to the most essential baby and toddler travel gear
Before You Go – Preparation is Key
It is definitely a good idea to get your child used to the idea that they are going away. We like to talk a bit about where we are going and the sort of things that they will see and do. We use a map or globe to try to explain where we are going and how long it might take.
If your little one is a fan of Peppa Pig, we really recommend watching the episode “Flying on holiday” with your child. Watch this before you go away as this episode includes things like check-in, the security scan at the airport, sitting on the plane (and singing), and getting a rental car.
Having seen this episode you will be able to relate back to the episode and help your child to understand what is happening. There is also a book version that you could take along with you.
Getting Through the Airport
It can be a long way to the departure gate, especially with little ones in tow, so it is worth thinking about how you plan to get through the airport. We have got a Trunki for our toddler and highly recommend this as a way to get your family through the airport, it is a great alternative to a baby sling or compact baby buggy.
The first time I saw one on Dragons Den I thought it was a great piece of design; practical, fun and eye-catching, the Dragons’ decision not to invest seemed pretty short sighted and they are now a common sight at the airport.
They can make the long walk to the gate a fun adventure for young children and will increase the speed that you can get there. It will also reduce the chances that you will have to carry them (and all your hand luggage) when their little legs get tired.
The only downside is that it is quite a lot smaller than a full-sized carry-on bag so you will have to pack extra well if you are not checking luggage in.
If it is really busy you will want to watch out for people walking into the Trunki and your child. It has never happened to us but with people rushing about at the airport it does seem like a possibility. Shortening the strap so that the Trunki is beside you helps a lot.
Keeping a Toddler Occupied On the Plane
Over 2’s will also have their own seat so you will not have to have them on your lap for the entire journey. At least that is the theory, as our eldest daughter approached 2 she always wanted her own seat, which resulted in one of us standing for good portions of the flights.
Once she was a bit older and had her own seat she suddenly wanted to sit on mum or dad! Which is fine, except for the take-off and landing where this won’t go down well with the stewards.
Our daughter rarely gets given lollipops but they are a special treat after take of and prior to landing as the sucking action can help to re-balance her ears. For long flights we buy and wraps small presents like mash-ems as something new is always exciting.
We always pack a few sticker/activity books, colouring books and storybooks for our toddler and these do a good job of keeping her amused on the plane and are also handy things to have when on holiday.
For entertainment a tablet can come in really handy to keep your little one occupied with games, drawing and watching their favourite TV shows or movies. In fact, I am not sure that I would get on a plane with a toddler without having a tablet to keep them entertained.
We have reviewed some of the best tablets for kids, check it out for some great tips on how to use a tablet with your little one, and which tablet to go for.
If your child has a favourite cuddly toy be sure to bring it along and they can share the adventure of going on an aeroplane.
I Don’t Feel Well
Halfway to Thailand, I was holding my daughter on my shoulder when she vomited all over me, herself and the floor of the plane. She is a trooper and carried on as if nothing had happened.
Of course, we had plenty of spare clothes for her but I was delighted to find that by chance I had a spare T-shirt in my hand luggage. Without this it would have been a pretty unpleasant end to the journey, so always remember to take spare clothes for you and your child. And baby wipes, lots of baby wipes.
We have adjustable acupressure bands that apply slight pressure to the inside of the wrist, these are designed to help relieve nausea, without involving any medication. They should help to reduce travel sickness but for very young children it can be hard to keep them in place all the time so you need to keep an eye on them.
Maybe You Could Have a Sleep?
One ray of hope that we can provide is that you might just find that your kids sleep better than expected on the flight. We had real concerns that our 15-hour daytime flight back from Vietnam would be a complete nightmare.
In the event, our usually super active girls (aged 1 and 3) were lulled to sleep by the sound and motion of the aircraft for much of the journey, we even had the rare treat of being able to watch a couple of movies!
I hope that you have enjoyed our flying with a toddler checklist. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions and do let us know how your flights go.