The single biggest mistake parents make when traveling with young children is failing to prepare. Toddlers can be a lot of work, especially on planes. Overactive, easily frustrated, and impatient, that is, if you fail to adequately prepare.
What to pack when flying with toddlers
After surviving many flights with our own toddler, we’ve picked up a trick or two, helping us put together a list of must-pack items to help make the experience less stressful for both parent and child.
The following is our list of 12 essential carry-on items for traveling with toddlers:
Toddlers like having their own travel bag. Letting them take responsibility for their own stuff is a great way to start building a sense of independence. You can include them in the packing process, but don’t let them bring the kitchen sink – remember that you’ll probably end up carrying it once they’ve had enough.
Our tot is obsessed with dinosaurs. We chose a cute toddler dinosaur backpack – but there are plenty of fun, super cute themed packs available, whatever your own child’s interest.
- Drinks and snacks
Pack a selection of snacks and drinks for your toddler. If they get hungry, they’ll play up. Toddlers are also notoriously picky – don’t rely on what’s available at the airport.
Bring more than you need in case of delays. Double up on the snacks you think you’ll need. Don’t worry too much about nutrition – it’s only one day – choose convenience over healthy. Also, avoid anything sticky or messy to make things easier on yourself.
Lollipops are a great idea when flying. These are useful on take-off and landing, as they can reduce the effects of ear-popping on young children.
- Extra clothes
As any parent knows, packing extra clothes is a must in case of any accidents. Also, pack extra clothes for yourself, as you’ll probably find yourself in the splash zone of any accident that occurs.
- Warm socks
Packing warm socks will help keep your toddler comfortable – especially on long-haul flights, where your child’s shoes will be off for the duration of the flight. You might also consider a pair of comfy slippers. Like backpacks, there are loads to choose from – from dinosaur slippers for toddlers, to unicorns, or other animal themes.
- Wet Wipes
Planes are unsanitary. Bring wet wipes and wipe down everything – seat, seat belt, and fold down table. Your child will touch these a lot throughout a flight. They’re also likely to put food directly on the table, so you’ll want to make sure it’s as clean as possible.
- Plastic bags
Plastic bags, specifically Ziploc bags, are a must. They’re great for everything. Dirty diapers, soiled clothes, or storing and organizing food, activities, or other items, plastic bags always come in handy.
- Small towel
Pack a small towel in case of any accidents or spills. You’ll find out that the napkins available onboard don’t cut it in the event of a, particularly bad clean-up.
If your child takes any medication, make sure you keep some to hand. You don’t need a year’s supply, just enough to make it through any unforeseen delays. It’s also good to bring along band-aids and other general first aid supplies, just in case.
- Busy Bag
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a busy bag is a mini selection of activities to keep your toddler entertained. Busy bags are great. They can consist of anything, from crayons and coloring or activity books to puzzles, games, etc. If you’re looking for inspiration to put together your own bag, there are loads of great busy bag ideas on Pinterest.
- New small toy
Avoid bringing too many toys. They take up loads of space, and they’ll rarely be used, making lugging them around pointless. That said, a small new toy can help keep your little one distracted or to avert a tantrum. Bargain bins at dollar stores are an excellent source for such toys.
- iPad/Android tablet
Although sure, you want to limit your young child’s screen time, when traveling, a tablet can be a lifesaver. They’re also inexpensive these days and come with plenty of storage for your toddler’s favorites to get you through a multi-hour flight.
- Toddler headphones
Nothing will drive your fellow passengers crazier than having to listen to what your tot watches on their tablet. Be a good traveler. Invest in a pair of toddler headphones. There are plenty to choose from, and like tablets, you can pick some up quite cheaply.
Wrapping it up
Flying with toddlers can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be if you follow our list. Make sure to pack many of the items we’ve suggested. You’ll find the experience to be far more comfortable than it would otherwise be without doing the prep work.
We hope you’ve found it useful and wish you and your little one safe travels, whatever your next destination. Good luck!