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How to Prepare for a Flight with a Busy Toddler

Updated: Apr 5, 2022

Traveling with kids can be intimidating, especially when you’re flying with your rambunctious toddler. They get bored easily and now you’re asking them to sit in a small and confined space for (potentially) hours.

We all know how energetic children are in general and that is what makes flying with kiddos especially tough. And being unprepared for a flight with kids can result in an exhausting experience for you, the child, and other passengers.

little girl plays with toy airplane while packing her suitcase

Luckily, I’ve got an entire list of helpful tips to make that part of the trip just a little bit easier.


Each child should have their own carry-on no matter the age. For younger babies, this can just be the diaper bag. As they get older, they can begin to carry their own bags with them through the airport and onto the plane.

(Do keep in mind that toddlers may still want you to end up carrying their bags.)

Within each child’s bag should be their own set of activities, toys, devices, and snacks to make it through the flight. This will help to make sure you have enough to entertain each kid and they can always share or entertain each other once you get onto the plane.

What to choose for kids' activities and toys

The best toys and activities to look for are:

  • Quiet

  • Can be used independently

  • Compact and lightweight

  • Mess free

  • Does not require batteries or to be charged

  • Multifunctional

Mother holds onto her child lovingly during a flight on an airplane

Some helpful tips that work for multiple ages:

  • Babies are fairly easy. For the most part, they can be lulled to sleep with some milk/formula and a sound machine. They don’t need many toys, just being on the plane is exciting enough.

  • Try to dress the kids in comfortable clothes or pajamas with shoes that are easy to slip on and off. For younger kids (especially on longer flights) bring a favorite blanket, small pillow, or stuffed animal to encourage getting cozy and you might even get the kids to take a nap.

  • Never ever underestimate the power of snacks. Not only will this help kill some time on the flight but if you stash some extra favorites in your own bag, they can be used as "ICE" (in case of emergency) snacks in case your toddler is having a meltdown.

  • Pack a few books (or sticker books with several pages and tons of stickers for the toddlers) that are specific to your child’s interests.

    • For first time flyers, pick up some special books that are all about the airport or airplane. This will not only get your toddler excited about their upcoming flight the days prior to the trip but also get them familiar with the things and people they are about to see.

  • As children get older, the fewer toys and activities you will need. Big kids get smart and may pull out all of the toys at once, play with them for a few minutes, and then claim they are bored. Giving them limited options will keep them occupied.

  • When choosing the activities and toys for travel, anything that is brand new to the child will be more likely to be used for a longer amount of time than something the child has already played with before. But that doesn't mean that every activity or toy needs to be brand new. If your child has a tried and true favorite, bring it along!

  • Don't forget the entertaining things that can be found ON the flight as well. Magazines, safety cards, clean and unused paper waste bags, paper/plastic cups, can all entertain your child for a certain amount of time.

For the sake of not making this blog post 10 miles long, you can find a list of toys and activities that you can purchase for your kiddo that work perfectly on a plane here.

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