11 Airplane Travel Essentials for Toddlers

I was once told that traveling with young children would be one of the worst days of your life. With that in mind, I board the plane with my 10-week-old daughter for our first “little” trip. This “little” trip just happened to be an international flight across the Atlantic and was the first of many transcontinental treks we would endure. By the time my daughter was just over a year, she had racked up enough sky miles to earn a status in a frequent flier program with a major airline. That was three years ago and since that time we have moved continents twice (yes, two continental moves!), travelled for vacation all over Europe and Asia, and travel to visit family as often as possible. So needless to say, we have done a massive amount of flying internationally with very small children. Due to the nature of my husband’s job and living abroad, most of these international plane trips have been me as the solo parent flying with the girls and Dad coming a little later. Over the course of these years, I have accumulated some tricks, tips, and pointers for flying with toddlers.

I am about to embark on yet another transatlantic flight with my two daughters this week to visit our family in the South, so I am packing our bags and preparing for our 10 hour flight. Here are some of my staples for the duration of the in-flight cabin time. This list is always evolving due to my daughters’ interest, age, and flight duration. 

Be sure to check out part 2 of this post - "20 Airplane Activities for Toddlers"! 

1.  Kids Rolling Suitcase $30 and Coordinating Travel Blanket $20: Your little ones will get a hoot out of these cute travel accesories! The suticase is the perfect size for kids to roll themsevles, and the blanket comes inside of an easy-to-carry owl pillow. This adorable company has a line of matching rolling suitcases, travel blankets, backpacks, lunch bags, water bottles, and more that come in 3 adorable design options of an owl, bumble bee, or ladybug. michael kors bags outlet


2.  Munchie Mug $17:  Bigger than its competitors, it’s great for your toddler to eat and not make a mess. The screw top ensures your little one won’t be pulling it off and the size offers endless possibilities of snacks.

3.  Straw Sippy Cup $8A must have for ascent and descent to relieve the pressure in their ears, especially if your toddler doesn’t nurse or take a pacifier. Plus, hydration is important on those long flights.

4.  Kid headphones $20:  This is for the smart devices and audio books.  Your neighbors will also thank you for not having to succumb to listen to what your child is! Also, it minimizes the volume even of the loudest setting so not to harm your child’s ear.

5.  Ergobaby Baby Carrier $145:  Lifesaver! I’m an avid baby wearer, and although my toddler has grown out of it mostly, when she is antsy and fighting sleep, this calms her down and lulls her to sleep. Plus, you never know when you might need your hands free- like when you are taking your other child to the restroom and all three of you MUST go!

6.  Protein Bites: Protein packed food is a must for long flights. These are simple to make, delicious to eat, and perfect for toddler hands. Healthy protein rich snacks will make a MONUMENTAL difference in behavior for little ones especially for long flights. For more see my last post and the recipe here.

7.  Resqueeze Food Pouches $15: Have you heard of this phenomenon of food pouches? The kids go nuts for them! And if you want to save some bucks and the environment, get these reusable ones that you fill yourself instead of buying disposable ones every time that can get pretty pricey. These hold a good amount of food, have a big opening for cleaning and refilling, are dishwasher safe, and BPA and Phthalate free. Mom for the win! (Thank you to my old camp counselor friend Lauren at A Ruffled Heart for introducing us to these!)

8.  Lip Balm $3: Lip Smakers Minnie’s Fresh Raspberry Jam is an essential. My little one will do almost anything for a chance to play with these twistable tubes of chap stick. These are always the last items I pull out when everything else has been exhausted. To stock up for the return trip, I also love this pack of 5 Disney Princess Lip Balms that comes in its own rhinestone case for $25.

9.  Blankie or Lovey $28:  Comfort in a new environment is the difference between a sleeping toddler and overtired-tantrum throwing tot. Make sure you bring along something that your little one has attached to, because if there is little that they are familiar with then she maybe much more clingy to Mommy!!  

10.  Folding Wagon $81: This is great for long layovers or coming from abroad through customs. You can put everything in the wagon and the kids can even lay down flat and nap in the wagon. You just gate check it like a stroller.

11.  Go-Go Babyz Kidz Travelmate $72:  This is for when you have to take your car seat on the plane (its always a tough decision for me). My oldest didn’t do well with a car seat on the flight (she fought the restraints), but my youngest relaxes and will actually fall asleep. Plus, you have the car seat when you arrive at your destination.

Need activities ideas for travel days as well? Be sure to check out my next post which will give you the scoop on the best of the best toys, games, and books to keep your kids happy and busy while on the go!