flyingPre-Flight Instructions for Traveling with Littles

(aka Granny Geek’s Guide to Traveling with Toddlers)

If you have children going along when you fly, your preparation should include more than packing your suitcases. This applies to long car trips as well.

Little people often struggle with change—and I don’t blame them. Routines make them feel secure, and when they don’t feel secure, they will likely experience meltdowns.

First of all, make sure they understand (at an age-appropriate level, of course), that you’ll be traveling. If they’re old enough, show them the destination on a map. When you travel to visit friends or family members, show your toddler or small child photos of who you’ll visit. This helps create anticipation for the trip.

Talk about how you’ll arrive at your destination. Check out books from the library on airplanes if you plan on flying; cars if you plan on driving; trains if you plan on traveling by train. You get the picture. When you look at the books with your child, you can talk about how people behave when they travel on those different modes of transportation.

Some parents swear by Benadryl® as a parent’s lifesaver on long flights (for the child, not the parent). Pediatricians recommend testing the effects of it BEFORE you travel because it might make your child hyper or have no noticeable effect. It’s best to avoid medications if at all possible.

What to Take Along

Easy tips for traveling with a toddler or small child. Know before you go! parenting,travel,vacationBuy (or bring out of storage) new toys. Talk to your little one about the toys and how the toys are special for flying (or road tripping). Create anticipation. When you’re on the airplane and your little one shows signs of boredom, you can say, “Hey, would you like to play with your special toys now?”

Ideas for fun toys include:
• Hot Wheels
• Post-it notes and a crayon or two (to scribble on and stick to the window, the seats, everywhere…
• Reusable sticker sets
• Playdough (here’s a great recipe if you want to make your own) at the end of the trip, just toss the playdough.
• New books

Pack plenty of healthy snacks. Ones you want to eat, too. No one can function when they feel hangry.

Carry a full-sized pillow along for your lap baby/child. Everyone will feel more comfortable with a little padding between them.

Don’t forget your child’s favorite cozy or comfort object. Make sure you check your seating area for the cozy before you deplane. In fact, make sure you have the cozy before you leave any hotel, amusement park, campground, house, or rental vehicle. Trust me, postage charges add up when you forget a cozy in a far-away city.

What to Leave Behind

Guilt! I always felt guilty when my kids cried or misbehaved in small confined spaces. This made me uptight, which made my kids uptight. Not a recipe for successful flying. Most people understand that kids make noise, get cranky, cry, and thrash around. It comes with the territory.

You can leave your inhibitions at home, too. If a stranger offers to carry your car seat, accept the help (especially if the airline changes your gate multiple times). If you see other parents with small children waiting to get on the plan, go and introduce yourselves. That way, you’ll have new friends to visit on really long flights.

Two things to leave behind when flying with toddlers and small children: guilt and inhibitions. #traveling #toddlers #flying Click To Tweet

So, whether you plan on flying or taking any long trip this summer, remember that a little planning and conversation before the trip can pave the way for a smoother trip.

Do you have any favorite hacks for traveling with little ones?

Check out these tips for avoiding toddler meltdown during vacation. #flying #toddler #parenting


  1. Leave behind the guilt – totally agree. I’m pretty sure that my totally stressing when my children were – well, acting like children – did not help anyone or anything. Oh, the wisdom I have 20 years later:) Great advice here!!

  2. I love when kids are on flights with me. I try to help when I can. One time I played peek a boo with a toddler whose seat was in front of mine. It was such a simple gesture but the mom thanked me profusely! I’m in the 5 spot this week.

  3. i find it helps to be friendly to moms with small children. i know they often have to deal with people who are not friendly to them, adding to their stress. some people are downright rude, even when their child is behaving fine…because they are anticipating that the child will cry. it is irritating.

    they rarely need very much actual help, but knowing that someone is nearby who is not critical of them for traveling with their child seem to relax them a bit. we travelled a lot in the 1970’s between jamaica and miami, FL with our babies/small children. people weren’t nearly as rude about it back then. of course we didn’t need all the paraphernalia either. most of the time i was able to nurse my babies without people even knowing what was going on. i had a t-shirt and lifted it with a diaper over my shoulder. the baby covered my midriff and no one was the wiser. they just tho’t i had a sleeping baby in my arms. often i did. they didn’t know the difference.

    i’m glad i was doing it back then rather than now. it seems more people expect babies to not make any noise, ever. it is unrealistic. so those of us that have traveled with babies before need to show these moms kindness…even if they are not wise enough to prepare ahead of time very well.

    great list:) nice to see you anita.

  4. Anita,

    I will hold on to your advice for my season of traveling with grandchildren. In the meantime, I will be looking for opportunities to help others with the restlessness of kids. Truthfully, the kids are acting out how we feel while we wait in a confined space.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

You may also like

%d bloggers like this: