Air Travel with a Toddler: 6 Tricks from the Backpack

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Recently we went to the beautiful state of Montana! And I learned (as I suspected) that traveling by plane with a toddler is very different from traveling with an infant! So I prepared a bag of tricks! The top 6 things that really helped us are as follows.

  1. Books. We chose these two. I limited it to two books because I didn’t want my bag to be weighed down. I intentionally chose books with a lot to talk about in them. After reading and re-reading them, we could still discuss colors, animals, animal sounds, etc.
  2. Novel snacks. Cheddar bunnies are always a winner. And we used a Munchkin snack container that prevents spills but allows Lil to hold her snack independently. Other great snack options: Apple sauce pouches (though they suck those down fast), Pop Magic (from Central Market! It’s like a rice cake, only better.), and dried fruit. I’ll also add here to be sure to bring a sippy cup. TSA said I could bring milk or juice in the cup through security. (They will hold something over the liquid to test it for safety.) I thought this was only for infants, but apparently not. Even if I had poured out the milk, I could still fill up her sippy with water once through security. This way we didn’t have to pay for water or mess with spills.
  3. Doodle pad. I bought a doodle sketch at Target before we left. It was well worth the $10 I spent! During the plane ride, I was asked to draw dogs and “meow, meows” at least 22 times. The concept of a doodle pad was new to Lilleigh. This would totally be worth buying and bringing out only for travel – to keep it exciting! We also brought Color Wonder paper and markers, which have a similar concept of drawing without the mess. She did like it, but it definitely didn’t have the pizazz that the doodle sketch had!
  4. iPad and Nemo. Nemo, which we watched on the iPad, totally saved the day. For you it might be Elmo or Blue’s Clues. But think beforehand what your child may want to watch, and then download it! I had brought old school walkman headphones for Lilleigh to wear. (They are the only ones I thought she might actually keep on.) But she refused. Thankfully with plane noise, we could turn the iPad on its highest volume without disturbing anyone around us. They couldn’t even hear it! We could though – enough.
  5. Loveys. Dare you travel without them? I was intentional to carry them on the plane though just in case she could actually be coaxed into napping. Ha! She fell asleep once on accident and briefly while watching Nemo. But beyond that, it didn’t happen for us. I was still thankful we had these attachment objects though!
  6. Tape. A friend suggested we bring tape on the plane because it’s cheap, light-weight entertainment, and kids manage to come up with lots to do with it! We did not end up even needing to use this because #1-5 worked so well, but I am keeping this one in my bag of tricks!

Have you traveled on a plane with a toddler? What did you pack in your bag of tricks?


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  1. Such good ideas!!
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  2. I LOVE the sketch pad idea. Me and Grey are leaving next Saturday and I am going to the store this weekend to buy one of those. Thanks!!

  3. Alishia Kuczynski says:

    I just found this through Pinterest. Very good ideas! I brought along a small blanket and a hoodie since it can get cold on the plane. I also let her pick out a brand new small toy just for the plane (until we got home, then it was hers to enjoy for good).

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