How To Make Travel With Toddlers Easier
13m read

How To Make Travel With Toddlers Easier

Traveling with toddlers can be a daunting task. Learn how you can make air and car traveling with a toddler easier for everyone! 

Keeping Kids Engaged and Entertained At Any Age

Want a family trip, but want young kids to enjoy it too? Children's need vary greatly from toddlerhood to the teen years. Regardless of age, young kids can still have fun along the journey to the destination, with carefully planned activities for the whole family.

Taking the time to prepare ahead of time helps tremendously!

Create activity packs or buy pre-made activities.

Pre-made activity packs, coloring sets, or homemade activity packs can help younger children stay busy on long-haul flights or car rides.

From busy bags, to activity packs, to sensory activities, to busy boards, there are many ways to keep kids entertained for long periods of time.

Choose A Location Based On Interests, Not Just Destination 

happy family with luggage boarding at the airport

Trying to decide where to go on your next family trip? Don't choose a destination just because it's a popular tourist or family location.

Think about what activities your family would truly enjoy. Love relaxing on the beach? Enjoy taking walks in nature? Do you want a break from the bustle of city life and crowds?

When you decide what vacation activities you most look forward to, then you can start picking out the destination. From theme parks, to cruise lines, to cabins in the mountains, to all-inclusive beach vacations, there is something every family can enjoy.

Family travel might involve traveling with extended family or visiting extended family.

A family trip should be fun, even when it involves traveling with company! However, keep in mind that different family members might have different needs and priorities when it comes to the schedule and itinerary.

As best you can, keep an open mind, and try to accommodate all family members so that everybody has a great time. It can be super helpful to bring along an extra set of hands when traveling with a toddler or baby, but it can also be stressful. Try your best to make the family vacation fun for everybody, even if that means not checking off every item on your to-do list.

Take into account nap time and bedtime.

Some people prefer to travel during the day, while other parents might enjoy traveling at night when the kids are more likely to sleep for most of the journey. Whether you plan on air travel or travel by car, timing can make a big difference.

If you travel while everyone is sleeping, you can typically make more progress with family travel. Some parents opt to leave during the early hours of the morning when their kids are likely to fall asleep in the car, while other parents don't mind driving long into the night or taking a long flight overnight.

If your kids can't seem to fall asleep, ask the flight attendant for a warm blanket, trying giving the baby a bottle, or turn on some lullaby music in the car.

Bring a tablet or device with pre-loaded entertainment.

One of the best tips on how to travel with toddlers is to bring a device with downloaded games, movies, and books ahead of time. Don't rely on faulty WiFi to work on your device. Downloading apps and movies ahead of time can speed up the process.

Even if your kids normally don't have a lot of time in front of screens, this can be extremely helpful during a long-haul flight or extended road trips. You can always store the devices once you get to the hotel room. Tablets are a great resource for keeping a toddler entertained for long periods of time.

Air travel, even with the youngest travelers, can be simplified. 

mother and baby in an airplane

Get your relevant paperwork together ahead of time.

What is required for a child to board their flight?

International flights require a passport or some form of identification. Parents should always bring their driver's license or passport. Bringing along a copy of the child's birth certificate can be a good idea for airplane travel as well.

Keep all documents together in a sealed bag or folder for easy access as you go through airport check-in and airport security.

Always use the restroom before boarding a flight. 

Family at check in desk in airport

Many airports have family restrooms, which are a great idea for families of young children. From diaper changes, to pumping milk, to helping a potty-training toddler use the toilet, family restrooms can take the stress and rush away.

Always pack enough diapers with the rest of your baby gear for the plane, and bring pull-ups for all potty-training children, even if they seem mostly toilet trained. You don't want to be digging through all your luggage for spare diapers or changes of clothes at the last minute!

Be sure to have fun toddler airplane snacks and activities to go through.

It's hard to keep young kids entertained for an entire flight! Be sure to prepare ahead of time, by bringing enough baby food, toddler snacks, and activities such as coloring books, board books, busy boards, sticker books, and small toys to keep them busy for the duration of the flight.

Here are some ideas for plane-friendly activities:

  1. Sticker books

  2. Slinkies

  3. Construction paper and glue

  4. Coloring books

  5. Plastic eggs filled with surprises

  6. Lift-the-flap books

  7. Pop-it fidget toys

  8. Suction cup spinners that stick to the window

  9. Removable gel clings to stick to the window

Even if you have strict limits on screen time at home, it might be helpful to bring along a tablet or computer in your carry-on bag. Download a few movies or shows ahead of time (don't rely on WiFi), so kids have a way of relaxing for long-haul flights. Test some kid-friendly apps before you go.

Be sure to buy a pair of child-friendly headphones so you don't disturb the other passengers. Flying with a toddler can be challenging, to be sure to prepare everything you need ahead of time. Mobile apps and movies can help keep a toddler entertained for the duration of the journey.

Nobody wants to deal with a screaming toddler or fussy baby on a long flight. Packing enough activities and snacks in your carry-on bag can be a lifesaver. Whether you have a short flight or a long way to your destination, taking a few moments to prepare special kid friendly activities can help make the trip go smoothly.

Invest in some new toys when traveling with a toddler 

Cute child, boy, playing with toys on board of aircraft

Plane flights can be especially challenging for toddlers who struggle to sit still. While older kids can understand the concept of relaxing, taking naps, and keeping themselves busy until they reach their new destination, toddlers want to be kept busy and entertained from take-off to landing.

Unless you're one of the lucky ones, most toddlers have a hard time sitting still. Be sure to pack some new (or long-forgotten) activities in addition to the typical toddler gear. Go to a discount store, check your local Facebook group, shop garage sales, or browse consignment stores for great deals on travel toys.

Pack all of the toddler gear and activities in their own separate diaper bag or carry-on bag for ultimate convenience during flights.

Traveling with a toddler can be tough, especially when it comes to their sleep schedule. 

Before taking a flight with a toddler, give them lots of room to explore their surroundings at the airport before you board. Try to get their energy out by walking the length of the airport, going into different shops, and exploring any activities the airport might have.

Sometimes, a little screen time can help soothe a toddler enough to help them fall asleep on the plane. Wearing a baby or small toddler in a baby carrier can also help soothe them to sleep. Don't worry if your little one is fussy because they need sleep - flight attendants and other parents have surely heard it all before!

How to navigate the airport with a toddler: 

Cute caucasian baby boy sitting in stroller near luggage at airport terminal.

Whether you're traveling internationally or domestically, going through a busy airport with small children can be chaotic. Be sure to check in for your flight on time, plan on leaving an hour earlier than you normally would if you didn't have kids in tow, and bring a travel stroller or lightweight stroller to bring through the airport and check at the gate.

Having a travel stroller can keep your little one safe and contained, even if you're rushing through a crowded airport. It can also ensure that they are close by at all times. You can bring a small stroller all the way until you check in at your gate.

Is a baby or toddler car seat necessary on a flight? 

Always check with the airline ahead of time, but parents should be able to bring their car seats through airport security and onto the plane, as long as they've purchased a ticket for their child.

Sometimes, having car seats on the plane can be helpful because it's a seat belt that keeps the child secure, it's a safe place when your child falls asleep, and it can be a comfortable chair for a long journey.

Babies and toddlers are already used to sitting in their car seats during a long road trip, so using one on a plane usually isn't a big adjustment for them.

Consider getting an aisle seat for traveling with a baby and a window seat for traveling with kids. 

Father holding his baby daughter during flight on airplane going on vacations

Seating matters for long flights with babies and even children on board.

Parents will need a chance to change their child. When traveling with your toddler who is potty training, assume they'll get up several times during the flight. When the child is napping or is taking flight the seat is better. If a family has older kids, window seats are a great idea as windows protect children from sitting next to strangers and also provide entertainment to them during a long haul flight.

Bringing snacks and liquids through airport security can be tricky.

TSA treats infant food and milk as medically necessary fluids, so they won't confiscate these items at security. Parents should look at the TSA website for a list of acceptable liquids.

It can be helpful to have these items easily accessible in your carry-on bags, so you can quickly pull them out for security to look through. Store food items in the outer pockets of the diaper bag, backpack, or carry-on suitcase for easy access.

Ice packs are also permitted to keep food and milk cold.

Bring something to help with takeoff and landing. 

Mother and baby sitting in airplane

If you disregard all the tips for flying, be sure to remember this one: bring something to help with takeoff and landing if you have a small child.

Sometimes takeoff and landing can cause ear pain in babies and toddlers as the cabin air pressure increases. This can be incredibly painful for them, and cause them scream and cry. It's helpful to bring something to help ease that pressure, like a lollipop or a pacifier. Bring a pacifier or a bottle to help an infant during takeoff and landing, and a lollipop for an older toddler to suck on. The movement of sucking can help alleviate pressure and help keep them comfortable in their airplane seat.

Is it worth it to book an extra airplane seat? 

Most airlines are accommodating for parents of small children, and it can be a great perk when your little one flies for free - but it can be tough for long flights when you just need some personal space. Children's seats are often discounted, and when your little one has their own seat, parents and kids have more room to relax and move around.

If you're going on an overnight flight, it might also be helpful to book an extra seat so that your little one can have more space to rest and sleep. Buying a seat for an infant or toddler is definitely recommended for a long flight! Flying with a toddler, especially at night, can be made easier by purchasing an extra seat.

Tips for road trips with kids:

During road trips, be prepared to sing lots of songs and be silly.

Car trip planning requires careful consideration of how to keep kids entertained for long periods of time. Aside from watching movies and playing with toys, young kids can enjoy singing songs, engaging in silly games and activities, and just enjoying the long journey.

Bring along their favorite toys, and some new toys. 

Smiling Kids Smartphone Book Sitting Toys Back Seat Car

From mess-free paint sets, to lift-the-flap and pop-the-bubble books, to fidget toys and drawing pads, to car-sized games, there are many great toys and activities that can keep your little one entertained during a long car ride.

Bring along their most beloved items and favorite toys, but also be sure to pack some new toys they haven't seen before. Grab a special backpack or diaper bag, and fill it with fun activities, books, stuffed animals, and anything else that might help pass the time.

Try driving at a time when your little one usually falls asleep. 

Traveling with children can be easier when they're sleeping. This helps the time pass more quickly, helps improve their mood, and gives the parents a break from providing constant entertainment.

Whether you're traveling with a toddler or older children, plan wisely when it comes to drives. Some parents opt to leave in the early hours of the morning, some leave a few hours before afternoon naps, and others prefer driving overnight while the kids sleep.

Whatever time you leave, always be sure that your sleeping child's seat belt in on properly and snug against their body. Some kids might slump over as they sleep, but it is important for them to wear a seat belt at all times during drives, no matter how uncomfortable.

Make sure that each child has their own seat that is properly installed and set up for their age, weight, and height. Safety is of utmost importance during family travel.

Don't pull out all of the activities at once. 

Little girl in car

Pack a bunch of toys and activities along with the baby gear, but when your little one begins to get cranky or bored, resist the urge to pull out all of the activities at once.

Instead, try to space out when you hand your child a new activity or toy. Take plenty of breaks along the drive, to get out and stretch. This can help break up the journey and make it less likely for your child to have a meltdown.

Other family members can also help. If your child has siblings, encourage them to play with their younger siblings, singing to them, reading to them, or playing "I Spy" and other car games. Mom or dad can also switch off driving, and sit in the back seat with the young kids.

Make sure the car seats are properly installed. 

Mother Putting Baby Into Car Seat For Journey

Always check your car seat's manual to figure out how to properly position your child in the car. Babies and toddlers should be rear-facing, while older kids can forward-face. Check that the car seat is on the right recline position to enable your child to be more comfortable in their seat.

Flying with a toddler or going on long car rides can be challenging, but there are many ways to make it easier.

Whether you're booking an overnight flight to visit family, or going on a road trip to a fun destination, following these tips can help make traveling with babies and toddlers easier for the whole family. 

Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez

I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.

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