Top 4 Tips for Flying with Toddlers

So many people ask us how we occupy our kids during long flights. We took Dylan at 18 mo to Australia which had two 13 hours flights and I was literally preparing myself for the worst day of my life! lol! Surprisingly, it was actually AMAZING and maybe even somewhat enjoyable for me! Here are some things we did to help make the whole travel experience better!

1. Change your perspective!

Normally whenever we travel, I try to prepare myself ahead of time by changing MY perspective. The flight is one of the only situations that I can give my kids uninterrupted attention without dishes, laundry, meal prep, etc. So, I really try to make the flights special time that I can give my undivided attention to them and nothing else. This will make your child BEHAVE better! Most kids tend to misbehave and act out when they are being ignored. If we are playing and talking and just spending time with our kids, they will not only love it, but also behave sooo much better! It really is a win-win!

2. Don't buy a seat for them if they are under two years.

Children under 2 can fly for free (you still have to pay tax on them though!) If you don't buy them a seat, you will get a "lap child" ticket for them instead, which means they will sit on your lap for the flight. However, if they flight is not full, the flight attendants are soooo accommodating and will do whatever they can to get you an extra seat (even though you didn't pay for one!) So, as long as your child sits on your lap for take off and landing; it's a "free for all" the rest of the flight! ☺ In our experience, it has only happened a handful of times that our flight was full and we didn't get an extra seat, so it is definitely worth the risk to not pay for a whole extra ticket for your baby/toddler!! However, just in case we don't get an extra seat, I bring a sling for the baby to sleep in while we are sitting on the plane. That way, they are all cozy against me, but I can still use my hands to watch movies and eat meals while they are sleeping!

3. Bring new and exciting activities.

On those super long and annoying flights, I always make sure to bring a bunch of paperback books to read, a couple very small toys I know my son Dylan will love, and dollar store (small and light-weight) "presents" to unwrap during the flight. I use the "presents" when I notice him getting restless (or need to divert his attention). It occupies him for a few minutes to open the "present" (which, if you do a good wrap job, it may even take longer 😉) and then keeps him busy while he plays with it. We also have tried games on the iPad, which he never uses at home. That definitely occupies him now at 3 years old, but not really at 18 months. However, all kids LOVE to go on walks up and down the aisles of the plane. I've walked a whole hour with Dylan up and down a big airplane and it was actually so much fun for me too, since I hate sitting so long. We wave at people as we walk by and many of the older passengers will even start conversations with us and love watching Dylan show off all his "tricks": waving, blowing kisses, "so big", etc! Toddlers also LOVE playing in the bathroom; so if it's not too busy, I'll bring him in there fore a few minutes to play with the water and make bubbles with the soap! I also try to pack a lot of snacks or special "treats" for emergency type situations (like during turbulence, when everyone needs to wear their seat belts, or to divert a tantrum). It's survival, right!? ☺

4. Be strategic about the time of day you fly.

Lately, on our short Europe trips we only book red eye flights. That way, after the meal comes and everyone is settled, we all fall asleep and everyone is all rested for when we land. We find that it makes the flight soooo much easier (and seem quicker) and I love not wasting any vacation time! When we arrive at our destination, we literally start exploring right away! You can plan flights around nap times too! If you are a parent, you'll agree, a sleeping child is like gold, so it's always a big time score when they finally get bored and fall asleep. 😉


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