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16 Tips for Flying With Toddlers and Young Kids

Traveling with toddlers can be hard, at least if you're not properly prepared. Here, experienced flight attendants share their secrets for flying with young kids.

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With long security lines, cramped airplane seating, and busy waiting areas, flying isn't the most pleasant experience—and all of the frustration increases exponentially when you add a toddler into the mix. Some young children simply don't have the patience for airport security. They might despise sitting quietly for hours on end, and they might be uneasy during turbulence or get upset with the ear-popping changes in air pressure.

Thankfully, though, you can have a worry-free travel day with proper preparation and planning. Whether you're jetting off to your relative's house or Disney World, check out these stress-reducing strategies for flying (and traveling) with toddlers—some of which came straight from flight attendants.

Book an Early Morning Departure

If you're traveling with toddlers or young children, you should book an early morning departure. These give you the best chance of avoiding delays at takeoff and landing, a flight attendant named Patrick explains. "They are usually less crowded, too," he says. "Plus, everyone is tired and just wants to nap—kids especially."

Save Your Upgrades for Toddler-Free Travel

Traveling in first class with kids can be more stressful than it's worth. Mom Joanna recounts the story of traveling with her loud, lively toddler and incurring the vocal wrath of her first-class seatmates for the entirety of the flight. "It's not fair, but you're just going to get more empathy and support with kids in economy," says a flight attendant.

Talk to Your Kids About What to Expect

"My experience is kids do so much better when they know what to expect," says Shireen, a mom of three from Australia who's traveled to the U.S. several times with her kids. She recommends watching a Let's Go Play video on YouTube , which goes over the entire flight experience, from baggage check-in and ticketing to onboard etiquette and safety.

Dress in Layers and Skip Shoes With Laces

Whether you are changing climates or simply dealing with in-flight heat and/or air conditioning, you can and should be ready for drastically changing temperatures when traveling with a toddler. Wendy, a flight attendant and mom, suggests you dress your kids in comfortable layers—preferably without buttons, zippers, or anything that could prevent them from getting to the bathroom in time.

The same principle applies to shoes: Avoid laces and opt for slip-ons. "There's the added benefit of getting through airport screening that much faster," she says.

Bring Surprises

When flying with a toddler, a wrapped new plaything has two advantages: Kids love to unwrap stuff, and a new toy has more attention-grabbing pull.

Consider Using a Smaller Stroller

Getting through an airport without a stroller is unthinkable for some parents, so consider switching out your regular-size stroller for a small, compact umbrella stroller or travel stroller. Also, check your stroller at the gate before boarding; the crew will have it waiting for you when you get off the plane.

If you've got more than one little traveler with you, consider a kid harness (aka leash), Wendy suggests. "I was so against them until I saw a woman with three young boys using them in baggage claim. It made so much sense," she says, "with the exit doors to outside right there. Look, flying is stressful enough. Do what you need to do to protect your kids and your sanity."

Pack Just Enough

Flight attendants urge parents to pack enough essentials for the flight. "Unfortunately, you can expect there to be zero food on a plane that would interest a kid," says Lynn. "And we are so limited in what we can offer in terms of comfort items as well."

On the flip side, parents will struggle if they zealously overpack. "Usually, when it's one parent traveling with one or more kids, they'll bring way too much stuff in an attempt to keep their kids happy," Wendy says. "They forget they have to carry all that stuff off the plane with them, along with their kids."

Plan Your Packing List

To guard against over-packing while ensuring you don't forget anything critical, consider writing out a full packing list. Star or highlight those items that will need to be packed last minute (like the lovey your kiddo sleeps with or the tablet that's currently charging) so you have a checklist to consult one last time before heading out the door.

Sample Airplane Packing List for Toddlers

When packing your carry-on for the plane ride, use this list as a starting point:

  • Comfort item: Consider packing one of your toddler's favorite comfort items in your carry-on for mid-flight snuggles. If the comfort item is a pacifier, be sure to pack more than one, lest it gets flung down the aisle or on the floor.
  • Sanitizer, wipes, pull-ups, and diapers: You'll want these critical items within reach at all times during your travels. Not sure how many diapers to throw in the carry-on? One diaper per hour of travel is recommended.
  • Electronic devices: If there is any time to let up on strict screen time rules, it's when you're traveling. Make sure that whatever device you're bringing is fully charged and ready to go—and don't forget the chargers for the flight back. Consider pre-loading the tablet or phone with your kids' favorite movies or shows for offline viewing.
  • Kid-size headphones: Be sure to follow the basic rules of travel etiquette and pack comfy headphones your little one can wear while enjoying their favorite games or shows. Have more than one kid in tow? Consider investing in a splitter so both can enjoy the show with their own set of headphones.
  • Art supplies: A small box of crayons and blank paper can go a long way when it comes to entertaining your toddler on a plane. Mix things up and pack some fun stickers or even plain sticky notes to add to the excitement.
  • Plastic bags: You never know when you'll need an extra bag for wet clothes, a dirty diaper, or even just for trash, so pack a few extras.
  • Water bottle: Toss an empty clean water bottle into your bag to fill after you get through security. Just make sure that it's leakproof!
  • Healthy and fun mess-free snacks: While you don't necessarily want to load your kid up with sugar just before take-off, consider packing a mix of healthy and fun snacks that are relatively mess-free to keep their bellies full and happy. Cheerios, pretzels, crackers, string cheese, and granola bars are good options.

Be Prepared for Security

When you pack, make sure items that need to be removed during security are easily reached. Keep in mind that traveling with snacks may mean extra scrutiny during the screening process.

Prepare for Air Pressure Changes

If your child has recently had an ear infection or a cold, get your doctor's approval before flying. The change in cabin air pressure may cause pain for your toddler. After passing through security, stock up on enough water for everyone to get through a possible delay and have enough left for the descent, which is often the most bothersome time for ear pressure discomfort. Have your kids drink some right after takeoff and during the last 30 to 45 minutes of the descent. The swallowing helps with the pressure changes and gives an added hydrating benefit.

By All Means, Use Pull-Ups

Your little one may have moved beyond Pull-Ups into big kid underwear, but pull-up diapers are a great resource when flying with a recently potty-trained toddler or young child. "I even use them on my 6-year-old," says Wendy, who adds that it's much less stressful than having to race to the bathroom or deal with an in-seat accident.

Show Some Appreciation

Flight attendants love to receive a certain gratuity for dealing with toddlers. "Any kind of chocolate found in an airport, handed over at boarding, does wonders," says Patrick. Of course, it will have zero effect on the random bad-tempered, unprofessional cabin crew member. But it's a nice gesture nonetheless, particularly when flying during the holidays when most flight attendants will be working and away from their families.

"It will be so appreciated," he says. "And we will remember you and look out for you. And not only that, you'll probably score a free drink out of it."

Seat Kids Away From the Aisle

Aisle seats can be dangerous for toddlers and potentially give them a little too much freedom of movement. For example, little hands and feet can be bumped as people walk by and hot coffee and water may be just within reach as the food and beverage cart passes by. If you can, consider the window seat, which offers the benefit of a view and puts you between your toddler and any other passengers in your row.

Beware of Germs

Toddlers tend to get sit a lot, but you can try to avoid any travel-related illness by keeping your little one's hands clean. When flying with a toddler, wipe everything from hands to tray tables down with sanitizing wipes when you're getting settled in your seats—and above all else, do not send your kids to the bathroom without shoes. "The floor is a Petri dish," a flight attendant confides. "You're in the air, things jostle. That's not just water on the bathroom floor."

Keep Your Composure

There's not much you can do to assuage that passenger who complains the moment your child sneezes or giggles. Here's what you need to remember: As long as you're trying (and what parent isn't?), you've got almost everyone on your side. "An adult having an issue with a screaming child is acting like a child as well," offers a flight attendant and mother named Patience. "Don't engage. Just worry about your own child."

Choose an Airline With Kid-Friendly Perks

There's nothing a family-friendly airline wants more than happy, occupied kiddos. As such, many leading carriers have all kinds of kid perks to offer their littlest travelers from a wide array of their favorite TV shows and movies to kid-approved headphones and snacks.

Before boarding, be sure to check in with the gate agent about whether the airline offers priority boarding for families with young children. Often airlines call special boarding for families so they can board a little early so you'll have time to settle in. Other great perks to look for are family lounges or airports with areas for kids to burn off some steam during layovers or before boarding.

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travelling with 2 toddlers

  • Mom Confessions

Flying Alone with Two Babies: 20 Tips for Survival

Flying alone with two toddlers can be scary, and managing everything on travel day can seem impossible. I’ve learned from experience that with the right preparation — and realistic expectations — flying by myself with our one-year-old and three-year-old can be a fun day for all of us.

Besides coming to the airport with a little extra patience (one time it took us so long to walk to baggage claim that our suitcase was moved to unclaimed luggage!), here are my top 20 tips for surviving and thriving your solo flight with two toddlers:

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers: Planning and Packing

1. pack lightly for your trip..

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

Packing lightly is not something that comes naturally to me. I’ve been known to fly with an entire suitcase of toys cross-country, load our truck bed with our large Fisher-Price Piano for road trips, and fill our massive L. L. Bean roller duffle to the brim for short weekend adventures.

Flying alone with two toddlers is a different story. Even if I check a bag, there are times when I need to manage both kids and all the luggage myself, so packing light is essential. When I can, I try to have disposable goods like diapers and wipes delivered to our destination to help save space.

2. Time your flight for sleep… Or not.

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

Whenever we travel with our kids , we find it ideal for them to sleep for as much of the trip as possible. If we’re driving , we always leave at bedtime or at 4:00 AM so the kids can go back to sleep in the car.

The last time I flew alone with our two toddlers, we planned the flight around their afternoon nap time so they would both doze off on the plane. Of course, my plan backfired. No one slept on the plane, and our daughter (who is still under 18 months old) lost it from overtiredness before the end of the flight. In the end, she was a happy camper once we deplaned, and she caught up on sleep later in the day.

3. Organize your bags for in-flight access.

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

I’ve learned from experience to plan which bags I’ll have at our feet, so that I’m not leaving our two toddlers in their seats while I rummage in the overhead compartment for the emergency snack stash. Even if you plan to carry everything on with you, there’s a chance that the overhead bins on your plane will fill up. In that case, you’ll need to gate-check any bags you planned to stow in the overhead, leaving you without access to them during the flight.

4. Get creative with compact airplane toys and activities.

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

When we travel with our kids and extended family, I’m all for carrying on as many toys as possible . I’ll even distribute a few books and activities to aunts, uncles, and grandparents to share the load and reduce the weight in our diaper bag.

If it’s just me traveling with the two littles, I significantly reduce the amount of toys I bring on the plane. I avoid heavy books, toys with small parts, and anything that might roll away, like crayons or stacking cups. Instead, I might bring an LCD writing tablet and a few fidget toys like bubble poppers or suction spinners for the window.

The last time I flew with our two toddlers by myself, the only toy I brought was a roll of blue painter’s tape to save space. The kids loved tearing the pieces off and using them to decorate the seat back in front of them, my water bottle, and each other.

5. Invest in a compact travel stroller.

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

Bringing a stroller helps reduce the number of bags I need to carry, and it keeps our younger daughter secure while we walk through the terminal. Although many airlines require parents to check full-size strollers at the ticketing desk, most airport staff allow travel strollers to be pushed right up to the gate.

Our UPPAbaby Minu stroller (pictured above with an extremely tired toddler after landing) is easy to fold into thirds and bring onto the plane or gate-check. If you’re set on bringing your travel stroller on board, see our list of lightweight strollers that fit in the airplane overhead bin .

6. Use a standing ride-along board.

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

Clipping our Lascal BuggyBoard Mini onto the travel stroller gives our older son a place to stand and rest when he’s tired of walking. This is especially helpful when my husband isn’t with us to carry him around.

When we aren’t using it, I can easily slide the ride-along board into the under-seat stroller basket. For boarding, I fold the BuggyBoard inside our Minu stroller and use a bungee cord to secure it in place.

7. Use a baby carrier (yes, even for toddlers).

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

For our firstborn, I only used our soft baby carrier until he was a little under one year old. Now that I’m managing two toddlers, I often find myself relying on the carrier to hold our younger daughter — who’s almost one-and-a-half — while keeping my hands free.

Our Beco Gemini model is comfortable to wear and holds up to 35 pounds. We also love the Artipoppe and Ergobaby Omni 360 . Read about more travel baby carriers that can support toddler weight here .

8. Bring the good snacks.

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

Snacks are one of the best tools for keeping toddlers happy. To make snacks more effective for managing the plane ride, I try not to let our kids fill up too much before the flight.

On our most recent flight, I brought Cheez-It crackers and alphabet cookies to keep the kids content. As a medical professional and a mom who generally feeds our children a nutritious and well-rounded diet , I realize these are not the healthiest choices, but flying alone with two toddlers is the time to pull out all the stops.

9. Pack a kid-friendly water bottle.

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

I’ve learned from experience that when the beverage cart comes by on the plane, the kids always want something to drink. You can expect that the plane won’t be equipped with kids’ cups, so be sure to bring a bottle or straw cup to pour your water into for the flight.

10. Choose a travel-friendly diaper bag.

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

All diaper bags are not created equal. Look for a large model with lots of pockets, so there’s a designated spot for every item. The last thing you need is to spend time digging through your bag for that emergency pacifier with no way to find it.

Our Dagne Dover Diaper Tote has a luggage sleeve that makes strolling through the airport much easier. For more great diaper bags, check out our guides on The Best Diaper Bags for Two Kids and the The Best Diaper Bags for Travel .

11. Talk to your toddlers about what to expect.

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

Don’t underestimate your son or daughter’s ability to mentally prepare for travel day. Although explaining to an 18-month old that you need them to walk through security and sit quietly on the plane may not be effective, older toddlers might appreciate a heads up about what to expect. You might even find that they’re better equipped to listen and stay close to you if you explain the importance of sticking together.

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers: Managing Travel Day

12. wear comfortable clothing with pockets..

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

You never know who’s going to be napping (or climbing!) on you for the flight, so it’s best to avoid harsh zippers or buckles that might be uncomfortable for little faces to rest on.

I also learned the last time I flew with our toddlers how important it is to have pockets. Because I wore a sweatshirt and leggings with no pockets, I didn’t have a good spot to stash the luggage stub for our bag that was checked at the gate. I lost the stub almost immediately, making it much more difficult to locate our suitcase when I couldn’t find it at baggage claim later on. Learn from my mistake and always wear clothing with pockets!

13. Have someone drive you to the airport if possible (and pick you up, too!).

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

Flying alone with two toddlers will be significantly easier if you can have someone drive you to the airport, especially if they can park and help you get your luggage (and children) to check-in. Although it’s not always possible, I’ve also found it helpful to have a family member pick us up at our destination and assist at baggage claim.

14. Be realistic about what you can carry, and check what you need to.

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

If I’m traveling on my own with our children, it’s often worth it to check a bag so that I’m not hauling too much luggage through the airport while trying to keep the kids contained. Although many parents prefer to carry car seats onto the plane and use them in flight , we’ve found that it works well for our family to check them or rent car seats at our destination . This allows me to avoid buying a separate airplane seat for our daughter (until she turns two) and reduces what I need to lug through the airport.

15. Give yourself extra time at the airport.

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

Unexpected obstacles (diaper blowout, anyone?) are even more difficult to manage on your own with two little ones, so give yourself extra time to deal with them. On our most recent flight together, the airline originally had my son and I sitting a few rows apart from each other. I was thankful to have spare time at the gate to change our seats before boarding.

16. Let older toddlers help if they want to.

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

Whenever we’re at the airport, our three-year-old always wants to help check in at the kiosk, carry a bag, or push the stroller. Although it requires some serious patience (and extra time), I try to let him help as much as possible so that he can enjoy the day and feel independent rather than becoming frustrated.

17. Plan to have your kids burn some energy at the gate.

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

When we arrive at the gate, I like to get our daughter out of the stroller or carrier and let her walk around with her brother for a while. That way they aren’t both itching to run around the airplane aisles as soon as we board. Some airports even have an airplane-themed indoor playground in the terminal.

18. Change diapers just before boarding.

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

When it’s just me and the two kids flying together, I try to take advantage of the spacious airport restrooms, so I can roll the stroller right into the bathroom stall. Although it isn’t always possible, the goal is to avoid dealing with an in-flight diaper change in those tight airplane lavatories with two children.

19. Board early enough that there’s still overhead space.

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

I made this mistake the last time I flew alone with our two toddlers. I was trying to avoid having them on the plane any longer than they needed to be, so I decided to wait at the gate and let others board first, even though the airline staff offered us early boarding. By the time we got on the plane, the overhead bins were full. We had to check both our small roller bag and our stroller instead of carrying them on, making things more difficult at our destination.

20. Save the screen time for when you need it.

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

Although there are plenty of activities that are healthier for kids to engage in than screen time, an iPad with a few movies downloaded onto it is a magical tool for long flights. Instead of letting our kids use the screen while we’re in the airport or at the beginning of the flight, I try to wait until we’re farther into our journey. If they’ve already been using it all day, the iPad won’t be as effective for keeping them engaged.

The Upshot on Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

Flying Alone with Two Toddlers

I hope this guide gives you reassurance that flying alone with two toddlers is possible, and it can be an exciting experience for your little ones. Above all, give yourself grace, and realize that your travel day probably won’t go perfectly, no matter how much planning and preparation are involved. Although flying alone with little kids can cause some stress and take a lot of work, it’s often worth it to adventure with your family, and it makes for great stories and memories for years to come.

*Some links in this post are affiliate links that support this site at no extra cost to you when you purchase through them. Everybody wins!

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With a background in medicine as a licensed physician assistant, Christy is a freelance writer and mom of two young kids. As someone who loves to ski, run, and hike, she most cherishes introducing her son and daughter to the beautiful outdoors and spending time with her precious family.

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Travel Advice

Flying with two (or more) kids: a survival guide.

three kids sitting in an airport window waiting for flight

Flying with multiple children – the rules explained & how to actually do it!

So you thought you finally had yourself sorted with this flying with an infant thing – then another kid comes along.  What on earth do you do? Where do you put them? How do you carry everything?  Or what if two come along at once?!

Don’t panic! Your questions are comprehensively answered in this guide to flying with two or more kids  – particularly infants.

As my 3 children are all of different ages, I have called on the help of Karen Bleakley of Tales of a Twin Mum fame to assist with some practical pointers on travelling with twins too.

This post is part of our flying with kids series

Flying with multiple children; what family travelling combo are you.

  • One infant with one or more older children (over 2 years)
  • Two infants (one over 6 months)
  • Twins under 6 months
  • Twins between 6 months to 2 years
  • Twins & infants
  • Triplets and more!
  • Two over 2 years

Why does this matter?   Because rules do differ based on your children’s ages and how many adults are travelling with you. N.B. An infant is considered any child under 2 years of age.

What are the airline rules for fying with more than one child?

As a very basic headline rule on all airlines, only one infant is allowed per adult lap . If you are travelling as a couple or as two adults with two infants you shouldn’t have any issues, but bear in mind if you have two infants on laps, you most likely cannot sit together! 

This is because there is only one extra oxygen mask fitted in each row. In the bassinet row , however, there should be as many masks as there are bassinets.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t travel as a solo parent with two infants, but here are some additional rules:

Solo parent, multiple kids

  • A child under 6 months must be on your lap with a loop seat belt during takeoff, landing & turbulence.  So with twins under 6 months, you must have another accompanying adult, or some airlines will offer a (paid) escort service.
  • purchase a child seat and bring an airline approved car seat for the second child (most airlines will not provide this though); or
  • You could have two in car seats and be completely hands-free if you want to spring for the cost, or if you know both children sleep better this way.

If any of your children are over 2 years of age, then they must have their own seat and pay a child’s fare.

A single parent can then have another infant on their lap and yes, they can by the rules have a child over two and twins under two, as long as the twins are over 6 months and one of them is put in a car seat.  Clear?!

Once your children are over two there are no restrictions on how many children can fly with one adult (though bear in mind until they are at least three it can be mission impossible to get them to stay in their seat!)

This advice is based on CAA (UK Civil Aviation Authority) guidelines; other federal aviation policies may differ so always check with your airline when purchasing seats for two infants.  Car seats must be compliant with civil aviation standards in your airline’s jurisdiction, here are the guidelines set by CAA and FAA (USA).

Complete Guide to Flying with Kids | Our Globetrotters

So now you know the rules, what are the trick to get you through the flight?

The absolute number one rule is to be organised and have a plan in advance!

Booking the best seats flying with multiple children

Remember sitting together as a complete family group isn’t the most important thing in the world (as long as you’re organised and prepared).

Now that we have three children (one infant and two children), my husband and I regularly split our seating up. 

Rather than looking to share a row of four with five of us, one of us aims to sit in the bassinet row (which requires you book, re-book, double-check and ask again multiple times to guarantee!), while the other will take the older kids in a window seat row (aircraft layout permitting – check Seat Guru if you are unsure).

There are challenges to both sitting with the infant and with the older kids but this way we can rotate and give each other a break. 

It also means the infant isn’t disturbing the older two who can be engaged in activities or watching TV, and vice versa they are not waking or clambering over him while he’s trying to sleep.

When we were only a family of four, and after #2 no longer fitted the bassinet we would try for the empty seat strategy . This involves booking a row of four near the back and hoping the aircraft is not full and the middle seat will not be taken in between you. This strategy obviously only works on larger wide-bodied long-haul aircraft.

The reason we love this is that you can fold the armrests back and lay the children out across the row, something you cannot do in the bulkhead row where the bassinet is situated.

Don’t forget when flying long-haul to book infant and children’s meals where possible.  Do not assume that booking an infant or children’s ticket automatically entitles you to this – IT DOES NOT! (Queue reading our Toddler Flying Mistakes post next!!)

If you are flying with a budget airline, it is well worth paying a premium if possible to book preferred seating in advance and get the combination that you want instead of getting stuck in the skirmish at the gate and potentially being completely separated on the aircraft.

The Ultimate Guide to baby Bassinets | Our Globetrotters

Getting to the plane

Remember you only have two hands each!!

Every additional child, bag and piece of equipment somehow needs to be accounted for in getting from A to B.  Strategies that may have worked for you with one infant might not work so well with two so you need to be flexible and realistic.

If there is an option for an airport porter to assist you from car to check-in, now might just be the time to splash out on one. Personally, I try to check as much luggage as I possibly can, including strollers and carry infants in a sling or carrier , allowing older children to walk with as minimal hand luggage as possible. 

Of course, if your children are close together (or twins), or just extremely tired this may not be a viable option, so let’s talk equipment.

Strollers for air travel

Some airports do provide strollers free of charge so you can check your own stroller securely at check-in (ie properly wrapped ready for baggage handling) – but many times this services is advertised the strollers are simply not available so don’t bank on this.

If you do take a stroller to the gate, it will then be stowed by ground staff and either collected at the plane door on landing or at the baggage claim (quite often with oversized items).  

Where your gear will end up is at the discretion of the destination airport so don’t get cross at your airline if it’s not available at the aircraft door and be prepared for this.

If your stroller is being stowed, you will want it protected with some sort of gate check bag. 

RELATED READING: Our review of the ultra-compact plane strollers that can fit onboard without gate checking

Carriers for the airport

Using a sling/carrier can make it quicker to get through security as many airports will require an infant to be removed and the stroller to be folded and go through the scanner.  This method also leaves your hands free for errant toddlers who are likely to wander off on you.

A final alternative is to double carry .  Something I must say I have never attempted, but where you put one child on your back and another in a sling in front (or small twins could be carried together in a sling) – practice this at home beforehand if this is your strategy!

Car Seats at the airport and on the plane

If you are planning on taking car seats to use on the plane, remember you will need a way of carrying them through the airport. 

In a smaller regional airport you may be able to get the airline to take your seats at check-in straight to the aircraft but don’t bank on this option, especially at a big international airport.

There are some ingenious little roll along models now available which you could try (that double as a stroller).

Pre-boarding when flying with multiple kids

On many flights, particularly international, families will be allowed pre-boarding .  

If you have a rambunctious toddler that needs to burn energy, consider sending only one adult ahead to get your seats all set up and letting the other parent wear kids out before boarding – or taking a sleeping baby to board straight away.

You will find a combination that works best for you, just think about how much luggage you have and how much you prize that overhead locker space!

Tips for airports & boarding with twins

I find taking a double strol ler essential for getting around the airport, rather than two singles, this way one of us was able to push the luggage trolley while the other pushed the boys. Rather than take our expensive double, we invested in a cheap, narrow stroller. We didn’t mind if this got battered by the airline staff, and, as it was skinny, we knew it would be more likely to go through doors and lifts when we arrived at our destination at Gatwick Airport we had to give up our stroller at the gate (this meant juggling two toddlers and our hand luggage for the final stretch – which included two flights of stairs and a bus!)  – I was very pleased we’d brought rucksacks which kept our hands free. Karen

If you are seeking more tips on getting organised at home and getting through the airport and security – check out this guide .

Getting through the flight

So with seating sorted according to aviation rules and your favourite seating strategies in play, you’ve gotten to the plane. Now how do you survive in-flight with more than one child?

Getting your bags sorted is incredibly important.  If you are going to be split up then you want to make sure both parents have essential supplies with them.

Most important is to determine what needs to be in your “grab bag” ; especially if you’ve managed to score the converted bulkhead row, during that insurmountable time it seems to take for the seat belt sign to come off you need every essential supply in arms reach.

Infants can be incredibly wibble wobbly, hair pulling, trampolining, scratching creatures when forced to sit in your lap.  Adding a whiney toddler desperate for your attention to the mix doesn’t help!  

You will need some sort of plane activities for a toddler or older infant but be conscious they still have a pretty limited attention span.  Even the much-loved iPad can take until 2.5 to 3 years old to really be an effective entertainer (read keep the headphones on their head!)

Also think about the fact if your baby is happily bopping about in your lap next to an older child trying to play, it really can be quite distracting. Not to mention their innate desire to put everything possible in their mouth so think carefully about what you’re packing in your toy bag .

Don’t be afraid to ask the flight crew for help. Even if there are two grown-ups travelling together, most airline staff do understand the needs of family travellers, be it help while going to the toilet or clearing trays for you.  A little politeness will get you a long way.

How to fly as a single mum with three children | Our Globetrotters family Travel Advice

Tales from a Twin Mum – getting through a flight with multiples

When flying from London to Menorca, we opted to pay extra to choose our seats in advance so we had booked to sit directly behind each other so we could easily pass things over and swap toddlers if one got bored.  I had carefully packed our bags – one with nappy changing things and spare clothes, and the other with stickers, books, snacks and a bottle of milk for each of them. When we boarded though, we realised we’d been moved and had been allocated seats in different parts of the aircraft. We had to hastily go through our bags while everyone was boarding (and while trying to keep hold of two wriggly toddlers!) to switch up the contents so we each had some of everything in our bags. Thankfully, after talking to the staff about how we’d paid to be seated together, we were eventually moved to a different row where there were enough empty seats for us all to sit together.  I’ll never make that mistake again – now I make sure that each bag has a mixture of things in it . To minimise stress, we flew early in the morning and stayed at a B&B near the airport.  Our boys were awake and running around before we boarded flights, but the second we gave them their bottles of milk at take-off, they fell sound asleep and stayed that way until a few minutes before landing. The short flight was totally painless. Don’t listen to the people that tell you it will be too hard to go abroad with multiples (as they usually don’t actually have twins themselves), or the people that tell you not to bother as your babies won’t remember the holiday so there’s no point in going. That holiday was one of our greatest achievements as a family. It wasn’t the most amazing hotel or resort, but that holiday created the greatest memories for ME. Seeing my boys in an outdoor swimming pool for the first time, watching them build sandcastles in the sun (it was freezing and pouring down in the UK, so we couldn’t have done that in Cornwall!) and letting them run along the beach path every afternoon before taking a doze in the buggy on the way back so we could have a sneaky coffee in peace. I’ve travelled to many countries, but that simple family holiday to Menorca will always be my favourite trip. Karen

So there you have it, folks.  Be prepared and pack a bag load of patience along with a hell of a lot of wet-wipes and you CAN fly with more than one child .    

Oh, and if you’re looking for more advice on how to travel when there’s just one parent, check out this invaluable advice for flying with only one adult .  Well, what are you waiting for!!?

More about Karen

Karen is originally from Hampshire in the UK and immigrated to Brisbane, Australia in 2014.  She has 6-year-old twin sons, a 3-year-old daughter and loves travel and adventure, working as a freelance writer as well as writing her blog Tales of a Twin Mum.

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Do you have any more tips or personal experiences to add travelling with two or more kids?  What seating and transportation options worked best for you?

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travelling with 2 toddlers

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16 thoughts on “ Flying with two (or more) kids: A survival guide ”

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As somone Traveling with 3 under 2 – I was so glad to find this article – great stuff, will definatly be trying this all out. Last year we went to over 20 countries (or maybe it just felt that way I wasnt really counting) with out 1 year old – no idea what we will be doing this year with 3 ! :/ Praying we can work out an awsome system like you lot 🙂

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3 under 2 wow! Certainly a big handful, but this time in your lives when they are so, so little will pass quickly. You will work out the system that fits you best. For some that can be waiting for the oldest at least to be past the terrible two’s (toddlers can be brutal on your sanity), or go in there head first and keep travelling!! It really is logistics in those early years as there’s so much equipment and not enough hands. Travel with others if you can, it won’t be long until they’re out of strollers etc, I promise – then you have the joys of working out how to get taxies and hotel rooms with 5 full-sized humans!!!! Enjoy bigger family life xxx

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Why didn’t we found you earlier!?! great blog, thank you for sharing! All the best, traveling Family of Simona & Roberto + Azzurra(4years), Alice and Niccolo’ (18 months)

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always the way! i find the best family guides after I’ve returned from a destination! nonetheless welcome aboard glad youve found our site hope you find it informative and insprational.

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Great guide Keri for any parents who have not had the sometimes great sometimes horror experience of flying with their kids lol

Thanks Mark – there’s certainly no guarantee how each individual flight experience will go but knowing what to expect certainly helps parents’ confidence a lot.

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Oh dear, I remember so well my first trip alone with my two: I wish I knew about your blog at the time! I always found security the most stressful part: folding the stroller while holding a baby and trying to contain a toddler… a carrier makes total sense and airports is where my Ergo baby really came into its own: after I used it the first time, I never looked back .

I stressed a lot the first time I faced the prospect of travelling alone with 2 – so many things to think about – but I think once you’re in complete child-mode when you travel it all becomes second nature, travelling with 3 now seems dare I say it, easy!!

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I’ll be the first to admit that the folks traveling with 3 under 2 would have to routinely figure out such logistics! I’ll also be the first to admit that now my girls are 7 and 13 and traveling by air has become…dare I say it….relaxing!? But a post like this takes me back to those days they were small, and 4 of us were jammed into 3 seats for 6 hour flights!!

I dream of the day we’re in your position Amy! My 6 year old has the flying routine completely nailed and really looks forward to it – basically the prospect of endless screen time without being told off!!! We do now need to impose screen limits though, she was so bleary-eyed after our last ultra-long haul to Canada. Mast 3 is pretty good too, its my lap toddler still causing us a lot of grief!!

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Have you checked out a TravelSnug? Helped me survive two under twos flying solo frequently from the U.S. to the UK. Much more cozy than a car seat, easier to carry, not counted as hand luggage , helps with any delays in the departure lounge and helped mine to sleep for the majority of the 8.5 hr flight.

Not something I have tried yet no, I try to minimize the amount of extra items we take on board the plane but they do look quite cuddly.

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Some great advice – and very true that you only have a limited number of hands to carry everything while keeping control of your children! This year we let our two each have their own Trunkis which worked great as they could sit on them when they got tired of standing in the queue for check-in, had their own luggage and were even happy pulling it along themselves for most of the way!

I dream for the day they might actually pull their own trunki’s along!

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Keri, Great tips! I liked it so much I set up a tweet and a Facebook post. Come post it at Snickerdoodle Sunday Linky Party. The party ends 8PM Pacific time Monday. Also leave a comment on where you are from. This is a great way to build community.

Thanks Maria, let me know where I can get badge and I’ll link up

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The Ultimate Packing List for Flying With Kids

From activity books to wipes galore, everything you need for your next flight with kids.

Alesandra Dubin is an LA-based lifestyle writer and editor. As a veteran digital journalist, she's covered travel, food, parenting, and more for over 15 years. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, TripSavvy, and countless other online and print outlets. An avid traveler, she often trots the globe with her husband and their twins. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @alicedubin. Alesandra holds a master's degree in journalism with an emphasis on cultural reporting and criticism from NYU, and a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley.

travelling with 2 toddlers

In This Article

  • Packing Checklist

Tips for Packing

Frequently asked questions.

  • Why Trust T+L

Travel + Leisure / Reese Herrington

The trick to flying with young kids? Careful preparation. Our writer has traveled the world with twins, and she knows that flying with children can be miserable if you don't bring the right items on board with you. But with the right tools, a flight with your youngsters is not just feasible but can even be fun. We've rounded up all the supplies you’ll need for feeding, cleaning, soothing, and entertaining little ones — plus transporting all that cargo. So use this guide to prepare properly for your next family flight .

Packing Checklist for Flying With Kids

We've broken down all categories of things you’ll need to pack when flying with children and included the exact items we’d recommend.

Read more about our specific recommendations below and start your own checklist, too.

Entertainment 

  • Best Tablet: Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Tablet
  • Best Headphones: Puro Sound Labs BT2200s Kids’ Bluetooth Headphones
  • Best Tech Stand: Airglo Cell Phone and Tablet Holder
  • Best Coloring Book: Unicorn Imagine Ink Magic Ink Book
  • Best Book: "Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey"
  • Best Activity Book: On the Plane Activity Book
  • Best Craft: Purple Ladybug Wax Craft Sticks
  • Best Game: Magnetic Travel Games
  • Best Set: Mini Voyager 4-7 Jetsetter Travel Kit
  • Best Sound Machine: Frida Baby Portable 2-in-1 Sound Machine
  • Best Pillow and Blanket: Roamwild Kids Travel Pillow and Travel Blanket Set
  • Best Portable Bed: Flyaway Kids Bed

Food and Drink

  • Best Reusable Water Bottle: Yeti 12-ounce Kids Water Bottle
  • Best Lollipops: Ring Pops (20 Count)
  • Best Snacks: Healthy Snacks Variety Pack
  • Best Snack Activity: Fred Match Up Memory Snack Tray
  • Best Changing Pad: SkipHop Portable Baby Changing Pad
  • Best Multi-purpose Wipes: Hello Bello Unscented Baby Wipes
  • Best Face Wipes: Baby Wipes by Boogie Wipes
  • Best Surface Wipes: Lysol Disinfecting Surface Wipes
  • Best Hand Sanitizer: Kinia 8-pack Hand Sanitizer Holders
  • Best Diaper Bag: Dagne Dover Indi Diaper Backpack
  • Best Crossbody Bag: Kibou Vegan Leather Fanny Pack Diaper Bag
  • Best Kids Backpack: Herschel Backpack Kids 9L
  • Best Wheeled Backpack: Jansport Driver 8 Backpack
  • Best Carry-on Suitcase: Rockland London Hardside 20-inch Spinner
  • Best Ride-on Suitcase: Jetkids by Stokke Bedbox 19-inch Ride-on Carry-on

Accessories

  • Best Luggage Trackers: Apple AirTags
  • Best First Aid Kit: PreparaKit Take Along First-aid Kit
  • Best Storage Bags: Hefty Slider Storage Bags

T+L's Top Picks and Tips

Entertainment.

Entertaining kids is absolutely critical to keeping the peace on any flight. For babies and younger kids, one rule of thumb is to think of entertainment in 15-minute increments; bring enough options to rotate activities often. For older or generally tech-minded kids? Well, the magic power of screens sure comes in handy.

Best Tablet

Amazon fire hd 10 kids edition.

Why We Love It: This tablet has plenty of storage space and comes in a virtually indestructible case.

What to Consider: This isn’t as full-featured as, say, an iPad, so kids will outgrow it eventually.

Tablets are great for long-stretch occupation — just be sure to download your child's favorite shows and movies ahead of time rather than relying on airplane wifi to stream. Amazon’s Fire for kids simpler and less expensive than standard adult versions, and it comes with an indestructible, kid-friendly case with a stand. The Fire HD 10 also includes a two-year guarantee and a yearlong subscription to Amazon Kids+. We find this to be a great investment to keep children from ages 3 to 5 occupied.

Best Headphones

Puro sound labs bt2200s volume limited kids headphones.

Why We Love It: These Bluetooth headphones have a safe maximum volume for kids.

What to Consider: They are pricier than some alternative kids' headphones.

In the same way that you’ll likely lean hard on that tablet to keep kids occupied, you'll depend on quality kids' headphones to go with it. This compact but powerful pair is made to protect early hearing damage by following the World Health Organization’s recommendation of an 85dB-limited volume range. The Bluetooth capability has a 30-foot range of movement so the child can feel free to move about the cabin, too.The lightweight, durable headphones come in nine fun colors.

Best Tech Stand

Airglo airplane travel essentials.

Why We Love It: This universal tech holder is a great hands-free solution for use in planes, cars, and more.

What to Consider: It might not be the most secure stand for larger phones or tablets.

This nifty gadget is the brainchild of a flight attendant who saw a need for a phone stand that would allow passengers to watch movies and TV shows on long flights. Now kids can also watch on your devices hands-free with this tool that fits any brand’s gadgets. It folds fairly flat when not in use, and this lightweight stand could also be repurposed to hang a bag on a chair or tray table.

Best Coloring Book

Bendon unicorn imagine ink magic ink book.

Why We Love It: This compact book is small, self-contained, and mess-free.

What to Consider: The cover is slightly misleading: This book isn’t actually full of unicorn themes.

These invisible ink activity books are self-contained — no crayon collection to roll under plane seats — and guaranteed mess-free. Kids just use the Imagine Ink marker to stay busy with 16 pages of games, all in a portable-size book just right for tossing in a travel bag. We've found invisible ink books particularly effective for children aged 3 to 6.

Where's Waldo? The Fantastic Journey Paperback

Why We Love It: This book is challenging for kids of all ages (including pre-readers) and delivers on a healthy dose of nostalgia for parents as well.

What to Consider: A book will never be as tempting as a tablet for tech-addled kids.

Books that challenge little ones keep them entertained. And Where’s Waldo does just that — even for kids who aren’t reading yet. The paperback book is not only small and lightweight for travel, but its journey motif fits in nicely with vacation adventures, too.

Best Activity Book

On the plane activity book.

Why We Love It: This lightweight book gets kids excited about their flight, with plane-themed games and activities.

What to Consider: You’ll need to bring and keep track of your own coloring implements.

Engage kids in the excitement of travel with this activity book that has an airplane journey theme. Think: spot the identical pilots on their way through the airport, true-or-false airplane and flying facts, and more. Just pack a pencil (or probably two).

Purple Ladybug Wax Craft Sticks for Kids

Why We Love It: This generously stocked wax stick kit has plenty of sticks to share between or among siblings.

What to Consider: You'll probably leave some sticks on the floor and in the seats.

This set of wax craft sticks will be a novelty for most kids, and waxy sticks won’t roll away as easily as crayons or markers. This kit comes with 300 sticks in 15 colors and two different lengths, plenty for multiple siblings to have a go. Kids can endlessly shape and reshape them with no noise and no mess.

The Purple Cow Magnetic Animal Homes Matching Puzzle

Why We Love It: Magnetic pieces keep this tin game set together for play on the go.

What to Consider: Pieces are only magnetic on one side.

Nothing’s more frustrating than trying to travel with a game that’s rendered immediately useless after some essential piece slides irretrievably under an airplane or car seat. This compact game set provides a frustration-free alternative with magnets that keep everything together. We recommend it for children over 2.

Mini Voyager 4-7y Jetsetter Travel Kit

Mini Voyage

Why We Love It: This kit combines a customized array of kids entertainment items into one grab-and-go bundle.

What to Consider: You may save money by finding and buying all of these items separately (if you have the time and inclination).

If creating a DIY bag of entertainment ideas for every flight seems like a lot of work, buy this kit, which compiles it all for you in one convenient bundle. Choose from multiple items to build your own customized pack based on your kid’s interests and ages, including stickers, books, toys, and games.

When kids don’t get adequate rest, the whole thing goes off the rails in a hurry — for everyone. In addition to comfy clothes and layers, these packable items help keep children warm, soothed, and rested on the plane.

Best Sound Machine

Fridababy 2-in-1 portable sound machine.

Why We Love It: This portable sound machine also has a nightlight, and it hooks onto a tray table hinge or arm rest.

What to Consider: It can be hard to differentiate the buttons in the dark.

This little machine produces five soothing sounds for kids, including shushing and a heartbeat. It has an adjustable strap, so you can hook it onto an arm rest or or tray table hinge, or a car seat or stroller once off the plane. During your flight, just but be mindful of using anything beyond pink noise in flight out of respect to your fellow passengers. Conveniently, it also has a nightlight with three glow levels which could help you locate items in a dimmed cabin, too.

Best Pillow and Blanket

Roamwild kids travel pillow.

Why We Love It: This cute and cuddly set is a pillow, blanket, and toy all in one.

What to Consider: While the sleeve-style cover adds comfort to an armrest, it’s still an armrest — so it may be too firm for some kids’ tastes.

A travel pillow and blanket are always useful tools in keeping children cozy for long flights. This one has a niche feature: After you remove the blanket, the sleeve-style toy slides over any armrest to transform it into a kids’ pillow. So, it’s a penguin toy, a comfy pillow, and a warm blanket, all in one cute and compact package.

Best Portable Bed

Flyaway kids bed.

Why We Love It: Not just a place to sleep, this comfy surface also keeps toys and accessories from rolling onto the floor.

What to Consider: You’ll be happy to have it on the plane, but then you’ll be committed to traveling with it for the duration of your trip.

When kids are overtired, everyone loses. And a tool like this can be just the ticket for helping them sleep on long flights. The bed for babies, toddlers, and little kids inflates in 90 seconds and deflates quickly, too. It comes in a carry bag with a pump included, and it can be wiped clean.

When it comes to traveling with kids, you’ll always need more snacks than you think. Think you’ve packed enough? Great, now double it. And don’t forget a refillable water bottle to kep your kiddo hydrated.

Best Reusable Water Bottle

Yeti rambler jr. kids bottle.

Why We Love It: This water bottle is impressively leakproof and made to withstand a beating.

What to Consider: The bottle itself is heavy, especially compared to its relatively small 12-ounce payload.

Staying hydrated with kids while traveling is a must, and this water bottle means business. The Yeti is durable, spill proof, and double-wall insulated to keep drinks cold (or warm) for hours. Plus, a straw cap makes it easy for kids to sip on the go.

Best Lollipops

Ring pop individually wrapped bulk lollipop variety party pack.

Why We Love It: It acts as both a snack and a bribe — er, reward , that is — and can help reduce ear discomfort on planes.

What to Consider: Nope, there’s no nutritional value here!

Lollipops and their ilk are a multifunction tool for traveling with kids: It’s a snack! It’s a reward! It keeps them busy! And the act of swallowing while sucking on them can also ease ear pressure on takeoff and landing. Even better, Ring Pops are a smart, toy-like alternative to stick lollies for hands-free holding.

Best Snacks

Stuff your sack healthy snacks variety pack organic care package.

Why We Love It: This variety pack includes 18 different flavors to keep kids interested.

What to Consider: The packaged snacks may be organic, but they are still processed food.

Having kids means having snacks handy at all times; traveling makes it all the more necessary to keep kids fed and comfortable to combat whining. This variety pack includes 25 organic packaged snacks from 19 different brands; 18 different flavors keep them intrigued as little surprises unfold throughout a long journey.

Best Snack Activity

Fred match up memory snack tray.

Why We Love It: Dispensing snacks this way keeps the experience fun for kids — and prolongs the process to keep them busy, too.

What to Consider: Make sure your child is able to push buttons.

Snacks serve two important functions: nutrition and amusement. For that reason, try to prolong these food breaks as a way to keep kids busy and amused. Try putting different snacks into this fun tray with compartments; it’s fun for littles to discover treats behind each door, and it adds time to the whole process. For slightly older toddlers and children, you can make a memory game out of it.

Keeping kids clean — and cleaning up after them — has long been a top concern among traveling parents. A global pandemic only underscored the importance of traveling with wipes and sanitizer.

Best Changing Pad

Skip hop pronto changing station.

Why We Love It: When you travel with your own changing pad, you’re guaranteed a non-public surface no matter where you are.

What to Consider: A separate changing pad may not be necessary if you have a diaper bag that comes with one.

Change a diaper on the go without fear of exposing baby to gross, public surfaces. This changing pad takes the form of a clutch, with a large mesh pocket that holds four diapers and accessories, plus a translucent wipes case. A front zipper pocket holds essentials like keys and cash. Drop it in any bag, or clip it on a travel stroller or luggage handle instead.

Best Multi-purpose Wipes

Hello bello unscented baby wipes.

Why We Love It: You can use these extra-soft baby wipes on just about everything.

What to Consider: These full-size packs aren’t tiny.

Is there nothing a baby wipe can't do? From diaper changes to on-the-go hand cleaning to wiping up half-eaten miscellany, traveling with baby wipes is a must. These are super soft with aloe and chamomile extract — and no alcohol, synthetic fragrances, phthalates, or parabens.

Best Face Wipes

Boogie wipes.

Why We Love It: These hypoallergenic, ultra-soft saline wipes are great for cleaning snotty faces and even clearing airways.

What to Consider: If you don’t want to pack a bag full of different wipe options, this specialty product might be the first to go.

With kids, runny noses are just about guaranteed for chunks of the year, and they're even more likely when you add in the fatigue and exposure from traveling. These hypoallergenic and alcohol-free cloths are designed expressly for nose-wiping, with gentle saline, vitamin E, aloe, and chamomile to soothe sensitive skin.

Best Surface Wipes

Lysol disinfecting wipes to-go pack.

Why We Love It: You’ll find tons of uses for this travel-sized package of wipes when traveling through public spaces with (or without) kids.

What to Consider: These are ideal for surfaces, but they are not for use on kids’ faces.

These germ-busting wipes are ideal for cleaning nonporous surfaces like a tray tables or seatback entertainment screens, and they're a must for both safety and peace of mind when traveling with littles known to touch everything.

Best Hand Sanitizer

Kinia 8 pack empty mixed kids hand sanitizer.

Why We Love It: These cute and colorful hand sanitizer holders keep gel easy to access for frequent cleanups.

What to Consider: Be advised these containers come empty, so you’ll need to fill with your favorite brand.

In addition to wipes, hand sanitizer is a must for quick cleaning on the go. Keep your gel handy by filling these colorful jelly wrap silicone carriers. The 1-ounce, flip-top-cap bottles attach with adjustable silicone cords to backpacks, diaper bags, and just about anywhere else.

Depending on kids’ ages and sizes, they may be candidates to tote their own cargo. Backpacks, rolling bags, and even ride-on options help keep the process moving smoothly. Adults, on the other hand, can benefit from bags that keep hands free in case they need to carry tired children or hold little hands along the way.

Best Diaper Bag

Dagne dover indi diaper backpack.

Why We Love It: This bag is sleek, chic, and unisex, and it delivers on functionality with tons of specialized compartments.

What to Consider: It's spacious and deep, so smaller items can be hard to spot in a hurry (and when are you not in a hurry when traveling with kids?).

Traveling with kids means prioritizing performance in a diaper bag ; we're huge fans of Dagne Dover because the brand fuses functionality with style so well. Done in chic, 100-percent vegan neoprene, this backpack-style diaper bag also clips to a stroller upon arrival. It includes a mini changing mat and extra pouches, with an extra zipper opening for easy access to wipes.

Best Crossbody Bag

Kibou diaper bag.

Why We Love It: This crossbody doubles as a compact diaper bag for hands-free convenience.

What to Consider: A diaper bag this small obviously isn’t a feasible option for longer outings or multiple babies, so consider your usage.

This vegan-leather waist pack, which extends into a crossbody, is a great choice for traveling through airports and wearing on the plane. The ultra-compact diaper bag has tons of features so you can travel hands free: A built-in waterproof pocket holds 20 wipes wet for up to a week, a detachable changing pad unfolds from the back flap, a hook holds a pacifier or key, slots secure credit cards or cash, and the nylon lining is wipeable and stain resistant. It's even possible to use this as a regular bag once your little ones are out of diapers, too.

Best Kids Backpack

Herschel heritage backpack | kids.

Why We Love It: Encouraging kids to carry their own backpack builds independence while keeping the family’s cargo moving.

What to Consider: This kid-size version is best for ages 3 to 7; move up to youth size for older kids.

Herschel has just the right size backpack for children preschool age and up to carry their own gear — both to help out the family and to develop a bit of self reliance. This kid-proportioned version is just 13 inches high and has a removable sternum support strap. The next size up is right for youths ages 8 to 12 and, at 15 inches high, it also features a 13-inch laptop or tablet sleeve.

Best Wheeled Backpack

Jansport driver 8 core series wheeled backpack.

Why We Love It: A rolling backpack keeps the weight off kids’ backs and holds a solid amount of cargo.

What to Consider: This well-equipped pack is substantially sized and a better bet for grade school ages and up.

This 21-inch rolling backpack is packed with features for bigger kids. It has two spacious main compartments plus skate wheels and a telescoping handle for a smooth ride. An exterior mesh bottle pocket stretches to fit large bottles, and a 15-inch laptop sleeve has a buckle to keep technology extra secure. It comes in an array of solid colors and appealing prints, and you can easily tuck away the shoulder straps when not in use.

Best Kids' Carry-on Suitcase

Rockland london hardside spinner wheel luggage carry-on.

Why We Love It: Kids can grow with this 20-inch spinner, small enough to manage but large enough to hold proper cargo.

What to Consider: A 20-inch spinner will be too large for preschoolers to easily maneuver.

When it comes to kids’ roller bags, we advocate for choosing a piece small enough for them to manage but large enough to hold a meaningful amount of cargo. To be worthwhile, it must be an efficient use of hands and bin space, not just a character-shaped gimmick that holds very little. Our writer's twins have these durable hardside cases, which they’ve carried independently since age 6 (going on three years and many miles and still going!).

Best Ride-on Suitcase

​​stokke jetkids bedbox.

Why We Love It: This wheeled ride-on suitcase transforms into a leg rest or bed in flight.

What to Consider: Not all carriers permit the use of items like these as leg rests while in the air.

This ride-on rolling suitcase has hidden talents beyond scooting through the airport: It transforms into a leg rest, or an in-plane bed, to help keep kids comfy and rested during the flight, too. Bonus: It even includes two sheets of stickers for kids to personalize their own luggage.

It may seem overwhelming to keep track of all the things you need to bring, especially after you've left home. GPS trackers can be lifesavers for locating your items during the journey, and a small first aid kit and plastic slider bags prepare for just-in-case moments and help clean up mid-flight messes, too.

Best Luggage Tracker

Apple airtag 4-pack.

Why We Love It: Track your kids’ stuff — or even your kids themselves — amid hectic environments like airports.

What to Consider: These tiny trackers are made to interface with Apple devices only.

In crowded, chaotic environments — especially when the dependability of baggage handling could use improvement — a small GPS tracking device tucked into a bag can make all the difference in reuniting with it after, say, a kid blithely walks away from their belongings after being distracted by a candy display. You can also use these tags on children themselves, with an array of specialty wristbands, keychains, and necklaces designed to incorporate the tags for wearability.

Best First Aid Kit

Preparakit small compact first aid kit for kids.

Why We Love It: This well-stocked first aid kit covers the basics in a compact, highly portable package.

What to Consider: You can save money if you choose to compile your own kit with customized supplies.

This TSA-approved mini first aid kit contains all the essentials for babies and toddlers in a package just about the size of a wallet. The curated array of 50 items includes bandages, gauze, tape, scissors, thermometer strips, and more. There’s also additional room to add your own prescription or over-the-counter medication.

Best Storage Bags

Hefty slider storage bags.

Why We Love It: They have a stand-up bottom for convenience.

What to Consider: They're less durable than sturdier bags made for freezer storage,

There are so many uses for slider storage bags while flying with kids: Use them within backpacks to organize cables, toys, and snacks. Or, use them to separate wet or soiled items, and to collect trash tidily. Plus, they’re super lightweight and waterproof.

Prioritize new or special items

When it comes to keeping kids entertained during a long flight, they’re most likely to stay engaged when playing with something that is new to them. Now’s the time to choose new or rarely used games, books, toys, and technology to pack in your kit for maximum novelty value.

Consider portability

You may be accustomed to your full arsenal of supplies at home, but carefully consider how portable and necessary each of these items is before committing to travel with it. Luggage fees add up, arms and hands quickly fill, and only the truly portable items are usually worthwhile to bring along on travels with kids.

Children over the age of two must have their own ticket, and therefore are entitled to the same baggage privileges of other ticketed passengers in the category. Check your airline and ticket class for the specific baggage allowances.

Formula, breast milk, toddler drinks, and baby or toddler food (including purée pouches) in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces are allowed in carry-on baggage, according to the TSA regulations ; these are considered medically necessary liquids. You will have to take these items out of your carry-on bag to be screened separately, so bear that in mind when you're packing to fly with your baby .

The same permission applies to breast milk and formula cooling accessories, like ice packs and freezer packs.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Alesandra Dubin is a career travel and lifestyle writer and a frequent traveler. She’s also a twin mom with plenty of hard-earned experience from world travels with kids.

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Traveling with toddlers: 6 best places to go (and how to survive).

Lowering your expectations is key when traveling with toddlers.

Traveling With Toddlers

A toddler looks out the window of a plane.

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Traveling with a toddler might not always be smooth sailing, but it can be more enjoyable when utilizing these top tips.

There's no sugarcoating it: Traveling with toddlers is a challenge. But there are ways to make it easier, as well as places that cater to – or are naturally convenient for – the kiddie set and their families. Read on for destination recommendations and travel tips from U.S. News editors who frequently travel with toddlers as well as other experts.

The Best Places to Travel With Toddlers

A toddler smiles as she run down a beach.

When deciding where to go, keep it simple. "Choose relaxing destinations that don't involve a lot of moving around or heavy itineraries," says Elizabeth Von Tersch, a mom of two toddlers and a senior editor of travel at U.S. News. "If you don't have a long list of places to see or things to check off, you'll be more content with just one or two activities per day." It's also ideal to choose a destination that's reachable via a short road trip, train ride or direct flight – especially if this is your first time traveling with toddlers.

Beach destinations

Beaches with tide pools and/or shallow waters are especially fun for toddlers, plus many beach towns offer vacation rentals with fully equipped kitchens, washing machines and other comforts of home near the sand and surf. Load up the beach wagon with all of your essentials (including plenty of snacks, drinks and a picnic lunch) and spend a few hours on the beach; then head back to your rental for nap time before an evening on the boardwalk.

U.S. News editors agree Isle of Palms, South Carolina, is especially perfect for toddlers. The boardwalk is lined with shops, restaurants and ice cream shops, and it sits close enough to Charleston for easy daytrips into the city. Other editor picks and highly rated options include the Outer Banks in North Carolina with its variety of beaches, vacation rentals and overall laid-back vibe; Seaside, Florida, an idyllic, walkable community; Michigan City, Indiana, where you can stay at the family-friendly Beachwalk Resort, close to Indiana Dunes National Park; and Coronado Beach, California , with plenty of space to spread out, places to eat and nearby accommodations – including the famous Hotel del Coronado .

Read: The Best Beaches in the U.S.

Lakefront locales

If you have a toddler who doesn't care for the sand, consider a lake and/or mountain destination where you can enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and biking (and maybe some sand-less water fun), as well as vacation rental accommodations. On Lake Champlain in Vermont, you also have the option to stay at a classic summer resort like Basin Harbor or Tyler Place (the latter of which is all-inclusive) and enjoy animal visits and tractor rides at local farms such as Shelburne Farms, a nonprofit educational organization. In Washington state, Lake Chelan offers clean, crystal-clear waters perfect for (supervised) swimming, and in Okoboji, Iowa, you'll find boat rides on Lake Okoboji and carnival-style rides at Arnolds Park Amusement Park.

Small theme parks

While theme parks like Disney World might come to mind, it's unlikely you'll get to a lot of rides with your toddler, who will probably be happier at the hotel pool. Instead, opt for smaller theme parks geared toward young kids. Megan Johnson, a mom and editor at SmarterTravel Media , says her toddlers loved Sesame Place, which has locations near Philadelphia and San Diego . "The rides are short so the lines go fast too," she points out. Another ideal theme park for toddlers is Legoland, with parks in Goshen, New York (an easy weekend getaway from New York City ); Winter Haven, Florida; and Carlsbad, California. You'll also want to consider Peppa Pig Theme Park – also located in Winter Haven – and Story Land in Glen, New Hampshire.

Read: The Best Amusement Parks in the U.S.

City vacations

City vacations offer a variety of things to do with the option to go at your own pace – and some of them are practically made for young kids. For instance, did you know Indianapolis is home to the largest children's museum in the U.S. , or that Pittsburgh is often called Kidsburgh for its wide variety of attractions for youngsters?

Of course, this is your vacation too, so think about some things you might like to do when planning your city trip. In Rochester, for example, you can combine a trip to The Strong National Museum of Play with a visit to some family-friendly Finger Lakes wineries . On a trip to Denver , you can show the children real dinosaur tracks at Dinosaur Ridge before exploring Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre or one of the Mile High City's famous (and kid-friendly) breweries.

Family visits

Visiting family in another state or country is a great opportunity to experience local attractions and restaurants with loved ones you don't see often. If your relatives are willing to babysit for a few hours, you might even be able to squeeze in a date night or an afternoon at the spa .

All-inclusive resorts

All-inclusive family resorts with pools, water parks , shows and other on-site entertainment can be a lot of fun for toddlers and their families. They also make dining easy, eliminating the stress of meal preparation on vacation, and some even offer free nightly rates for kids . Just keep in mind that toddlers may not be old enough to enjoy the kids clubs, as minimum age requirements vary at each property. You'll also need to get your child a passport (unless you opt for an all-inclusive resort in the U.S. ). Much of the same can be said for cruising with toddlers .

Read: Cruise Lines That Let Kids Cruise Free

Survival Tips for Traveling With Toddlers

A toddler naps in a car seat of a van.

Lower your expectations.

… and then lower them a little more. Naps will be skipped, meltdowns will be had and potty-training setbacks are inevitable. Stay on schedule when you can, but don't feel guilty when you can't.

Book toddler-friendly accommodations.

If you're planning to stay at a vacation rental, Von Tersch recommends looking for one with kids amenities such as a swing set and toys, and/or one that sits near a local park. If you prefer to stay at a hotel , choose one with a pool or special treats for kids, such as in-room games. It's also a good idea to book a family suite with a separate bedroom or two; this way, you don't have to go to bed when your toddler does.

Hide new toys in your carry-on bag.

They don't have to be expensive; in fact, your local dollar or thrift store can be an invaluable resource when preparing to travel with toddlers. Stock up on cheap knick-knacks that you can easily pack and surprise your child with throughout the journey (and that you won't worry about when they inevitably disappear). You might also consider ordering a few inexpensive options on Amazon – Wikki Stix , Melissa & Doug Water Wow! activity pads, Squigz , lift-and-look board books , and packable busy boards like this one are fun, mess-free favorites among families with both toddlers and older children.

Bring the tablet.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting daily screen time for young children, "the rules go out the window when traveling," says Dr. Danielle Wiese (reassuringly), a pediatrician for Carmel Pediatrics in Carmel, Indiana. "Do what you need to do to get there – it will all be fine." 

If you're bringing a kids tablet and/or if you'll be on a long flight with seat-back screens, be sure to pack a pair of kids headphones like CozyPhones , which are especially comfortable (and adorable) for little ears.

Read: Guide: Carry-on Luggage Sizes by Airline

Pack a "snackle" box.

Most everyone – but especially toddlers – thrives on snacks when traveling. Pack a variety of options, including both nutritional and not-so-nutritional items (because sometimes, only candy will do). "It's okay to give those less healthy snacks while traveling," Wiese says, though she also recommends sneaking in some fiber so your toddler's tummy has some regulation. "Easy to-go snacks with fiber are applesauce pouches, raisins and some bar snacks (check the label)."

When packing snacks, organize them in a "snackle" box to save space and add excitement to the trip. This portable storage case with a handle from Harbor Freight works perfectly, though any small organizational box will do. You can also try a snack spinner like this one by GoBe , which only allows kiddos to access one snack at a time. Bonus: The snackle box is also useful for local outings and daytrips closer to home.

Johnson also recommends packing some larger-portion snacks or meals so you don't have to worry in the event you can only find fast-food stops and want to avoid them, or if you go to a restaurant that doesn't serve anything your toddler will eat.

Prepare for messes.

It's amazing how fast a clean car can reach tornado-level status on a family road trip, or how your toddler's bodily functions seem to synchronize with the exact time of takeoff. Ann Henson , a toddler mom and assistant managing editor of travel at U.S. News, recommends packing an extra outfit for your toddler (and maybe yourself), sanitizing wipes and/or spray, and trash bags, adding that dog waste bags work well.

Don't plan stops.

Your toddler(s) will inevitably plan them for you when they get cranky, need a diaper change or need to use the bathroom. When you stop, be sure to use the bathroom yourself, fuel up the car and do anything else you have to do so you can avoid stopping when your little one takes a snooze.

Bring the essentials, and rent or ship the rest.

Bring the gear that's most important to you, such as the travel stroller and car seat – you can check them at the gate – and be sure to store them in a travel bag when not in use. Not only will the bag protect your gear, but you might be able to store some extra items inside. "I put diapers in the stroller bag, both for extra padding and for the convenience of freeing up suitcase space," says Nicola Wood , a mom and senior editor of travel at U.S. News.

For bulky items like portable cribs , beach wagons and hiking baby carriers, consider a baby gear rental service like BabyQuip or rents4baby , or search for local vendors in your destination. In addition, you may want to consider sending smaller essentials – diapers, wipes and the like – to your destination. If you're an Amazon Prime member , your free shipping perk is especially useful here.

Read: The Top Diaper Bag Backpacks

Consider TSA Precheck or Global Entry.

Having TSA Precheck means you'll (typically) spend less time at airport security – a godsend when traveling with toddlers. Children younger than 12 can go through the TSA Precheck lane when traveling with a guardian who has it, and are not required to have their own membership. You can apply for either TSA Precheck or Global Entry, which includes TSA Precheck benefits. However, if you're traveling internationally and looking for Global Entry benefits for the entire family, each family member (regardless of age) will need to apply for it. Compare TSA Precheck vs. Global Entry and decide which one is best for you.

Start special vacation-only traditions.

It's the little things that count – even on vacation. "As kids, my mom would buy a variety pack of miniature boxes of cereal on each vacation for quick (and cheap) breakfasts during our trip. We only ever got them on vacation, and for some reason the novelty of this made them taste way better than the cereal we had every day at home," Von Tersch says. "To this day, when I see those cute little boxes, I still associate them with good memories and carefree trips."

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Amanda Norcross is a family travel expert, with many years of experience writing about the challenges and joys of traveling with children. She regularly travels with her toddler, and used her own experiences with him – including multiple plane rides and 12-hour road trips – along with advice from other parents to put together this guide to traveling with toddlers.

You might also be interested in:

  • The Best Family Vacations in the U.S.
  • The Top Kids Luggage
  • The Top Cancun All-Inclusive Family Resorts
  • The Top All-Inclusive Caribbean Resorts for Families

Vacation Ideas for Every Traveler

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Tags: Travel , Family Vacations , Travel Tips

World's Best Places To Visit

  • # 1 South Island, New Zealand
  • # 4 Bora Bora

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Travel Mad Mum

Top Tips For Flying With A Toddler 2024

Travelling with toddlers on a plane who are so energetic, not to mention emotionally charged pint-sized little people can be exhausting.

Two children, 80+ countries across six continents, including two years of full-time travel, I feel I have the flying with a toddler tips nailed!

I mean, I’m over here just trying to survive the day without any epic meltdowns about toast being cut the wrong way, never mind bundling into a closed space with hundreds of strangers for hours on end.

I cannot tell you how many people email me DAILY asking for tips on flying with a toddler! For some reason, it makes us parents so nervous, almost to the point of putting fun travel and adventures on hold for a few years. I’m here to tell you, don’t worry, I have lots of tips!

Tips-for-flying-with-a-toddler

I’ve taken my kids everywhere and the thought of giving up travelling for the sake of a long flight with a very energetic toddler is not an option. The end reward of a new destination is what it’s all about!

As a family, we have so many fond memories of our little ones experiencing new sights, smells and sounds in a foreign country, making it totally worth every minute on a flight. So with all the positive vibes in the world, I’ve tackled the best way to execute the task head on!

Best-tips-for-flying-with-a-toddler

With plenty of preparation, it’s totally possible to execute my flying with a toddler tips successfully. Of course, they may be a little tired or grouchy at times and that’s where my tried and tested tips come to play.

I must point out flying with a baby or flying with older kids is a lot different than flying with a toddler, dare I say a little easier, but like I mentioned preparation is everything.

You can also check out our full toddler carry on travel essentials post here or our favourite travel toys for toddlers here !

Don’t forget to get travel insurance! This is so important when you travel, especially with kids! We like World Nomads .

Table of Contents

  • Bring Lots Of Airplane Snacks
  • Be Prepared With New Travel Toys

Pre Made Activity Packs

  • Best Tablet For Toddlers
  • Pack In Flight Airplane Bed
  • Navigating The Airport
  • Travel Car Seats
  • Choosing Seats On Board
  • Boarding The Flight WIth A Toddler
  • Disembarking
  • Handling Delays

Tips For Flying With A Toddler

I love the acronym S.A.S , it stands for snacks, activities and sleep aids . These are the three things that are going to save your ass with keeping your flying toddler entertained and contained to the best of your ability. I will go into this in detail below but keep this little easy reminder in the back of your mind!

Airplane Snacks

Out of all the fights we have taken with our kids, the most successful ones have been when we bring tonnes of their favourite snacks and meals with us!

Yes, it can be annoying bringing an entire extra bag of food, but if their tummies are satisfied and they’re chewing, they are quiet! This has to be one of the best tips for traveling with a toddler I was ever given.

Flying-with-kids

I try to be as realistic as possible with what I bring in terms of mess. Small dry foods are obviously best, but may not sustain an entire flight. I tend to make sandwiches wrapped in reusable food wrap rather than lunch boxes for space.

Flying with a toddler - Snacks Checklist

I always bring bananas as it’s such a good filling food. Equally cut up grapes, dried raisins and compressed fruit bars are an amazing snack. I always bring their stainless water sippy cup to keep it cool and it is super easy to fill up in the airport to reduce waste.

Cabin crew are always helpful when it comes to assisting with warming drinks if needed, providing additional snacks and so on. And don’t forget to order a ‘toddler meal’ in advance! It’s a requirement for almost every airline and they will not have a toddler specific meal unless it is ordered beforehand.

Check out prices on reusable food grade cloth , compressed fruit bars , and stainless water sippy cups.

Be Prepared with New Travel Toys for Toddlers On Airplanes

Having new and engaging activities are key for 2-year-olds that find it hard to sit still. Every child is different when it comes to their interests but throwing just about everything at the situation to ensure success is the best way forward.

I am a big fan of the Keep em Quiet bags , produced in the UK. They are specifically designed to keep little ones of all ages entertained on a flight.

Flying with a toddler - navigating the  airport

They come in different age groups, gender (also gender-neutral available), as well as the length of trip. If you are going away for a weekend they can be smaller and obviously a little cheaper in price.

They are stuffed full of activities such as mess-free painting, 3D puzzles, snacks, special colouring in and so on. This is definitely one of my top tips for flying with toddlers.

Flying-with-Children

Find out more about Keep em Quiet bags here!

There are some similar travel-specific activity packs in Australia called Busy Bags worth checking out. They are ideal for travelling with toddlers on long haul flights. Likewise in the US, there is one made by Penguin Travel.

You can check out the US version here ! My only criticism with these packs is related to the waste, although many things are reusable such as the re-stickable stickers etc, the Keep Em Quiet bags do produce a lot of plastic waste.

We have also recently discovered these great little globe packs which are designed with your destination in mind. They contain a passport with the country’s flag, and activities designed to introduce your child to the country you will be visiting!

Flying with a Toddler - Activities

Making your Own Activity Packs

If you don’t have access to one of the travel-specific activity bags, a simple trip to your local pound/ dollar /euro shop to buy a few low-cost items to make up your own activity bag is always an option.

Playdough is a great and cheap toy to bring along and it is easy to make your own. It is extremely versatile and toddlers could spend hours playing with it. A favourite game to pass the time onboard is to bring smaller toys along and hide them inside.

Siblings can play this together which gives you a few minutes of breathing room.

You can also hit up Amazon for some amazing toddler plane toys. Only give them to the kids when they are on board so they will be a novelty. We’ve rounded up a list of our favourite travel toys for toddlers here.

Don’t be afraid to be creative either. There is sure to be something around you to use for entertainment. A blanket can be used for a peek a boo or even letting a toddler button and unbutton a cardigan can keep them busy for a while or used as a distraction.

AMAZON FIRE TABLET

The whole idea is to reduce screen time which I love. However, we do bring an Amazon Fire tablet with us as a last resort, it can be quite handy to get our little ones to snuggle down to sleep, especially on a long haul flight with toddlers.

Flying with a toddler - Plane activities

The reason I specifically love the Amazon Fire tablet is because it can be controlled by parents, with very specific child-friendly and educative apps.

We can also download movies before our trip which has saved the day a few times. If your toddler can’t sit through a whole film then download a few episodes from their favourite series.

You can check out prices on Amazon Fire tablets here .

Don’t forget to bring headphones along so you don’t disturb the other passengers. Bluetooth headphones are great as they can move around without the fear of the wire coming out.

Make Sure to Pack In Flight Sleep Aids

So now that we’ve dealt with snacks and activities, let’s move on to sleeping aids. Getting a toddler asleep on a plane can be a challenge at the best of times.

We all know comfort and minimal stimulation is key when it comes to getting our little ones to have sweet dreams. For most of us, if it’s ‘sleepy sleepy’ time on a flight, it can often be the most agonising time for us as parents.

I’ve often paced up and down, stroked my little ones head to no avail. From the bright lights, people chatting and just being in a new environment can be so tough. Having a sleeping aid is key and really helpful if your little one has their own seat.

Toddler-on-a-Plane

Check out this post for some of the best travel bassinets for newborns and toddlers.

Additionally, if you are taking a long flight, it may be better to opt for an overnight flight. Not only is there more chance your little one will drift off, but the lights on the plane are usually dimmed. This encourages other passengers to speak in hushed voices and creates a better sleep environment.

If it is a short flight then it may not matter as much, however, if your toddler sticks to their nap schedule consider a flight around nap time. However, don’t stress if they don’t go down as we all know how hard it is to sleep on a plane.

A few other tricks you could try are having little one dressed in pyjamas or putting them on while you are on the plane. If you read a book before sleep time, then bring their favourite book along. The trick is trying to keep to the same routine. It may not always work, but anything is worth a shot.

Plane Pal For Flying with a Toddler

I have tried out both the Plane Pal and the JetKids BedBox . They are both fantastic options to create a first-class bed for your toddler on a long haul flight. Many airlines accept them, however, there are a handful that do not allow it, so it’s worth checking before investing.

best toys for toddler on plane

Plane Pal is a toddler travel pillow for the airplane that fills the legroom space in front of the seat and creates a flat surface for your little one to stretch out. It packs away nicely and is not too big to carry around.

Jet Kid BedBox For Flying with a Toddler

The JetKids BedBox is quite a different product!! It is a mini wheelie suitcase that also acts as a scooter and is an amazing way of getting through the airport if your little one has the stability to sit on it.

There is space inside that can be used to store an activity bag, some snacks and a change of clothing.

Flying with a toddler - jet kids bedbox

When on board the suitcase has a third function, again, filling the legroom space in front of the seat  and creating a flat surface for little ones to stretch out.

This product is quite expensive, however, if you travel often I think it’s worth every penny. Here is my full review of the Jet Kids Bed Box .

Jet Kids BedBox - Flying with a Toddler

 Bassinet Shade For Travelling with a Toddler on a Plane

If your toddler is under two, you may be lucky enough to bag a bassinet seat. Priority is generally given to younger babies. Likewise, if your kids are anything like my tall kids they may not fit in the bassinet.

The best airline for a toddler bassinet solution is British Airways. They have a reclined seat option as opposed to the box and is literally perfect for kids ages around one to 18 months roughly.

Flying with a toddler - bassinet cover

Another great product is the Cozigo which has a double function! It can cover a stroller as a sun and light protection but can also pop up over a bassinet on a flight.

Keeping those hideously bright lights on a flight is the hardest part and Cozigo is a great option to shade your toddler or baby. I have a full review of the product here .

Is Booking An Extra Seat worth it When Flying with a Toddler?

Any flight with a toddler is going to be made easier if they sleep. If your toddler is under two years old you may be tempted to have them in your lap. This is great at cutting costs for short-haul flights.  

However, for long haul flights, the extra space is worth the money. In fact, children still get a discount on most seat prices.

Domestic flights can sometimes have a 50% discount so it is worth checking before you make a hasty decision.

Having an extra seat onboard not only gives you additional space, you will also need it if you are using a JetKids BedBox or toddler travel pillow . As well as setting up a bed on board, they can also prevent toys and other items from falling on the floor and having to be sanitised again.

Post-pandemic there are many other reasons to purchase an extra seat. In your row of three seats, you only want to be sitting beside family.

If you are travelling as a family of three and your toddler is on your lap, there may be another passenger in the empty seat. 

You may get lucky and have an extra seat free of charge, however, this is not guaranteed. Paying for the extra seat gives you and your family a little extra privacy.

As soon as you board, disinfect the trays and armrests to give you some peace of mind. If you have the row to yourselves you won’t have to keep reaching for the hand sanitiser. 

Passengers are only permitted to walk up and down the aisle to use the toilets. No more walking the aisle to keep your toddler entertained. This extra space is also ideal for your toddler to stretch their legs and provide a little more breathing space. 

Familiar Toys and Blankets

Don’t forget the all-important familiar cuddly toys and a lightweight but warm blanket. Those familiar smells and comforts from home are always a winner. I find a fleece toddler blanket really good at compacting down into my hand luggage without taking up too much space.

Travel pillows are a great choice if you are unable to purchase a JetKids BedBox or inflatable bed. We all know how uncomfortable it can be to sleep on an airplane. 

A little extra chin and neck support can go a long way. They are also easy to hook on to your hand luggage and incredibly light. Choose one that is breathable and designed for toddlers to use. 

 How To Navigate The Airport with a Toddler

So now that you’ve made the all-important preparations at home for the flight, there are quite a few things you can do once you arrive at the airport.

Navigating the Airport with a toddler

From scoring an extra seat at check-in, to making the most of free time before the flight, I have you covered! Make sure to arrive with plenty of time to clear security, have something to eat and play before boarding.

FLYING WITH A TODDLER CAR SEAT

Most airlines provide a seat belt for lap infants babies and toddlers under 2. All flying toddlers over 2 must be in their own seats.

Many of the Northern American Airlines do not provide the seat belt , however, they are available online and could be an alternate option to flying with toddler car seats. You can buy a seat belt here .

Some parents choose to take a car seat when flying with a toddler on board. They purchase a seat and install them just like a car seat. The idea is it gives the child the same protection as a car journey. However, this is not a requirement (at the time of writing this).

BEST CAR SEAT FOR TRAVELLING

Having recently flown to London from Abu Dhabi with four kids, as you can imagine, we were laden down with a lot of luggage. The majority of it being child travel accessories that always seem to be the bulkiest and most difficult of items to travel with.  

This journey we had the chance to test out the new RyRy Scallop portable car seat . It is a very compact child car seat suitable for children up to 105cm in height and 18kg in weight. This cleverly designed car seat actually folds up nicely and can be converted into a backpack to keep your hands free which is always a bonus when travelling with children.  

Weighing 9kg, the backpack is comfortable to wear and comes with a cover to keep it clean on the journey. The straps connect/disconnect with a turn and clip action, and can be packed away neatly inside the cover ready to be checked in as were doing an international flight.  

Flying-with-children

Our little boy found the seat very comfortable to sit in and fell asleep on the journey to and from the airport. We also found the seat easy to fix into the car as it can be fitted with the isofix connections and also the standard seatbelt harness.  

Overall, we found the seat to be really compact, comfortable to sit in and transport on your back when on the move with children.  

We have taken our car seats away if we happen to be renting a car for example, but we haven’t installed them onboard. Every airline I have ever been on, allowed us to check our car seats in for free. If you are not sure whether you want to bring your car seat on holiday, check out this post.

Flying with a toddler - at the airport

I prefer to hold my toddler on my lap with the seat belt, especially useful when I need to breastfeed on take-off and landing for his ears to relieve the pressure.

I do understand those parents that prefer to bring the car seat on board for flying with a toddler. Car seats can offer that extra protection, and, well, I guess being in their own seat contains them somewhat.

If you are checking your car seat in, be sure to place it in a protective travel bag . We have all seen how our suitcases are thrown around. The last thing any parent needs is a broken car seat.

A protective travel bag can help soften some of the blows your car seat is sure to face when it is being loaded and off loaded on the plane.

TRAVEL STROLLER AIRPLANE ADVICE

We tend to always bring a travel stroller with us. Depending on our mood, and if our toddler is sleeping or not, we make a call at the check-in desk whether we will take it with us to the gate.

I find it quite handy, especially if I am travelling solo . I throw my hand luggage in there whilst my toddler is walking. If you are flying with twins, having a double stroller will make things much easier.

the best travel puschairs - Britax Holiday Double

I check it in if I don’t have too much hand luggage. If I have a tonne of stuff, it’s just handy to have wheels to help. The less I have with me, and the more hands-free I’m going to be, the more likely I am to check it in at the desk.

It is wise to remember it may not be returned to you when you disembark. It depends on the airport. If you feel you will need it when you get off the plane right away, ask at the check-in desk. 

Sometimes they can put in a special request. Otherwise, you often have to collect it with the rest of your luggage or even from the oversized luggage station.

Some airports used to provide rentals, however, due to the pandemic, this is no longer possible. 

One of my favourite things on the market right now is the GB Pocket Stroller . It folds up so small and can be taken onboard. I find that feature really handy, especially if you’ll have a connecting flight and a potentially long walk through a terminal to your next gate. It really is tiny when folded up!

For more information on the GB Pocket Stroller, click here .

If this is a little out of your price range take a look at the Baby Joy lightweight travel stroller . It doesn’t fold down as small as the GB Pocket Stroller however it is light and compact. 

It meets the airline requirements for carry on luggage so it can be taken on board. Most importantly it reclines for sleeping toddlers.

For more information on the Baby Joy lightweight travel stroller click here .

Dream on Me has released a new innovative stroller which has won a few awards. It is a budget stroller and has a host of features. In fact, it is a stroller, scooter, and rider all in one. 

It is compact and easy to fold down and can be attached to another stroller or even a shopping cart. 

Check out the Dream on Me Stroller here .

 CHECK-IN DESK REQUESTS

Like I mentioned about the sleeping aids, the ideal scenario when flying with a toddler is to have their own seat. Airplane travel with toddlers can be stifling at the best of times.

You know how it is with them clambering all over you.  I never bought a seat for my kids when they were under 2. However, I always asked if they had a spare seat at check in.

Flying with a toddler - check in

When flying with a toddler, most of the time we were lucky enough to score the spare seat on board and so we could make sure our little one was comfortable and had space.

For the few times, we were not so lucky, I had my baby carrier to hand to help get little one to sleep. Obviously, an entire night flight is not so comfortable with a toddler on your front but the baby carrier definitely made it easier.

When it comes to bulk head seats you may be able to reserve them before you arrive at the airport. If you haven’t then the seats in the front row usually have a little extra legroom. If they are not available then consider asking for the seats at the back of the plane. 

They are closer to the toilets and could be great if you need to make a run for it. Other than that, request a window seat for your toddler. You may not need to as most airlines try to keep families together. However, it doesn’t do any harm to confirm at check-in.

Window seats can offer a few minutes of distraction, especially when taking off and landing when you are trying to keep them in their seats.

Flying-with-children

You may also be allowed to check-in any extra hand luggage. You are going to want to keep your backpack, however, if your partner has a bag then that can be checked in for no additional charge. 

This is not true for every airline, however, if the flight is full then there may not be enough room in the overhead lockers for passengers bags. Even if it is not, many airline staff understand the need for parents to be as hands-free as possible.

Getting Through Airport Security with a Toddler

Family security lines can be amazing. I recently travelled through Barcelona Airport where they had a playpen right at the security line.

In Barcelona airport, they also had a low-level machine to push everything, from our buggy and suitcase through for scanning. It made it so easy for us.

Services offered at airport for family travel

However, in some airports, the family security lines are not always the quickest. Have a look around to see which line is moving and head there. 

If there is no family security line, there may be a fast queue. Most passengers have to pay an additional charge. Airport security can be very helpful. Many times they allow families to use the fast queue.

If your toddler is being a little impatient or you are running late, there is no harm in asking. The worst they can say is no.

Gatwick Airport can be hit and miss, sometimes the line is so busy with families it ends up taking longer. The best thing to do is assess each time and see if the better option is to take the regular queue.

PREPARING FOR INSPECTION AT AIRPORT SECURITY 

Try to avoid extra hassle at security and get the long flight with a toddler off to the best start! Liquids will be tested if they are your little one’s food and drink for the journey. I always forget at least one thing at the bottom of the bag!

Electronics have to be removed and put in their own tray. If you have a tablet in each bag, this is going to be a hassle. Try to have them altogether so they can be easily taken out and easily put back in.

Don’t forget to consider your outfit carefully.

Wear things you are not going to have to take off, this is not fun whilst chasing a toddler.

For example, I try not to wear boots and a belt because I know I have to take them off! I keep my passport hanging around my neck in one of those special zip pouches. Again having everything to hand is really helpful.

Being organised before you hit security is key to a smooth transfer. Along with liquids in clear plastic bags, all electronics must go through separately too. Having your tablets and laptops together makes it easier to put them all in the tray and repack them after they have been scanned.

If your toddler still drinks formula or you are carrying breast milk then there is no limit for children under the age of two. This also applies to food and water. 

They may ask to test the formula or breastmilk before letting you go through with it. Some airports may allow water to be taken through for children over two. It is not guaranteed though. 

There may be a place to fill up bottles on the other side.

LOOK FOR FAMILY FACILITIES WHEN FLYING WITH TODDLERS

Most airports have an area for kids to play. Look at the information screens to find them when traveling with toddlers. Some are better than others, Dubai Airport is a favourite of ours as well as the soft play at Heathrow Terminal 2 .

I find so many of the western airports go the extra mile during school breaks. For example in Heathrow in some restaurants, kids eat free at some restaurants in the terminal.

I prefer to eat a good meal before boarding the plane. As strict vegans, the food options are not always that good so we always have our big bag of snacks to fall back on.

If there are no play areas available then simply walking around the airport can keep your little one entertained and help burn off some energy.

Navigating the Airport with a Toddler

Airports are busy places. There is a lot going on and they can be a difficult place to navigate with a toddler. Parents can have a difficult time with toddlers who don’t want to sit in a stroller. Toddlers are not great at keeping up and are very easily distracted. 

The gates can also be far away. Sometimes you can even expect to walk around twenty minutes to arrive at the gate. If your toddler is one who refuses a carrier or stroller there are a few things on the market which may help those little legs.

A case with wheels allows kids to sit on it and is a great way to keep things light hearted when you are in a rush at the airport. The case allows enough space for kids to pack some of their favourite toys and activities as well as room for a spare change of clothes. 

Flying-with-kids

Toddlers can sit on it and use their legs to push it along. However, as parents, we know this won’t last. The case has another feature where kids can put their feet up and parents can pull them along. For safety, there is also a strap which goes around the back to prevent falling. 

There are two different sizes available. The smaller size, 20 inches, is accepted on many airlines. However, always check their regulations before flying.

Check out this ride along suitcase with wheels here.

If your toddler loves scooters then they may enjoy taking one along to the airport. This ride-on suitcase looks like any other carry on from the front. At the back, there is a fold-down wheel which transforms this luggage into a scooter. 

There are many different designs to choose from and there are some led lights on the wheels. The telescoping handle means it can be adjusted to suit toddlers of all heights. 

The case doesn’t hold a lot. However, there would be enough room for a few toys and a change of clothes. 

Click here to see the Ride-On Suitcase Scooter.

BEST TIME TO BOARD A LONG FLIGHT WITH TODDLER

Airlines always prioritise young families to board, however that’s not always helpful! I find letting our kids run around the terminal and burn their energy off is a better starting point to get them to sit down and put their belt on.

Flying with a toddler - Long Flight with a Toddler

Having that extra time whilst everyone else boards can be tricky in my opinion, so this is always our default approach. In some cases, if our toddler is on the verge of falling asleep, we board early and make the most of settling in peacefully.

Some families split up at the gate. One parent takes all the luggage on while the other plays with the toddler at the gate. This is a great idea if you are planning to wipe down the armrests and trays with cleaning and disinfectant wipes .

Use this time to take your toddler to the toilet as well. The toilets are out of use until the plane has taken off and the seat belt signs are off. This means there may be a long wait if they have to go as soon as they board.

ON BOARD A FLIGHT WITH A TODDLER

Don’t be afraid to ask the crew for help if you are flying with kids! If they see you are flying with a toddler, they will normally give you a kiddie pack, if they forget just ask because it can usually kill at least half an hour.

I try to prepare my little ones for wearing their seat belt and provide all the distractions possible during that time. In reality, it’s only during take-off, landing and turbulence that we really need our toddler to conform so distraction is key.

Flying with a toddler - on board the plane

If my kids want to walk up and down I let them. Trying to contain them is really challenging and can be harder doing that than simply letting them stretch their legs.

It’s nicer for everyone involved, people prefer to see a happy child zooming past as opposed to a contained upset toddler in the seat behind. Drip feed snacks and activities throughout the flight, one by one.

Likewise, keep everyone hydrated with water and make sure to have enough diapers and change of clothes for any accidents. don’t forget to include a change of clothes for yourself either.

Leaving the Plane with a Toddler

Before kids, you may have been that person who stood up first and tried to get off the airplane as quickly as possible. However, after kids, you are more than likely going to want to wait until most of the passengers have disembarked. 

This is because it can be quite stressful trying to get all your luggage from the overhead lockers with a toddler while impatient passengers stand behind you. 

You are also going to want to keep your distance as well, so take a break while everyone else gets off the plane. 

Depending on where you are going and the airport, you may have to get a bus to the terminal. If you were able to carry on your stroller then this can be a great help. If not, a carrier is perfect to pop your toddler in while you hold the luggage on the bus. 

Family-Friendly Airlines when Flying with a Toddler

Some airlines are more family-friendly than others. This is due not just for the facilities onboard the plane, but also luggage allowance.

This may surprise you however, some airlines charge for parents to take a stroller or even a car seat with them. Some allow you to take both free of charge and there are a few which allow a travel cot to also be included. 

Most major airlines give parents the choice of two extra pieces of luggage at check-in. 

If you have opted to have your toddler on your lap, then check if they are allowed their own luggage allowance. It should be easy to find this information from the airline’s website. However, if you are at all unsure give them a quick call to ask. 

Additionally, some airlines provide some activities for children, while others don’t. You are probably going to be loaded with activities and this may not be an important factor, however, airlines which provide them are more likely to have other perks for families. 

Paperwork you Need When Flying with a Toddler

Many parents are unsure whether their toddler needs to have a passport when they fly. If you are flying internationally then all passengers need to have their own passport. 

If you are from the US and flying domestically, a birth certificate may be enough for all children under the age of 18. Be aware though some airlines may still ask for a passport. 

It is always a good idea to carry your child’s birth certificate when flying. This is especially important if you and your toddler have a different surname. 

Parents who are flying solo may also need a notarized permission to fly documents from the other partner. These are very common in South America, Europe and South Africa.

Flying nowadays requires more documents than ever. Before it was just passports and tickets. Now there are PCR tests, proof of vaccinations and even locator forms. 

You may also need to show your travel insurance at the check-in desk. Many countries will only allow entry to foreign citizens if they have adequate travel insurance COVID cover.

If you are not sure what documents you require, be sure to call the airline at least a week before you fly. This should give you enough time to get everything together. 

Having these documents all in one place can make check in and passport control go smoothly.

OTHER ESSENTIAL ITEMS WHEN FLYING WITH A TODDLER

As stated above, preparation is key for any flight with a toddler. As parents we have to prepare for every scenario while trying to fit it all into our hand luggage and staying under that 100ml limit.

A backpack is most parents preferred choice as it allows them to keep their hands free. Having one with lots of storage compartments is perfect for keeping yourself organized.

Use your backpack to store all of your essential items. The items which you may need to get to right away. Any other non-essential items can be stored in another carry on if needed.

Carry a few wet bags with you in case of any accidents. These are also great if you are cloth diapering and don’t want to switch to disposables on your trips.

The trays on an airplane can be a little too high for toddlers. This can make activities a little difficult and may even lead to tantrums. A great item to carry on is a kids travel tray .

The tray has tons of pockets and colouring pencils and books can be stored there too. Along with cup holders, and there is a place for a tablet. In fact, there is more than enough room for all the activities you brought with you. 

It is easy to fold down, easy to carry and most importantly waterproof. They are great for airplanes and can also be used on long car trips too.

For toddlers new to potty training this may be their first experience using public restrooms. It can be a daunting experience for them as the toilets are considerably larger than the small potty they use at home. 

Some parents opt to use nappies or diapers for the journey, while others carry a folding potty seat with them. It is best to try it out at home for a few weeks for toddlers to get comfortable with it.

If your child takes any medication make sure to carry it in your hand luggage and have the prescriptions with you, just in case. The last thing you need is your luggage not making it to the other side and having to try and find the right medication in a foreign country.

A small first aid kit is a great item to have. There are limits to what you can pack. Scissors and liquids over 100ml have to go in hold luggage. However, a few plasters and a small bottle of kids paracetamol could come in handy.

These are great for your trip as well. Landing in a foreign country and trying to find the nearest pharmacy can be daunting. Throwing in a foreign language and trying to make sense of instructions can turn into a headache. 

Having a few essential medicines can prevent this and leave you with one less thing to worry about.

HOW TO HANDLE DELAYS WHEN FLYING WITH A TODDLER

There is nothing worse than arriving at the airport and discovering your flight is delayed. Twenty or thirty minutes is tolerable, however, a few hours delay with a toddler can feel like your whole world is crashing down.

You are worried you will run out of snacks or worse yet activities for the journey.

This can be difficult to navigate, however, there are a few tricks to help you get through it. The first thing you want to do is eat at the airport and keep the snacks for the plane. Many airlines offer a free food and drink voucher for delays so make the most of it.

Try and use the facilities at the airport as much as you can. You want the activities to be used on the airplane. However, if this is not possible try and stretch them out. Don’t forget about the simple things either. Some toddlers might enjoy watching the planes on the runway, while others might want to look at the toys in the toy shop.

All the sights and sounds found in the airport are new and exciting for many toddlers, so take advantage of your surroundings and let them explore.

Flying with a Toddler During the Covid Pandemic

The COVID pandemic has made travelling with little ones more stressful for parents. It is a perfectly natural reaction as we want to keep our children safe.

Whether your toddler has to wear a mask onboard is dependent on age. The WHO recommends all children under the age of two should not wear a mask at any time. 

There are many reasons for this including the size of the airways and the risk of suffocation. If your toddler is over two they may not have to wear a mask on board. Some airlines recommend children over six wear them, while others prefer children over two to wear a mask while they are on board. 

Flying-with-small-children

As the rules are at the airline’s discretion then it is best to check with them at the check-in desk or in their terms and conditions. 

The best thing parents can do is to keep their hands and their children’s hands clean. This is simple to do with soap and water, however, it is not always convenient to find handwashing facilities. 

Carrying some hand sanitiser is great for using after security and check-in. To always make sure it is on hand, have one which attaches to your bag so it is easy to use. 

Cleaning and disinfectant wipes can be used to disinfect the seating area and trays. The airline has more than likely done this before you boarded, however, there is no harm in doing it again. 

Have the wipes to hand when visiting the toilets to give the area a quick wipe down or when using the changing facilities.

There is also a great technique to use to ensure you are wiping the area correctly.  The trick is to start at the furthest corner and wipe in an S pattern. The reason for this is to ensure you never wipe over the same spot. 

You may want to also sanitise your toddler’s toys and dummies before boarding. In fact, it is best to keep them separate and to carry a few extra dummies or pacifiers as they are sure to fall on the ground. 

The window seat is considered to be the safest seat on a plane so it may be an idea to have your toddler sitting there. Sitting in the window seat limits your toddler’s exposure to others.  If they were sitting in the aisle seat they would be across from a stranger and the crew coming by with snacks.

Even though your toddler is not vaccinated, there is usually no need for PCR tests or even quarantine if they are travelling with vaccinated parents or parents with a negative PCR test. 

Check the entry requirements for the country you are visiting before setting off.

TIPS FOR SELF CARE WHEN TRAVELING WITH TODDLERS

Make sure you don’t forget about yourself when travelling with a toddler on a plane.

Stay well hydrated, take time for lots of leg movements to prevent blood clots and try to get your head down for a sleep while your little one is. Or, if not a sleep, then have a glass of wine, relax and watch a movie.

travelling with a toddler

If you are flying with someone else, take turns. This is the best advice I can give to you having taken my two kids around the world a number of times.

I find that the most draining part about flying with a toddler is the amount of energy you have to put into the entertainment. We rarely have too many tears or tantrums onboard if we make the necessary effort.

If things don’t run as smoothly as you would like, try not to worry about everyone else on board. The most stressful thing about flying with a toddler is trying to make sure they don’t disturb others. However, this is not always possible. 

We can only do our best, hopefully with the tips above your flight is a little less stressful and you feel a little more prepared.

Do you need tips about breastfeeding or flying with formula or dealing with jet lag ?

FLYING WITH A TODDLER CHECKLIST

Here is a  Flying With A Toddler Checklist  that you can print off!!

Would you add anything else to our flying with a toddler checklist? Let me know in the comments.

Ready to book? Find great deals on flights, travel insurance , hotels , reliable internet , and rental cars !

You may also like:

Car seat flying with toddler tips 

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Saturday 24th of August 2019

This is a great post. I am flying to Pennyslvania on Sept 1 with two small toddlers. I have booked two flights since it is a longhaul destination. For both the airport and the flight, I will be armed with flight activity packs and books plus 1-2 toys for both kids. I will call on Monday to find out about the entertainment system onboard the aircraft as well. Can anyone suggest films that are appropriate for toddlers to watch? Is the food onboard the flight nice or not? Do flight crew still provide coloring sheets or should I bring my own aboard the plane? I love your tips.

Thursday 12th of September 2019

Hi, I hope the flight went well. Sorry I didn't catch this in time!

Tuesday 26th of March 2019

Thank you so much for all the tips! I am flying with my husband and our two kids to France. (One 2 months old and one 20 months old) We didn’t buy a seat for them so we will have them on our lap. I’m nervous about the trip but it’s an overnight direct flight, hopefully we can get that bassinet and may be an extra seat if the plane is not full but I know it will be unlikely. Can I contact you with some questions before we leave if some come up? Thank you!

Travel Mad Mum

Sunday 31st of March 2019

I'm happy to try to answer any questions you have. You might want to check out our Flying With A Baby post as well if you haven't already. Good luck with the flight!

Monday 15th of October 2018

This is a great blog and I hope to put many of your tips in to practice. What would you advise for getting a 2.5 year old comfy on a 8hr then 17hr flight as we can’t take on a fly legs up or similar - emirates have said no.

Monday 1st of October 2018

Thank you - really helpful post :-)

Thursday 6th of September 2018

I know this is an old post but just wanted to say thanks for the tips! I am flying with my 18 month old later this month - I am panicking already because he can't sit still for more than a minute. This makes me feel like we will be ok!

Lucky Andi Flower Detail.

flying with two children: tips, tricks, and learnings

May 16, 2021, adventures , traveling with kids.

travelling with 2 toddlers

A couple weeks ago, I went on my first flight since the pandemic! This was the first time Lucy and I  have been on an airplane since November 2019 (so almost 18 months later!) and Winnie’s first ever flight. Because I  apparently like a good challenge, our first flight during ‘these times’  was just me + the girls. NOT something I  would recommend, but totally doable! A few years ago, I did several flights with Lucy and Jack alone (one of them while 5 months pregnant…) but juggling a young toddler + ‘regular’ toddler + masks was… a lot. I’m actually doing another flight with just me and the girls in June for my sister’s birthday, and we have a long flight (with E, thankfully!) later this summer, so I  guess it’s good we got our practice in.

Anyway, I’m SO EXCITED to be sharing travel-related posts again! Traveling is something that I’m so passionate about and something I’ve loved sharing and connecting with others about. Especially about traveling with kids. We used to travel allll the time with Lucy (she was on 30+ flights before she turned 2) but obviously, haven’t been on an airplane with Winnie until she turned 14 months! Here’s a

I’ve shared before in my initial traveling with babies blog post , but there are a few mindset reminders that I  have found helpful before travel. Especially when traveling with two kids, and even more so if traveling solo with kid(s), these mindset reminders helped me just as much as all the preparation and organization.

STAY CALM: kids feed off of our emotions and attitudes and can tell when we are stressed. Take a deep breath, remember the travel day/experience is temporary, and you will get through this. For me, when traveling with two kids, this means trying to not get anxious about someone crying or whining, not beating myself up for forgetting to pack something, not letting a bad 10 minutes ruin the whole day. On my solo trip with both girls, at the precise moment in the airport that I realized the shows didn’t download to the iPad, Winnie projectile puked on me. WOW! It was a bad moment. I did my best to stay calm — to get on wifi and re-download the shows, calmly walked to bathroom with the girls to clean up, and kept going.

HAVE LOW EXPECTATIONS:  It’s best to go into the flight with low expectations — assume that your child will be fussy, cranky, annoyed, etc. I’m usually a glass half full kind of gal, but in the case, it really helps when I have realistic and LOW expectations for the day. The flight isn’t going to be the most joyful day of your life as a parent. Some days are pure survival mode and when you come to terms with the fact that babies will be babies/toddlers will be toddlers/the day isn’t going to be rainbows and butterflies, you will feel a lot more content with however the travel day turns out.

BE FLEXIBLE: travel days are not the days to be rigid about schedules and routines. Our last flight was smack dab in the middle of Winnie’s nap-time and it was a bit stressful, but she eventually napped (1.5 hours later than usual) and THAT IS OKAY. You can and should pack strategically and prepare, but even the best plans sometimes don’t work out. Things are OUT OF YOUR CONTROL and it’s best to just go with the flow.

KIDS GEAR CHECKLIST

Stroller: we’ve had the Mountain Buggy Nano stroller for three years now and it’s been great! It’s traveled all over the country and world with us and is still in great shape. It’s super lightweight, folds up to be small and compact, and comfortable. The basket underneath surprisingly holds a lot of stuff, too. We don’t have a double travel stroller, but if we decided to get one down the road (if we were doing an extended trip or something), I’ve heard amazing things about the Zoe Twin+ double stroller .

Carseats: we’ve also had the  Cosco Scenera Next carseat for three years. Lucy used it for a long time and now, Winnie will use it. The carseat is only 7 lbs (!!) so is perfect for travel. Our regular carseats are just too large and bulky for travel. The Cosco Scenera Next is a convertible carseat so can be used as an infant seat if needed and can be forward or front facing. This carseats for children up to 40 lbs. We just ordered the  Cosco Finale DX 2 in 1 for Lucy; we needed a second one and wanted one that could grow with her. The Finale DX is also super lightweight (8 lbs!) and holds children up to 65 lbs and eventually be used as a booster seat. Carseats for Littles is a great resource to learn more about carseats; here’s their review of the Cosco Scenera Next and here’s their review of the Cosco Finale DX. Both carseats are affordable, have great safety reviews and ratings, and are lightweight – all important to us, especially for traveling.

Carseat Bag : when traveling with carseats, you’ll need a bag to put them in at airport when checking them at the counter or gate.

Baby Carrier: I always bring a baby carrier, especially for babies but even for toddlers! I  prefer a ring sling  for easy in/out, although you will need to take it off at security because the rings will set off the alarm. I  love Solly wraps for babies under 6-8 months and they are great for traveling, especially through the airport!

Diaper Bag/Backpacks:  this is where I  keep the essentials – diapers, masks, Pull-ups, wipes, hand sanitizer, SO MANY SNACKS, water bottles, small toys/books/stickers, iPad + headphones, etc.

Pack n Play:  I try to avoid flying with a pack n play at all costs, but I  have had to bring it once! I  just checked it at the ticket counter with the rest of our bags. Typically, our destination will have a crib or pack n play we can use.

PACKING TIPS & PREPPING FOR THE TRIP

I believe organization and planning is super important for ALL travel with kids, but even more so when traveling with multiple kids and definitely when traveling as the solo adult. I started setting out our bags and making a packing game-plan several days before the flight. Doing so early allowed me to feel more in control and provided me time to tweak what I  packed as needed leading up to the trip.

I  find it helpful if you can to have diapers/wipes at your destination – or get them right when you arrive. This saves a LOT of room in your suitcase! I  will still pack a few diapers (in suitcase and backpack) but not the usual amount.

For this trip, the three of us shared one large check-on bag and also brought my diaper bag backpack, Lucy’s small backpack , and our travel stroller . I use these packing cubes to help maximize space in the suitcase! The travel stroller we have folds into a little bag so you can check in or put in the overhead compartment. When I  traveled with just Lucy as a baby/toddler, sometimes I  would skip the stroller and just use the baby carrier, but for traveling (especially alone) with two kids — the stroller was a MUST, especially for navigating the airport. I  also made sure to download movies/shows from Netflix/Disney+ on the iPad so they were available off of WiFi during the trip.

For future trips where we’ll need a carseat at our destination, we’ll also bring our two travel carseats , plus a carseat bag for gate checking the carseats.

Here’s what I  packed in each backpack!

travelling with 2 toddlers

This blog post shares more about traveling with breastmilk/formula!

AT THE AIRPORT

I used to HATE checking bags and waiting for my luggage to arrive after a flight. I always was a carry-on only traveler….even the majority of the time when traveling alone with just Lucy. We did a three week trip to Europe with 8-month-old Lucy with two carry-on suitcases and two backpacks (plus travel carseat and stroller). While it’s amazing to travel so light, for me – now with two kids (and even if I  didn’t) – IT’S OKAY TO CHECK LUGGAGE! The travel day is going to be different than traveling sans kids, and it’s okay to wait a little bit longer for your checked suitcase afterwards, especially if it’s going to be less stressful to not be worried about everything fitting in a carry-on.

So, at the airport right away, we went to ticket counter and dropped off our big suitcase. You can always rent a luggage cart thing if you need, or have someone come into the airport with you to help get you through this part of the trip (where you have a lot of bags!). I then pushed Winnie in stroller and walked holding Lucy’s hand to security.  Security was fairly easy, although it was a bit chaotic folding up the stroller quickly with one hand while holding Winnie at same time. But we did it!

If you’re traveling with carseat, you’ll need to decide if you check it at the ticket counter, gate check it, or bring it on the plane. I’ve done all three! Personally, Lucy never did well when we brought the carseat onto the plane, so don’t do that anymore. Remember, if traveling with a lap child under 2, you need to have paid for your own seat for the seat OR ask them at the gate if there’s an extra seat you can use – just don’t COUNT on it beforehand unless you pay for an extra seat). If I’m already checking a bag, I’ll usually just check the car seat then and there, but some people prefer to gate check it so it’s not being tossed around with the luggage and perhaps handled more gently. Gate checking might be your best bet and then you can snag it (with your stroller, likely!) right when you get off the plane.

I also attached Winnie’s pacifier/lovey to the stroller so I  didn’t have to worry about losing that or it falling on the ground. Easy!

If you’re traveling alone with kids, I would try to have someone meet you at the destination airport. My dad met us by baggage claim and it was SUCH a relief to be able to have him sit with the girls while I  waited for our bag and to also be able to (finally!) go to the bathroom alone. One time (at 5 months months pregnant), I flew alone with our dog Jack and 18-month-old Lucy from SF to Nashville (almost five hours). I  DON’T RECOMMEND THIS lol. I had to haul our suitcase, stroller, carseat, Jack’s travel bag, backpack, plus the dog and toddler by myself to get a Lyft home. I  wish I  would have asked someone to pick us up instead!

travelling with 2 toddlers

ON THE PLANE

For babies and young toddlers, sometimes the air pressure change can be sensitive on their ears so I always try to have baby suck on something (whether breastfeeding, taking a bottle, pacifier) at takeoff and landing. If you do have your baby in a baby carrier (like I  did), they will usually ask you to take him/her out at takeoff/landing. Winnie was sleeping so I  just loosened the rings so she was more like sitting on my lap vs. tightly on my chest.

Here’s a few in-flight entertainment ideas: window clings, sticker books, mini puzzles, small bag of coloring supplies, WaterWow markers, small + lightweight books and magazines, iPad (don’t forget headphones + case!). I often will go to dollar store or hit up Target’s dollar section and pick out a few toys as “surprises” during travel days. Don’t offer all the entertainment things all at once! Spread them out over the flight to break things up.

And obviously you can’t forget snacks, snacks, snacks! This is a must (at least for my kids). Here’s a few ideas: pouches, goldfish, pretzels, crackers, fruit (bananas, apples), single serve peanut butter cups (I  packed two small spoons!), fruit snacks (given individually as a reward/incentive lol), mints/gum. I  kept snacks in two collapsible Eizzy Baby snack cups .

For long flights, we pack t his inflatable foot rest pillow and it was SO helpful. We only use this when we have the window seat (so it doesn’t block anyone’s ability to leave their seat) but it allows Lucy (and now Winnie) to spread out a little bit more and even fall asleep more comfortably. I bring this on cross-country / international flights; probably not worth the effort for a shorter flight.

MASKS/SOCIAL DISTANCING/COVID PRECAUTIONS

Of course, right now, you have to wear a mask at the airport and on the plane. I  wasn’t super worried about Lucy wearing her mask because she’s been doing it for a year and we’ve practiced a lot. Here’s a blog post with 8 tips for helping kids wear face masks ! We’ve tried A LOT of kids masks and the ones she likes best and can wear the most comfortably for the longest are the Mamask masks . She also likes having a mask necklace which attaches to the mask so even when/if she takes it off, it doesn’t fall on floor. We have this customizable one and it’s so cute and works great! I wore a Kitsch mask (that link gets you 20% off anything on their site!).

All kids over the age of two have to wear a mask on the plane. I  found the airport to be a little more flexible mask wise (like not all kids wearing them in airport, people weren’t wearing one when eating/drinking, some took theirs off when in a seat at airport, etc) . The plane itself felt a bit more strict about masks – they need to be on unless actively eating and drinking. No one yelled at us (but we were also wearing mask entire time) but there were many announcements being made about masks being required at all times.

Socially distance wise, once through the ticket counter line I  felt like we could pretty easily social distance. Security and boarding the plane itself weren’t super crowded for us (everyone spaced out and respectful for the most part). Once you’re past security and in the airport, I  found it pretty easy to maintain your distance and just stay in a little area to yourself. Overall, I  felt that people were pretty self-aware and doing the best they could to be respectful and safe (at least around us!)

travelling with 2 toddlers

Alright I  think that covers everything! I linked a few other travel-related blog posts below, plus have saved a lot of tips and tricks and Q+As in this Instagram story highlight . Let me know if you have any questions!

SHOP THE POST

Packing Cubes

Travel Stroller (Mountain Buggy Nano)

Travel Stroller (Zoe Twin+ Double)

Travel Convertible Carseat (Cosco Scenera Next)

Travel Carseat (Cosco Finale DX 2 in 1)

Carseat Bag

Kids Backpack (Fjallraven)

Kids Mask Necklace

RELATED POSTS

Flight Tips for Traveling with Babies & Young Toddlers

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3 thoughts on “ flying with two children: tips, tricks, and learnings ”

can you push a baby in a stroller from the gate to the plane? or do you have to carry them and hold the stroller?

We fold the stroller up either at the gate OR at the end of the jet bridge before boarding. Depending on the stroller, we will fold it and put in the overhead compartment or gate check it (bottom of jet bridge). Hope this helps!

11 Tips to Make Flying With a Toddler Go More Smoothly

Fact-checking standards, latest update:, time your flight plans wisely, book a nonstop flight when you can, read this next, choose your seats carefully, get to the airport early, plan for the security line, think twice before boarding early, consider the flight attendants your allies, pack plenty of toys and snacks to keep your toddler occupied, pack extra supplies in your carry-on, ease ear pain, childproof your bags.

Keep in mind that traveling to and from your destination is a small portion of your trip. Soon enough, you’ll be spending time together as a family making memories, and it’ll all be worth it. 

What to Expect the Second Year , Heidi Murkoff. WhatToExpect.com,  Baby Products You Can Take on a Plane , September 2020. WhatToExpect.com, Should You Bring Your Child’s Car Seat on an Airplane ? August 2021. WhatToExpect.com, What to Pack When Traveling With Baby , November 2021. WhatToExpect.com, Do Babies Need Passports? , October 2021. WhatToExpect.com, Best Travel Toys for Babies , February 2021. American Academy of Pediatrics, Is It Safe for Families to Travel Now? , August 2021. American Academy of Pediatrics,  Flying with Baby: Parent FAQs , November 2019. American Academy of Pediatrics,  Travel Safety Tips , August 2018.  Federal Aviation Administration,  Flying with Children , March 2021. Transportation Security Administration,  Traveling with Children . Up & Away, Safe Medicine Storage for Travel .

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A Mom Explores

Tips for Flying with A 2-Year-Old Toddler (From a Mom of 4)

Flying with a toddler is one of the biggest obstacles to travel that many families face. 

The prospect of bringing a spirited 2-year-old on a long flight is enough to scare any parent away from a family trip. 

As a mom of 4 and family travel blogger, I’m here to share my tried-and-true, battle-tested tips for surviving your next flight with a two year old toddler. 

I’ll share my tips for getting them to sleep or nap on the plane, what snacks to bring, what toys and activities are worth taking up space in your carry-on, what to do about diapers, wipes, and potty-training 2-year-olds on a plane, and feeling confident and somewhat relaxed while you’re doing it. 

We’re traveled both domestically and internationally with all 4 of our toddlers, and they all have different temperaments and personalities. I know that some 2-year-olds are a breeze when they travel, and others will have you pulling your hair out. I’ve been there, and I’m here to help. 

If you have younger children, be sure to read my posts about how to fly with a 1-year-old , and how to fly with a baby . 

The good news is, I think flying with a 2-year-old is much easier than traveling with a 1-year-old toddler. 1-year-olds have no attention span, and just want to crawl or walk and explore.

2-year-olds are slightly more reasonable, and a bit more easily bribed to sit for a while.

Here are my top tips for flying with a 2-year-old toddler.

>> Related: Looking for the best and most comfortable travel clothes that don’t smell no matter how much you wear them? Read here: Best Travel Clothes for Women

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click on a link and make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

travelling with 2 toddlers

Before You Fly

I’m going to go through some of the top questions I receive on Instagram and TikTok about flying with a toddler - specifically 2-year-olds.

Do I Need a Car Seat with A 2-Year-Old on A Plane?

The short answer is that you don’t need a car seat to fly with a 2-year-old.

The longer answer is that I personally prefer to bring our toddler’s car seat on the airplane for several reasons.

1. If you know you’ll need a car seat for your toddler when you arrive at your destination, it’s a great way to avoid having to rent one. You’ll have a seat you’re comfortable using, that you know is safe, and that is up to your cleanliness standards.

2. It helps keep your 2-year-old contained during flights. In the past, I realized my toddlers did much better on longer road trips than long-haul flights. One reason is that they know they can’t get out of their car seats. The same applies to toddlers on airplanes. If they’re in the car seat, they won’t keep asking to get up and explore. 

3. It keeps your 2-year-old safe on the plane. During taxiing on the runway and during turbulence, a car seat can help prevent injuries to your toddler.

4. You don’t have to worry about your car seat getting damaged by luggage handlers.

Note: if you are planning to bring a car seat on the plane, make sure it is FAA-approved. You’ll be able to find a sticker on the side of the seat that tells you if it’s FAA-approved. 

Be sure to know where this sticker is in case a flight attendant or airline employee asks you about it! I have had to do this on our recent flight to Las Vegas with our toddler. 

travelling with 2 toddlers

Tips for Flying with A Car Seat

Should you bring your own car seat for your 1-year-old? Again, this is a personal decision. I have always opted to bring our car seat along. If I’m not using it on the plane I gate check it and store it in a car seat protector bag .

This is another money-saving move for me. We have 4 kids, so if we rented car seats for all of them upon arrival it would really add up.

Another option is to buy a special car seat specifically for travel. I’m in multiple family travel Facebook groups, and I often see this car seat recommended for toddlers on a plane because it is lightweight, narrow enough to fit in an airplane seat, and fairly inexpensive.

If you travel often, this might be your best bet. It’s a one-time investment that will pay off in the long run.

Finally, you do have the option to rent a car seat upon arrival. Most car rental places will offer car seats as an add-on when you’re booking the vehicle.

The pros are that you don’t have to lug your own car seat through the airport and you don’t have to worry about yours getting damaged by the luggage handlers. In addition, this might be your best choice when traveling abroad to make sure the car seat you use is legal and able to be installed in your rental car.

The cons are that you don’t know the history of the car seat you’re renting. If you’re very concerned about that, you’re probably better off renting from Baby Quip with high standards for safety and cleanliness. You can rent anything from car seats to strollers to cribs and beyond. If you’re trying to pack like a minimalist, BabyQuip is your best bet.

And if car seats are stressing you out, I would highly recommend checking out Travel Car Seat Mom . This website is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to car seat safety and travel.

What Do You Need to Fly with a 2-Year-Old?

While children under the age of 2 don’t NEED their own seat on the plane, you do need to purchase a plane ticket for your 2-year-old. Be sure to have their ticket either on the airline’s app on your phone, or print one out at the kiosk or ticket counter before going through security. 

You won’t need a toddler ID to get through security if you’re flying domestically.

However, if you’re flying internationally you will need a passport for your 2-year-old.

Can I hold my toddler on the plane?

If you’re traveling with a 2-year-old, they do need their own seat on the plane. Once you’re on board, you can certainly hold your toddler on your lap if needed.

What are the airline’s policies about checking baby gear?

It’s so important to read the traveling with kids policy for whichever airline you’re flying. I’ve been on dozens of flights with babies, toddlers, and little kids, and I still check each time I’m flying.

Most airlines will let you check items like strollers, car seats, and travel beds for free. 

Most people don’t realize this, but most also allow you to take a diaper bag on the plane in addition to personal items and carry-ons.

You can check these items right when you arrive at the airport before going through security, or you can bring strollers and car seats with you through the airport and gate check them if you prefer.

Can I bring snacks, milk, or juice through airport security?

Did you know that TSA considers baby and toddler milk, formula, and food to be “medically necessary liquids”?

You can find this right on the TSA website : 

“Formula, breast milk, toddler drinks, and baby/toddler food (to include puree pouches) in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters are allowed in carry-on baggage and do not need to fit within a quart-sized bag.”

One tip for going through TSA with a toddler is that you should take out any food or liquids that you’ve brought, and inform them that it’s for your toddler. 

I usually keep my 2-year-old’s snacks in a gallon-size plastic bag in their backpack or my carry-on. 

You can also use a cooler with ice packs. Again, just inform the TSA and take it out from your luggage so they can do any special screening that they need to do.

This includes things like snacks for the baby, food pouches, juices, and baby food. If you don’t want to worry about a cooler for milk, try a shelf-stable kind like Horizon Organic.

travelling with 2 toddlers

What Should I Pack for a 2-year-old?

I have a fun TikTok video on exactly what I pack in my 2-year-old’s carry-on. Don’t forget to follow along there and on my Instagram page where I share lots of videos about flying with kids!

Sometimes it’s easier to have a written list, though, so here’s an overview of what I pack when I travel with a two year old. 

I put diapers and wipes in a gallon-size plastic bag if I’m traveling with a child that’s not potty-trained. It’s easy to have the necessary items handy for quick diaper changes, and the gallon-size bag can double as storage for soiled clothes in a pinch. 

I use small organizers or mini packing cubes for everything so that I can find what I need quickly while wrangling my 2-year-old.

Have an “on the flight” kit in a small pouch that can fit in your seat back pocket. These are the items I’ll want to use on the flight in case my toddler falls asleep on me and I can’t reach my carry-on. It should have:

headphones (both plug in and wireless)

snacks for you

gum or mints

a book or tablet with pre-loaded entertainment or ebooks

pain reliever in case of a headache

I bring a snack bag for my 2 year old with:

Fruit pouches

Granola bars

Apple or orange slices

Lollipops (perfect for takeoff and landing to help their ears)

Sippy cup or straw cup to use on your trip if your child is not yet drinking out of regular cups (and even if they are, sometimes you don’t want to deal with spills on the plane or in the hotel room. 

Water bottle to fill up after you go through security

1-2 lightweight books (I like the indestructible ones )

Very few toys. Kids are interested in their surroundings, and I find that toys just end up taking up space. There are a few that might help in a pinch:

Fold-up busy board

Tape or sticky notes

Water Wow books  

A calculator or remote control from the dollar store so they can satisfy their need to press buttons

Crayola Color Wonder coloring books . The markers are mess-free and only color on the special paper. 

Bring an extra set of clothes for both you and your toddler in case of an accident, sickness, or lost luggage.

Health items like infant pain reliever, thermometer, bandages, etc. You never know when ear pain from the flight or a sudden illness will make them miserable on the plane!

Bring a lightweight muslin blanket for getting your child to sleep (plus pacifier or any other sleep aids you use)

Have several empty gallon ziplock bags or plastic bags for trash or soiled items. They take up almost no space and you will be so thankful in the rare situation you need them.

Finally, don’t forget face/hand wipes and sanitizing wipes to keep you, your child, and your space clean!

Check out my Amazon shopping list for flying with toddlers!

travelling with 2 toddlers

At The Airport with A Two Year Old

Getting through the airport with all the toddler gear.

If we’re bringing a stroller on our trip, I start with our toddler in the stroller. I take out any items that will need to be put through security separately and put them in the basket of the stroller.

Lately I’ve been attaching our 2-year-old’s car seat to a cheap luggage cart so I can roll it through the airport like a suitcase. This way I can use it on the plane, and I just fold up the luggage cart, which easily fits under the seat.

To go through security, you’ll need to take your child out of the stroller, and put any car seats, strollers, luggage, baby carriers, etc. through the x-ray machine.

Children under 12 can leave on their shoes and jackets, so no need to worry about taking off your toddler’s shoes!

You can carry your child through the metal detector or let them walk through with you.

Don’t worry if you’re stressed about breaking down your stroller or getting your car seat on the belt with a wild toddler running loose. TSA agents are always willing to help (at least in my experience), and for added peace of mind, you can wear your toddler in a carrier until you’re ready to walk through the metal detector.

I usually bring a baby or toddler carrier with me, too, for those moments where it’s too chaotic to let my 2-year-old walk by themselves. For example, I’ll usually put our toddler in the carrier when it’s time to board the plane and I need to gate check the stroller.

If you’re with a partner or another adult, one of you can be in charge of the kids, while the other installs the car seat on the plane. If you’re alone, this part will be a bit trickier, so make sure you’ve watched videos on how to get the car seat set up on the plane before you’re on it. 

Visit a Family Restroom Before Boarding the Plane

I love that most airports nowadays have family restrooms. I always take the kids in there with me, and there’s plenty of room for all of our suitcases and bags, too.

This is the perfect opportunity to change a diaper or put a fresh pull-up on your child, or if they’re potty trained, to encourage them to use the restroom before they’re on the plane.

travelling with 2 toddlers

Toddler Play Room at the Milwaukee airport

Get Their Wiggles Out

Quite a few airports now have play areas for kids! These areas are great for letting your 2-year-old burn off some energy before they’re stuck in an airplane seat for hours on end.

Some have play sets, some have toys, and some have tvs. 

If you can’t find a play area, I suggest leaving one adult with the luggage (and possibly older kids) while the other parent simply walks around the terminal with the 2-year-old.

Strategy for Boarding the Airplane with a Toddler

You can choose one of the following strategies for boarding the airplane with your 2-year-old:

1. Many airlines offer family boarding after first class but before the rest of the economy classes board the plane. This allows parents with things like strollers and car seats to have more time and space to get everything set up. 

2. Another option is to wait until the very last minute to board the plane so you don’t have to make your toddler sit down for any longer than they need to. This is a wonderful option if you have 2 adults with you so you can split up and have one set up the gear while the other stays with the toddler to burn some more energy.

travelling with 2 toddlers

Entertaining A 2-Year-Old on the Plane

My favorite strategy for keeping a toddler entertained on an airplane is to take turns with another adult, whether that’s a partner or grandparent. 

For example, on our most recent flight to Costa Rica , we had a layover, so my husband took our 2-year-old daughter for the first leg, and I took her for the second. 

This way we both had an opportunity to relax and enjoy the flight. Yes, we still had 3 other kids on the plane with us, but they’re all pretty self-sufficient and able to entertain themselves.

We DO allow screen time for our toddler on airplanes. In fact, we are pretty relaxed about screen time when travel is involved.

However, I still like to pack several travel activities for our toddler, too.

Here are my best tips for keeping toddlers occupied on the plane.

Bring Something for Takeoff and Landing

With babies, we typically let them nurse or take a bottle for take off or landing. With our 2-year-old, we brought plenty of organic lollipops to help prevent pressure in her ears when the cabin pressure changes. 

We love the YumEarth lollipops because they don’t have artificial dyes. 

Bring More Snacks than You Think You’ll Need

For some reason, my kids never stop eating when they’re on an airplane.

I’m not sure if they’re genuinely hungry or just bored, but having snacks that take a longer time to eat can really help pass the time.

Our 2-year-old loves:

String Cheese

Apple slices

Clementines

Goldfish crackers

Granola Bars

Applesauce pouches

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches (You can do homemade, which we usually do. In a pinch I’ve done Uncrustables)

Pretzel sticks

Animal Crackers

Veggie Straws

Graham Crackers

Yogurt Tubes (we freeze the night before)

Bell pepper slices

Bags of mini cookies

Airplane Toys

Boogie Boards: all of our toddlers have loved these LCD tablets that erase with the press of a button, and come with an attached stylus.

Crayola Color Wonder Coloring Books: these mess free activity books come with markers that only show up on the special paper.

Reusable sticker books

Window Clings

Water Wow books

Magnadoodle

Bring a Tablet with Pre-Downloaded Entertainment

We have used Amazon Kids Kindle Tables for YEARS, and they are perfect for travel. 

This is why age 2 starts to get a little bit easier when it comes to travel. 2-year-olds still have short attention spans, but they can start to pay attention to shows and movies, which might give you a few moments of peace on your flight!

We only let the kids use the Kindles on flights or long road trips, so they love getting the chance to use them.

If you use the Amazon Kids app, kids can’t exit the app so you know they won’t be buying anything or surfing the internet.

You can download games, shows, and movies ahead of time so you know your toddler will have something to watch.

Don’t forget a childproof case that props the tablet up on the tray table and some toddler-friendly headphones! Here are our favorite headphones for toddlers .  

travelling with 2 toddlers

How to Stay Comfortable When Traveling with a Toddler

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made when traveling with kids is to spend weeks preparing for their comfort and entertainment on a trip, but forgetting about myself!

Travel days with toddlers are long and exhausting, so make sure you have what you need to stay comfortable and happy since the parents are the ones who set the mood for the trip.

Dress Comfortably

My Nana was from London, and always taught my mom, who then taught my siblings and me to dress nicely for travel days.

Nowadays it’s more socially acceptable to dress comfortably for a flight, but I still like to look put together.

Black joggers or leggings with a sweater or a cute top with a cardigan are my go-to outfits of choice for travel days. If we’re going to be chasing toddlers and sitting for long periods of time, I want a comfortable waistband and the ability to move around.

However, I always make sure my hair is done and I’m wearing a little bit of makeup (unless it’s an overnight flight). 

Looking well-groomed and adding a bit of jewelry or a scarf will help you look put together even while your clothes are comfortable.

For a shorter flight, I might even wear a comfortable maxi dress or maxi skirt!

Bring Multiple Types of Headphones

I always bring a pair of headphones to plug into the headphone jack in case there’s a movie on the seat back screen I want to watch. Sometimes my toddler actually falls asleep or pays attention to a show on her tablet, and I’m able to enjoy a movie!

I also bring my wireless headphones so I can watch movies or tv shows I’ve downloaded ahead of time to my phone.

Create an Airplane Kit

Bring a small bag or organizer with headphones, lip balm, pain reliever, gum or mints, a snack, and any other small items you might need during the flight.

As a parent dealing with a toddler, it’s nice to have all of your own things easily accessible in case your little one falls asleep on you or you need to grab something and only have one hand free.

Take Photos and Videos of Your Trip

Don’t forget to document your trip for the memories! Even the moments in the airport and on the airplane.

I used to wait until I was at our destination to start documenting, but I love having those small moments captured of our toddler experiencing the magic of air travel with their little headphones on.

Even if it’s not a particularly magical experience for you in the moment, someday you will look back on those memories with fondness and a sense of humor.

Travel with a 2-year-old can be tough, but I find it to be so worth it!

I promise it gets easier. Even if you have some tough moments along the way, the memories you make traveling with your little one are worth it!

DON’T FORGET IT! PIN IT!

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Emily Krause is a Wisconsin-based family travel blogger who writes about exploring the world with kids. On A Mom Explores you’ll find best family travel destinations, Disney World tips, and how to make travel with babies and toddlers a little easier.

Emily believes that exploring starts in our own backyards, and adventure can happen anywhere with the right mindset.

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Travelling with toddlers can be intimidating to say the least.  No one wants to be the parent of the screaming child on the plane.  And if you live with a toddler, you know that tantrums do happen, despite your best efforts.  Fl ying with toddlers is no vacation (ba dum tss).  But with these tips, you’ll be ready for whatever comes at you on your flight with a toddler!

And, if you are traveling with TWIN toddlers, we’ve got you covered.  Click here to go to the section on twin-specific tips.

travelling with 2 toddlers

After struggling through travel with our toddlers, I was curious if we were the only ones for whom the early toddler phase was the TOUGHEST. So I did a little survey, and found that NOPE- it’s tough for everyone!

Don’t get me wrong, actually traveling with toddlers can be pretty amazing.  

Toddlers are amazing creatures, and excellent travel companions because everything is so new to them. No one can get excited about seeing a pineapple plant, a pile of rocks, or riding on a bus like a toddler can. 

Plus the toddler years are an excellent time for them to be traveling.  Their brains are developing unbelievably fast in their toddler years. Travel during that period gives them a huge opportunity to learn flexibility, tolerance, and an appreciation for culture and cultural differences. 

travelling with 2 toddlers

But the actual GETTING THERE part? It’s rough.  For us, peak flight difficulty was right at 18 months, and flying with two 18-month-old toddlers was a true test of patience for me.  

At around 18 months of age, babies have officially moved on from little (mostly still) bundles of joy to noisy, walking little people with strong opinions and desires and absolutely NO impulse control. 

1. Avoid Super Early Flights

There is no reason to make flying with toddlers any tougher than it needs to be.  If you have to get your toddler up at 4 am to make the flight, they are likely not going to be able to fall back asleep. So you’ll have a child that is sleep deprived, and cranky for a day that wasn’t going to be super fun anyway. 

Now maybe your toddler is a star-sleeper, and can nap anywhere, anytime. And that is wonderful BUT the airplane can be such a stimulating place that sleep can be tough for even the best sleepers.  

Both of my toddlers were once awake at midnight on a flight (and we aren’t a late bedtime family, this was FIVE HOURS after their bedtime).  The flight attendant laughed and told us EVERY toddler or baby on the flight was actually still awake.  It’s not uncommon for little guys to have trouble sleeping on a plane. 

Avoiding early flights might just mean your toddler does end up staying up way past his/her bedtime.  But that means he’s only cranky for the last couple of hours, not the entire day.  We find this works out better.  

2. Make sure your tickets allow seat selection

Seems like a no brainer, but as airlines change their policies and rates, it can be confusing.  Some airlines now offer a cheaper ticket class that doesn’t allow seat selection, and your assignment is given after check in, even for small children.  Most airlines say they will do their best to seat children with their parents, BUT we don’t think it’s worth the risk, the stress, and the hassle.  

Avoid ‘basic economy’ and just stick with ‘main cabin’ economy, or better, so you can choose your seats in advance.  

3. Buy your Toddler a Seat

Toddlers under the age of 2 can fly free on domestic flights, if you hold them as a lap baby.  And while it is super tempting to save some money on their tickets while you can, we do not recommend it once your baby hits about a year old.  

Those airplane seats are small, with almost no leg room as it is.  Put a wiggly, bored toddler in your lap, and neither you or the toddler is going to be happy.  Just putting the tray table down as a play surface is TIGHT, or even impossible, and reaching down to grab a toy from your backpack is painful.  

Spring for the seat for your toddler.  You definitely won’t regret it! 

travelling with 2 toddlers

4. Give your Toddler the Window Seat

Speaking of seat selection, make sure you’ve got the window seat for your toddler.  Your toddler may just LOVE looking out the window and talking through the process of taxiing, taking off, and then watching the cars and houses get smaller and smaller.  The window seat can be a HUGE boredom buster for toddlers. 

And, if you DON’T pick the window seat, and a stranger ends up there, your toddler might just decide that they need that seat anyway and attempt to climb into the lap of said stranger.  No one wants that battle.  

If you pick the window seat, and your family is not taking up the whole row, you may end up needing to ask a stranger to get up so you can get out more often than they’d like.  But it’s better than having to battle a toddler who is SURE that window seat is his.  

5. Bring your Stroller

As active toddlers start walking more, and maybe even showing a preference of walking over riding, it’s tempting to skip the stroller at the airport.  

But there are a million reasons why you’ll definitely want it even for toddlers who love to walk.  Here a a few examples:

  • Naps:  Your toddler may end up falling asleep at some point (and it might not be on schedule), and you are not going to want to lug a sleeping child around while navigating the airport and collecting suitcases. 
  • Speed:  If you end up having a delayed flight and need to run to the next one, or just need to sprint across the airport for any reason, it is SO MUCH easier with your toddler strapped into a stroller than in your arms (or trying to run with you).
  • Distance:  The airport can be a LOT of walking.  Even if your child walks all the time at home, the airport can be MILES of walking and might exhaust your toddler. 
  • Toddler mental overload:  The sights, the smells, the sounds, the new faces at the airport can be a lot of mental stimulation for a young child. It can be really difficult to focus on the job at hand- making progress walking through the airport, and can become overwhelming to the point that your toddler will just sit down on the floor and refuse to move.  
  • Airport transfers dangers: After a long day of travel, while leaving the airport, you might end up waiting on the curb for a bus, or crossing busy streets or parking lots while also dragging suitcases, car seats, etc.  Having your child safely strapped into a stroller means your toddler can’t escape your grip and dart into traffic (because impulse control is sure to be LOW even for a toddler at the end of a travel day).  

travelling with 2 toddlers

6. Check anything you can!

Pre-kids, I always traveled with a carry-on only.  Pulling a suitcase or wearing a backpack was nothing compared to the hassle of going to baggage claim.  

But when you are traveling with a toddler, everything is different.  

First, you probably have WAY MORE stuff.  A car seat, just a few favorite toys, diapers, clothing for the 15 wardrobe changes your toddler needs every day, etc. really adds up to a LOT of luggage. So avoiding baggage claim really isn’t going to be an option anymore. 

Secondly, you are working MUCH harder when flying with a toddler compared to pre-kids.  You will want your hands free to push the stroller, retrieve snacks and dropped toys, and generally be available to keep your toddler happy (and quiet) both at the airport and on the plane.  Give yourself a break and ditch the luggage ASAP (at the counter) so you will have hands free ready for anything. 

travelling with 2 toddlers

7. Have a plan for carrying a car seat (IF you are taking it on the plane)

Bringing a car seat on the plane for your toddler can be a really great option for some families.  Experts agree that a car seat is the safest place for your child on a plane.  And for many kids, its a familiar and comfortable place to sit for the flight. 

(Note that bringing your car seat on the plane is DEFINITELY optional, and lots of families opt to skip it).

But now that your toddler is out of the infant stage, the days of car seats easily snapping into a stroller are gone.  Carrying a big convertible car seat can be tricky. 

But you do have a few options:

  •  You can buy a car seat travel cart, like this one for Britax models, or this one that works with many car seats.  Your child can actually ride in the car seat, while you wheel it around, so it can replace your stroller.  BUT these things are fairly cheaply made, and won’t compare to your stroller for ease of use.
  • If you don’t plan to have your child ride in the car seat, you can buy a cheap luggage cart, like this one , to wheel your car seat around the airport
  • If your car seat is lightweight, and you aren’t planning to have a backpack already, try one of these backpack carriers .  I’ll warn you, even lightweight car seats are NOT a ton of fun to carry.

8. Protect Your Gear

When traveling with a toddler, you end up with a LOT of precious gear.  And there is no heartbreak like the heartbreak when you find your favorite stroller torn, smashed, or damaged right before your dream Disney vacation.  So keep it protected with protective gear.  

Traveling with a toddler means you ALWAYS have to have a car seat.  And when you check them, you can count on them getting tossed around by luggage handlers, which could cause damage you can’t even see.

Though nothing will give you 100% protection, we love these padded car seat backpacks .  We love the backpack straps that make it easier to carry, and the wide zipper so the car seat easily fits inside.  

For extra protection (and to save a little suitcase space), we sneak in our toddlers’ favorite blanket, pillow, lovey, or whatever.  We’ve even put a pack n ‘ Play mattress topper in there- it fits perfectly behind the car seat, and works great for kids who don’t sleep well on the hard pack n ‘play surface.  I’m not sure you are technically allowed to put things in the car seat bag, besides the car seat, but we’ve never been stopped.  

Electronics

For electronics you are bringing on the plane with you, make sure you have a protective case.  Toddlers, under any circumstance, are prone to breaking things.  On the plane, you can expect lower than normal focus and higher than normal frustration, so make sure anything they’ll touch has a great, toddler-proof case.

This inexpensive case has protected our kids’ iPads from TONS of damage due to dropping, even THROWING (not that I recommend that), banging, etc.

For electronics that you are leaving in your checked bag, just pack it carefully in the middle of the suitcase, next to soft clothing, so it won’t move around even if your bag is tossed around.  

9. Burn off Energy at the Airport

Take advantage of all the time you’ll spend waiting around at the airport, and let your toddler burn off some of their energy before boarding. 

Because walking through the airport might be TOO mentally and physically exhausting for toddler to handle, you’ll want to set aside a little bit of time for them to move around at their own pace.  

We like to find a quiet corner of the airport, give our toddlers a couple of cars or monster trucks, and let them drive, or crash, or whatever active play they are interested in. Or we might have them walk from window to window to check out the views of airplanes taxiing or taking off. We’ll even use the patterns in the carpet to make up a jumping around game. Anything to get them moving around, and get a little energy out. 

travelling with 2 toddlers

10. Have a Great Pre-boarding Routine

Before you board the plane, make sure you are as prepared as you possibly can be.  

Change diapers one last time so your toddler will be clean and dry, at least to start.  AND if you’re lucky (and your flight is short-ish) you MIGHT get to avoid changing your toddler in the teeny tiny airplane bathroom. 

Or if toddler is potty-trained, make sure they get one last potty before boarding.  And make sure the parents get to go one last time as well!

Fill up water bottles.  And make sure you have all the snacks you’ll need for the flight.  

Take advantage of the space in the airport to take one last look at your carry-on and make sure it’s well organized so you’ll be able to grab anything you need on the plane quickly.  

And SKIP eating, at least for your child! For most toddlers, food is entertainment.  Save it for the plane.  Every bit of entertainment counts on the plane!

11. Dress in Layers

When traveling, comfort is important, both for your child, and yourself.  Make sure you dress in comfortable layers. Temperatures can vary widely throughout your journey.  Airplanes can be hot and sweaty, or quite chilly.  You may be traveling to a beachy-hot vacation, but coming from a wintery wonderland.  Somehow, your outfit has to work for all these temperature swings. 

Toddlers are particularly intolerant of not having the right clothing for the weather. 

We live in the Pacific Northwest, so for most of the year, it’s chilly at home.  And because of that, we often pick warmer weather destinations.  So here is an example of how I’d dress my toddlers for a flight:

  • Lightweight shoes, like crocs with socks.  Then I can remove the socks before landing at our destination to keep feet cool.  Otherwise, I might toss in a pair of flip flops for the destination.
  • We love simple colorful designs, so every top goes with every bottom AND the kids still love their clothes.

And don’t forget to keep yourself comfortably dressed in layers as well. I can do without shorts, but I HATE when my feet are hot.  So if I can’t wear flip flops on the plane, I’ll always bring them with me.  

12. Bring a Carry on that fits under the seat

When traveling with a toddler, your carry on bag is EVERYTHING.  You will be reaching in to that carry on constantly for boredom busters, food, emergency supplies, etc.

You’ll want it easily accessible at all times (even when the seat belt sign is on or during turbulence).

We have an older version of this backpack and love it for flying with kids.  It has a million pockets for keeping all the little things we need organized and easy to find, a chest strap for comfort, TONS of space for gear, AND it easily fits under the seat.  It’s absolutely perfect for travel with kids.

13. Pack a Quick Change Kit

Diaper changes, or clothing changes on the airplane are bound to happen.  And they are NOT fun.  The bathrooms on airplanes are roughly the size of a postage stamp, with a changing table that MIGHT work for a Barbie Doll.

Make things a little easier by packing a quick change kit for your toddler.  You will not want to have to haul a whole diaper bag or backpack into the tiny bathroom with you.

I LOVE this changing pod  because it actually has space for more than one diaper, and maybe even a change of clothes. This one on Amazon is another great choice.

Keep a change of clothes with your changing kit just in case there is leakage.  I like to keep the spare clothes sealed inside a ziploc bag OR, even better, in these reusable wetbags that can be strapped to a travel changing pad.  That way, you can remove the clean clothing from the ziploc or wetbag, then use the bag to store any soiled clothing for the rest of your flight.

14. Bring Snacks!

For many toddlers, eating is entertainment!  Heck- snacking can be a great distraction tool for lots of adults as well! 

So even if you really prefer to have real meals every time when you are at home, travel is a perfect excuse to loosen up, and let your child live on snacks just for one day. 

Bring your child onto the plane hungry (if you can without getting to HANGRY levels), so they are ready to eat. 

We bring some that are fun, some that are healthy, and some that are kind of emergency distraction tools, like mini M&Ms, lollipops, or fruit snacks.  

  • Peanut Butter Bites
  • dried mango
  • Little boxes of Raisins
  • Crunchy Dried Peas
  • Fruit and vegetable squeezes

15. Bring New Small Toys

Keeping a toddler happy and occupied in a tiny space on the airplane is no small feat. But the excitement of NEW toys, even tiny ones can really help out.  We shoot for one small new toy per 1-2 hours of flight time.  This might seem excessive but you’ll be surprised by how quickly they’ll go through things while bored on the plane.

And you’ll want to carefully select the toys you bring as well.  We look for toys that take some concentration, and that don’t require their entire body to move as a part of play.  For messy toddlers, I also try to minimize the number of loose pieces, or at least have a plan for the loose pieces.  For example, something like this is perfect keeping any small pieces contained, and can be left open on the tray for playing IN.

travelling with 2 toddlers

Here are a few of our favorite toddler airplane toys.  

  • Squigz :  They stick to any smooth surface, and to themselves, and are tons of fun for all ages
  • Finger Puppets : perfect for songs, animal sounds, or just silly imaginative play.
  • Little figurines- pick your toddler’s favorite, such as Daniel Tiger , dinosaurs , or Frozen Little People .
  • Flip-up or Slide Open board books, like Dear Zoo or What’s In My Truck are EXTRA fun for toddlers because they’ll have something to touch and manipulate in the book.
  • Hot Wheels cars or little monster trucks are great for driving at the airport, and on the tray table, just as long as your toddler can resist the urge for BIG jumps!
  • Sticker Books- we love the National Geographic ones because they are a bargain, and with over 1000 stickers, they last FOREVER.
  • Wikki Stix kits  are super fun to stick together and build with.  The kits are great to help your toddler get started.
  • A coloring book , coloring sheets, or just some paper with triangular crayons, so they won’t roll off the tray
  • WaterWow books are a BIG hit for all ages, and just require a little water.
  • A tablet loaded up with toddler-friendly games and shows.  We know many families aim to avoid screens, but they are SUCH a great distraction for travel. For toddlers, we love the Daniel Tiger Explore app , basically all Sago Mini apps  (but especially Sago Mini Farm , and episodes of Daniel Tiger , Dinosaur Train , Little Baby Bum , Octonauts , and Dave and Ava .

travelling with 2 toddlers

16. Try EarPlanes

17. skip the line at car rental agencies.

After you’ve tested your toddlers patience on a flight, you know what you DON’T want to do? Ask them to wait in line for an hour to rent a car.  

Car rental lines (even when you have a reservation) are notoriously long.  The whole process can be super frustrating for everyone.  

Luckily, you can skip the counter and go directly to your rental car with services like Avis Preferred , National Emerald Club , and Dollar Express .  The services vary by airport, and company, but the basics are you either go through a shorter, express line, or skip the counter all together and go directly to the lot.  These services can literally save HOURS and are a total lifesaver for families with kids. 

A few things to remember:

  •  Make sure you review and understand the specifics of the service you’ve chosen.  Not all services are the same.
  • Call ahead, especially if you are new to the program.  Make sure your membership was correctly applied to your rental, and check on the rules for your first time using the program.  You MAY have to wait in line to show your credit card the first time. 
  • Remember that not all airports have express services.  Smaller airports are much less likely to have skip-the-counter services.  

18. Be Mentally Prepared

It’s no secret- flying with toddlers is hard work. Do whatever you can to get some decent sleep the night before, and grab a coffee on the way.  

Here’s what you can expect when flying with toddlers:

Expect to spend the whole flight singing, playing silly cheerful games, engaging with your child and all of the fun little things you’ve brought along, and generally staying upbeat even when your child gets frustrated, or overtired and unable to sleep.  I love my kids more than anything in the world, but 3, 6, 8 hours of 100% attention can be exhausting!  But it can also be a great bonding time.  And if you go in with the right mindset, you might enjoy .. well.. PARTS of it.  

Sleep for toddlers on a plane can be surprisingly tough.  My toddlers VERY RARELY sleep on airplanes. And it’s not JUST my toddlers.  Many toddlers struggle to sleep on planes.  The excitement and unfamiliarity can easily make napping impossible for some toddlers, even those who ALWAYS fall asleep in the car.  

Other toddlers sleep great on the plane. They take extra naps, and sleep from the moment the plane takes off until after it lands.  This is SO VERY much not my kids, but probably that will be your kiddos.  However, I think it’s better to be prepared for the worse- cranky toddlers who will not nap, and then be pleasantly surprised if things are easier.  

travelling with 2 toddlers

19. Don't worry about judgement

When traveling with toddlers,  there are bound to be a few people out there that give you the look.  You know the one- where they are clearly annoyed that you exist and somehow you and your children are entitled to purchase tickets on the same flight as them.  Don’t even worry about them.  Seriously.  Don’t give it one moment’s thought.  I bet you are a good parent, and I bet you’ll do your best to care for your children during the flight, and there is nothing more anyone could ask of you. 

And after traveling quite a bit with my kids as babies, toddlers, and older, we find that the vast majority of people we encounter are kind and understanding.  If you are stressing before you even leave, don’t.  I’m pretty good at worrying, but after having so many positive interactions with people telling us we are doing a great job, or noticing how hard we work during the flight, I feel pretty confident while traveling.  And you should too! You’ve got it.  

Specifics On TWINS

If you have TWIN toddlers, flying with them can be just THAT much more intimidating.  But we’ve done it many times, made mistakes, and figured out all the little tricks so you’ll be successful on your FIRST try.  

While ALL the tips above apply to twins as well as singleton toddlers, there are a few twin specific tips we wanted to point out just for the twin families!

20. Bring a lightweight double stroller

When traveling with twin toddlers, the stroller is an absolute necessity.  Even if your toddlers prefer to walk, you’ll want it for the airport.  If both happen to fall asleep, or become to tired to walk through the airport, the stroller is a lifesaver. 

But, many double strollers are SO huge, they will be too big for a protective bag at gate check, too big to fit in the back of a rental car (unless you pay for the upgrade), and difficult to fold up in a rush when gate checking. 

Travel double strollers just make the whole process SO much smoother and easier.  And we definitely recommend purchasing one if you plan to travel very often with your twins.  Check our recommendations for lightweight double strollers here (including some that be your ONLY stroller, budget options, and more).   

21. Rent or Buy at your Destination

Twin toddlers require SO much stuff, it’s almost impossible to actually bring it all with you.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t travel with your twins.  There are tons of great options to make traveling with twin toddlers easier!

Diapers and snacks

If at all possible, buy diapers at your destination.  Even if traveling internationally, you’ll likely be able to find something that will work for your twins.  

Even though it may seem expensive to pay vacation-area inflated prices for your diapers, consider that diapers for twins is likely to take a BIG portion of your checked suitcase.  And you’re likely paying upwards of $50 each way for that checked suitcase.  So purchasing diapers there actually saves you money. 

And since you are going to make a Target run anyway, don’t worry about packing too many snacks for your toddlers.  Go ahead and pick up the necessities at the same time you pick up their diapers.  And grab some milk, if you have somewhere to store it.  

Somewhere to sleep

Bringing two Pack ‘n Plays was not something we ever seriously considered.  They are huge, heavy, and just 100% not worth the hassle. And there are tons of great options for easy sleep solutions for your twins: 

  • Most hotels, and many vacation rentals, have pack ‘n plays or cribs.  However, vacation homes will almost always just have one.  Hotels often will not let you reserve pack ‘n plays- they are first-come-first-served.  But, if you call ahead, you may be able to secure two.
  • For many destinations, you can rent quality baby gear from companies like Babys Away .  For a totally reasonable price, you can rent cribs or pack ‘n plays (plus any other toddler gear you might need), and have them delivered straight to your hotel.
  • Our preference, especially for older toddlers, is to just get them a bed at our hotel.  We love these inflatable bumpers because they fold up small, and really work for keeping our crazy-sleeping toddlers on the bed! Just tuck them under the sheet, and make sure everything is tucked in tight!

For more twin toddler packing tips and tips for once you reach your destination, click here .

travelling with 2 toddlers

22. One Backpack of Supplies for Each Child

In my family, we almost always travel with my husband and I, and our twins.  So we have one parent per child.  So we make sure that each parent has a backpack with everything needed for ONE child.  

With this system, we never have to bother each other for a snack/toy/diaper, or worry if the other is in the bathroom or otherwise occupied.  Everything is there, and organized exactly how we want it.  

 You can switch as needed, but make sure each adult has everything needed to care for one child, including extra clothes, diapers, toys, snacks, etc.  That way, you won’t be constantly interrupting the other caregiver to ask for something, frustrating the twin with that caregiver.  

Of course, we can and do frequently switch children, but the basic supplies are all the same, so the system works well for us. 

If you are traveling with your twins alone (only one caregiver), you obviously won’t have that option. In that case, we’d recommend a very well organized, and carefully packed backpack so that you can quickly find everything for both children.  And, you might even be able to pack a LITTLE bit lighter by sharing some things between the twins (i.e. if they don’t often spill or have diaper leaks, you might be able to get by with just one spare outfit for both). 

23. Choose window seats, or 3 seats in a row

When traveling with  twin toddlers under the age of 2,    we don’t recommend keeping both toddlers as lap babies.  This is an issue for a number of reasons- both you and the toddlers will be squished, uncomfortable, and miserable, and you can only have one lap baby per row, so you’ll be separated from your travel partner. 

However, you  MIGHT be able to get by with just buying a seat for one of the toddlers.   Because you will have the seat for one of your twins, you’ll have the flexibility to switch out who sits in it, and have a bit of extra space in your toddler’s seat.  

We loved purchasing 3 seats for the 4 of us (my husband, myself and our twins) when my twins were younger. For most planes, that’ll give you the whole section of seats, so no one else is sitting RIGHT next to you, and allows you to easily pass your twins between you.  

window seat is best

Once you start buying seats for both your twins, the configuration that works best for us is having a parent with each twin seated in the middle (parent) and window seat (toddler).  One parent and toddler will be the row in front of the other parent and toddler.  This allows us to pass kids or gear back and forth, if needed, or just easily talk.  And it means both kids get the coveted window seat, so no fighting.  

Flying with twin toddlers is not easy.  But it’s not impossible either.  With a bit of preparation, and a lot of patience, you’ll be just fine.  

Let us know- what works for you? What doesn’t? 

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How To Travel Alone With a Toddler on a Plane

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How To Pack and Prepare

  • Things I Needed

Things I Bought But Didn’t Use

Other helpful tips.

The thought of traveling alone with my 26-month-old toddler for her first flight this summer was overwhelming, to say the least. But, I was determined to be prepared. After reading what seemed like hundreds of articles to ready myself, I started to feel a little more at ease There were all types of suggestions like "book the flight during nap time," "pack snacks," "bring these exact coloring books."

I also spoke to other moms, crowdsourced on Instagram, and spent hours meticulously and methodically packing. Honestly, I was probably over-prepared but I didn't want to risk a meltdown—from me or from my toddler. I was ready...or at least physically. All those preparations still didn't negate the fact that I was still a little terrified to travel with my "terrible 2s toddler" for the first time.

If you're a parent of a toddler, then you know that you can't really plan for everything. Toddlers are wonderfully unpredictable. Naturally, I came up with all sorts of "what-ifs" like what if she had a tantrum or a blowout as we boarded? Would there be a fussy refusal to wear a mask on the plane? We had a long journey ahead of us—6 hours total—and I feared the worst but hoped for the best.

All in all, my daughter did great on her first long trip. But after taking two planes, two trains, and countless car rides, I learned a thing or two about what to bring, and what I definitely should have left at home.

If you have a trip coming up with your toddler, I may not be able to completely erase your fears or those nagging "what-ifs," but I certainly can let you in on how to prepare, what to pack, how to deal with fussiness, and more.

Depending on your destination (a hotel, an Airbnb, staying with family), it's incredibly helpful to send as many necessities as possible ahead of time. After all, packing these things or loading them onto a plane with you, is just not feasible.

However, if shipping things is just not economical or feasible for you, you can also rent gear if you're traveling to a larger town.

I was staying with family, so I shipped a car seat to my mom before I arrived. This way, I knew exactly what would be waiting for me once I got there. If you choose to ship instead of rent, just be sure to send it with enough time for your family or friends to properly install the seat before you get there.

My choice was the new-to-market Evenflo Gold Revolve360 Rotational All-in-One Car Seat , but it was a little confusing for them to install. So, my step-dad went to a certified car seat installation location for help.

If you have family that will be installing the car seat for you as I did, you may want to contact the local police stations and fire departments to see if they offer this service. You also can search for a location or a specialist near your destination . After all, you don't want to try to install a car seat after you just spent hours flying.

Think Through Sleeping Arrangements

When it comes to toddlers, you probably already know how active—and curious—they are. That's why it's so important to think through the sleeping arrangements and try to determine what will work best for your family.

Even though my daughter probably could have slept in a twin bed or on a cot, I still sent a pack and play to my parents' home—especially because she is still in a crib at home. For me, I just felt more comfortable having her "contained," especially in an unfamiliar room. Plus, because she still sleeps in a crib at home, I didn't want her first taste of freedom to be while we were on the road in someone else's home.

My daughter is used to a pack and play, so it made sense to use one on the road. My pick was the BABYBJÖRN Travel Crib Light . It's super easy to set up, was larger than some other models, and is recommended for children up to 3 years old.

Of course, if you're not staying with family or friends, you may not have the option to ship a pack and play. But, you can call your hotel to reserve a crib or a pack and play for your stay if you want.

Overall, my suggestion is to try to replicate your toddler's sleeping environment at home as much as you can. After all, your toddler will be adjusting to so many new things, that having some familiarity—especially at bedtime—will help things go more smoothly for both of you.

Be Strategic About Packing

Rather than try to pack all the extras that go with having a toddler—like diapers, wipes, and bubble bath—I placed an order for curbside pickup at the local Target. There, I was able to find all of my daughter’s favorite snacks and drinks, diapers, wipes, and even a fun bathtub mat. My family picked it up the day before I arrived, leaving enough time for them to shop for anything that was unavailable or missing.

Then, when it came time to pack for our trip, I packed one large suitcase that I checked and didn't have to include all those bulky items. If you're using one suitcase, like me, be sure to save room for those all-important gadgets that are a necessity when you have a toddler.

In my suitcase, I included important things like her white noise sound machine and my video monitor, the Nanit monitor —things that are absolutely necessary but could ultimately be replaced if my luggage was lost.

Meanwhile, in my carry-on, I made sure to pack things that could not be easily or immediately replaced like her sleep sack, her lovey, and her blanket. Plus, I knew I would need these items soon after arriving at my destination since my arrival coincided with her nap time.

Take time to think through what things you can buy once you get there, what can be replaced if it is lost, and what you need to keep on your person at all times.

For me, life without my daughter's lovey and blanket would have been a real challenge, so I made sure to keep those things with us in our carry-on. Plus, if I needed to whip them out on the plane, they were always within reach.

There is nothing worse than for a 2-year-old to ask for their blankie only to be told that it is in the underbelly of the plane. That was not something I wanted to try to explain to my toddler at 30,000 feet surrounded by complete strangers!

Necessities for the Airport and on the Plane

When you are traveling through the airport and flying on a plane with a toddler, there are a few items that are an absolute must. Aside from the things you traditionally have handy in your purse or diaper bag—snacks, diapers, wipes, and toys—you'll also want to think about how your child will be sitting on the plane. Here's my list of must-haves for the plane.

Snacks were the number one item that moms told me to pack, and that advice really paid off. I carefully packed all different types of shelf-stable snacks in her bento box lunchbox, and that kept her occupied before boarding and while in the sky.

If you don’t have a large bento-box style lunchbox , using a crafting box—or even a large weekly pill container—with many small compartments is a great way to separate snacks. Not only are you separating the snacks in an interesting way, but the novelty of having so many things to explore can keep your child occupied for a good bit of time.

I included mostly familiar snacks, as well as some new, yummy foods to spark her interest. We flew during her normal morning snack time, so she was hungry. Plus, it was fun for her to try new things. Get creative when packing snacks for your flight. You will be glad you did.

Wipes and Diapers

When you have a toddler, you can never have too many wipes. After all, there are diapers to change as well as messy fingers and faces to deal with. In my bag, I included travel packs of both gentle wipes for diaper changes and wiping her face as well as anti-bacterial wipes for cleaning the tray table, seat, and armrests.

You also want to be sure you have plenty of diapers during your travel time. Count out how many diaper changes you would normally need during that timeframe and then add a few more. You never know when your toddler will have a diaper malfunction.

To make things easier on me, I changed her diaper in the airport bathroom before each flight. I wanted to avoid changing her on the plane if I could. There's nothing worse than trying to navigate a tiny airplane bathroom with a fidgety toddler.

Changing Pads and Extra Clothes

Instead of using the travel changing pads that come in most diaper bags, I opted for disposable dog training pads. As weird as that might sound at first, they are great for bathroom changing tables.

By using these large pads, I didn't have to worry about transferring germs back into my bag. I just tossed them when I was done. Plus, they are great for mopping up water in a pinch in case of a spill.

Another thing to pack in your carry-on just in case? A change of clothes for both you and your child. Accidents happen and there is nothing worse than traveling 6 hours with food or other stains on your clothing.

Coloring or Drawing Tablet

Many people suggest bringing a coloring book and crayons on your trip. While this is a great idea, in theory, I don't know many toddlers that can be trusted with regular markers or crayons, including my 2-year-old.

For instance, on the first leg, we used a Melissa & Doug on-the-go coloring book. It came with regular markers, and even sitting right next to her, my daughter managed to color the tray table. On the way home, I spotted crayon marks on the window shade from a previous passenger, so I know all parents of young ones deal with this.

Similarly, the popular “Water Wow” coloring books claim to be mess-free, but my daughter quickly figured out how to unscrew the cap and promptly dumped water over her entire outfit. The best option, I learned on the way home, is to stick with something electronic while on the plane. You won’t lose any marker caps or risk the ink drying up. I opted for an electronic LCD tablet and it worked out great.

A Safety Device

For children flying on an airplane, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recommends a Child Restraint System (CRS). If you chose to use a car seat, you’ll need to double-check the dimensions of the car seat and the airplane seat. I also strongly encourage you to you install the car seat in a window seat location.

If you choose to bring a car seat, you can have your child sit in the seat while traveling through the airport. Buy a travel cart specifically made to wheel a car seat or a special travel strap that attaches to your rolling luggage. Remember, children over 2 and children sitting in a car seat must have their own seat on the plane.

For me personally, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle my carry-on, our stroller, my toddler, and a car seat, so I opted for the CARES Child Safety Device . This is a seatbelt-like harness that is FAA-approved for children weighing between 22 and 44 pounds. It folds up and weighs less than 1 pound, so it’s not a burden to put in your carry-on. What's more, I was able to quickly install it on my own in under 2 minutes.

Stroller and Bag Cover

A travel stroller is a must in case your gate is the very last one in the terminal like mine was. Toddlers don’t tend to walk fast, so having a stroller is key to being on time. Before boarding, I folded the stroller and put it in a gate check bag . There was plenty of room left in the bag for coats or anything else I didn’t physically need with me in the cabin. I bought my gate check bag on Amazon for under $20.

I heard from other moms that gate check bags get quite dirty and sometimes rip due to rough handling, so I didn't want to spend too much. As you get to the jet bridge, fold your stroller and put it in the gate check bag (mine is bright red and says " gate check" in large letters ). The attendant will tag the bag.

Then, you just leave it at the bottom of the bridge, just before entering the plane. Most of the time, you can retrieve it after the flight in the same spot you left it, just after exiting the plane on the jet bridge. In certain instances, it may be sent to baggage claim, so be sure to listen for announcements. Gate checking strollers or car seats is a free service, so make sure you take advantage of it.

Backpack for Your Child

Although there are super cute rolling luggage options for kids, I knew I would get stuck wheeling my daughter’s suitcase while also trying to push her stroller. Instead, I opted for a “ busy backpack ,” which doubled as a toy as well as a backpack to hold sticker books , snacks, and her iPad.

Her busy backpack has snaps, buttons, a zipper, a faux shoelace, buckles, and colorful numbers printed on the straps. She LOVED carrying the backpack around because it gave her a sense of independence, and also really helped me out to have some extra packing space.

There are certain items I thought would be a must for traveling that I didn't end up needing. I definitely leaned on my daughter's iPad for a few moments of quiet time.

Meanwhile, some people swear by headphones, but I never used hers. In addition, placemats were something I thought would keep us safe from germs, but simply wiping her tray table down with a wipe was faster and easier. Here's what I could have left at home.

I bought special placemats with sticky edges for the tray table. When it comes down to it, you have just a couple of minutes to get situated and get your child occupied when you first get on the plane.

So, I didn’t bother using these placements—it was much quicker for me to just wipe down the table with an anti-bacterial wipe. These placemats might be helpful if you’re eating a full meal on the plane, but on my short trip, we only had snacks, so I would advise leaving them off your shopping list.

Though her iPad was a lifesaver, we did not use the headphones I brought along especially for this trip. First, she didn’t want to keep them on her head.

Second, the plane was so loud it provided built-in white noise and drowned out the sound of her iPad unless you were within a foot of the device. Furthermore, all the other passengers were wearing headphones, so I knew she wasn’t bothering anyone by having her iPad volume on low.

Preparing for a trip with your toddler can feel overwhelming. You never know if your child might get overwhelmed by a large population of people or feel claustrophobic on the small aircraft. Although you can't plan for everything, here are some additional tips that can help you survive traveling with your little one.

Have a Back-up Plan

I live in New York City, so I don’t own a car or a car seat. But, when we were leaving we were able to quickly and easily call an Uber with a car seat to go to the airport. However, when we landed at home, there were no cars with car seats available, and every car service was at least 2 hours away.

Eventually, I took the Air Train home (an option from both Newark and JFK in the New York area) but it was a long, unexpected, and difficult leg of my journey. Transferring to multiple trains with a 50-pound suitcase and a baby in a stroller was not easy.

That's why you need a backup plan in case things don’t go as scheduled. Rather than rely on Uber and public transportation, you may want to schedule a car service in advance for airport transfers or have someone meet you at the airport. Just make sure they have a car seat already installed if you're not traveling with yours.

Beware of Packaging

I bought some quiet, mess-free, sensory toys called Wikki Stix for the plane ride that were great. You can create an endless array of different shapes and the Stix have a textured feel that's not sticky.

However, I was surprised that the packaging was so loud and obnoxious. I would encourage you to open any new toys at home (away from your child) and repackage them in a less disruptive bag or box. There's nothing worse than crinkling plastic and packaging that disturbs those around you.

Wrap "Presents"

One thing that worked well for me was buying some small, new toys and trinkets and wrapping them in tissue paper. When my little one started getting fidgety, I would tell her I had a "present" for her. Not only was this a new and exciting toy, but the extra step of taking off the tissue paper added a few minutes to the experience.

I bought some small Blippi toy vehicles, Melissa & Doug's Lace and Trace pet set, and even wrapped a couple of sticker packs. Toys don't have to be expensive to be exciting. In fact, my mom famously tells me that I used to be most excited to individually unwrap an entire box of Band-Aids on long car rides.

It's normal to feel rushed when you have a little one. But, try not to stress over taking an extra minute to put your bag in the overhead or find your boarding pass in your giant purse. People are remarkably kind when they recognize that you are traveling alone with a little one.

Plus, take advantage of the early boarding with small children. This will give you extra time to get situated and you will feel less like you are holding people up. And, don't be afraid to ask for help—multiple people along my journey helped me with my luggage. Most likely, someone has been in your shoes before, and they will be eager to assist.

A Word From Verywell

Traveling alone is stressful to begin with, and can be especially worrisome if you have a tot in tow. We hope these tips help you plan for a less stressful trip so you can enjoy your vacation or trip with your little one.

Federal Aviation Administration. Flying with children .

The Car Seat Lady. Before you fly, know your rights !

By Dory Zayas Dory Zayas is a freelance beauty, fashion, and parenting writer. She spent over a decade writing for celebrity publications and since having her daughter in 2019, has been published on sites including INSIDER and Well+Good.

travelling with 2 toddlers

Lifesaving Tips for Traveling with Two Kids

By Chandra Fredrick

two kids watching planes airport

With spring break in full swing and my first plane trip with two kids behind me, I thought I’d share some things I have learned in my experience and from fellow parents out there on surviving trips with two kiddos in tow, and maybe even having a little fun along the way. Maybe.

1.  How to Book Your Flights

In a perfect world, it’s safest if your infant has their own seat on the plane and they are strapped into their car seat for the entire flight. But for most people, that is an expensive option that isn’t practical. Most of us take advantage of the “ infant in arms ” option. If you choose this option, make sure you are aware of your airline’s policy on proving your baby’s age. I have never had to show a birth certificate, but I have heard some airlines require them at check in. If you are flying alone with two kids, it is best to book an aisle and center seat, because you’ll need to get up with your children for bathroom visits and diaper changes. Also, for many people it works best to book flights for around bedtime. Most kids are much more likely to fall asleep on a plane if it’s later in the day or in the evening—unfortunately, my kids are amazing sleepers in their own beds but don’t sleep well in the car or on a plane, so this rule doesn’t work for us. Trust your instincts on what time you think is best for your own child.  

RELATED: 31 Genius Hacks for Traveling with Kids

2. Packing Smart

The key to successful travel with small kids is smart packing . Everything that can go into your checked baggage should go into your checked baggage. Designate your carry-on for in-flight and airport essentials and emergencies only. That way you have less to lug around and dig through. Snacks, toys, and activities, food/bottles/formula/nursing supplies for babies, lots of diapers and wipes, antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer, any medications any of you might need, a change of clothes for the kids, an extra shirt for adults (if you have a baby who is likely to spit up or spill), an iPad or other movie-watching device for older kids with headphones, and anything else that will keep your kid busy and happy should be included. If you have a child who is four or older, give them their own small rolling carry-on so they can be in charge of their own stuff. This is less for you to carry and makes them feel helpful and in control. And they can keep it under their seat and access it themselves if necessary. My son has a Darth Vader one and is obsessed with it. (The wheels light up when you roll it, and even adults in the airport were into it.)

3. Choosing the Right Gear

The absolute easiest thing is to arrange to have access to reliable gear like car seats at your destination. Sometimes you can rent them with a rental car or maybe you have a friend or family member you can borrow from. We bought a safe (but more affordable) car seat for our kids that stay at my mom’s house, so she has them installed in her car when she picks us up from the airport. 

If you need to take car seats with you, you can check them with your luggage (for free—all baby gear like strollers, car seats, and travel cribs can be checked for free on most airlines, but check with your airline to make sure) or gate check them. Checking them with your luggage is the easiest for you, since you don’t want to have to deal with them through the airport. But gate checking them is safer for your gear. Whenever possible, check your gear in their original packaging or in a designated travel bag. 

Also decide if you will need a stroller at your destination or if one will help you at the airport. If you have connections or are traveling alone with kids, a stroller is probably a must. I used my UPPAbaby Cruz stroller with piggyback board for my older son to ride on through the airport, making it much easier to get both kids where we needed to go. We also used UPPAbaby’s awesome travel bag when we gate checked it—if you register the bag and anything happens to your stroller in flight, UPPAbaby gives you a new one! Some other easy options are using an umbrella stroller for an older child and carrying your baby in an Ergobaby carrier (or your preferred carrier), or letting your older child walk (depending on their age) and using an umbrella stroller for your littlest one if they are big enough. I love an umbrella stroller that you can close with one hand—so important. Keep in mind that you will have to take your baby out of the carrier in order to go through TSA security, but it will come in handy on your flight. Some airlines let you wear your baby at takeoff and landing, and if they get fussy mid-flight (which they likely will), walking them up and down the aisle in a carrier is great for calming and helping them sleep.

two kids airport

4. Getting Through Security

Little known secret: There is a family lane available in many US airports. It’s a great perk to flying with kids and is usually shorter and moves faster than the regular lines. So when you first step up to TSA, request the family lane. Have your ID and boarding passes easily accessible (but secured so you don’t lose them) in an outside pocket of your bag or in your pocket. When it’s your turn, put your tote in a bin, remove any babies or kids and fold down the stroller, pick up your smaller child, and have your older one put their suitcase up by themselves. Kids can keep their shoes on but you can’t, so slip off your shoes last and throw them in your bin. If you have any breast milk, water for the baby’s bottle or sippy cup, or liquid formula in your bag, you can keep it with you, but TSA will test it. It takes a few seconds and you’re set. Congrats—you made it through one of the hardest parts!

5. Pre-Flight Tips

The time between getting through security and boarding your flight is the best time to let the kids “get the wiggles out,” so to speak. Let your older children walk, move, jump, etc. and get out as much energy as possible. Lay a blanket down on the floor for your baby to stretch and roll around. This is also the best time to hit the potty and change diapers one last time before your flight. If your flight isn’t a long one, maybe you won’t need to go into that dreaded airplane bathroom at all. (My baby pooped three times during our five hour flight, so don’t hold your breath.)

Once it is time to board, try to wait until the end to board so your kids aren’t on the plane any longer than necessary. This works especially well if you only have bags that go under your seat (since the overhead space always fills up) and if you have the aisle seat in your row so you don’t have to crawl over a stranger. 

6. Once You’re on the Plane

The very first thing you should do when you get to your seats is wipe everything down with sanitizing wipes. Literally everything within reach of your kids needs to be wiped down—the germs on airplanes are beyond disgusting. So try to clean the seats, arm rests, windows, tray tables in front of you, seat belts, and anything else you see (like the window shade if you have a window seat). 

Pack a diaper changing caddy or a freezer-size storage bag with a few diapers and a pack of wipes. I really like using this diaper changing station  because it makes traveling way easier since it holds wipes & a diaper and is a changing pad as well. When you do need to go into the airplane bathroom, bring your sanitizing wipes and wipe down (at minimum) the changing table and the wall surrounding it. Those things are never cleaned. My husband forgot to do this on our flight when changing a poo diaper, and three days later my baby developed hand, foot, and mouth disease. You’ll never convince me that he didn’t pick that up from the dirty changing table. Ugh.

Most important piece of in-flight info: Don’t forget to nurse or give a bottle to your baby during takeoff and landing to relieve the pressure in their ears. A pacifier works too if your baby likes those, but I always time a feeding with takeoff and landing if I can. If your child is older, it may not bother them at all, but a sippy cup or fruit pouch can help. 

Have new toys to introduce on the plane. Babies love pulling small items out of a bag, and opening and closing things (even a pack of travel wipes with the plastic opening could keep them entertained for thirty minutes). A bag with a zipper is great. I love the books with the flaps—open, close, open, close all flight long. I also bought this play travel tray , which has toys velcroed to it, a zipper, pouch, etc. to keep babies busy, that attaches to the seat back in front of you; it kept my baby pretty busy for a while. I also like to have a snack handy for babies—Calvin absolutely loved these and ate on them off and on the whole flight. And my older son Charlie loves sticker books and watching movies on his iPad. And don’t forget a pair of kid headphones —the airplane can be quite loud, and it is hard to hear the iPad (and disturbing to other passengers) without headphones. I also pack snacks for him like crackers, fruit pouches, a banana—stuff he likes and that packs easily. I throw in a few things he doesn’t eat frequently, like fruit snacks or lollipops. I opt for convenient and entertaining food over healthy options when on the plane—it’s all about survival. 

7. Upon Arrival

The moment the pilot tells you that you are making your descent into your destination, you have cause to celebrate. You’re almost there. Once you deplane, don’t forget to grab your stroller or anything you gate checked in the jetway. Put your baby in the stroller to give yourself a much needed break and double check that you have all of your bags, belongings, and children before you leave the jetway. Hit the potty if necessary. Try to have someone meet you at baggage claim if you’re traveling alone, and if that isn’t possible definitely spring for a Smart Carte. You can’t deal with your kids, stuff, and baggage without it. Then take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back, because you made it! 

Don’t forget to try to enjoy the journey a little bit. Document it with some photos of your kids during the flight and after to remember that you can do it. You know, for next time! Happy travels.

More Tips for Traveling with Kids:

  • What to Pack in Your Emergency Travel Kit for Family Trips
  • 5 Common Vacation Meltdown Scenarios (& How to Avoid Them)
  • 5 Rules to Follow When Road Tripping with a Toddler

Chandra Fredrick

Chandra is a mom of three boys (8, 4, and 3) and the founder of Oh Lovely Day , a lifestyle blog with a honest look at motherhood. She is trying to create more of an open dialogue with a no-judgement attitude about the struggles of mothers, mental health, postpartum depression, breastfeeding, baby wearing, and just doing the best we can and not being too hard on ourselves. In that vein, she started the hashtag #battlefieldmotherhood to encourage her fellow mothers to share on Instagram as well. She believes in dance parties, desserts during nap time, and a good hike can cure almost anything. And someday she hopes to sleep and date her husband again. You can also find Chandra on Instagram , Pinterest , and Facebook .

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travelling with 2 toddlers

The Traveling Twin Mama

The Traveling Twin Mama

25+ Toddler Travel Essentials: Traveling with a Toddler Checklist (2024)

travelling with 2 toddlers

Planning a family trip, but unsure what you need in terms of toddler travel essentials? Subscribe and receive an interactive PDF checklist for Free.

From ensuring you’ve packed the essentials, to anticipating toddler needs on the go, the mere thought of organizing a trip with toddlers in tow can be overwhelming.

As a mom of twin boys who started traveling at four months and have now been on over 50+ trips, I understand the joys and challenges that come with traveling alongside your little ones. But rest assured mama, you got this!

My all-inclusive toddler travel essentials list draws from my personal experiences and takeaways from traveling with my twin boys. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or a long-haul international trip, these toddler travel essentials will help alleviate the stress that often accompanies toddler travel prep.

You’ll find, not only the toddler travel essentials that have worked best for my kids but also items that my fellow traveling moms swear by. Please remember that every kid is different – so what works for one may not work for the other (even with twins!) It’s likely that you won’t need all the items listed (that’s where your mama intuition will come in). Also please be aware that toddler travel needs change as your little one grows from 12 months to three years and so on.

Think of this blog post as your roadmap to smoother, more enjoyable travel with your toddler! The focus will shift from worrying about forgotten items to creating cherished memories with your little adventurer. It’s broken down into two simple sections: the day of travel (i.e. what needs to be in your diaper bag or toddler’s backpack) and carry-on/checked luggage (i.e. what you may need at the hotel/vacation rental or during the trip).

Disney Wish character review- family meeting Donald Duck

Day of Travel: Toddler Travel Essentials

When flying with a toddler, what you include in your diaper bag travel checklist can make a significant impact on your flying experience. Simply because most airports don’t offer items that cater to kids. The toddler travel essentials listed below will help you fly with your little one with ease.

Toddler Travel Essentials: Transport Checklist

As a mom of twins, my biggest concern before traveling with my infant twins was how I would transport them during the trip, especially at the airport. As they got older and more accustomed to traveling to different regions and climates, I realized that what’s required for one trip may not be required for the next. As you prepare the toddler travel essentials you will need to take into consideration where you are traveling to and what activities you’ll be participating in.

Travel Strollers

A good travel stroller definitely makes the list of toddler travel essentials for your next family trip.

For my boys’ first and second trips to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico (respectively), we used this double stroller travel system which easily connected both car seats. To be fair, however, it was a bit cumbersome gate-checking a double stroller. You have to, not only detach the car seats, but also remove a seat and fold the stroller. All the while somehow holding or containing two kids.

After our travels in Europe and taking the train from Amsterdam to Paris, I realized a double stroller was not conducive to travel. I noticed European parents using small travel strollers – some of which folded compactly and could fit in the overhead rack. That’s the exact moment that I became obsessed with the GB Pockit Stroller . I absolutely love how I can roll the stroller on the plane with the baby in tow. Once the baby is settled, I simply fold it up and place it overhead.

There are several good options for compact travel strollers and many of those can fit overhead on a plane. Depending on the climate you’re traveling to, you may want to consider getting a mosquito net cover , rain cover , and/or fan for the stroller. Another great stroller accessory when carrying a lot of things is a stroller organizer . Being able to keep your hands as free as possible when traveling with kids makes the journey a lot easier and less stressful.

A wagon is a great alternative to a travel stroller on my list of toddler travel essentials.

As my boys got older, they became more resistant to using a stroller. That’s when our handy beach wagon came to the rescue. It was perfect for fitting both kids or their luggage. Our personal rules to the kids were “either pull the wagon or ride in it.”

If you prefer a wagon specifically designed for kids, there are several options including Wonderfold , Evenflo , and Gladly Family . These wagons come with seat belts and seats specifically designed for kiddos.

Lightweight or Travel Car Seat

The WAYB Pico Car Seat in the hand of mom at the airport. It's definitely a toddler travel essential!

Another toddler travel essential that I stressed about when first traveling with my twins was car seats. I couldn’t imagine carrying two standard-sized car seats along with all of the other kid travel needs. Luckily, some genius out there with kids designed lightweight and portable travel car seats for parents on the go.

We started with the Cosco Car Seats which are relatively lightweight at about 12 pounds. We didn’t have any issues with it. However, when we discovered the WAYB Pico was foldable, only 8 pounds, and could be used with kids up to 50 lbs (we were nearing the weight limit of our Cosco Car Seats), we knew it was time to switch.

It’s extremely easy to travel with the WAYB Pico Car Seat. I personally love how spacious the car seat bag is. It’s roomy enough to fit additional items, like life jackets.

Ride Safer Travel Vest

Another great option is the Ride Safe Travel Vest for car travel only. It is available in three sizes and fits kids from 22 to 110 pounds. The best part is that the travel vest only weighs a bit over two pounds.

CARES Kid’s Fly Safe Harness

The CARES Kid's Fly Safe Harness is a toddler travel essential.

Due to the amount of stuff you have to bring, traveling with twin babies and toddlers is no easy feat. Once I started buying my kiddos their own seats on the plane, I was happy to find the CARES Kid’s Fly Safe Harness to use on the plane instead of a car seat. It quickly became one of our toddler travel essentials.

This harness is designed for kids that weigh 22–44 pounds and is very compact. So compact, that each boy would carry theirs in their backpack! Plus, the setup was super easy and only took a minute or so.

Toddler Luggage and Travel Backpack Essentials

As your little one gets older, they’re going to want more independence. A great way to satiate that need is to add toddler luggage and/or a toddler backpack to your toddler travel checklist. Keep reading for my favorites.

Toddler Luggage

At two years old, my boys were over the moon when they got their own toddler-sized luggage . We found it was best to give them two-wheel luggage since it seemed easier for them to know which direction to roll it. Initially, they carried just lightly packed luggage or backpacks to limit the weight. As they got older, they started to carry both, which has made traveling with kids so much easier.

My boys with their toddler backpacks and luggage about to board the plane to Peru.

Toddler Travel Backpack and Harness Backpack with Leash

Once your little one gets old enough and is a relatively good walker, a toddler travel backpack is a must-have. These backpacks can be relatively light and easy for your little one to carry. As they grow, they can begin to carry some of their needs, like entertainment, snacks, and/or diapers.

If you have a kid who likes to wander or have multiples (like myself), consider investing in a harness backpack with a leash .

Toddler Luggage Accessories Checklist

Packing for yourself can be a challenge. Throw in packing for a toddler, and you may end up with more things than you can physically carry. Luggage straps, compression packing cubes, and vacuum storage bags have been the key for my family to travel as lightly as possible and have even allowed us to fly with only carry-ons.

Luggage Strap

Believe it or not, I have traveled with my twin toddlers solo several times. One of the biggest hurdles I initially faced was how to carry everything by myself. A luggage strap is a quick and effective solution. Simply attach your kids’ luggage to yours, and pull all of it together.

Cincha Travel Belt

The Cincha Travel Belt is a great way to ensure that any bag set on the handles of your luggage stays put. The worst thing is walking through the airport and having your bag slip or fall off the handles. You won’t have to worry about that with this travel belt.

It especially comes in handy as a toddler travel essential, since you can easily attach the diaper bag or even a car seat bag onto the handles of your luggage. Honestly, it’s been a game-changer! The fewer things I have to carry in my hand or back, the better.

Toddler Travel Essential: Feeding Checklist

Feeding toddlers can be a challenge all on its own. Add in travel and an airport full of germs, and no wonder people are intimidated by traveling with their kids. This “feeding toddlers while traveling” checklist will make the feeding on-the-go process easier and less of a headache.

Snack Catcher OR Snack Spinner

If your toddlers are anything like my twins, snacks are a travel must-have . Unfortunately, that normally equates to a mess. That’s where the snack catcher and snack spinner come in handy.

The snack catcher is a great option if you’re packing a single snack. It’s very small and can easily fit into your toddler’s backpack. On the other hand, the snack spin ner is a travel essential for those toddlers who require a variety of snacks. They come with five snack compartments and an interactive button. It’s a bit larger, around 6.5 inches, so it may or may not fit in your toddler’s backpack, depending on its size.

My boys enjoying a snack from their snack spinners – a toddler travel essential.

Of course, if you have a snack catcher or spinner, you must have snacks. Honestly, they count as a form of entertainment. Below are some of my kids’ favorite travel snacks:

  • Applesauce or other pouches
  • Graham crackers
  • Veggie straws
  • Dried fruit
  • Cheese crackers

Spill-proof water bottles are high on the list of toddler travel essentials.

Spill-proof Water Bottle

A spill-proof water bottle is hands-down one of the most important toddler travel essentials since, for some unknown reason, toddlers are always thirsty. I recommend getting a bottle that can easily fit in your toddler’s backpack because they seem to be the easiest things to lose and/or forget when traveling.

Additionally, don’t fret about carrying your own drink pass airport security in a kid’s water bottle. It’s allowed, but it has to be screened . This simply means the officer will ask you to remove the top of the water bottle so they can place a paper above the opening. This ensures there are no foreign or illegal substances.

Personally, I think it’s worth it!

travelling with 2 toddlers

Easy Clean Bibs

Toddlers are notorious for smearing food all over the table and themselves while they eat. Using a long-sleeved, easy-to-clean, waterproof bib will minimize the amount of clothing you have to change after mealtime. You’ll love them so much that they’ll become a part of your everyday diaper bag essentials.

Foldable Placemats

As toddlers, my boys LOVED to eat. I couldn’t expect us to go anywhere to eat without them wanting to share in the meal. These foldable placemats ensured my boys had something clean to eat on, that they couldn’t pick up and throw on the floor. They became so handy that they quickly became a diaper bag essential, even when we weren’t traveling. Plus, they are simple to clean. (I would use bottle and pacifier wipes. )

Portable High Chair

My son in his portable high chair, perfect for travel.

The portable high chair is another toddler travel essential that quickly became an everyday diaper bag essential. How many times have you been out to a restaurant and either there wasn’t a high chair available (especially with twins, this happens more than you would think) or the high chair was dirty?

This is also important when trying to feed your kiddo at a vacation rental or a family member’s house. Where does your kid sit? Portable high chairs ensure you have a clean place for your little one to safely sit around the table. The high chairs that we used easily adapted to almost any type of chair and folded small enough to fit two inside of our diaper bag.

Toddler Utensils

Toddler utensils are more of perk than a toddler traveling essential. Can your toddler use regular or plastic silverware? Most likely – yes. But since toddler utensils are made for your little one’s little hands, and help them master their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, why not add them to your toddler packing list?

As a bonus, they can easily fit in your diaper bag.

Toddler Travel Checklists: Diapering Essentials

On the first few flights with my twins, at least one of them had a blowout. If there’s one area I want to be over-prepared for when traveling with kids, it’s diapering essentials.

Changing Pad Liner

Believe it or not, some airplanes don’t have changing tables. Most have at least one bathroom with a changing table, but when there’s an emergency (because toddlers love to wait until the last minute to tell you they have to go), how would you know which one to go to?

A changing pad liner ensures you have a clean and ample space to change your toddler while traveling. It also has space for you to store diapers, wipes, and other diapering essentials. Sometimes I would bring a dog training pad so that I wouldn’t have to worry about soiling my liner. I could easily wrap all the soiled items in it and dispose.

Toddler Travel Potty

Once my twins started potty training, I wanted to ensure they were comfortable going to the potty while traveling. Therefore, I purchased a toddler travel potty before our travels so they could get comfortable using it (hopefully eliminating the possibility of them not wanting to use it while traveling).

For reference, there are (3) different toddler travel potty options : 1) Toddler travel potty that includes a bowl 2) Toddler travel potty that does NOT include a bowl 3) Toddler potty seat

There is no wrong or right option – just whatever works best for you and your toddler. We personally liked the style that included the bowl.

A toddler travel potty is high on the list of toddler travel essentials for a family vacation.

Adding a wet bag to your toddler travel checklist will ensure you have a place to store any potentially soiled clothing. The last thing you want to do is put soiled clothes into your clean diaper bag!

Diapers, Training Pants, and Wipes

I’d be remiss if I didn’t add the basic necessities when it comes to diapering a toddler.

A quick suggestion to the potty training mama- don’t be afraid to use training pants while traveling, even for the kiddos who are pretty advanced. It takes the pressure off of everyone. I can’t tell you how many times my kids “suddenly” had to go potty during landing.

Toddler Plane Sleep Essentials

The best thing that could happen when flying with kids is they fall asleep during the flight. Making your toddler as comfortable as possible will help them sleep on the plane , especially on long-haul flights.

JetKids BedBox or Inflatable Travel Bed

My toddlers sleep on plane with the JetKids Bed Box.

One item that’s guaranteed to make my toddler travel checklist when I want my kiddos to sleep on the plane is a comfortable toddler travel bed .

We love the JetKids BedBox . It turns their seat into a lay-flat bed. Each time we use it, it basically guarantees they’ll get comfy enough to drift asleep. Plus, the compartment is large enough to use as a carry-on to fit your kiddo’s clothing and belongings. Another more affordable, option is the inflatable travel bed , which wedges between your child’s seat and the seat in front of them. This way, they can stretch their legs out and fall asleep.

Planes are notorious for being cold. Be sure your toddler is as comfy as possible by adding a blanket or jacket to the travel packing list. A blanket that folds into the bag easily fits in most toddler backpacks and attaches to luggage.

Also consider adding a hat to your toddler travel checklist, especially if your kid tends to get cold easily. This could even become a diaper bag essential, as many restaurants and stores tend to be chilly.

Portable Sound Machine

Some children have a hard time falling asleep without a sound machine. If this is your kid, be sure to add a portable sound machine to your toddler travel packing list. It’s lightweight and small enough to easily fit in your diaper bag.

Toddler Travel Essential: Entertainment

When preparing for a flight, it’s common to bring some type of entertainment to pass the time in the air. Toddlers aren’t any different.

Most toddlers need multiple forms of entertainment on their travel checklist. I recommended bringing at least one new or rarely used toy/entertainment so that they are excited about playing with it, and hopefully play with it longer.

Below are some of our favorite toddler entertainment travel essentials:

  • Window Clings
  • Felt Friends Craft Activity
  • Mess-Free Coloring
  • Suction Toys
  • Magnetic Tiles
  • Busy Board Backpack or busy board
  • Small Construction Vehicles or dolls
  • Fidget Toys
  • Reusable Sticker Pads
  • Squishy Toys
  • Foldable headphones

Other Toddler Travel Day Essentials

My twin boys distracted by their tablets and foldable headphones at the airport. Entertainment is a toddler travel essential!

Extra Set of Clothing

An extra set of clothing is a must for both toddlers and babies, especially when checking luggage. Just remember when you’re on the plane and somehow you and/or your little one get dirty (it happens more than you can imagine), you only have what’s in your diaper bag.

Teething Toys

If your toddler is teething, it’s important to have teething toys on the travel checklist. While on the plane, your little one’s ears may pop, which may magnify their gum irritation. The sucking and chewing motion will help minimize the irritability of both the gums and ears.

Hand Sanitizer and Disinfectant Wipes

It seems as if one of toddlers’ favorite activities is to drop something on the floor and put said item in their mouth. It’s one thing when they do it at home, but it’s an entirely different game when done at the germy airport. Keeping hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in your diaper bag will allow your baby to play happily while giving you peace of mind.

Toddler Travel Essentials: Required Documentation

What a bummer would it be to pack all of your toddler travel essentials, only to forget the correct documentation?

  • Copy of birth certificate OR 
  • Letter from the hospital indicating age
  • A signed and notarized letter stating permission for travel to X destination
  • Passports and/or visas (if required)

​ ​ ​ ​ Traveling with toddlers checklist

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Toddler Carry-on/Checked Luggage Packing Lis

The toddler travel essentials listed below can vary depending on the age of your toddler, their propensity to get dirty or soil their clothes, and the type of destination you’re traveling to. For example, beach vacations require their own set of travel essentials.

Toddler Travel Packing List: Clothing

These are the general packing guidelines that I use when traveling with my kids. If possible, stay at a vacation rental or hotel with a washing machine. Or come prepared with sink laundry detergent .

  • Underwear: 1 per day, plus 2 additional
  • 1 outfit per child, per day
  • 1+ additional outfits per child (especially more tops if your toddler drools a lot)
  • Socks: 1 pair per day, plus 1 additional pair because socks disappear
  • Shoes: 1-2 pairs, depending on activities
  • Pajamas: 1 per every 2 days (you may need to increase if the toddler soaks through overnight training pants)
  • Weather-specific clothes: i.e. coats, hats, or beach clothing

Toddler Travel Packing List: Toiletries

Packing as light as possible is key for traveling with kids. It’s recommended to get travel-size toiletries or use leak-proof pouches or travel containers .

  • Tear-free bath soap and shampoo
  • Baby lotion
  • Hairbrush/supplies (headbands/hair barrettes/products)
  • First aid kit , including Infant medicine (ibuprofen or acetaminophen), bandaids, thermometer, etc.
  • Sink laundry detergent
  • Baby Sunscreen
  • Natural mosquito repellent 
  • Inflatable travel bath  
  • Kid flossers

Toddler Travel Checklist: Sleeping Essentials

Toddler travel beds are a toddler travel essential for your next trip.

It can be a challenge for some people to fall asleep in a new place, and toddlers aren’t any different. Therefore, recreating their home environment as closely as possible increases the chances of your little one sleeping through the night. Be sure to add these toddler travel sleeping essentials to your checklist!

Pack and Play , Portable Baby Travel Crib , or Baby Travel Tent

There are a variety of toddler travel bed options . There is no right or wrong option, it’s more what works best for your family’s needs and price point. Whichever one you decide to go with, try it out at home for a few nights just to make sure your little one enjoys sleeping in it.

Portable Black-out Curtains

In order to get some children to sleep, the room needs to be pitch black. If this is your toddler, be sure to add portable black-out curtains to the essential packing list. They are relatively small to carry and the setup is pretty simple since the attached suction cups stick to the window. It’s worth bringing them if a good night’s sleep is on the line.

Portable White Noise Machine

Similar to black-out curtains, some kids have a hard time falling asleep without a white noise machine. If this is your toddler, a portable white noise machine is indeed a travel essential. This one is compact and can attach to most things. It offers three different sounds to help your little one drown out any disruption and drift off to sleep.

Smartphone Baby Monitor  

If you’re planning to stay in a vacation rental or somewhere where your toddler will be sleeping in a different room, you may want to add a smartphone baby monitor to your packing list. The camera itself is relatively small and you use your phone as the monitor. It’s a great way to check in on your toddler without having to physically go into the room or take up a lot of space in your luggage.

Toddler Travel Essentials: Packing Light

Packing light is key when traveling with kids, especially if you’re like me and get overwhelmed when you have a lot to carry. Now you may be saying, “traveling with toddlers and packing light, that’s an oxymoron!”

Yes and no.

Yes, toddlers have more things to bring than the average person. But no, it doesn’t have to mean you overpack or bring more than you can carry. Try the tips below out for size!

Toddler Sleep on Plane_ Toddler in arms

Compression Packing Cubes

Compression packing cubes , which are different from regular packing cubes, help clear out extra air – allowing you to pack more in a small space. In fact, when using compression cubes, we’re able to pack all of the boys’ belongings either in their toddler luggage or JetKids BedBox .

Vacuum Storage Bags

Another great option for fitting your toddler’s travel essentials into a carry-on or toddler luggage is vacuum storage bags . They normally come in two options: foldable and vacuum. I personally like the vacuum storage version since they get the most air out. They’re also the easiest to use, in my opinion. Be aware that you have to carry the manual pump to get the air out of the bag while traveling. Luckily, the pump doesn’t take up much space.

Similar to the compression packing cubes, we’ve used vacuum storage bags with JetKids BedBox and toddler luggage .

Other Toddler Travel Essentials

Babyproofing.

If you know your toddler will be spending a significant amount of time at your vacation rental, you may want to add babyproofing items like outlet covers or corner protectors to your packing list. This isn’t necessarily a travel essential, but they’re nice to have to keep your toddler safe while exploring the new space.

Toddler Travel Checklist Essentials

Having a detailed toddler travel packing list can give you the confidence you need to travel with your little one with ease. It gives you a great feeling of preparedness and leaves you ready to conquer whatever may come.

In addition to having a checklist of items you need to pack, I would recommend also having a checklist that mentally walks you through each step of the flying with kids process . Think about how you can most effectively get the kids and luggage to the check-in counter. What if there’s a delay? Is there any special toy or treat you can use to pass the time? This gives you a plan and helps you feel prepared for your trip.

Of course, these are lists you can create yourself. But if you’re a parent, I’m sure your time is limited. That’s why I’ve created detailed, interactive checklists that include all of the above toddler travel essentials and allow you to track what you’ve packed, add your personal items, and browse links to my favorite products.

Family enjoying their Brazil itinerary in front of the flag and Sugarloaf Mountain

Using these checklists will not only save you time and energy, but they’re also reusable – eliminating the need to recreate the packing list for each trip.

There are three checklists available including a traveling with babies checklist, a traveling with toddlers checklist, and a traveling with kids mental preparation checklist.

✔️ Get This Checklist as an Interactive PDF ✔️

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The Ultimate List of Toddler Travel Essentials (+Toddler Packing List!)

This page may contain affiliate links, which means that we may earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.

Traveling with a toddler is not the easiest of feats, but it can be made a lot easier by bringing a few toddler travel essentials. These are items that make traveling with a toddler go much more smoothly for everyone in your travel group.

On our many trips with our toddlers, we’ve come to learn that there are some items that we just can’t do without when traveling with young kids. And others that we can ditch to save the luggage space…

In this article, we’ve included detailed descriptions of the toddler travel essentials that you won’t want to forget on your trip. We’ve also provided a toddler travel packing list to make packing for your child that much easier! Read on for everything you need to bring for a successful trip with a toddler.

If you’re planning on visiting the beach, check out our article on the beach essential for toddlers .

Toddler Travel Essentials

Getting around

These are a few essential items that make getting around with your toddler a lot easier during travel.

Toddler in an Ergobaby Omni 360 Carrier

  • Toddler carrier

When traveling with a toddler, a carrier is at the top of my list of toddler travel essentials. 

Toddler carriers can make life so much easier when traveling. They allow you to easily take your child places that are less stroller friendly and provide a perfect place for nursing (if your child is breastfeeding) and napping on the go. They’re also great for containing toddlers in places that might not be safe for them to roam free (say at the top of a bell tower or the edge of the grand canyon).

We’ve carried our toddlers in carriers all over the world and find it to be one of the easiest ways to travel with a toddler.

To find the best carrier for your child, see this article on the best toddler carriers for travel .

A stroller may or may not be a necessity for your trip, depending on what kind of trip you’re taking. We’ve taken trips with just a toddler carrier and others with both a carrier and a stroller (I always bring a carrier, even if I’m bringing a stroller). 

Strollers can be very useful for navigating the airport with a toddler and for trips where you’ll be visiting stroller-accessible locations. They’re nice to have along to give you a break from having to carry your child all the time (or chase them down constantly).

We love our gb Pockit for travel. It’s the most compact strollers out there and folds down small enough to fit into the overhead bit or under your seat on the airplane. Be sure to see our full gb Pockit stroller review .

Travel car seat

A car seat is typically going to be one of your toddler travel essentials, barring a few locations where you can get by just using public transportation. But if you’re planning on getting around by car, you’ll want a car seat to keep your little one safe. Strapped in their car seat is also the safest way for toddlers to fly on a plane. 

Younger toddlers might still fit within the safety requirements for an infant car seat, which are great for travel. Infant car seats are lightweight and easy to transport. 

If your child has outgrown their infant seat, it’s worth it to invest in a lightweight travel car seat. Trust me, after you’ve spent your whole trip hauling that thing around you’ll be glad to have left your heavy, bulky regular seat at home. Our favorite travel car seat for toddlers is the Cosco Scenera next.

Car seat bag

If you’re bringing a car seat, you’ll want to bring a car seat travel bag. These bags make transporting your car seat much easier and more manageable. 

There are a lot of different options out there so check out our review of the best car seat travel bags to find the best one for your trip.

Food/Snacks

These food relate toddler travel essentials will make mealtimes and snacks with your toddler go a lot more smoothly while on your trip. 

travelling with 2 toddlers

A bib is a helpful way to keep your child cleaner while eating. As an added bonus, it keeps their clothes clean as well, which makes it more likely that you can pack light and reuse outfits. 

These waterproof bibs are lightweight and pack down to practically nothing. We also love these silicone bibs which take a bit more space but are easier to clean and dry more quickly.

Snack catcher 

Snacks are a great way to entertain a toddler while traveling. And a snack catcher allows them to feed themselves independently without making a huge mess. This can be a helpful tool for distracting and redirecting a child who is getting bored or on the verge of a meltdown.

Our favorite snack catcher for travel folds down compactly, making it easy to store when not in use. The material it’s made out of does tend to collect lint and crumbs, so I recommend bringing a baggie to store it in when you’re not using it.

  • Travel high chair

A travel high chair can be a useful item for traveling with a toddler. It ensures that your child always has their own seat at the table and helps keep them contained so that they’re not climbing all over you or running around. This can make for a much more relaxing meal for yourself and your toddler. 

Travel high chairs are not always necessary if you’re going someplace where you know high chairs will be available. However if there aren’t high chairs, or if you’re not sure if there will be, bringing your own can be a nice way to ensure that mealtimes go smoothly.

  • Water bottle

You’ll want to make sure your child is drinking a lot while traveling, so be sure to bring a water bottle and offer it to them frequently throughout the day.

We prefer the straw kind because they are easier for our toddler to use and less likely to spill.

  • Disposable place mats

Feeding a toddler when you’re eating out can be tricky. The places you eat might not have toddler-safe dishes andd it can be a pain to have to feed your toddler bite by bite (plus in my experience toddlers often insist on feeding themselves!). 

That’s where these disposable place mats come in so handy. They have adhesive on all four sides to secure it to the table, providing a clean and stable surface for your toddler to eat on. Once they’re done eating, you can easily pull the place mat off of the table and throw it away. This helps to minimize mess and allows your child to have an independent eating experience without you having to stress about them breaking the dishes. 

Sleep Items

Toddler sleeping in a Kidco Peapod

Some of the most important toddler travel essentials are those related to sleep. Whether or not your toddler sleeps well can make a huge difference to the success of your trip. A tired and grumpy toddler makes for a very long day while traveling. 

These sleep items are ones that can be hugely helpful in getting your toddler the sleep that they need. For everyone’s sake!

  • White noise

We always bring white noise for our children while traveling. It helps block any ambient sounds that they might not be used to and also means that we don’t have to be quite so quiet as we’re moving around our hotel room or Airbnb. 

Oftentimes we’ll just use a white noise app on our phone, but if you want to be able to use your phone for other things, you can bring a travel white noise machine . 

While you’re away from home, you’ll want to make sure your toddler has a cozy and comfortable place to sleep. There are a couple of different ways you can do this. 

First, if your child sleeps in a crib you can see if your accommodations have a crib or pack ‘n play available for you to use while you’re there.

If you have a bed for your toddler, consider getting portable bed rails to keep your child from rolling off the bed in the night. These bed rails are placed underneath the bottom sheet to form a barrier at the edge of the bed. They provide a lot of peace of mind for when your toddler is sleeping in a full-sized bed. We’ve compiled a list of the best portable bed rails for travel with a toddlers to help you out. 

You can also choose to bring a portable toddler bed for your child so you can set up a cozy spot for them to sleep wherever you are. These can come in several different forms, from toddler cots to inflatable beds to pop-up tents. You can see our reviews of the best options for portable toddler beds if you need help picking a good one.

Whichever option you pick, make sure that your child knows what to expect and do your best to make sure it feels as safe and familiar as possible. 

Favorite stuffed animal

If your child has a special stuffed animal or blanket, make sure to bring it along to help them feel comfortable and safe during their sleep time. 

You could also bring along a favorite story or two as part of their bedtime routine. The key is to help it feel as much like the environment they’re used to as possible. 

A monitor may or may not be necessary, depending on your accommodations. If you’re all sleeping in the same room this may not be helpful as you’ll be able to easily hear if your child needs you. 

However, if you have a suite, an apartment, or a balcony, a monitor can give you a lot of peace of mind knowing that you can keep a close eye on your baby while in an unfamiliar place. 

You can see our recommendations for the best portable baby monitors to help your decision.

Blackout options

Toddler sleeping in a SlumberPod

For many young children, keeping a dark sleep environment is necessary for a good night’s sleep. This can be especially true if you’re changing time zones and trying to adjust their sleep schedule. 

Many hotels will have blackout curtains in their rooms, however rentals or Airbnb’s often do not. We had a couple of really bad experiences with our children waking up extremely early in a new place due to light and since then I always bring a black out option for our toddlers. 

One way to create a dark environment is to bring travel blackout curtains . These curtains have suction cups that you can use to attach them to the window, darkening the whole room for sleep. 

Another great sleep aid is a SlumberPod (see our full SlumberPod review ) or SlumberPod alternative to create a dark sleep environment for your child. These products go around your child’s bed to block out light to help them sleep better and longer. The nice thing about this option is that it creates a private sleep area for you child, meaning you don’t have to be quite so quiet and careful about light if you’re sharing a room with your child. 

  • Toddler airplane bed

If you’re flying with your toddler, another helpful sleep tool is a toddler airplane bed. These are products that can be used to extend the length of the seat and provide a comfortable place for your toddler to sleep on the plane. These can make a huge difference for international or long-haul flights where you’re traveling through your child’s normal bedtime.

There are few different kinds of airplane beds, and you can learn about the best options in our article on the best airplane beds for toddlers .

Toddler smelling flowers- toddler travel essentials

When you’re traveling with a toddler, there are a few health items that you want to make sure to always have on hand. 

Medications

If your child has any medications, be sure to bring enough for your trip plus a bit extra to account for unexpected delays. 

Also remember to pack your child’s medication in your carryon luggage so that you aren’t caught without it in case anything happens to your checked luggage.

  • Thermometer

Traveling with a thermometer ensures that you can monitor a fever if your child happens to get sick. I never travel without one and have actually had to use it a surprising number of times while on trips. It provides a little extra peace of mind knowing that you have a way to assess the severity of a sickness.

You never know when a child might get sick and bringing along some pain medication can make any unexpected sickness a lot less miserable for your child. This is another one I’ve had to use several times when traveling and I’m always so glad that I have it on hand. 

Hand sanitizer/sanitizing wipes

Traveling with kids means exposing them to lots of germs, which can often lead to them getting sick. And toddlers are the worst at this, as they tend to touch everything and then stick their hands in their mouths. Bring along hand sanitizer so that you can sanitize their hands frequently, especially before they eat. 

Sanitizing wipes are also very helpful for wiping down surfaces such as the tray tables and arm rests on the airplane and tables at restaurants. 

No one wants a sick kid, especially when you’re far from home. While you can’t always prevent sickness, sanitizing often definitely increases your chances of keeping everyone healthy.

Toddler travel essential basics

Toddler playing with truck toys on the plane

Having awesome travel activities is an absolute necessity when traveling with a toddler. That doesn’t mean that you need a lot of activities, but you do want a few great options that can capture your child’s attention and that they will return to over and over. 

Over our years of traveling with toddlers we’ve found some great activities that our toddlers always love. You can get some ideas from our list of our favorite toddler activities for planes and our favorite toddler activities for road trips . 

Consider not only activities for the flight or drive, but also for your hotel room and when you’re out and about. 

When you’re traveling with a toddler, you’ll want a great diaper bag to carry all of your essential items. I highly recommend a backpack diaper bag for travel. They are typically much more comfortable, secure against theft, and easier to carry over long periods of time. 

Diapers and wipes

If your toddler isn’t potty trained, don’t forget to bring along diapers and wipes. You can choose to bring along enough for your whole trip or, if you want to pack lighter, you can pack enough for the first few days and plan on picking some up at your destination (make sure it’s a place where they’re easy to find).

When possible, I try to just bring along all the diapers and wipes I will need for my trip to save myself the hassle of needing to pick some up during the trip. However, I know people who would prefer to pack less up front, so do what makes the most sense to you. 

Be sure to bring more diapers than you think you will need in your diaper bag if you’re traveling by plane. The middle of a long flight is not the place where you want to realize that your child is going through more diapers than you anticipated. 

  • Travel potty

For toddlers who are potty trained or in the process of potty training, a portable potty can be a lifesaver when traveling. 

There are a few different kinds, but one of the most useful for travel is a foldable seat that can be placed over a larger toilet to make a secure and smaller seat for your toddler. This allows toddlers to feel safer on a toilet and helps to prevent any potty training regressions while traveling. They’re also compact and can easily be folded up and carried in your diaper bag.

See our list of the best travel potties for toddlers for the best options out there. 

Clothes are obviously going to be a travel essential. We’ll highlight a few items in this section and you can find a more detailed list of clothes down in the packing list.

If you’re trying to pack light, bring outfits that can be mixed and matched.

Make sure that you’re packing weather appropriate clothes for your toddler (eg. sun hat, swimsuit, sunglasses vs winter coat, gloves, warm hat). 

Plan on bringing an extra pair of pajamas or two in case of nighttime accidents. It’s also a good idea to bring an extra pair of shoes in case you lose one or they get wet. 

Toddler travel packing list

This is our tried and tested toddler packing list that I use for every trip. I love being able to pack for a trip and know I’m not missing anything important as long as I double check my trusty list!

Packing tip: Spend a few minutes thinking about your toddler to determine if there are any toddler travel essentials that you should include that are specific to your child. For example, our oldest went through a phase where he couldn’t handle the smell of the toilet, so there was a period where we always carried a travel sized Poo-Pourri around with us. Our other two never had the same issue, so that wasn’t included in their packing lists. There might be items that your child needs that other people wouldn’t think to include.

  • Car seat travel bag

Food/snacks

  • Snack catcher

Sleep items

  • Stuffed animal
  • Monitor 
  • Blackout option
  • Hand sanitizer/wipes
  • Travel activities
  • Diapers/wipes or undies
  • Toothbrush/paste
  • Pants/shorts
  • Jacket/Coat

Warm weather gear

  • Swim diapers
  • Floatie/life jacket

Cold weather gear

Final Thoughts

With a little preparation, traveling with a toddler can actually be a lot of fun. We’ve had great experiences traveling with our toddlers over the years (along with the occasional meltdown of course).

These toddler travel essentials will help your trip go a lot more smoothly. And you can rest assured knowing that you’ve done everything you can to set yourself up for success!

Other posts you might be interested in:

How to Get a Toddler to Sleep on the Plane (Tips that work!)

The Best Airplane Snacks for Toddlers

How to Have a Successful Road Trip with a Toddler

How to Fight Jet Lag in Babies and Toddlers

11 Helpful Tips for Hiking with a Toddler

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12 Tips for Flying with Toddlers

Whether you fly once a year or once a week -- flying with toddlers is always exciting.

Whether you fly once a year or once a week -- flying with toddlers is always exciting.

Flying with a toddler has to be one of the most anxiety-inducing things for parents flying with kids for the first time. BUT, I am here to tell any parent, you got this; flying with toddlers is not as bad as it may seem. I promise. This guide will give you 12 tips on flying with a toddler to make your travel day easier and more enjoyable.

For a few years, we didn’t only fly with a toddler, we flew with two toddlers. We have experience flying on long-haul flights with toddlers and also many short domestic flights! Over the years we have mastered getting our kids to sleep on plane , we figured out the best gear for traveling with a toddler , and even the best ways to entertain any toddler on an airplane ! All of this to say, we did all the trial and error for you! So, now, let me share my best tips for traveling by plane with a toddler!

travelling with 2 toddlers

Here are 12 ways we make flying with multiple Toddlers (or just one) easier on us and them:

1) Pack light. 

Backpack Diaper Bag + Stroller is all we used when I flew from Florida to Texas with the kids by myself

Backpack Diaper Bag + Stroller is all we used when I flew from Florida to Texas with the kids by myself

Anyone who has traveled for any amount of time will tell you that excess baggage will weigh you down.  If you are traveling alone with kids (i.e. -- only one adult) that rings even truer. Excess baggage is never a good idea.

We typically pack a single carry-on bag plus our normal diaper bag for international flights. When we travel with a toddler on ar domestic flight, we only bring our diaper bag as a carry-on. We only bring necessities.  Anything else goes into a checked bag.

When we bring a toddler on a plane, our diaper bag has:

A change of clothes for each kid

A water bottle for the kids

So many snacks

A few very small travel toys

Diapers/wipes

Comfort items like pacifiers and loveys.

If I need a stroller, I bring the GB Pockit Stroller because it folds small enough to fit under the airplane seat.

I have put together a guide that explains how we pack light when traveling with a toddler !

2) Avoid bringing a gigantic bulky stroller through the terminal. 

Our tiny GB Pockit Stroller underneath the airplane seat

Our tiny GB Pockit Stroller underneath the airplane seat

When I see someone in the airport with a massive double BOB or a giant single jogging stroller, I feel bad for them.  Yes, you can glide along in the terminal, but at the gate someone is going to be struggling to get that thing folded down.  Not to mention, a stroller that size is probably going to get damaged from being tossed around by baggage workers. 

We used to use our double city select for travel when our kids were infant-toddler, BUT we didn't use it INSIDE the airport. We checked it all the way through. Instead of dragging that huge stroller through the airport, we each wore a kid in a soft carrier. We put one toddler in our Ergo Carrier and one kid in our Toddler Tula.

However, when I fly alone with the 2 kids, I bring one very small stroller and I wear one kid on my front while I have our diaper bag on my back.  We recently started using the GB Pockit Stroller and that thing is a TRAVELER'S DREAM.  It folds down SO small that it fits under the seat on the plane meaning it is not going to get damaged by gate checking AND you're going to be able to walk off the plane and GO instead of waiting for your gate-checked stroller. For anyone traveling with a toddler, the GB Pockit is a MUST HAVE.

Get your own Pockit HERE:

travelling with 2 toddlers

3) Pick your seats in advance. 

We like the 3 seat combo when it's just the 3 of us.

We like the 3 seat combo when it's just the 3 of us.

I like to book my seats when I book my tickets.  It’s one of my biggest tips for flying with toddler. If you’re on a super short flight, this won’t matter much. If you’re on a long haul flight with kids , this matters a TON.

We are hardcore about getting the middle 4-across seats when we fly internationally.  This gives the kids the two middle and us the two outer seats.  We get so much space to spread out.  For domestic flights, we usually do a two-two configuration, so each parent gets a kid.  If I am flying solo with the kids, I prefer the 3 seat configuration like in the photo. If the plane is 2-2, I put the kids together in 2 and choose the aisle seat next to them.

Please know that some airlines don't allow pre-selecting seats unless you pay extra. If you're flying with one of the airlines that don't allow pre-selecting seats, check to see if they allow families with small children to board first.  This will let you board and be sure to get seats together with the kids. I do this when I fly with toddlers on Southwest Airlines and I haven't had an issue not getting with my children.

When I fly with Frontier, I never play to pick my seats. I set an alarm for 2 minutes PRIOR to when online check-in opens and then as soon as it opens, I select our seats for free. This has never failed me and I have always gotten seats together when flying with toddlers.

***If you’re flying with a child under 2, they can fly as a lap toddler, but I always ask the gate agents if there is an extra seat we can sit near so that my child can have their own seat. We have definitely had this work many times.

***If you’re flying with toddlers car seat on the plane, the car seat can not be in an aisle seat.

***ALL children over the age of 2 require their own seat no matter of their size. SO, if you’re flying with a 2-year-old, they will need their own ticket and their own seat and their own seat belt.

The Best Road Trip Snacks for Kids

4) Have all of your documents accessible and in order. 

I use this little Vera Bradley zipper bag to stow the 4 passports together.

I use this little Vera Bradley zipper bag to stow the 4 passports together.

I keep mine where I can easily grab them no matter if I am wearing a kid, a backpack and pushing the stroller.  I put each family member's boarding pass inside their passport so that TSA & boarding agents can easily look at both. One of my tips for traveling with a toddler is to use a sticker or strip of washi tape on the outside of the passport to easily identify each person in your family’s passport without having to continually open them.

Flying with toddler identification:

YES, toddlers need identification on flights. I suggest bringing a copy of your child’s birth certificate.

YES, all human beings need a passport to travel internationally, even babies.

This is the exact family passport/document holder I use! I love it so much! Get yours here:

travelling with 2 toddlers

5) Flying with a Toddler TSA Rules 

Know all the rules of what you can and can not bring through the line.  TSA has modified procedures for children under 12 years old. For example, Children under 12 do not need to remove their shoes or jackets. These are important regulations to be familiar with prior to traveling by plane with a toddler.

You can help yourself have a smooth TSA experience by anticipating this portion of your trip by packing appropriately & have computers/Ipads/liquids EASILY available to pull out of your bag for a scan. If you are a nursing mother, check out my guide for traveling with breastmilk which goes into detail on the TSA rules for breastmilk.

**Remember: Strollers have to be scanned & not every country allows you to babywear through the body scanner.

6) Manage the Layover.

The kids watching a movie in the USO in Houston during a 3 hour layover

The kids watching a movie in the USO in Houston during a 3 hour layover

First, only have a layover if you HAVE to. Direct is always best. We recently had a 38-minute layover in Atlanta with both kids.  We had to sprint, ride the train, sprint again, and were the very last people to board the plane.  We were soaked in sweat & a bit flustered. 

If you are flying with toddlers and you absolutely have to have a layover, I like to make it at least an hour, maybe 2.  I like the kids to be able to run free, use the bathroom, and eat.  Things that can help make longer layovers easier: Play areas, Airline lounges, sleep rooms, nursing rooms, and open areas.  We love the lounges, but these days many airports have play areas for kids. It's always a go-to for me.  I get a coffee and let the kids loose while I take a deep breath and appreciate not having someone sitting on me.

For military families: Find the USO. Free food, drinks, and typically some nice accommodations.

For American Express Platinum cardholders: You get access to all of the Centurion Clubs and all of the lounges in the Priority Pass network as a perk of your card. (We have this card and highly, highly recommend it for anyone looking for a card with massive travel perks) Get 100,000 membership points when you use THIS link .

If you’re going to be doing a lot of international travel, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a fantastic option as VISA is more widely accepted than AMEX. This card also offers Global Entry fee, $200 hotel credit, and the priority pass as well. We have both cards and use the perks often!

travelling with 2 toddlers

This is the kids play room in the centurion lounge in dallas on an 8 hour layover

7) Restrain them.

If you asked me a year ago my thoughts on flying with a car seat, I would laugh.  "We never fly with car seats" I would say.  While it is still true, we have never brought a car seat onto an airplane, we DO now use the CARES harness . 

This is the only FAA-approved safety harness for children .  It's tiny and lightweight.  It is very easy to install.  It keeps your little one restrained. (and safe) My kids must think they are in a car seat because they don't seem to mind this harness.  I love it.   It makes flying with them by myself so much easier.

PERK:  The CARES harness can save your child's life during unexpected rough air or turbulence.  It would prevent a child from flying up and hitting the ceiling if the plane suddenly lost altitude or jerked violently forward in a ground crash.

mother and 2 children on a plane

We have used these for so long and i love them!

Get your own CARES harness here:

travelling with 2 toddlers

8) Snacks on Snacks and more Snacks.

travelling with 2 toddlers

silicone mats are great to keep germs off food AND for keeping toys on the tray table!

On any parents flying with toddlers checklist, snacks need to be at the top of the list. I don't need to harp this, so I'll just ask you: Does eating make you happy?  Probably.  It also makes kids happy.  My go-to snacks for planes?  Gummy bears, yogurt melts, goldfish, baby food pouches (easy + mess-free), Nilla Wafers, Apples & Clementines.  OH and the Delta cookies they hand out -- my kids go to town on those, so I ask for extra always.

ALSO - to prevent your little ones from eating a ton of germs and to keep the snacks ON the tray, try using a silicone mat ! We have traveled with them for years and they are a must when traveling with a toddler. Silicone mats roll up compact and are easy to clean.

travelling with 2 toddlers

Snacks are always a must when traveling with toddlers and small children

9) Keep them entertained.

Window clings are always a hit. Target Dollar Spot usually has them!

Window clings are always a hit. Target Dollar Spot usually has them!

We believe in using movies on planes.  If you don't, that's cool too.  We use movies, but we also bring a couple distractions.  We like the Melissa + Doug Water books, window clings, Tegu magnetic blocks, sticker books, and picture books.  We introduce different things at different times and my theory is, if they aren't crying, don't pull out all the stuff at once.  If you have multiple flights in one day, save some activities and toys for that second flight so it's new.  OH and my son spends most of the flight shredding the Skymall magazines, so that could work for your kids too!  Get creative!

santa window clings on an airplane window

santa window clings to keep the kids occupied and cheer up the air crew

10) Surviving Potty Breaks + Diaper changes.

changing table on a plane

the changing table is usually located behind the toilet in the airplane bathroom

We bring our potty-trained toddler to the bathroom every single time we go and ask constantly if she wants to go.  We always take her, regardless, before boarding and as soon as they make the "initial descent" announcement. They may still surprise you, so don't get too comfy.  

For diaper changes, this is pretty typical.  We change when dirty.  There are changing tables and family bathrooms in almost every single airport I have ever been too.  There are also changing tables in *almost* every plane I have ridden on, except 1.  In that case, I just put the baby on the floor of the galley and did a quick change. (Yes, I used a changing pad so he wasn't on the actual floor) If you are uncomfortable changing the baby on the floor, ask the flight attendants where you can discretely change the baby, they will help!

11) Hype up the Destination.

Kids are getting restless, so I assume we are hyping them up here

Kids are getting restless, so I assume we are hyping them up here

We recently traveled for 21 hours straight with our 1 and 2-year-old in tow.  We salvaged many toddler meltdowns by reminding them that their Nina and "the tower" (Eiffel Tower) were on the other end.  On the way home, we did the same by hyping up coming home to our house and seeing their Oma at the airport!  It surprisingly worked every single time.

So, if I can give you any tips for flying with toddlers, it’s to be your kid’s biggest hype man!

12) Relax. 

No matter how long or how short these plane rides are, it's going to end at some point.  It is a blip on the entire trip  Who cares if they cry some?  You paid just like everyone else.  Don't worry about other people.  One thing I love about flying is that I can tend to my children face to face unlike driving where I can't see them and its dangerous for me to do much interacting with them.

There are so many ways to make flying with a toddler easier and these are just a few of the ways we tackle the monster of traveling by plane with a toddler. When in doubt - refer to Tip #12. Everything that happens on your travel day is a temporary moment on the longer journey on your family travel.  Keep your chin up, you're rockin this whole "flying with kids" thing.  Do you have something special you do when you fly with your tots?  Let us know in the comments!

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travelling with 2 toddlers

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We are an adventure Family of 5 traveling the world one approved leave at a time. We want to inspire other families to Brave the World with their kids!

Family walking at Tikal National Park

Hello! We’re the Carlsons! An adventure family of 5 traveling the world anytime our leave gets approved. We’ve trekked 31 countries, 48 U.S. States & 50 U.S. National Parks with kids in tow!

I am here to help you whether you’re traveling for the first time or the hundredth time; with 1 baby or 10 kids. Whoever you are, you’re welcome here! If you ever have questions, reach out and we can help!

7 Tips for Smoother Travel Days At the Airport

Where to Sit on a Plane With Two Small Kids

Juan Ruiz

I'll admit it: I spend an inordinate amount of time deciding where to sit on a plane with my family of four. Seat configuration, flight duration, aircraft type, extra legroom or bulkhead -- these are some important factors that parents may take into consideration when selecting the best seating arrangements for their young family. There may not be a "right answer" to the conundrum of where to sit on a plane, but devising a seating strategy will surely alleviate added stress on flight day.

Before booking flights for the family, I always check SeatGuru for the seat map of my flight options. With SeatGuru, you can browse the seating charts of more than 150 airlines by entering your airline name, flight number and date of travel. Once your aircraft results populate, you'll be given detailed information about seat legroom dimensions, restroom locations, in-flight amenities and, my favorite feature, tips and reviews from other SeatGuru users. (Also check out TPG 's list of the most family-friendly airlines around the world.)

For example, I recently flew with my 5-year-old twins from Miami to Buenos Aires, Argentina, on an American Airlines 777-200 aircraft. Originally I had selected seats 17D, 17E, 17G, 17H: the middle four bulkhead seats together. But a few weeks before the flight, I checked SeatGuru and realized that the seats I had chosen had limited recline and fixed armrests.

travelling with 2 toddlers

On a nine-hour overnight flight with young kids, I immediately switched us to the middle four in row 18 (one row behind our original seats), where SeatGuru showed no issues, which are indicated by a yellow or red-marked seat. Thankfully, the four seats in the middle were available. I happily sacrificed a little less legroom for moveable armrests so my twin daughters could lay down properly and arrive semi-rested to Buenos Aires.

Back or Front of the Plane?

Assuming you are not sitting in first or business class , deciding whether to sit up front or hide in the back of coach is a dilemma for many families. Some families like sitting in the very back of the plane to be beside the lavatory and to avoid the "side-eye" from cranky frequent flyers that usually sit up front. We flew Southwest a handful of times when the girls were under 3 and thanks to their open seating policy and family-friendly boarding process (families board after Group A is called), we'd head to the back of the "bus" to secure our four seats together. This put us in close proximity to the lavatories.

travelling with 2 toddlers

I personally prefer to sit up front as it's easier to get on/off the aircraft with carry-on luggage and the front seats may come with extra legroom. If flying any airline besides Southwest, my seating game plan is to obtain seats at booking and sit up front. Many airlines charge extra for seats in the front of the plane, so if you don't have elite status with an airline and don't want to pony up the extra money, your best approach may be sitting near the back of the plane where other savvy families with small children are seated. This ensures less side-eye from other passengers and peace of mind for you.

Who Sits Where?

Arguably, the most popular and widely used narrow-body aircraft for domestic travel in the US are the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320. These airplanes come equipped with 3-3 seating configuration in coach, leaving families of four pondering what's the best approach for seating with two small children.

The arrangement that has caused us least grief in-flight has been putting three family members on one side (adult and two children) of the aisle and the lone family member in the aisle seat across from them.

travelling with 2 toddlers

If your kids are close in age and bicker, like ours do sometimes, you can put a parent in the middle seat and divide the children (one in window seat; one in aisle seat). This seating strategy has saved us from several in-flight arguments over sharing toys (or lack thereof) and space constraint issues. You may have children that behave better when they are seated together. If so, adjust your approach.

travelling with 2 toddlers

If traveling long haul on a wide-body aircraft such as a 777, 787 or A380, where economy seating layout runs 3-4-3 or 2-4-2, we usually opt for the four seats in the middle. This strategy allows for more "spreading out" among the children. An alternative to the four middle seats is sitting in an aisle–window combination in a 2-4-2 configuration, where one parent sits with a child and behind is the other parent with the other child. The latter option ensures a less challenging one-parent to one-kid ratio over the one parent with two kids on each side seating arrangement. Bonus: a window seat for views and distractions.

travelling with 2 toddlers

Bottom Line

When selecting seats for your family, take into consideration the personality of your children as well as the aircraft's seating layout. Try a few different approaches and see what works best. How do you select seats for your family? Any secret tactics we should know about?

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15 Tips to (Actually) Enjoy Flying With Toddlers

Lee Huffman

Lee is a freelance travel writer and podcast host based in Nashville, Tennessee. He loves to travel with his wife and two children using miles and points. Lee has held the Southwest Companion Pass since 2007 and enjoys being spoiled thanks to his Kimpton Inner Circle status.

travelling with 2 toddlers

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Traveling with my toddlers has been one of the biggest sources of joy (and frustration) in my life. As much as I love traveling on my own, there's something special about experiencing destinations, attractions, food and more through their eyes.

To encourage more families to travel with their children, we created this guide on how to fly with toddlers. The goal is to make travel easier so you'll go on more trips and create more lifelong memories.

1. Get passports for everyone

If you're traveling internationally, remember that everyone needs a passport — even toddlers and babies. Getting a passport can take a while , so be sure to apply for your child's passport right away. Currently, posted passport processing times are as follows:

Routine processing: Six to eight weeks.

Expedited processing: Two to three weeks.

In extreme situations, you may be able to receive a same-day passport within three to five days of travel.

The U.S. Department of State has a handy tool that shows where you can apply in person for a passport based on your ZIP code. Both parents or guardians must be present when applying for a passport for children under 16 years.

Because kids grow and change quickly, children's passports are good for only five years and can't be renewed. This time frame is much shorter than the 10 years that adults enjoy with their passports.

» Learn more: How to get a passport

2. Consider TSA PreCheck or Global Entry

TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are two examples of Trusted Traveler programs that allow flyers to move through airport security more quickly.

Children 12 and under can use the TSA PreCheck lanes when traveling with an eligible parent or guardian. Children 13-17 can as well but must have the TSA PreCheck icon on their boarding pass.

Global Entry, however, requires that every traveler be signed up, even young children. This nuance tripped us up when we were traveling home from Mexico when our daughter was 6 months old. Although it was an innocent mistake, the customs agent wasn't too forgiving.

TSA PreCheck is $78 and Global Entry is $100, and both memberships are good for five years. Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck and is highly recommended if it's possible that you'll travel internationally in the next five years. The time savings at customs is well worth the $22 price difference. Numerous travel credit cards reimburse cardholders for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fees. If you have multiple cards with this benefit, you can use a different card to pay for each of your family member's application fees.

Aeroplan® Credit Card .

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card .

Chase Sapphire Reserve® .

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® .

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card .

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card .

IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card .

IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card .

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card .

The Platinum Card® from American Express .

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card .

United Club℠ Infinite Card .

United℠ Explorer Card .

United Quest℠ Card .

U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card .

Terms apply.

» Learn more: A guide to TSA PreCheck with family

3. Have a notarized letter for solo-parent travel

If one parent is traveling with your toddler while the other is staying home, it's important to get a notarized letter that confirms the non-traveling parent's permission. I travel frequently with my kids while my wife is at her 9-to-5 job, and this document has come up frequently on international trips.

» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now

4. Download apps and shows, charge devices

Before your trip, charge all of your electronic devices, including tablets, portable chargers and cameras. Many streaming services, like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+, allow you to download movies and TV shows to watch when you're away from Wi-Fi.

Having a charged-up device and multiple hours of entertainment is a sure way to keep your toddler happy while flying.

Many airlines offer hundreds of movies, TV shows and songs free of charge. However, some airlines have removed seatback devices and rely on personal devices instead to provide this entertainment. Be aware that you may need to download the airline's app ahead of time to use these features.

If onboard entertainment is a key differentiator when flying with toddlers, consider booking tickets with JetBlue Airways, Delta Air Lines or Southwest Airlines — our top three picks in our analysis of the best airlines for in-flight entertainment .

» Learn more: The NerdWallet guide to in-flight entertainment, broken down by airline

5. Pack smart

Packing for adults and children can be complicated. Toddlers often need multiple changes of clothes every day due to spills, accidents and changes in weather. Packing cubes help to compress clothing to save space, and it may help to have a dedicated suitcase for each child.

When choosing where to stay, consider options that have on-site laundry facilities. This way, you can reduce how much you need to pack, as you can wash clothes midway through the trip.

» Learn more: Tips for planning family travel with points and miles

6. Bring a car seat — or rent one

Many parents have car seats that they know and love, so they're inclined to bring them along. Car seats offer a safer in-flight seat for the child and one that they're familiar with, which can help reduce the stress of flying. However, car seats are bulky, so it may not be worth the effort of bringing them on board.

If you want to check your car seat instead, get a car-seat bag. It will protect your car seat from dirt, moisture and damage. Plus, you can often fit additional diapers, clothing or toys in the space where your child sits.

For parents who are renting a car at their destination, consider renting a car seat from the rental car company. If you're a AAA member, you get one free car seat or booster from Hertz, Dollar or Thrifty with each rental. Once your child graduates to a booster seat, compact, adjustable car seats from companies like Mifold can also be a good option.

7. Consider shipping items to your destination

While it can be an added expense, shipping some items makes life easier while traveling — especially if you're going to be away for a few weeks. Items that are disposable and bulky but lightweight make the most sense to ship, but any effort to lighten your airport load can be useful. Ideas include diapers, wipes and snacks, or heavy coats and shoes.

Before shipping, contact your hotel, vacation rental or other accommodation to make sure it can hold items until your arrival.

8. Seek out playgrounds inside the airport terminal

As parents, we know that our toddlers have tons of energy, which can spell trouble when they're sitting in a metal tube at 30,000 feet for hours at a time. Many airports have kids' play areas so your toddlers can burn some energy and be ready for a nice nap during the flight.

If there aren't any playgrounds at your airport, take your toddler for a long walk. My kids loved the moving sidewalks when they were younger (and sometimes even now). Just be respectful of others who are using the area to get to their flight or leave the airport.

9. Head to airport lounges for snacks

Airport lounges are a great way to spend time before your flight when flying with toddlers. There are several credit cards with complimentary or discounted lounge access . And many include complimentary admission for up to two or more guests or family members.

Inside the lounge, there are usually free drinks, snacks, Wi-Fi and other perks. Some lounges even have dedicated kids' areas. Keep in mind that many travelers are there on business or just want to relax, so make sure your children are on their best behavior.

10. Hit the bathroom before boarding

It seems like Murphy's law that as soon as the plane starts to taxi, one of my kids announces (often, loudly) that they need to use the potty. This creates the uncomfortable choice between a glaring flight attendant and a possible accident on the seat.

To avoid this scenario, find out what time your flight starts boarding and use the restroom 15 minutes before then.

11. Keep their favorites handy in a small carry-on

Even when we check luggage, we bring backpacks for each of our kids that are stuffed with their favorite toys, games, books and snacks. It's a good way to keep them occupied — and their bellies full.

Having a strategically packed, lightweight carry-on also helps us avoid paying sky-high prices (literally and figuratively) on snacks when flying with toddlers.

12. Have a plan for ear pressure

Often, babies and toddlers have problems with ear pressure on takeoff and landing. This is partly because they don't realize the need to swallow to relieve this pressure. Breastfeeding, drinking from a bottle or sucking on a pacifier can help them with this process. I've also found EarPlanes to be an effective tool for regulating ear pressure for our family.

13. Indulge them

While parents often have rules about "TV time" and food for their children, when in the air, it's OK to bend those rules. The last thing you — or your fellow passengers — want is a screaming or crying toddler who isn't getting to watch yet another episode of "Team Umizoomi" or "Bubble Guppies."

At your destination

14. be prepared to carry them off the plane.

Traveling takes a lot out of everyone. Some toddlers are energized and ready to go the moment they reach the terminal, but most are tired from the process. As such, there's a strong possibility that your kid will need to be carried off the plane.

To keep your hands free(r) when traveling with a toddler, consider checking all bags beyond any strategically packed, small carry-ons. That way, you'll have one less thing to carry — or forget — when deplaning.

Many airline credit cards waive checked bag fees for the first bag of each passenger.

15. Involve them in the planning

Although most toddlers can't read, they can still be involved in planning your family's daily activities. Give them some options and let them select what your family does. Or plan some free time in your schedule and let them take the lead.

They'll love "being in charge" — and you never know where they'll take you. How's that for adventure?

How to travel with a toddler, recapped

Flying with a 2-year-old or other toddler-aged kiddos can be challenging, but also highly rewarding. It takes extra time to pack and plan your trip, but you'll get to experience both new destinations and some of your old favorites through the eyes of a child.

Don't wait to travel until they get old enough to remember the trip. While your toddler may not remember anything, they'll still enjoy being in the moment. You'll have memories that last a lifetime, and you can always take pictures and videos to share as they get older.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024 :

Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

1x-5x 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

60,000 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

1.5%-5% Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Up to $300 Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

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travelling with 2 toddlers

30 Best All-Inclusive Resorts for Families to Visit Right Now

There's something for everyone at these top-rated, kid-friendly retreats, chosen by real families and travel experts.

preview for 7 Summer Vacation Ideas The Whole Family Will Love

All-inclusive resorts allow you to be the "yes" parent on vacation. Ice cream? Sure. A trip to the arcade? Have fun. Snorkeling? Let's do it! By not worrying about how much everything costs, you can let your heart (rather than your wallet) guide your family experiences. The "one-price" vacation also eliminates awkward moments if you're traveling with extended family or friends. You don't have to divide checks, and it's easy to split up for parts of the day so everyone can try their favorite activities. In fact, a recent survey by the Family Travel Association found that nearly 20% of multigenerational groups are eyeing an all-inclusive resort for their next trip.

The bulk of the resorts on this list have been vetted by our expert Good Housekeeping Institute team and several have won a Good Housekeeping 2024 Family Travel Award . Search for your crew's next vacation now! It'll feel so good to get away.

Hotel Xcaret México, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

the pool and balconies at hotel xcaret mexico, a good housekeeping pick for best all inclusive family resorts

Adventurous families will have the time of their lives at the 900-suite Hotel Xcaret México , winner of a 2024 Good Housekeeping Family Travel Award . Besides having an incredible pool area on the sprawling grounds, the resort provides admission and transportation to any of the brand's eight adventure parks.

The nearby parks specialize in bucket-list experiences. At Xplor, for instance, your crew can zipline in a jungle, raft through an ancient cave and swim in an underground river that leads to a waterfall. "The resort is an especially great vacation spot for a family with elementary school-age kids and up," said our tester.

But if you do have a baby or toddler, the brand steps up to provide gear, so you don't have to bring or rent any. You're welcome to borrow a huge array of baby equipment, including bathtubs, bottle warmers and even strollers that are specifically designed to go on the beach. Our mental load feels lighter already.

Franklyn D. Resort & Spa, Runaway Bay, Jamaica

an aerial view of the beach and franklyn d resort and spa, a good housekeeping pick for best all inclusive family resorts

The best thing about Franklyn D. Resort & Spa : Every family receives their own CPR-trained "Vacation Nanny" for about eight hours daily, from morning to late afternoon. They can take the kids to the pool, make sure they have lunch, put them down for naps and re-stock your fridge with snacks and beverages.

They could be an extra set of hands for you, or you could put them in charge and split off to go kayaking, book a spa treatment or read a book on the beach. All the accommodations are two-bedroom suites. While they're more practical than posh, not having to tip-toe around in the dark to avoid waking up a sleeping toddler more than makes up for the lack of 400-thread-count sheets.

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Beaches Turks & Caicos, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos

the white sand beaches of beaches turks and caicos, a good housekeeping pick for best all inclusive family resorts

Beaches Turks & Caicos thinks of everything families need and want for the vacation of a lifetime. A variety of restaurants? Beaches boasts 20-plus choices. Fun supervised clubs? They provide programming for babies to teens and divide it by many age groups, so kids hang with other children within a year or two of their age. They even have a program for children with special needs. One-of-a-kind stuff that will blow your kids' minds? Toddlers and preschoolers can't get enough of the Sesame Street-themed programming, which includes baking with Cookie Monster and a dance party with Elmo. Older kids won't want to leave the fun slides, a lazy river and surf simulator at the pirate-themed water park.

"Our kids went to the pool's swim-up soda bar every single day," said our tester. And, for you, of course, there's the spa and a chance to sit by the pool or beach with a drink in one hand and a book in the other. Many rooms accommodate larger groups, so bring the grandparents or family friends. Said our tester: "Beaches Turks & Caicos has everything you could possibly want — including convenience. It's only 10 minutes from the airport."

The Tyler Place Family Resort, Highgate Springs, VT

a lineup of sailboats along a dock at the tyler place family resort, a good housekeeping pick for best all inclusive family resorts

Open from late May to early September, The Tyler Place Family Resort offers magical camp-like experiences for families with babies through high schoolers. With many repeat guests, the resort sells out quickly.

In the morning, kids and teens — divided into eight groups by age — participate in supervised nature-based activities on the lake, private shorefront or surrounding fields. Counselors take toddlers on nature walks, fishing for perch or to the playground while pre-teens go on mountain bike rides and navigate a ropes course. Meanwhile, you can actually drink your coffee in peace or enjoy a yoga class or tennis lesson.

In the afternoon, families come together for maple snow cones, arts and crafts, bike rides and so much more. Seventy-two cottages and suites come in a variety of sizes and configurations; the largest one, Farmhouse West, can sleep up to 10 guests.

Flathead Lake Lodge, Bigfork, MT

flathead lake lodge

If you think it's practically impossible to please every member of your extended family on a trip, you haven't been to Flathead Lake Lodge . The lakeside dude ranch truly appeals to all ages and interests because it has "everything you could dream of," according to a Good Housekeeping staffer who recently visited with her daughter, nephews and parents. “The food was delicious. The menu was very well-planned and smart. They obviously care deeply about what they serve. The staff was the nicest, most hospitable I can recall. Everyone was just so polite and so friendly and so helpful and so knowledgeable. Our group had the best time — even my dad who hates everything.”

Although Flathead Lake Lodge doesn't have an official kids' camp, the supervised kids' activities, broken down by age group, run from morning to night. Highlights for adults include mountain yoga, water sports, horseback riding and flower-arranging classes. While the lodge is open seasonally, from May to October, it's not too early to book your summer trip.

Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya All-Inclusive Resort, Rivera Maya, Mexico

hilton tulum rivera maya all inclusive resort

If you want to sneak in a little history and culture along with your beach vacation, book a room at the Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya All-Inclusive Resort . Opened in 2022, the resort is located just 8 miles from Mayan ruins, a popular archaeological site. You can explore the area, and then head back to the resort for more cultural activities or hit the Family Zone, home of the kids' club, teen club, pool complex and playground. "The kids' and teen clubs both looked great," said a Good Housekeeping staffer who recently visited with her family. "While all the food was good and plentiful, we especially loved the Mexican restaurant."

C Lazy U Ranch, Granby, CO

c lazy u ranch

A dream come true for kids who are passionate about horses, C Lazy U Ranch — a GH Family Travel Award winner — fosters riding skills and independence for preschoolers to teens. From sunup to sundown, campers are busy with their supervised activities, so you can mountain bike, take a beehive tour and go horseback riding without the kids in tow. "It's a family trip with alone time for the parents," said a Good Housekeeping tester who recently visited with her husband and three daughters. Kids and adults even eat dinner separately — and that arrangement went over well with our tester's family. "The food is probably 50 percent of the reason people come here," said our tester. Absence makes the heart grow fonder because, at the end of the day, kids are excited to show off what they learned at camp. As our tester noted, "The kids' mini performances are beyond adorable."

Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya, Mexico

a statue of spongebob stands in front of the pool area at the nickelodeon hotel and resorts a good housekeeping pick for best all inclusive family resorts

SpongeBob fans, young and grown, will lose their minds at Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya, Mexico , winner of a Good Housekeeping 2024 Family Travel Award. Character breakfasts, meet-and-greets and selfies with SpongeBob ensure that there's fun around every corner. Families can compete in the Slime Time Live show or book a personal slime session.

Four- to 12-year-olds can hang out at Club Nick while you sink into a Bali beach bed that has butler service. While the kids may just want Krabby Patties, you'll be well-fed thanks to the amazing dining experiences at Gourmet Village and culinary pop-ups. Tastefully themed guest rooms with splashes of orange come in a variety of sizes. Some first-floor rooms even have a small pool directly outside the hotel room door.

RELATED: Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Is the Best Place to Travel With a Baby and a Sibling

Woodloch Resort, Hawley, PA

the pool overlooking the lake at woodloch resort, a good housekeeping pick for best all inclusive family resorts

For an easygoing vacation with throwback vibes in the best way possible, look no further than this four-season all-inclusive Pocono Mountains retreat, winner of a 2024 Good Housekeeping Family Travel Award.

"If you want the amenities of a hotel but the advantages of a lake house, Woodloch Resort is it," said our tester. Activities, from bumper cars to boat tours to baking contests, are designed to bring families together. Meals are thoughtfully organized: "You're assigned a table, and that's your table for the whole stay, so you just walk in and seat yourself when you're ready."

Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos, San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

a family enjoys the pool and waterslide at the hyatt ziva los cabos, a good housekeeping pick for best all inclusive family resorts

Nestled between desert dunes and ocean rock formations, the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos delights parents and kids alike. Little ones have their own water park with slides, a splash pool and a sandy playground. Adults are treated to a swim-up bar and state-of-the-art gym.

Mexican-inspired nightly entertainment, ranging from magic acts to tropical dance music performed by the resort band, entertains all ages. There's a wide selection of accommodations — the Ziva suite, in particular, is family-friendly with a separate sleeping space for the kids, two bathrooms and a prime location near the kids' club and water park.

Keep in mind that you can't swim on most beaches in Los Cabos, including this one, because of strong currants. But if your kids prefer the pool anyway, you probably won't miss it.

Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort, Labrelotte Bay, Saint Lucia

the beach and villas of the windjammer landing villa beach resort, a good housekeeping pick for best all inclusive family resorts

Tucked away on a lush mountainside overlooking a bay, the Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort will captivate your entire family. The calm and protected bay, perfect for kids to splash around, has sunbeds and in-water hammocks that make a beach day feel extra special.

Active families can take advantage of the beachfront volleyball net. At night, the resort's parrot mascot gathers families on the beach for storytelling. For an extra charge, the resort will deliver warm milk and cookies to the kids at turndown. Perfect for larger groups, Mediterranean-style, multi-bedroom villas are built into the hillside. A quick shuttle brings guests to the beach, six swimming pools and tennis courts.

You can also book a variety of off-property excursions. These aptly named "Jammin Tours" include a Rainforest Ariel Tram and Sunset Cruise.

Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort, Dominica

fort young hotel and dive resort

The only all-inclusive on this small island in the eastern Caribbean wants your family to explore beyond the resort. Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort 's "All-Inclusive, Island Included" package for stays of five nights or more covers the cost of excursions, such as a city walking tour and a guided hike to see the island's famous waterfalls. Situated on a historic site, the resort has lovingly refurbished 40 existing guest rooms and suites — and added 60 more. A rooftop wellness garden is in the works for 2024. While kids of all ages are welcome, the resort is best for tweens and teens who would be excited about the excursions. Visit between May and October when you might see three endangered sea turtle species swimming and nesting along the shoreline.

Garza Blanca Resort & Spa Cancun, Cancun, Mexico

the hotel, pool and beach at garza blanca resort and spa cancun, a good housekeeping pick for best all inclusive family resorts

This new oceanfront oasis on Playa Mujeres beach makes it more fun to travel with kids. Instead of lugging your own gear, Garza Blanca Resort & Spa has strollers, car seats, baby monitors and other necessities to borrow.

You'll find plush kid-size robes and slippers alongside the adult versions so you can match your mini-me. There's a ton to do as a family, like visit the water park, play tennis and take electric beach bike tours, but there is also a supervised club for kids ages 4 to 12 so you can take some much-needed R&R or head to the adult-only rooftop bar.

Multi-bedroom suites and residences that would be ideal for a family reunion are available. Complimentary souvenirs, like a Mexican coloring book and handmade toys, help kids remember the vacation. Big plus: kids eat and stay free!

Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, NY

the mohonk mountain house, a good housekeeping pick for best all inclusive family resorts, is nestled into the hills of the hudson valley in new york

Every season is fun for families at this historic Hudson Valley retreat, winner of a 2024 Good Housekeeping Family Travel Award. Our tester, who visited Mohonk Mountain House in August with her family, particularly enjoyed boating on the lake.

"We even did a few lunches by the water, which was a beautiful backdrop," she said. Other appealing summertime activities include archery, tomahawk-throwing and stand-up paddleboarding. In winter, snow tubing, ice skating and cross-country skiing will keep your crew entertained. Three meals, afternoon tea and cookies and most activities are included in the price.

The service is top-notch: "The staff was incredibly accommodating, knowledgeable and kind," our tester said. "They recognize that they are a family destination and are very prepared to cater to and handle kids. Even when things went a bit amok, I never felt like I had to be apologetic for it."

RELATED: This Historic Resort Has Housed Presidents and Should Be Your Next Vacation Destination

Villa La Valencia Beach Resort & Spa, Los Cabos, Mexico

villa la valencia beach resort spa los cabos

The newish Villa La Valencia Beach Resort & Spa boasts the area's longest lazy river and has a stunning infinity pool that overlooks the ocean. The kids' club offers an array of unexpected activities from Mini Zumba to Mexican Loteria. For adults, cooking classes, tequila tastings and salsa dance lessons are part of the fun. All accommodations are one- to four-bedroom suites. While the beach at this resort is fantastic for long walks, like many Los Cabos beaches, swimming isn't possible because of the strong rip current.

Club Med Québec-Charlevoix, Petite-Riviere-Saint-Francois, Canada

a wintry view of the club med québec charlevoix, a good housekeeping pick for best all inclusive family resorts

Club Med Québec-Charlevoix sprinkles more magic into a ski trip for families. Nestled between a mountain and river, the all-inclusive provides ski-in and ski-out access to the slopes and delivers gear to your on-site snow locker. Group skiing lessons for ages 4 and up and snowboard lessons for ages 8 and up are included in the price; mini skiers are paired up with other kids at their level. Adults can take lessons too! Family rooms have separate kid and adult sleeping spaces.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

the pool area at the hard rock hotel and casino punta cana, dominican republic, a good housekeeping pick for best all inclusive family resorts

An all-inclusive that welcomes rockers of all ages, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana encourages families to choose one of two experiences at its music lab: Your crew could star in a music video or play in a jam band in front of a live audience. A Rock Specialist will get you ready!

The new Roxity Kids Club is groovin' too: Dance lessons, karaoke and other music-themed activities are part of the action for 4- to 12-year-olds. Tunes play at the resort's huge array of pools — hit up the family pool for teen-friendly music. Family suites sleep up to six, and you can even request to have a turntable and 10 iconic records brought to your room. That's music to our ears! EXPLORE NOW

Hilton Cancun, an All Inclusive Resort, Cancun, Mexico

the hotel is reflected into the waters of the pool at the hilton cancun, a good housekeeping pick for best all inclusive family resorts

On a secluded stretch of the Mayan coastline, Hilton Cancun, an All Inclusive Resort , leans into local culture and food. A two-time Good Housekeeping Family Travel Award winner, the newish resort has 12 places to eat, including the Mexican restaurant Maxal.

"I would have come here for every meal," said our tester. "It had tons of regional dishes and during the day, it turns into a taquería with delicious offerings." Nightly happenings, like a culturally immersive Fiesta Show, entertain families.

But if you wanted to drop off 4- to 12-year-olds at the kids' club, that works too. Themed parties, glow-in-the-dark games and even a mini disco keep the kids happy before bedtime. It's just one of the ways "this resort really does a great job to accommodate everyone."

Castle Hot Springs, Morristown, AZ

a fire pit looks cozy in front of a cabin on a rocky hill at castle hot springs, a good housekeeping pick for best all inclusive family resorts

A unique choice for older teens and multigenerational groups, a stay at Castle Hot Springs will revitalize your family — and land you lots of bonding time. This wellness resort for guests ages 16 and up includes a robust lineup of adventurous experiences in the heart of the Sonoran Desert mixed with mindfulness offerings and, the pièce de résistance, soaking in the natural geothermal hot springs.

Guided canyon hikes, archery lessons, classes to make sun prints and body scrubs and even paddleboard yoga are among the standout offerings. Farm-t0-table meals refuel you after a busy (but wonderful) day. Bungalows, cabins and cottages all have thoughtful details. For instance, sky-view cabins provide a telescope on the deck. Truly five-star!

Migis Lodge, South Casco, ME

a dock extends into a lake at migis lodge, a good housekeeping pick for best all inclusive family resorts

For a classic New England vacation, rent a lakeside cottage at Migis Lodge , an all-inclusive retreat on Sebago Lake about 40 minutes northwest of Portland.

Take the kids canoeing or fishing, or simply soak up the peaceful lake vistas from your porch. Camps for kids ages 4 and up lean into nostalgic fun like fairy housebuilding and talent shows for little ones and games like capture the flag for tweens. There's a special family dining room where young kids can roam around.

At dinner, parents are welcome to eat at their leisure while kids enjoy a fun supervised meal and playtime. The lodge's menu changes daily, but it always includes fresh Maine lobster. EXPLORE NOW

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Secure .gov websites use HTTPS A lock ( Lock A locked padlock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

I am traveling with my family; can they also use the TSA PreCheck® lane?

Children 12 and under may accompany an enrolled parent or guardian in the TSA PreCheck lanes without restriction. Children 13-17 must have the TSA PreCheck logo on their boarding pass.  To be eligible to receive the TSA PreCheck logo on their boarding pass, the passenger between the ages of 13 and 17 must be on the same airline reservation with a TSA PreCheck-eligible parent or guardian.

Children 17 and under who will be traveling alone or without a TSA PreCheck-eligible adult must apply for TSA PreCheck to have access to expedited screening. Please note, adults using gate passes to accompany children traveling alone will be directed to standard screening as gate passes are excluded from TSA PreCheck benefits. This applies even if the gate pass holder has enrolled in TSA PreCheck. The adult will not be permitted to join the child in the TSA PreCheck lane.

Please note, no individual is guaranteed expedited screening because TSA uses unpredictable security measures, both seen and unseen, throughout the airport. All travelers will be screened, and no individual is guaranteed expedited screening.

travelling with 2 toddlers

11 Tips to Maintain Sleep Routines While Traveling with Toddlers

Traveling with toddlers can be a lot of fun, but it often comes with the challenge of preserving their sleep routines. Toddlers thrive on consistency and a stable sleep schedule, and disruptions can lead to major sleep regressions, bedtime battles, and extreme overtiredness making your trip less enjoyable. In this article, we will explore practical tips and strategies to ensure your toddler gets the sleep they need while traveling.

The Importance of Sleep Routines for Toddlers

Predictable sleep routines are crucial for toddlers whether at home or away on holidays. Toddlers like to feel in control and are at ease when they know exactly what is happening next. Consistent bedtime routines provide a sense of security, which helps toddlers feel safe and content, allowing them to fall asleep easily. So keeping some sense of predictability is crucial when you’re away from home to help toddlers feel comfortable and ensure they can still sleep well.

1. Planning Ahead: Choosing Toddler-Friendly Accommodations

Grand Velas Riviera Maya baby amenities

Booking family accommodations is a great first step in ensuring a successful trip with your toddler. Look for options that cater to your child’s sleep needs. A holiday is not the time to make the transition to a ‘big bed’ so make sure to request a crib or pack ‘n play if your child is used to sleeping in a crib at home, or bring a travel crib with you. If they do sleep in a toddler bed at home, make sure the bed they’ll be sleeping in is safe and low to the ground, or bring some travel safety rails. 

Opt for suite-style rooms with a separate sleeping area to allow your toddler to nap and sleep undisturbed ensuring you don’t have to head to bed at the same time. Make sure to research your accommodation’s noise levels and request a quiet room away from potential disturbances.

2. Pack the Essentials: Creating a Travel Sleep Kit

To make your toddler feel at home in an unfamiliar environment, create a travel sleep kit. Include familiar items such as their favorite soft toy or baby lovey, blanket, or pillow, which can provide extra comfort and familiarity. Bring their comfy pajamas and anything that is a crucial part of their usual sleep rituals – i.e. some bedtime books. A portable nightlight if they have one at home, while a white noise machine can help drown out unfamiliar sounds, creating a peaceful sleep environment in noisier places. Here are the  6 Best Noise Machines for Sleep .

3. Preparing them for what’s expected

Before the trip talk to your toddler about where they’ll be sleeping and describe the place so they can feel ready and excited. It’s also a good idea to walk them through the travel plans, like when you’ll leave home, what happens at the airport, the plane ride, and what sleeping on the go will be like. Toddlers love being in the know, so giving them the scoop can make them feel a lot calmer on travel days. Make sure to keep it exciting but not overwhelming by sharing just the right amount of information they need to feel prepared.

4. Sticking to a Familiar Bedtime Routine

Maintaining your toddler’s bedtime routine is essential, even while traveling. Consistency is key, so replicate the familiar rituals like a bath/shower, reading a bedtime story, brushing teeth, and singing lullabies. Even if it’s been a busy day it’s better to send them to bed a little later than usual and ensure they don’t feel too rushed at bedtime.

It’s much better to ease them into sleep than try and rush them off to bed, which could make them feel anxious and potentially lead to tantrums and just further delay bedtime. 

5. Keeping the Sleep Environment Consistent

Creating a sleep environment that closely resembles home can significantly benefit your toddler’s sleep quality while traveling. If possible, bring your toddler’s own sheets or bedding to create a sense of familiarity. Ensure the room is sufficiently dark for sleep by choosing accommodation with blackout curtains or pack travel window blackouts .

If you’re room sharing (and don’t usually at home) try to arrange the room so there’s some kind of visual barrier between your toddler’s sleep space and your bed, otherwise be prepared for early morning wakes when they excitedly pop up realizing you’re right there. 

6. Adjusting to Time Zone Changes

Traveling across time zones can be a major sleep disruptor for toddlers. To minimize the impact of jet lag , ensure plenty of rest days before your trip. Once at your destination, switch to the new time zone immediately on arrival. Encourage exposure to natural light during the day to help reset their internal clock.

Try to encourage plenty of food during the day, but don’t be alarmed if their appetite is low at first. And keep your days busy and socially interactive. You’ll be teaching their body clock the difference between night and day again, and this can take a couple of days for all to adjust. This approach can ease the transition and reduce the chances of severe jet lag disrupting your toddler’s sleep.

7. Napping on the Go: Dos and Don’ts

Doona Car Seat Stroller

Managing daytime napping is crucial to avoid interfering with nighttime sleep. Stick to your toddler’s usual nap schedule as closely as possible to ensure they get the rest they need while being mindful not to let daytime naps become too long, as this can disrupt nighttime sleep. When on the move, utilize stroller naps to allow your toddler to recharge without straying too far from their regular schedule.

8. Maintaining Healthy Eating and Sleep Habits

Diet and nutrition play a significant role in your toddler’s sleep quality while traveling. To ensure your child’s sleep isn’t disrupted due to dietary changes, plan your meals and snacks thoughtfully. Stick to a balanced diet and try to maintain regular meal times as closely as possible.

When on holidays it can be hard to maintain a healthy balance of foods, and when eating out the kid’s meal options are usually the low-nutrition, high-processed type so try to plan ahead and focus on lots of healthy snacks in between meals.

Be mindful of sugar intake, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime, as these can interfere with your toddler’s ability to fall asleep. Mood and sleep quality are greatly impacted by what we eat!

9. Engaging in Active Daytime Play

Physical activity is a key factor in helping toddlers sleep well while traveling. Encourage active play during the day to help your child expend their energy. Whether it’s exploring a new park, going for a nature walk, or even just playing at a playground, engaging in physical activities can help your toddler sleep more soundly at night. If they’ve been cooped up in a car all day make sure you plan some physical play stops so they’re still going to be tired enough at bedtime. 

10. Managing Sleep Disruptions: Handling Night Wakings

If your toddler wakes up in the middle of the night during travel, it’s essential to stay calm and reassure them that they are safe. Avoid stimulating activities and keep the environment quiet and dimly lit. Consistency is key, so use the same comforting methods you employ at home to help your child fall back asleep and try not to introduce new sleep habits that you don’t want to keep. By maintaining a familiar routine, you can minimize confusion and help your toddler get back to sleep more easily.

11. Post-Travel Adjustment: Getting Back to Normal

After your journey, it’s time to help your toddler readjust to their regular sleep routine at home. If you started any new sleep habits while away try to get back to your usual rituals as soon as you’re home. Reintroduce familiar sleep cues and rituals to signal that it’s time for sleep. If you’ve traveled across time zones you might want to take a couple of days to a week before you want to tackle any new sleep habits to ensure they’re feeling primed for sleep again. Be patient as your child acclimates to being home again, and soon, they’ll be back to their regular sleep patterns.

By following these tips and strategies, you can help your toddler maintain healthy sleep habits while traveling and ensure that both you and your child enjoy a restful and memorable trip. Safe and happy travels!

Guest Author Bio: Written by Melissa, an internationally certified baby & toddler sleep consultant and founder of Baby Sleep Code . Baby Sleep Code offers online one-on-one sleep consulting packages and takes a holistic approach to sleep. Providing recommendations on everything that can impact infant sleep, from feeding, nutrition, nap timings, sleep cues, environment, temperament, settling, and more. 

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Traveling with toddlers can be a lot of fun, but it often comes with the challenge of preserving their sleep routines. Toddlers thrive on consistency and a stable sleep schedule, and disruptions can lead to major sleep regressions, bedtime battles, and extreme overtiredness making your trip less enjoyable. In this article, we will explore practical tips and strategies to ensure your toddler gets the sleep they need while traveling. The Importance of Sleep Routines for Toddlers Predictable sleep routines are crucial for toddlers whether at home or away on holidays. Toddlers like to feel in control and are at ease […]

Experts recommend always having a ‘Plan B’ for summer travel

The vacationer reports that 82% of americans plan to travel this summer.

(InvestigateTV) — A 2023 Business Insider survey found that 38% of travelers bought insurance for their trip , meaning they saw at least the possibility of interruptions to their plans.

The report revealed the most common concern was flight disruptions, followed by health emergencies, but even smaller issues such as a lost credit card or travel costing more than expected can sour the trip.

One action that can help ameliorate issues that arise is creating and funding a vacation plan.

Cherry Dale, a financial coach with the Virginia Credit Union , said using a credit card for most purchases while on vacation is a form of security, but she also recommends that vacationers have cash and other credit cards on hand, just in case.

“If you are exchanging cash make sure it is a legitimate place. If you are at the airport, that’s often a great place to get in and if you’re traveling internationally and exchange there,” Dale suggested. “Often times it can be difficult if you’re in a foreign country to do those exchanges, even going to an ATM, you can make it happen, but often times it is more costly to do that.”

She said planning ahead of time how to access money on a trip is key. And she added that travel insurance is a really good idea as well.

“Making sure that where you’re going to stay is insured as well. And even if you’re flying, looking at if your flights are insured,” Dale noted. “How you’re going to get reimburse at the end of the day if it does not happen, as well.”

Dale advised people to contact their financial institution if they are getting ready to travel to another state or out of the country.

Credit card companies are often on the lookout for credit card fraud. So, setting a travel notice is a way to minimize the chance of your credit card company flagging a charge you authorized on vacation.

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travelling with 2 toddlers

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COMMENTS

  1. 16 Tips for Flying With Toddlers and Young Kids

    After passing through security, stock up on enough water for everyone to get through a possible delay and have enough left for the descent, which is often the most bothersome time for ear pressure ...

  2. Flying Alone with Two Babies: 20 Tips for Survival

    9. Pack a kid-friendly water bottle. I've learned from experience that when the beverage cart comes by on the plane, the kids always want something to drink. You can expect that the plane won't be equipped with kids' cups, so be sure to bring a bottle or straw cup to pour your water into for the flight. 10.

  3. Flying with two (or more) kids: A survival guide

    Your questions are comprehensively answered in this guide to flying with two or more kids - particularly infants. As my 3 children are all of different ages, I have called on the help of Karen Bleakley of Tales of a Twin Mum fame to assist with some practical pointers on travelling with twins too. This post is part of our flying with kids series.

  4. Flying with a Toddler: My BEST Tips for Flying with Toddlers

    6. Bring a travel car seat or inflatable airplane toddler bed. Before flying with a toddler, decide whether bringing a car seat on the plane or an inflatable airplane bed for toddlers will work best for your child. Be prepared with the best option to keep your toddler content and help him sleep.

  5. My Firsthand Tips for Flying With Two Kids

    Earlier this month, we felt comfortable enough to get back on a plane, but this time there were two kids, my now-toddler daughter and our almost 1-year-old son. I was once again nervous about getting on a plane. Even though I wouldn't be doing it solo—my husband would be helping—traveling with two kids is no joke.

  6. 21 ESSENTIAL Tips for Flying with a Baby or Toddler

    Book a direct flight or one with a longer layover. 2. Visit the airport restroom before your flight. 3. Take advantage of pre-boarding. View more. 1. Book a direct flight or one with a longer layover. As the parent of a baby or young child, it is imperative to keep the number of connecting flights to a minimum.

  7. What to Pack for a Flight With Kids: A Complete Checklist

    This set of wax craft sticks will be a novelty for most kids, and waxy sticks won't roll away as easily as crayons or markers. This kit comes with 300 sticks in 15 colors and two different ...

  8. Traveling With Toddlers: 6 Best Places to Go (and How to Survive)

    Another ideal theme park for toddlers is Legoland, with parks in Goshen, New York (an easy weekend getaway from New York City ); Winter Haven, Florida; and Carlsbad, California. You'll also want ...

  9. Top Tips On Flying With A Toddler 2024 -Expert Mom Hacks

    Two children, 80+ countries across six continents, including two years of full-time travel, I Top Tips On Flying With A Toddler 2024 -Expert Mom Hacks Everything you need to know about flying with a toddler from the best toys for travelling with a toddler, to sleeping aids, snacks, car seats and more.

  10. flying with two children: tips, tricks, and learnings

    Take a deep breath, remember the travel day/experience is temporary, and you will get through this. For me, when traveling with two kids, this means trying to not get anxious about someone crying or whining, not beating myself up for forgetting to pack something, not letting a bad 10 minutes ruin the whole day.

  11. Flying With Kids: 11 Tips for Traveling by Plane With a Toddler

    Get to the airport early. Plan for the security line. Think twice before boarding early. show all. When a toddler's coming along on a trip, you want to get to your destination fast — and traveling by train or car may not be quick enough for you. Enter air travel. Though you may have once dreaded sitting near little kids on planes, flying ...

  12. Tips for Flying with A 2-Year-Old Toddler (From a Mom of 4)

    The good news is, I think flying with a 2-year-old is much easier than traveling with a 1-year-old toddler. 1-year-olds have no attention span, and just want to crawl or walk and explore. 2-year-olds are slightly more reasonable, and a bit more easily bribed to sit for a while. Here are my top tips for flying with a 2-year-old toddler.

  13. 23 Tips for Flying with a Toddler

    20. Bring a lightweight double stroller. When traveling with twin toddlers, the stroller is an absolute necessity. Even if your toddlers prefer to walk, you'll want it for the airport. If both happen to fall asleep, or become to tired to walk through the airport, the stroller is a lifesaver.

  14. How To Travel Alone With a Toddler on a Plane

    For children flying on an airplane, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recommends a Child Restraint System (CRS). If you chose to use a car seat, you'll need to double-check the dimensions of the car seat and the airplane seat. I also strongly encourage you to you install the car seat in a window seat location.

  15. 6 Expert Tips to Travel With a 2 Year Old

    6 Tips For Travelling the World with a Toddler. 1. Bring a Toddler Carrier in Your Travel Stroller. We did a lot of research on the best travel strollers before our extended travel with our 2 year old. We decided on the Baby Jogger City Tour as it has hard plastic wheels instead of inflatable ones.

  16. Lifesaving Tips for Traveling with Two Kids

    5. Pre-Flight Tips. The time between getting through security and boarding your flight is the best time to let the kids "get the wiggles out," so to speak. Let your older children walk, move ...

  17. 25+ Toddler Travel Essentials: Traveling with a Toddler Checklist (2024)

    1) Toddler travel potty that includes a bowl 2) Toddler travel potty that does NOT include a bowl 3) Toddler potty seat. There is no wrong or right option - just whatever works best for you and your toddler. We personally liked the style that included the bowl.

  18. The Ultimate List of Toddler Travel Essentials (+Toddler Packing List

    Make sure that you're packing weather appropriate clothes for your toddler (eg. sun hat, swimsuit, sunglasses vs winter coat, gloves, warm hat). Plan on bringing an extra pair of pajamas or two in case of nighttime accidents. It's also a good idea to bring an extra pair of shoes in case you lose one or they get wet.

  19. How to Travel with 2 Toddlers

    How to Travel with 2 Toddlers - Toddler Travel Tips to help flying a long haul, international flight with two toddlers. I go over how to prepare for the flig...

  20. 12 Tips for Flying with a Toddler

    3) Pick your seats in advance. We like the 3 seat combo when it's just the 3 of us. I like to book my seats when I book my tickets. It's one of my biggest tips for flying with toddler. If you're on a super short flight, this won't matter much. If you're on a long haul flight with kids, this matters a TON.

  21. Where to Sit on a Plane with Two Small Kids

    If traveling long haul on a wide-body aircraft such as a 777, 787 or A380, where economy seating layout runs 3-4-3 or 2-4-2, we usually opt for the four seats in the middle. This strategy allows for more "spreading out" among the children. An alternative to the four middle seats is sitting in an aisle-window combination in a 2-4-2 ...

  22. 15 Tips for Flying With a Toddler

    Having a strategically packed, lightweight carry-on also helps us avoid paying sky-high prices (literally and figuratively) on snacks when flying with toddlers. 12. Have a plan for ear pressure ...

  23. Traveling With Kids? 24 Tips and Tricks To Make Family Travel a ...

    21. Reusable Water Bottles. Reusable water bottles, including kid-friendly sippy cups, are a general family travel tip that benefits everyone. They're better for the environment; you can refill ...

  24. 15 Hotel Hacks for Families Traveling with Babies & Toddlers

    Baby & Toddler Hotel Room Hacks. 1. Deal with dirty diapers with the ice bucket liner or plastic laundry bag. diaper disposal bags. For the same smell-containing effect, take out the little ...

  25. The Best All-Inclusive Family Resorts, According to Travel Experts

    On a secluded stretch of the Mayan coastline, Hilton Cancun, an All Inclusive Resort, leans into local culture and food. A two-time Good Housekeeping Family Travel Award winner, the newish resort ...

  26. I am traveling with my family; can they also use the TSA PreCheck® lane?

    Children 12 and under may accompany an enrolled parent or guardian in the TSA PreCheck lanes without restriction. Children 13-17 must have the TSA PreCheck logo on their boarding pass. To be eligible to receive the TSA PreCheck logo on their boarding pass, the passenger between the ages of 13 and 17 must be on the same airline reservation with a TSA PreCheck-eligible parent or guardian.

  27. 11 Tips to Maintain Sleep Routines While Traveling with Toddlers

    Traveling across time zones can be a major sleep disruptor for toddlers. To minimize the impact of jet lag, ensure plenty of rest days before your trip. Once at your destination, switch to the new ...

  28. Best Toddler Travel Beds 2024

    Best Folding Toddler Travel Bed: BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light. Best Toddler Travel Bed For Camping: Soundasleep Dream Series Kids Air Mattress. Best Splurge Toddler Travel Bed: Slumberpod ...

  29. First plane vacation with 2,5 yo

    Travel parenting is just different. Definitely don't under estimate the fun that can be had with low tech silly open ended toys. You can do so much with painters tape, empty pringles cans, stickers, walks around the plane and walks around (what block is in Greek) block. Also have fun. Focus on fun! And fountains. If your 2.5 year old is into ...

  30. Experts recommend always having a 'Plan B' for summer travel

    Two toddler girls drown Sunday in pool of Metairie apartments, JPSO says Second arrest made in connection to murder of woman, 4-year-old Sold out Chick-fil-A summer camp charges kids $35 to work ...