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Tips for Easier Plane Traveling with Kids

Tips for Easier Plane Traveling with Kids

(It is never easy!)


When you board a plane with small children in tow, no one is happy. No one wants to sit next to you. No one wants you behind them. No one wants you in front of them.

Ah yes, the joy of plane traveling with children. As cute as your kids may seem to you, I have discovered that when push comes to shove, no one else thinks your kids are so adorable when they are trapped with them on an airplane.

But alas, summer is approaching and parents around the world are planning their vacations. Well, if your destination requires a flight, and you have young kids, then you better do some advance planning. Trust me, I have learned the hard way. Having traveled on 10 overseas flights and 25 domestic flights in the past few years alone, with anywhere from 1-4 children, and once without my husband, I feel that I have acquired more experience than anyone should ever have for traveling with children on a plane.

And, by the way, this included one real memorable trip when my baby’s bottle was left in the taxi and during take off my two year old decided he was bored, slipped from under his seatbelt, and began running down the aisle. Yup, nothing quite like having a plane stop for you on the runway and receiving your own personal message on the loud speaker from the pilot himself.

Now granted, since that traumatic flight, I have yet to fly with my children (it has been over a year) but with an upcoming trip, I have to once again face my fears. So, the list below is actually probably more for me then for you, but thought I would be nice and share. Here are my tips:


  • Depending on the age of the kids, have each child bring a small backpack filled with their toys and goodies for the flight.
  • Avoid those really cute pull bags, as inevitably they turn as the child pulls, the child gets upset, and you end up carrying a very unmanageable bag in addition to your own carry-ons.
  • When possible, load their bags with some of the other things that you need, such as bottles, diapers and wipes. Even very young kids can carry a small backpack filled with their own diapers. This saves you space in your bag and makes the child feel like a “big” boy or girl.
  • Pack many more diapers than you think you will ever need, and two packs of wipes (one in the main bag, and one that is readily available.)
  • When traveling with a baby, always make sure to have an extra bottle and formula in case you lose one.
  • In addition to the main carry-on that will most likely end up overhead, pack one small bag with absolute essentials that will always be with you. Make sure to have enough formula for one bottle, spit up rag, one diaper and a few wipes and one small toy. This way you do not need to search overhead for a diaper change.
  • If you nurse, make sure to wear something that is loose and bring a light blanket or make sure to get a blanket on the plane when you board.
  • ALWAYS bring an extra pair of clothing for all the children and for you as well. Trust me, you do not want to spend the flight covered in vomit or anything else that seems to happen when traveling.
  • Make sure to have plenty of extra plastic bags for soiled clothing and throwing away food and trash during the flight (bring the fruit and veggie bags from the grocery store as these take up no room.)
  • I know that some people give their kids medication to relax them for the flight. I personally can’t suggest this one as I had a bad experience with a reaction where not only didn’t it make my child sleepy, but did make her throw up the entire flight. If you do want to give medication, be smart and try it out ahead of time. And definitely make sure to check with your doctor to give the proper amounts as sometimes with flying amounts differ.

Before Boarding:

  • When checking in, always double check seat arrangements and kosher meals. If traveling with a baby, make sure the bassinet is reserved.
  • If you do not have a bassinet row, always try to sit at the very back of the plane. If you are checking through a stroller, you will anyway have to wait before you can depart. You will have more storage room at the back of the plane. You will bother the other passengers less, have more help from the flight attendants, and be right near the bathrooms which is essential when changing diapers or with children who simply can’t wait.
  • If there are no bassinets or when traveling with a baby under 2, bring a car seat onto the plane with you. If there is an extra seat (and the car seat is FAA approved) you will be given the extra seat for the baby. If not, then they will take it from you and put it underneath. This is a great option if you need a car seat where you are going. If not, it is probably not worth shlepping.
  • Because of the new security regulations, make sure you and the children are in shoes that are easy to get on and off. Before taking off the children’s shoes, double check with security if it is necessary, since depending on the type of shoe, often it is not.
  • While waiting for the flight, let the kids walk around, let the baby crawl, use this time for exercise. This is not the time to sit still, the whole flight they will need to, so now is the time to use that energy.
  • If you are traveling alone or with a few young children, either make sure to have a double stroller and baby in carrier, or buy a child leash, they look terrible, but it is a lot better than having a toddler run away in a busy airport!!!
  • Make sure everyone uses the bathroom before boarding and change diapers, even if they seem to be clean.
  • Before preboarding is called, maneuver right to the front, close the stroller and be ready to get on.
  • When traveling with a baby or even a toddler, bring a carrier to put the child in so that you can pull the folded stroller to the plane. This way you are not trying to hold the baby and close the stroller at the plane door.
  • Well before boarding time, go to the front desk and ask for a stroller tag so that you are ready to go. Do not ask when it is time for boarding.
  • Make sure to have a pocket or place to hold tickets and passports so they are readily available.


  • Do not bring one bag of chips, one bottle of juice, etc. when traveling with more than one child, as you do not want to have to deal with them fighting over who gets more. Each child should have a little closeable bag (preferably one that really seals) with his or her name on it, and identical snacks, so everyone knows exactly what is theirs.
  • Avoid all foods that are sticky, messy or crumby. Make sure juice boxes are small and will be finished at one time or bring spill-proof cups (but these can get heavy and you can’t throw them out before departing.)
  • For treats, buy small sucking or individual chewing candies that you can distribute and never end up in hands but go directly to the mouth. I have found that the necklace or bracelet candies are the best. The kids feel like they got a present, and it keeps them endlessly entertained, especially because it takes them forever to bite off the candies.


  • Give each child a small pack of crayons as opposed to bringing one large pack. This way there is no fighting over colors.
  • Pack toys that do not have pieces and do not require numerous things to work. Better even than a coloring book and crayons is a doodle pad with the coloring stick attached that can erase and start over.
  • Bring books that you can read to the kids, but make sure they are light and compact.
  • Buy cheap little notebooks and packs of office stickers (the colored round ones.) Give each child their own notebook and a few pages of stickers and let them make their own creations.

Take-off and Landing:

  • During takeoff and landing, make sure to have kids drink or chew gum. Make sure the baby is either nursing or drinking a bottle. Explain to them what is happening, and if they are too small to see out the window, play a game where they have to tell you when you are finally in the air or when you have finally touched ground.
  • Once you land, let the other passengers off first. Make sure you have everything and carry baby in carrier until you exit so your hands are free for the other kids.
  • If you need help, ask. In many airports, those little carts are available to help people traveling with small children.

And just one final tip, or at least comforting thought, no matter how bad the flight is, no matter how terrible your children behave or how long your baby may cry, sooner or later, the plane will land, you will exit, and hopefully never see any of those people again!

Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the co-director of Interinclusion, a nonprofit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of, and wrote the popular weekly blog Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.
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packages November 23, 2017

Great ideas you explore wow this is amazing post Reply

Brittany Virginia Beach May 11, 2017

If possible, schedule the flight around your child's sleep schedule so your child will spend as much time napping/sleeping as possible. Also, if you have a window seat, window gels are a great source of entertainment for children.

Look into renting baby equipment, to include toy packages, at your destination. Reply

Hanan said Iowa November 28, 2016

I'll be travelling with my 2 years old girl and 4 months old baby to Africa From us alone in one week,am thankful to this tips.I am sure that it will help Reply

Anita U.K. October 13, 2016

I flew with my daughter when she was 10 months old and it was a Christmas holiday, we took 4 small wrapped presents and gave her one every hour. This gave her something to break up the monotony and whilst each present may have only been novel for 30 minutes it still helped! Reply

Nervous momma Bangkok May 30, 2016

Seating advice? Got a couple of long-haul flights with my very active 2.5 year old son this summer, without hubby. Do you recommend that we go for an aisle + middle seat (easier to get up and move around, go to bathroom, etc, but no access to window and potentially more disruptive) or window + middle seat (he can watch the commotion during takeoff and landing and be further away from other passengers, but we will bother the aisle-seated passenger when getting up which we will surely do often). Any thoughts? Am already dreading this! Reply

michelle May 9, 2016

Great great great advice! thanks so much! Im now ready to travel alone overseas with my 23 months boy. Hope it goes well. Reply

Anonymous San Antonio March 22, 2016

Great advice I'm looking forward to flying for the first time with my 4year old twin girls and my husband it'll be a first for all of us. The advice you have here will be extremely helpful now I can go into this mission with some confidence that I got this! Reply

Suzan Hall USA November 17, 2015

I think to make sure that your journey is relaxing, you need to keep your kids busy while in the air.This article provides verynice information which will definitely help parents. I am excited that this will help me alot to overcome my fears. Reply

José Soto Puerto Rico October 26, 2015

Iam a person that travels with my grandson twice a year for his vacations and i appreciate very much your tips.Because my traveling experiencia i was thinking to establish a company to give companion to other kids for a fee. Especially for those with connections. What do you think? Reply

Elizabeth Canlas California September 16, 2015

These are great tips! We will be traveling with our 4 older kids out of 7. Reply

Lori Ga August 24, 2015

Thank you. My husband and I are about to travel with our 23 months old quadruplets! I am.... terrified! Reply

Tracy Kent July 10, 2015

Fantastic advice. Thank you x Reply

Prerna Sinha india June 12, 2015

I like your last statement...and the humour in that,you will never see them again :)! I know sometimes we are more worried on how others will react to our kids and get super stressed travelling ! Reply

vicky reno May 30, 2015

Very helpful traveling with my 4yr old on june 15 and he is scared to get on so im sure i have my work cut out .. im going to use ur tips and plan ahead ..wish mr luck plz Reply

Louise Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK April 28, 2015

Flying Appreciate your advice I will be travelling with my 4yr old hyper active son & 10mth old daughter in June15. I know my main challenge will be to keep my son entertained. Last time I travelled with him he was 18mths & was a nightmare as we took 2 7hr flights travelling nearly 24hrs, other passengers were not impressed with is screaming. I did find it difficult to deal with the stares & comments under their breath when I was trying my hardest to sooth him. I myself could not act in the manor these passengers did, no compassion, I myself would've offered to help. My daughter is a lot younger & the flight is not as long, I intend to keep her carm & hold off her nap How can I stop my children being inquisitive. I have started the in flight game with my son which involves him taking care of his sister, using the fact I limit his help at home. I know he will love the present game, his rewards at home are harder to achieve. I am so excited for this holiday & more relaxed reading your tips.Thanks Reply

Carl Rioux canada October 19, 2014

What about comfort Thank you for the to read about how to better be prepared especially flying. One of the things that my wife and I struggled with was making sure our kids were comfortable. Traveling is never comfy whether by car, plane, or any other modes of transportation so how do you ensure comfort? Then there's hotels and those too hard or too soft. What we found really worked for all of the above especially traveling is Amiba practical and best travel pillows ever. Just thought I would share. Reply

Warren Andrews USA October 2, 2014

Way To Make Flying With Kids Easier If you are a frequent flying family, get a Trunki (the website has Canadian stocklist info). These hard cases double as ride on toys that make it fun and fast to get to your gate. Your child takes a seat, holds onto the horns and you just pull them along. They work with children ages three to six, and the case is big enough to hold a weekend’s worth of kids toys and clothes.For kids under three, you might want to consider investing in a car seat/stroller combo, which can be used on the plane for your child to sit in, and will eliminate the need for hauling two cumbersome pieces of equipment on your trip. Reply

CeCe perth May 18, 2014

Thanks for the tips very helpful, I'm travelling for the first time to Africa with a 22 months old and I had no clue. Now I know what to carry. Reply

Hillary Vancouver, BC April 28, 2014

Thanks for the tips! I'll be travelling with 4 very young children and this was very helpful. I've thought of most of these tips already, so it's nice to know I'm on the right track! But a fee of these were new and great tips ;-) Reply

Copa Airlines USA April 5, 2014

Best for kids Buy a seat for your kid if they are over 1.5-years-old, especially if it's a longer flight. That way they can sit in their own seat, play with their toys, and if you're lucky, take a nap. Reply

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