Flying with Kids – The Essentials

I’ve flown with the kids a few times. Some have been successful trips while others have been frustrating and exhausting. Now that I have two full fledged toddlers on my hands, I understand the key to a successful airplane ride is organization. We need to be armed and prepared to anticipate every need and keep them occupied. With that in mind, I’ve come up with an list of essentials you should have when flying with kids and toddlers.

Essentials when Flying with kids

Must-Haves When Flying with Kids

1. Headphones
I’m not going to shy away from this one. I may not let my kids watch a ton of  TV at home, but on the plane is another story. When flying with kids, if watching TV helps them get through the majority of the plane ride with minimum fuss I’m all for it! I would say to invest in a good pair of children’s headphones. You can buy ones that are especially made for young kids size-wise. Added bonus is that have a limit as to how loud the sound will go to protect their little ears.

Essentials when Flying with kids-children's headphones 1

2. Lots of Snacks
Prepare lots of easy to eat snacks for the plane ride, food that can be eaten by hand and not make a mess. Sliced fruits and vegetables, berries, granola bars, goldfish, raisins, bananas, cheese string and crackers are a few examples. This will help with take-off and landing because if your little ones are chewing, there is less chance of their ears bothering them. Also, you will be armed and ready with multiple options you know the kids like when they say, “Mom, I’m hungry!”

plane snacks

3. Something They Love
When flying with kids, I also always bring along a favorite small blanket and/or stuffed animal that the kids sleep with. This will help if they’re feeling a little nervous about the trip. It’ll also make it easier if they want to take a nap on the plane because they will have something familiar that gives them comfort. The blanket also comes in handy if it gets a little cold on the plane and it can be used as a pillow to lie down on.

favorite stuffie

4. New Books and Activities
This is really key, some NEW books, activities and toys that the kids can keep busy with on the plane. Before every plane trip, I always go to the dollar store and pick up an activity book, a reading book and a craft that they’ve never seen before. I also add in some crayons and a favorite book from home. When I show them everything, they get really excited to pack their own carry-on’s with all this new stuff and they can’t wait for the plane ride to start opening everything!

new activities

5. The Extra’s
Lastly, when flying with kids, I like to pack an extra shirt, bottom, underwear, socks and toothbrush. You never know when an emergency or accident will happen with the kids on the plane and it’s good to have all these extra’s handy. You can even add an extra plastic bag in case it’s an accident of the vomiting kind so that you have somewhere to put the dirty clothes. This is also helpful if you get stuck overnight at an airport with no luggage or your luggage gets temporarily lost.

the extras

6. iPad or Tablet
I added number 6 after we flew a few more times with the kids.
Most of the Canadian airlines we have traveled with have screens the kids can watch. But most of the American flights we have been on don’t. In that case, I would have a tablet or iPad ready, loaded with the kids favourite games and a couple of shows or movies to keep them occupied and comfortable. And they can use the headphones they brought along as to not disturb any other passengers.

**Extra Info: If you are flying to the US, you are asked to declare all your fruits and vegetables. They let you keep the ones that are in their original containers and have little stickers on them because they can see where the fruits and vegetables originate from. If you have sliced fruit or vegetables in small containers, say adios to them. I found this out the hard way. Other foods are fine to take with you.

What’s your favorite tip when flying with kids?

10 thoughts on “Flying with Kids – The Essentials

  1. Your suggestions are all wonderful. We have been to 9 different countries by the time Iliyan turned two. And now with a second kid, travelling is not as easy. I would like to add the “Mess Free” colouring books by Crayola. The markers only work on the special paper and will not mark up the plane! For drinks, I bring along their no-spill sippy cups because it is difficult for them to drink out of the cups provided by the airplane aka less mess! Also, we buy milk from the airport before we get on the plane because some airlines do not serve milk.

    I also have the kids wear clothes with easy to pull down bottoms because of the limited amount of bathrooms (2!) and limited size of the bathrooms. We also have them wear pull ups just in case we can’t get to a bathroom in time. But they are usually good with holding it if they have to.

    One other tip is to get a direct flight if possible. Sometimes paying the extra money makes it worth the shorter travel time. And try to get flights that are not too early. We had a 6 am flight so we got up at 3:30 am. We thought the kids would sleep on the plane…they did not! And they were cranky and tired and miserable the whole flight while we were exhausted from less sleep! Not a good combination. Again extra money can be worth having a more pleasant flight.

    And most US flights do not have tv’s! Having an iPad or DVD player is a must.

  2. I agree to everything you’ve listed here! We haven’t flown with our kids in about five years because it was just too crazy, so we’ve been driving. When we did fly, they had their favorite teen/preteen gossip magazines, books, coloring books, crayons, headphones. The security tossed out our food and water bottles. The only food allowed on the plane were the ones purchased AFTER checkpoint, so we got snacks there to board with. I would also recommend a pillow in case they want to sleep on the plane. 🙂

  3. I always think that the plane headphones will work, and then I’m disappointed when they don’t. You’d think I would have learned by now. Love the kids headphones suggestion. I wasn’t aware that you can bring fruit with a sticker on it either. Good to know 🙂

  4. Really good list – I have done more flights than I would like to think about since having kids and generally do all of this. That said why it never occurred to me to put outfits in a ziploc bag is beyond me! That would have saved me so much time wasted rummaging through stuff – great tip

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