Toddler Tips: Airplane Survival

Toddler Tips: Airplane Survival

Are you wondering the best tactics for how to survive airplane travel with your toddler(s)?

In my last blog post, I recommended that it is best to take direct flights with little ones rather than connecting flights.

Apparently, I didn’t listen my own advice, and recently took a trip with multiple connections throughout Europe.

Our trip was Halifax-Munich-Frankfurt. After a week in Germany, we drove down to Italy for a week, and then flew back to Germany on a Florence-Brussels-Frankfurt set of connecting flights, and then back to Canada the next day, direct.


Needless to say, my two-year-olds were not feeling the magical effect of airplane-amazingness by the end of this trip. I used every resource imaginable to keep my toddlers amused, well fed (read:over fed), and happy (without overpacking). Here are a few of my favourite resources, when flying with your busy little bees:

  • Don’t be afraid to let them walk around

    If the seatbelt light isn’t on, take them for a little stroll around the plane, but emphasize the fact that everyone else is sitting in their chairs. Talk about what they’re doing in their chairs (reading, watching a show), and then suggest they try it back at their seat.

  • Bring a new toy or a classic favourite

    For one of my daughters, I know that PlayDoh will provide a solid hour of entertainment, and isn’t too heavy or tough to clean-up Find that special thing and bring it along. For a long-haul flight, you might still want to pick up something new. Some options I’ve tested out and worked for us are: PlayMobil Eggs & sticker sets. Another great idea is to create your own custom activity bags (like goody bags). They are lightweight and great time consumers for your little ones. The bag contains a collection of things that would be of interest to your child. It could be items selected from the Dollar Store, shells from the beach, hair clips and a little brush…Your imagination is the limit. (Make sure you don’t fill it with things you hope will make it off the plane- small toys tend to disappear underneath and in between chairs.)

  • Always have snacks

    -and multiple kinds! Along with your toddler’s favourite healthy snacks, it doesn’t hurt to include special novelty ones like Kinder Surprise or something unique from a local candy store. The toy adds an extra bit of entertainment time to the treat.

  • Soak up those airplane meals

    Let them enjoy the plastic wrapped cutlery, spread their butter, and take a nice long time eating that meal- it is a novelty, after all.

  • Bring back up with you

    Honestly, I have never travelled “alone” with my toddlers. On my most recent trip, my sister came along and was my 2nd in command toddler-wrangler. She helped me stay sane, deal with check-in and luggage pick-up and definitely offered comic relief! I’m not sure I could have done it without that extra set of eyes and arms. If travelling with one toddler, you may not find this necessary- but with two or more, I suggest you find that lovely person who will embrace the joy of travelling abroad with toddlers (Yes, it is possible).

When the going gets tough, as it likely could, take a deep breath and remember that your little one is not in their normal environment and they are likely just as exhausted as you are. Remember you will arrive, and you will be fine- it’s only a matter of time. Just because one flight was a little bumpy doesn’t mean the next one will be!

You can change your tactics and try again- but never stop trying.

Showing your kids the world is one of the best kinds of education.

Wishing you happy and safe travels!


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