Toddler Travel Tips

Will you be flying with your toddler soon? I have compiled a list of toddler travel tips based on 3 plane trips (6 total planes) I took with my son Aiden when he was 19 months and 21 months old.  It was just the two of us, so I had to come up with some creative ways to keep him busy on the plane and while we were waiting that fit into a small diaper bag.

toddler travel tips

Travelling with a toddler soon?


Toddler Travel Tip #1:  Take the Stroller

I thought it would be a pain, so I didn’t take it on the first trip.  Our first flight was late arriving, so we had to rush from one terminal to another to make our connecting flight.  I did not have the stroller and really wished I did.

The second trip, I took it.  At some airports, families with strollers have a separate line for security.  We essentially got to skip to the head of the line.  The wait was so much less.  You check the stroller at the gate, which means they give you a tag to put on it and you leave it just outside the plane.  It’s waiting for you at the next gate.  {Although, I did have to wait for it to get off the plane at one airport, which took seemingly forever and delayed my getting to the connecting flight…but we arrived just in time to board first – I guess they don’t like little kids waiting in lines – fine with me!}


Toddler Travel Tip #2: Activity Books

For our trip, I made an activity book for Aiden.  I used a small scrapbook (5×7 inches).  I cut paper and fabric to size and glued them to various pages.  I also sewed the fabric to the paper with a sewing machine.  Each page has a different activity with all the pieces attached with ribbon.  The book includes shapes, colors, animals, textures, felt tangrams, a matching game, zippers, ribbon, and buttons.  I waited to introduce the book to him until we got on the plane.  Every page was an exciting new adventure.  We explored the book together taking our time to talk about what was on the page, touch the textures, and move things around.  If you make a book like this, be sure to only let your child use it under close supervision.  {One day, my son decided to pull everything off of the pages he could.  Everything glued down was pulled off; everything sewn down has stayed.  I was a little sad half of the book got destroyed, but I knew the risk when I let him play with it without being right next to me.}

Here are some of our favorite pages.


Another great take-along book idea is a homemade picture book. I created one for Aiden using photos of his toys.  I used a $1 4×6 photo album.

You could also place blank pieces of paper inside the photo album for drawing with a dry erase marker.  Or create a few coloring pages or games for the photo album pages to use with a dry erase marker.


Toddler Travel Tip #3: Snacks

Bring along your favorites plus something extra special.  I brought our standard Cheerios and some extra special animal crackers.  This was especially helpful for take off.  Aiden didn’t want any Cheerios, but he was very interested in the animal crackers.  I think it helps to eat or drink something during take off and landing for ears to adjust to the slight change in pressure.


Toddler Travel Tip #4: Take a Bottle of Water through Security


You can take liquids through airport security if they are for your child (under age 2).

They will open the containers and test the contents.  They were done with the test by the time I put my shoes on and gathered all of my belongings.  This meant I didn’t have to buy an expensive bottle of water at the airport, and I didn’t have to recycle a plastic bottle.  {I was able to reuse my own bottle and know the quality of the water.}



Toddler Travel Tip #5: The Nook

I brought along my Nook Color and preloaded it with some new entertainment.  This saved lots of space because I didn’t have to bring along a pile of books.  I chose a few interactive books.  My favorite of which is The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton.  You can read it to your child or a narrator can read it.  I like to read it so we can explore all of the interactive sounds and movement on each page without interrupting the narrator.  My son loves to read, so the books were a big hit.

I also added a few music application that I thought Aiden would like.  One app was a piano.  You could choose the sound of the piano to a few different instruments and also animal sounds.  Aiden really like pressing the piano keys and hearing the animal sounds.  The second app included a few different instruments, but I chose it because of the drum set.  Aiden loved playing our friend’s drum set and this app was fun for him.  These music apps didn’t keep his attention for very long, but they did help entertain for a little while.

To go with the Nook, I brought along two sets of headphones and a splitter, so I could hear what Aiden was hearing.  I found a nice pair of kid headphones for Aiden and used a pair of ear buds for me.

I’m sure most Smart Phones have applications that would accomplish the same things.  However, I liked the screen size of the Nook for reading books.


Toddler Travel Tip #6: Small notebook


I always carry a mini composition notebook with me and some crayons or a pen in my bag.  It is perfect for drawing games.   Your little one can draw in the book, or you can draw and he can describe what you are drawing.  I like to draw letters, numbers, and shapes.  Aiden likes to scribble and attempts to copy what I draw.





Do you have any toddler travel tips to add to the list?  Please leave them in the comments.

{This post was originally published in March 2012. There are several additional great tips in the comments.}

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Happy travels,



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