Traveling with a TODDLER - Plane Tips

OHHHH toddlers.

Ryan had just turned TWO before this last trip to Utah a couple weeks ago.
Own seat.
Own ticket.
It made me a little sad!

I remember when Ryan was a baby and saying while on a flight,
"I wish he was a little older it would be so much easier!"

The understatement of the century.
I think it was easier to travel with a baby!
( Just kidding, they are both hard in their own ways )

However that being said, there are tricks that have worked for us
so hopefully I can make it a little easier for you to prepare!

These will follow a very similar outline to my "traveling with a baby" post,
but just a little tweeked. :)

#1. They love having their "own luggage"

( Ryan at 16 months old)

Ryan LOVES his "carry on". He gets so excited to pack that thing when I tell him we are going on a plane!

My parents found this toddler carry on at COSTCO last year! Right around Christmas time. 
It's been wonderful! I stick ALL of his stuff in there and I just have to carry my purse. 

My diaper bag is so boxy and big that this is easier for me to tote around now that he's older!

Plus he loves dragging that thing all over the airport - makes him feel pretty dang cool.

( I have also seen them on Amazon )

#2. Be the LAST ones on the plane.


What if they say "families with young children board first??"
Don't listen to them.

Okay, if you have 6 kids or several kids including babies I will not tell you to board last - BOARD FIRST, you have a lot on your plate!

However, if you have one toddler or even two toddlers, I would suggest waiting until the VERY end to board.

Ryan and I are literally the last people on the plane.

Let those energetic little fireballs get all their energy out!
Run them around that airport so that when they do get on the plane, you will only be on the ground for about 15 minutes before taking off.

If you are first to board, there is a good chance you will be sitting in your seat for about 30 - 40 minutes before the plane takes off. LIMIT THE TIME YOU SIT IN THAT SEAT with a toddler!!!

We learned this the hard way.

#3. Give them something to eat or drink taking off and landing.

Ryan is totally at that age. He says "Mommy ear hurt" and he tells me they hurt every time we take off and land.

It's so sad!
Make sure they have something to chew, suck on, or drink.

Make yourself yawn in order to make them yawn.
If they see you yawning they will most likely yawn. This will help the pressure and help their ears to pop.

#4. Bring your toddler a TREAT.

So I'm not a big fan of "suckers" for little ones.

HOWEVER, the plane is our exception.

Hold off on giving your child that treat until the last possible moment when nothing else is making them happy!
Bring something that will take a while to eat.

I bring a dum dum or two and they take him a good 15 minutes to suck down.
It keeps him quiet and happy. :)
I have also brought a big pouch of fruit snacks, or a big bag of fruit loops. Those take him forever to eat! 

#5. Change their diaper before you get on the plane

If your child is potty trained - ignore this tip.

Those plane bathrooms are so tiny and they scare Ryan to death. Ha I think he feels claustrophobic in them!?

Plus your child is not a baby anymore making that diaper change in those tiny bathrooms so difficult!

I know they might mess their pants on the plane and of course you will need to change them, but take the chance of them not messing their pants on the plane and change their wet diaper before the flight so you do not have to try and cram into those bathrooms.

#6. Activities for TODDLERS

Make each activity last AS LONG AS POSSIBLE.

Most airlines, if not ALL give small children a pin of "flight wings".
Ryan LOVES it.
Just ask the stuartist and she will bring one to you. That little thing keeps him occupied for quite some time and makes him feel pretty cool on that plane.

If they offer drinks on the airline you are traveling - ask for 2 extra plastic cups.
one cup with ice and one just empty.
You will be amazed at how long these cups will keep your toddler entertained!
Ryan LOVES putting the ice from one cup to another.
Plus it's a way of teaching them to say "cold" ( "COLD" was one of his first words because of this HA )

Books. Bring lots of books.
I always try and get a new little book for the plane so it's new to them and exciting.

Our family friend made us a "busy bag" for Ryan's birthday - all things you can make with SIMPLE supplies from your house! Keeps Ryan entertained for awhile!
CLICK here to see some of the activities you make on your own for them.

Crayons and a coloring book.

Put your phone camera to selfie mode and take a video of them looking into the phone. Play back the video again and again. They will LOVE it.
Ryan LOVES to watch himself on videos so a few weeks prior to the flight I take lots of videos of him outside and in his room with his toys so he can watch them on the plane.

Have a few interactive apps on your phone if needed to keep them occupied.

**As soon as they get sick of one activity. Move on to the next. Don't stress out just keep bringing out new things for them to do.


I am not going to tell you how to parent your children....
HOWEVER, they WILL listen to you if you make it known that you are in charge.

Ryan knows that he can't kick the plane seat in front of him. He will kick it one time EVERY TIME we get on a plane and look up at me like "can I do it on this flight ?" I then proceed to give him a little face and he knows not to do it again.

Explain to your kids what you are doing, where they are going, and how everyone on the plane wants to be "quiet". They will soon understand and see that they don't need to scream for no reason. :)


I have a BOY, obsessed with airplanes.
My child has to look out the window.
It's harder to ask people to switch you if you have a middle seat ( No one wants the middle seat HA )- however if you have an isle seat and your child prefers to sit by the window they are usually more than happy to switch with you.

Ryan's favorite thing is watching the take off and landing!

 Ryan CANNOT fall asleep anywhere but his bed.
I usually try and schedule our flights in the morning or night time just so he's not overly exhausted on the flight.
He is definitely most fussy - during nap time.
If your child sleeps on the go - disregard this tip but booking them at more convenient times not during nap time helps us!

At the gate you will get a pink tag for your stroller and they will ask you if you want it checked to your ending destination or if you want to have access to it during your layover.
Make sure you get it during your layover.
It's a lifesaver for your tired fussy child!

Gosh I think I have covered the airport!
We know that place like the palm of our hand!

Happy traveling Mammas! XO
And happy first day of OCTOBER!

Karina Marie Powell


  1. I read through this whole post and i don't even have a child, ha ha! Great tips though, definitely ones I will keep in mind when we have our own little ones!

  2. Another great post of tips my friend - you have got this down after all your flights! Our first toddler flight with SJ is in December to London - a whole 11 hour over night flight - going to be interesting! x

  3. Such great tips!!!! We haven't flown with waverly since she was a baby, I would totally be nervous now!!! ;)

  4. Haha I'm in the same boat as Rachel! But this was definitely interesting and really clever!

  5. Thanks so much for these tips! Super helpful! :)

  6. oh man i loved reading all these and can totally relate. but that 2 cups thing is brilliant! i'd never thought of that! and HOLY COW yes yes yes to boarding last! i did it once when first flying with him and then never again ;)

  7. You knew I needed this!! I'm flying with Mia this month and I'm still so nervous! But these were awesome tips!
    So do you use Ryan's adorable carry on instead of your diaper bag? (I'm so jealous your parents found that at costco! I've seen them at Nordstrom's and they are a pretty penny, but it sounds like they are worth it? I might need to order one now. But seriously, do you use that instead of a diaper bag? So you take a purse and that? I need help, ha ha! Text me!)