Airplane and a Toddler

We traveled to Florida to vacation with Marshall’s parents for Spring Break this year. As excited as I was, it’s safe to say that I was more than a little nervous about our flights. London has been on planes before, but we have always been fortunate to have a direct flight and optimal flight times.

Not so much the case with this trip. Finding affordable direct flights from Kansas City to Fort Meyers that worked with the older girls school schedule was a bit tricky. On the way to Florida we boarded the plane when we normally eat dinner and had a layover in Milwaukee when London would typically be getting ready for bed! EEKS!

I think it’s safe to say that being prepared and planning for the worse was a necessity for this parenting experience. Luckily, London and I just got back from our road trip to Ann Arbor, MI and I was fairly confident of what worked and what didn’t as far as entertainment.

So here’s what I packed for the flight…

I used London’s Skip Hop Diaper Bag and was able to fit everything for her in the one bag. The entertainment items were packed into a first aid kit bag that I bought from Target years ago. When we are home I like to keep this stocked with special toys, a set of London’s silverware, my fave silicone placemat, so if we are going out to eat or somewhere that isn’t super kid friendly I can easily grab it and run out the door.

As for the other items, I always think worse case scenario when it comes to necessities. Potty training London has been an adventure with her two-year molars coming in so I’ve learned that packing a change of clothes for me is crucial. I could literally think of nothing worse than having pee, poop, or throw up on me for an entire flight. Plastic ziplock bags are also a must in your carry-on, this way you can contain any sort of incident you may encounter. You’ll be surprised how handy these ziplock baggies can be on the road.

Now here’s what I learned…

Overall, I’d tell everyone that snacks are invaluable and toddler attention spans are zilch, so options are important. You know your child best, so everyone’s list is going to be a bit different, but there are a few things that can make everyone’s life a bit easier while traveling.

  1. Pack plenty of normal, healthy snack options. No one wants to travel with a ‘hangry’ toddler. Food is a great diversion when they start getting restless. There aren’t a ton of great options for snacks at airport or gas stations (depending on how you’re traveling). Throwing off your toddler’s normal diet and eating habits can lead tummy troubles and that’s no fun either. Clearly add some exciting novelty items, but that doesn’t mean it has to be candy or fast food. So pack what you think is enough, and then double it! We had some snacks packed in each of our carryons. What we didn’t use on travel days we were able to use throughout the trip without feeling like we needed to run to the grocery store our first day.
  2. Have a mix of familiar and new toys/activities. Like I said earlier, you know your child best. If there are certain activities that your kiddo loves at home and it doesn’t take up a lot of space, it will be nice to have them on the road as well. These are your tried and true options, but you’ll want a few items to spice up the bag as well. The Dollar Store is a great place to grab some inexpensive toys or games to use on the plane.
  3. ‘Package’ the toys. Unwrapping presents is fun, and can be an activity all on its own. Whether its old wrapping paper you have lying around or little cloth bags kids like to open things and everything seems much more fun with that extra element of surprise. I did this on the way to Ann Arbor and London loved picking out her next surprise while we were driving on the road. Having things wrapped also limits the options a little bit, because they can’t actually see the toy so I found that this made the toy last a little bit longer before getting bored. I didn’t do this for our flights and I wish I would have.
  4. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Most likely you won’t want to re-stock your toy options while you are traveling. Try to keep some new items or ‘tried-and-true’ items for the return trip. I did not do this, and I wish I did. By the time we got through the first flight and our week long stay, London was tired of the toys that I had packed. Luckily, Grandma and Grandpa took her shopping for some toys while we were at Disney World, but it wasn’t enough for our long travel day yesterday and we ended up having more screen time than I would have liked, which leads me to my final point.
  5. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how prepared you are. Both of our flights on the way home were delayed yesterday, not much but it did extend our travel time and London didn’t nap. She woke up in a cranky mood, and it didn’t matter what I had packed or how many snacks she ate, she did not want to be on that plane! So she watched the entire movie of Little Mermaid, which is not typical at our house. Now, I could have struggled through and tried to distract her and get creative. To me, in that moment, it wasn’t worth it. London was a trooper all trip and we were all exhausted so no shame in my game. She zombied out in front of my iPad and watched Little Mermaid for an entire flight, I was able to recharge a bit and it made the rest of our day much easier.

I hope this helps you and your family on your next grand adventure. Our family loves to travel and explore new destinations. This was our first big family trip with London. We had a great time and are looking forward to many more in the future! Where are you headed to next or what has been your favorite family vacation?

Happy packing,


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