Top 10 Tips for Travelling with Toddlers

Does this scenario sound familiar? Got a family holiday booked and your mind is awash with dreams of sunshine, relaxation, then reality sets in and you realise to achieve your dream, you first have to travel to your destination. At first thought this sounds like a wonderful adventure and part of the holiday experience, then you shudder at the reality when you realise this involves having a young child in tow. Soon your tranquil thoughts turn to panic and you go into overdrive thinking of ways to maintain some form of miracle parent appearance, with hopes of being accompanied by a child who does exactly what they are told, doesn’t make a peep during your journey and only gains adoring looks from neighbouring travellers.

Toddler Travel

Reality check!! Children are unpredictable and travelling smoothly will always require some form of forward planning and preparation for all eventualities. With this in mind we thought you may appreciate a few of our tried and tested ideas for making the journey to your holiday destination a positive and memorable experience too. I (Jane) have travelled solo with my young children from their birth. How I organise myself has changed over time from managing one baby to three young children. Here are some of my tried and tested tips and strategies for travelling with toddlers and keeping them occupied and entertained during a short haul flight. Dare I say I actually really enjoy travelling with my children and sharing in their experiences.

Toddler Travel

1. Talk

The unknown can be very scary for young children and airports are filled with unfamiliar experiences, people and stresses. If you talk through what you are doing and can involve your child in any way from looking for gate numbers to spotting images they are familiar with, this keeps little minds busy and involved in the journey. Talking through what you are doing or even better, going to do next, can alleviate the feeling of stress for a child and of course the feeling that they don’t know when the journey will finish.

Once on the plane how do you keep your child seated and busy for the duration of your flight? This is not an easy task and explaining to a toddler that they have to remain seated and have a seat belt on is a major task and often a negotiation that can be very challenging. Here are a few tips that may just help it to be a fun adventure for both parent and child.

Toddler Travel

2. Raisins

These little box of treasures can occupy a large amount of a short haul flight as tiny fingers try to dig out each individual sweet treat. If you are up for making them even more fun then why not line them up, make shapes out of them, funny faces or even hide them in your hand and ask your child to guess which hand they are in.

3. Stickers

If you are short on luggage space then stickers could be the life saver you’re looking for. There are tons of them available and in all tastes and interests, and if you have ever let your child loose on them you will know that they are not always easy to quickly unpick the ones they want. Hand them a piece of paper and let them go hell for leather sticking and un-sticking as many stickers as they like. Voila, before you know it you’ll be hearing ‘fasten your seatbelts” and you’ll be stepping off the plane ready for your holiday to begin.

Toddler Travel

4. Felt tips on a string

Ever taken colouring pencils or felt tip markers on a plane as you know your child would enjoy being able to colour and draw throughout the journey? If you have then you will also know how awkward it can be when those pretty little colours start rolling away and disappearing under the seats in front of you. We had the same until we discovered these felt-tips on a string. It keeps all the lids together and they are super user friendly for all ages.

5. Wet wipes

Let’s be honest, if you’re a parent then the trusty wet wipe can be found in every room of your home, we certainly don’t leave home without them either. So, to realise their full potential in the battle to have a peaceful flight you need to pop a pack in your hand luggage too. Let’s face it, there will be spills, dirty hands and faces and yes, a possible toilet disaster during your journey. This is why we should be as prepared on a flight as we are for every scenario in our homes. Good thing is, that any mishaps resulting in the use of wet wipes will just reduce the weight of your luggage.

6. Bag in pocket for rubbish

Where to put all those wet wipes that you’ve so liberally used you may ask? Aha, well that’s where bringing a small disposable bag can be a life saver. Pop it over the hook of the table in front of you or in the seat pocket. You can keep all the rubbish you gather altogether, your hands free and then pop it on the chair as you leave to be cleaned away. It may take a few minutes longer to get settled in before your flight, but having all these handy essentials organised in the pocket in front of you, saves rummaging in your hand luggage during your flight, and to onlookers makes you look like an expert traveller!

Child Toy

7. Hanging toys

It’s an added bonus that under 2’s don’t yet have to pay for their seat on a plane. However, with this comes other challenges, such as keeping a wriggly toddler busy for the duration of your flight, or at least until the snacks and drinks get brought around. The most effective toys we ever brought on flights were those that we could hang on the hook for the table. Even better if the toy had moving parts that their little fingers could busily fiddle with.

Modelling Clay

8. Playdough

If you’re feeling brave, playdough or putty can keep little hands busy for ages. With the in-flight table perfect for them to use as a playdough surface.  What’s great about either of these is that it’s quick and easy to clean up and doesn’t take up much room.

9. Spare clothes

It may seem like an obvious suggestion, but more often than not the lovely little travel outfit you have selected will suffer some unfortunate spill or mishap during your journey. Rather than have a niggled child in a soggy/dirty outfit, come prepared. I have always found that the most compact reserve clothing is best then you can easily change your child en-route.

Travel Pram

10. Travel buggy

Keeping luggage to a minimum is something that I have always aimed for, specifically when planning my hand luggage. Try not to pack too much, or multiples of the same item. It’s so much easier to manage younger children if you aren’t trying to take care of lots of bags too. With this in mind, if budget allows, it is worth investing in a compact buggy that can be put in the overhead locker. We always travelled with a Babyzen YoYo and it was like a miracle piece of luggage. We could push our child right up to the gate, collapse the lightweight buggy in one move and pop it in the overhead locker. The same could be said for when we landed, the second we disembarked, I could open the buggy with one hand, pop my daughter in the buggy and get whizzing through the airport. This worked so much better than either waiting for the buggy to be brought the gate or at the oversized luggage at baggage claim. Hopefully, there are many more options for a similar buggy now.

We hope these little tips somehow help you during your next adventure with your little treasures and have you gliding through your journey without breaking a sweat (at least on the outside!).

The great thing about flying to Holland or Belgium is a) the flights are very short and b) the transfer the other side can be quick and easy too. Please contact us for more advice about where to stay and the closest ones to airports. Some are also doable without a car.


Blog Categories

Using local knowledge to bring you the best baby and toddler accommodation, attractions and toddler friendly activities.

Wow Badge Wow Badge Small Business Sunday Badge Green Parent Guide Green Parent Featured
Let us help?