Being stuck in one place for any number of hours, with a toddler, is everyone’s worst nightmare! It’s a nightmare for parents of said toddler and potentially for everyone around you. Of course, if you are travelling on a plane that allocates seating on arrival, you can hope that your little bundle of joy is sat at the other end of the plane with a poor unsuspecting passenger ;)- but hope is not a strategy people!! Personally, having been through it so recently, other peoples screaming babies really don’t bother me, it just brings a sense of relief that it’s not my child!! But when it was my child, of course, I just wanted the ground to swallow me up and over the many years of travelling with babies and toddlers, I have found quite a few handy items to keep the little darlings amused on the plane!
Here are a few suggestions, based on past experience, on what to pack in your hand luggage when travelling with toddlers!:
- A pad or tablet is essential! Now mine are older, this is all we need! They watch films, play games and K even writes stories! We have headphone splitters so two of them can watch a film together on the same pad which means I might even be able to watch something on my own!! They are also perfect for getting a bit of a lie-in on holiday but, for us, they are restricted to the hotel room and never allowed to the pool/ dinner etc- I hate seeing families at dinner where all the kids have their head-phones on and are in their own world! (Sorry- rant over!!). Make sure that they have new films or games downloaded that they haven’t seen or played before for maximum distraction time, you can find free downloads on BBC iplayer and other television channel websites as well as subscriptions to Sky Go, Amazon Prime & Netflix, which are all great for quick downloads and lots of choice! However, some toddlers aren’t distracted for long with these and need something more interactive.
- Travel Aqua-doodle. This is great as it just uses water, dry’s quickly and is relatively mess free.
- Magic painting (pictures that colour when you paint with water). Great for little ones and you can use the aqua-doodle pens instead of a paint brush for less mess
- ‘Color Wonder’ books. Also mess free with magic pens that have clear ink which only produces colour when in contact with the picture.
- Play dough. A friend gave me this idea, it wasn’t something that I had considered taking, to play with on a plane. Though this is for the children, if you’re an anxious flyer, it’s a great stress reliever too!
- Sticker/ activity books. These have been known to keep mine amused for hours! I buy a new one for each of them, every time we take a holiday. I get them from garden centres and supermarkets with some great ones available for older kids too, packed with facts, stickers, activities and stories.
- Classic colouring book, note book and crayons or pencils– avoid pens, it’s just safer and less messy that way!! Having a variety really helps, it’s far better to choose a few thin books than one bumper colouring book that they lose interest in within the first 5 minutes!
- Snacks. Whether you are having a meal on the plane or not, these are essential! You can pretty much guarantee that they won’t like any of the food that they are served on the plane (if they do- it’s a bonus!) and that the food won’t be served at the time you really need it!! Make sure that they are hungry when you get onto the plane so that you can feed them during take-off as this will also help equalise their ears. Pack your snacks separately in your bag so that you can produce them individually- once they know what you have, they’ll just keep asking. You know which snacks are good for your child, just avoid anything too liquid unless you plan to buy it at the airport. I once had to open 3 fruit pots at security, which basically meant they had to be eaten or thrown- not a happy mummy!!
- Favourite cuddly toy. These still travel with us in their hand-luggage as I’m paranoid about luggage being lost (not that it ever has!). If they do feel unwell during the flight, their favourite toy can make all the difference (as every mother knows!)
With any of these items, keep them out of sight before you get onto the plane. If you are buying specifically for the flight, don’t let your child see it at all and if it’s something they already have, hide it for a few weeks before the flight, except the favourite bedtime toy of course!!
Other handy items for the flight:
- At least two more nappies than you think you will need!
- If your toddler is potty trained, take a few potty bags (the ones you use on travel potties) or nappies just in case you are ‘caught short’ during take-off, landing, turbulence or held up on the run-way.
- Paracetamol/ Ibuprofen sachets
- Hand sanitiser – remember that it must be in a 100ml bottle or less
- Wipes – goes without saying!!!
- Change of clothes and a plastic bag to but the wet/dirty ones in
- Reins or similar to keep hold of your toddler in a busy airport when they don’t want to go in the buggy or you want them out of the buggy so you can use it to carry all the bags full of stuff!! We have the backpacks with detachable lead which were invaluable through the whole of the toddler era!! Not only can you keep hold of them, but they can carry some of their own stuff too! #winwin
What would be your top tip for travelling with your toddlers? What are your hand luggage must-haves?
Check out my previous post Non-Essential Essentials for a Fab Family Holiday for more ideas on what to pack, when holidaying with kids!