Let’s be honest… the thought of flying with young children can be overwhelming even with angel kiddos 😉 We recently traveled overseas with our nearly three year old toddler and our nearly three month old baby. I was way more nervous to travel with our baby; but actually, that was the easy part! Hands down, our toddler was way more challenging to travel with. I’ve put together a helpful guideline of what you should consider packing in your hand luggage when flying with a toddler (baby hand luggage packing list coming soon 🙂 ). Disclaimer: this is my current list and may not be fully exhaustive 🙂 Please comment and let me know what you would add to the list as I’d like to keep this as a work in progress, and one day maybe this could become THE ultimate What to Pack list 😉
If you are traveling without your baby daddy, find out what documentation you need to bring with you. Sometimes the airlines require an official letter of consent with the Father’s signature and permission. Make sure you have everything else you need to travel, like passports with applicable visas, birth certificates etc.
2. Hand luggage bag
I suggest that you pack everything your toddler will need on the flight and during transit in one back pack which you will carry as hand luggage (hands free – what a win). Keep everything else separate in other bags – you will thank me later when you are frantically searching for something in a rush 🙂
3. Diaper changes
Pack diapers, diaper rash (bum) cream, wet wipes, diaper bags, portable changing mat. Pack one new wet wipes pack for traveling as you go through a lot of wipes. Work out how many diapers you would normally use for the amount of time you will be traveling (on the airplane and in transit) and add 5 – 10 spares. If you end up experiencing any delays it’s important to be prepared with something as crucial as diapers!
We used pull up diapers – it’s seriously difficult changing even the tiniest baby in the small airplane bathrooms, let alone a toddler! Consider pull up diapers (trial them at home first) as this will allow you to change your toddler while they stand up rather than lying them down on the teeny tiny changing mat.
Is your toddler recently toilet trained or only day time toilet trained? Consider using pull ups as a once-off while flying (avoid accidents!). We chatted to Summer and made sure that she understood that she will be wearing pull up diapers only for the airplane (as she was recently toilet trained when we traveled a few months ago), and that she’s still a big girl and she will be going straight back to panties when we arrive at our destination. She understood and it worked out super well for us!
4. Clothes and blankets
I am overly prepared and am thankful for that with recent vomit explosion situations 😉 I suggest packing at least four sets of spare clothes for your toddler- yes, FOUR. Summer only had one set of clothing remaining after our last trip… Food and drink spills, regular change of clothes in transit, vomit explosions… you need spares!
Dress your toddler in a t-shirt, and comfortable leggings. Then add a long sleeve shirt and pack a comfortable hoodie/ jumper. Layers are best for the airplane as it’s sometimes freezing, and sometimes sweaty!
For you? I packed three sets of change of clothes for myself and I used all three sets! Granted, we had two very long flights and one short flight, plus lots of vomit from my newborn reflux baba, and also vomit explosions from my toddler… let’s just say you never know what will happen – and I’d rather be safe than smelly 😉
The airline provides blankets so I only advise packing one blanket for your toddler, which can also be their ‘comfort’ if they have a special blanky.
5. Food and drink
Snacks are a MUST – both healthy and treats. Let your little be part of choosing their snacks, and add in some surprises too 🙂
Pack a bottle for milk and a water sippy cup – ask the cabin crew for milk and water when on the flight. Make sure your toddler drinks enough, especially when ascending and descending.
Pacifiers (soothers), soft toy or comforter, special blanket, teethers – whatever will make your toddler feel comfortable and be less likely to tantrum and have a meltdown… PACK IT! 🙂
I pack all the medicine… just in case. Well, all the essentials 😉 Something for nausea and tummy issues, pain and fever (suppositories), flu symptoms, allergies. Just in case. We don’t give our kids medicine to help them sleep on flights as they have slept really well but I always pack medicine incase they become ill during transit. Pack a thermometer and anything to help with their ear pain (like saline drops etc).
8. Clean and fresh
Pack hand sanitizer and wet wipes. It does you the world of good to feel fresh (ish), and making sure your toddler is as clean and germ-free as possible. People think I’m crazy but I put hand sanitizer on the arm rests and surfaces we will all be touching on the flight. Crazy maybe… but my toddler hasn’t gotten sick after any of our flights just yet (holding thumbs it continues).
Also be sure to pack a few Ziploc or plastic bags to keep messy clothes or spills separate – this is great because it ensures that these items will be the only messy items and the smells don’t spread throughout the rest of the bag! Again, prepare for the worst and you will be surprised with how easy this traveling thing is 🙂
Toiletries – pack simple toiletries like a face cloth, small towel, tooth brush and paste and try freshen up (time dependent) during layovers or even before disembarking the airplane.
Activity books and lucky packets (stickers, colouring in books, magic marker books, small games) are real winners – my little girl gets so excited and relishes in the moment of eagerly awaiting the time she can open the next surprise and what will be inside 🙂
The iPad works very well for her – we download her favourite shows and games beforehand. Advice: make sure you bring along headphones for your toddler that fit their head nicely, and ones that you’ve tested on them before. It just makes for a calmer flight.
We used the Planepal previously for our toddler, but I would only really recommend this from age one to two and a half (just from personal experience). Summer is quite tall so we tried to use it again on our most recent flight (she was nearly three years old) and it was totally pointless and took up SO much space. It really came in handy previously when her body fit comfortably on it.
We’re not getting into the check-in luggage discussions in this article, but keep the following in mind when packing: Where will my toddler be sleeping on holiday, what travel systems (car seat, stroller) to pack and pre-book?
Remember, travel is such an adventure and privilege. Have fun in the skies with your sweet littles 🙂 Stress less and take a deep breath (or drink one glass of wine or pop a rescue tablet), you’re going to rock this! 😉
Still nervous to fly with littles? Check out my Top tips and tricks when flying with kiddos for inspiration.