What can I do to keep a preschooler happy on an airplane? Pre-School Travel

Tips from moms and experts alike on how to keep a preschooler happy on an airplane.

Be Flexible

To keep your toddler happy on an airplane, make sure you pack plenty of distractions in your carry-on. While you have curated rules at home, including any screen-free restrictions, you will need to be flexible while flying. Pack gel stickers and allow your child to stick them to the table in front of him or on the walls of the airplane, sing songs, feed him his favorite food, let him play with electronics or watch a short movie if that keeps him entertained, and do not...

To keep your toddler happy on an airplane, make sure you pack plenty of distractions in your carry-on. While you have curated rules at home, including any screen-free restrictions, you will need to be flexible while flying. Pack gel stickers and allow your child to stick them to the table in front of him or on the walls of the airplane, sing songs, feed him his favorite food, let him play with electronics or watch a short movie if that keeps him entertained, and do not hesitate to walk up and down the aisle to burn some energy.  - Laura, Family Travel Blogger at Frugal for Luxury, @frugalforluxury

expert solution

Screens and Snacks

Some people are anti-screen time, but for travel… iPads, iPads, iPads. And snacks. Lots of snacks, and a big variety of them, because the last thing you need is a toddler meltdown over wanting fruit snacks when you only have goldfish. I also usually bring a brand new small toy or two (I especially like those coloring books that use magic ink markers or the reusable ones with water markers) that he hasn’t seen, and surprise him with it if he’s starting to get antsy.

Some people are anti-screen time, but for travel… iPads, iPads, iPads. And snacks. Lots of snacks, and a big variety of them, because the last thing you need is a toddler meltdown over wanting fruit snacks when you only have goldfish. I also usually bring a brand new small toy or two (I especially like those coloring books that use magic ink markers or the reusable ones with water markers) that he hasn’t seen, and surprise him with it if he’s starting to get antsy.

expert solution

Prep Them Ahead of Time

Know your child! If this is the first time traveling with a toddler, be mindful to talk about the trip leading up to it. Explain the process over and over and over again. Draw a picture, role play with toys, talk about it at dinner. Specifically talk about the right space and the sitting in the seat and how it’s going to be kinda boring but kinda fun! And then allow them to pack a bag. Giving them power and ownership over what goes in the bag helps them feel included and...

Know your child! If this is the first time traveling with a toddler, be mindful to talk about the trip leading up to it. Explain the process over and over and over again. Draw a picture, role play with toys, talk about it at dinner. Specifically talk about the right space and the sitting in the seat and how it’s going to be kinda boring but kinda fun! And then allow them to pack a bag. Giving them power and ownership over what goes in the bag helps them feel included and part of the process. - MegAnne Ford, Certified Parent Coach at Be Kind Coaching, @bekindcoaching

expert solution

Pack a "Go Bag"

Google or Pinterest search “go bags” for kids. Mine didn’t enjoy any type of screen until she was 3. Before that, it was 100 activities that kept her attention for less than a few minutes each. Lots of work, but at least I never had an unhappy, screaming kid on the plane. The Dollar Tree and Target $1 spot are great resources. Window clings, felt story books, stickers, WikiStix, matryoshka (nesting) dolls, mini figurines, stamps, travel sized play doh, zipper bags or XL pill boxes with...

Google or Pinterest search “go bags” for kids. Mine didn’t enjoy any type of screen until she was 3. Before that, it was 100 activities that kept her attention for less than a few minutes each. Lots of work, but at least I never had an unhappy, screaming kid on the plane. The Dollar Tree and Target $1 spot are great resources. Window clings, felt story books, stickers, WikiStix, matryoshka (nesting) dolls, mini figurines, stamps, travel sized play doh, zipper bags or XL pill boxes with little surprises in them!

expert solution

Food, Food, and More Food

Food, felt playsets, food, coloring/drawing books, food, iPad or a movie, food, Eye Spy, music, did I mention food?!!!

expert solution

Individually Wrapped Distractions

A bag of cheap new toys or activities wrapped up individually. The gift wrapping takes extra time to open and makes it feel a lot more exciting than it probably is!

expert solution

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