International Travel with Toddlers – The plane ride

After my recent India trip and spending nearly 24 hrs each way with a two year old in various planes and airports, here is what worked and I think is important to remember.

Packing a special kiddie hand luggage bag : We had packed a small colorful wheeled character bag with changes of clothes for us, toys, books, crayons etc. The babe felt specially proud of being in charge of the bag, and pulling it and getting his toys and other entertainment out as needed. If its something they can carry on their own, all the more better

‘Sharing Responsibility’ : Because I was traveling alone with a two year old toddler, I had to make sure I dont have to carry him all the way through the changeover and at the airports. So I explained to him that mommy has a lot to carry and cant pick him up, and that he is in charge of his kiddie bag.  I involved him in packing and planning and choosing books. This worked, and he actually never once asked me to pick him up despite a seven hour delay in Europe. I think they love feeling grown up!

Carrying entertainment

  • If your child likes crayons and coloring, take some art supplies along.  If your child tends to get messy with crayons – there are some ‘color wonder’ crayons and markers available, one even in a travel kit, that can restrict the mess only to color wonder paper, and not your tray table or seats.
  • If she is into books, maybe take a few favorites including a couple of new ones. A Bob the Builder book with a toy screw driver attached was interesting to play with (and to use the screw driver for some pretend play). I would recommend ‘Planes’ and ‘Airport’ by Byron Barton. Both these books cover air travel and also show a small kid passing through security, checking in etc, so is quite interesting.
  • Take maybe one or two toys – not too small or not with wheels as they tend to fall and slip in under the seat or maybe even an aisle or two ahead reducing you to hands and knees on the plane carpet. If your kid cuddles with a special soft toy, take that one (mine didnt) or a blanket.

Plane Entertainment is erratic and undependable.

  • This was a big surprise to me, but plane entertainment is different on flights from here to Europe and from Europe to India. While the babe slept on the flight from here to Amsterdam, I delighted in planning which shows he could watch in the next leg. However in the flight from Amsterdam to Delhi – there were no individual screens and just one movie being beamed out on one of those suspended TV to all. Definitely not toddler friendly.
  • If your child can stand the ear phones, on the US – Europe leg, at least KLM had great shows such as care bears, sesame street etc. Also dont forget some of the shows on the animal planet channels.
  • Toy bags – We did get some toy bags on the way over to India, but none on the way back. We had to ask for them. At least in our flight, they were for more older kids, but it delights everyone to get one.

Kids Meals : On KLM at least I would recommend these. Even if you can share your meal with your child, the kids meal comes nice and kiddlily wrapped, sometimes with a toy, so its a fun break. Also on the way to India we got pasta, which was great and sandwiches with cold cuts and cheese, also nice. Too much candy though, which you may want to stash away. You will have to call 48 hrs in advance to reserve.

Carry On Neccessities :

  • A change of clothes, maybe two sets for your child – you may have a spill and we did have an apple juice one. Make sure it includes everything from undergarments to jackets.
  • A change of clothes for you – maybe a mix and match pair which you can match up with whatever part of your attire gets wet.
  • Toothbrush for kid and you – a refreshing change at the changeover, I would say
  • Enough diapers, pullups if kid is not potty trained
  • SNACKS – non liquid bars etc, for lay overs, or mistimes airline meals
  • A straw or two – for some reason airlines sometimes serve drinks in glasses, so if your kids are not used to it a straw may be good.
  • Sippy if still using (fill with water before) – one for water

Pullups :

If your child is just potty trained you may want to try some overnight pullups for the flight even if they wear underpants at home. This is because you may get stuck in the tarmac with the seatbelt sign on, or otherwise unable to reach the plane toilet in time (remember those lines!). The overnight ones work great.

Well.. thats all I can think of now. Share your tips too, please! I will write more as I remember.

Last 5 posts by Khushi


  1. Pry

    Good list. I am planning a trip next year.This will come in handy

  2. Anonymous

    Excellent article. Will be very useful when I travel next yr with my two girls

  3. Anonymous

    thank you soo much for sharing

  4. Madhuri

    Thanks. Its was really helpful! I am travelling with a 2 and 7 yr old. Its a good list. Thnaks.

  5. AmieeLu

    Thank. Its realy helpful! I am traveling with my 2 and 4 yr old next yr. Its a great list. Thanks

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