What to Pack for the Plane (and Trips) When Flying with Young Kids


November 24, 2017

…don’t forget a baggie full of Clorox wipes.

Flying with kids. Ugh. Literally, everything about it is at least slightly stressful for me, especially when I am flying 3-4 hours alone with two highly energetic boy creatures.

As I mentioned in this blog post, I am all for driving with my boys. Flying…ugh, ugh. But, with a bit of prep work and planning, flying isn’t all 100% bad.

Below you’ll find ideas on things to pack for a flight with younger kiddos. And by young, I mean 2 years-old and 4 years-old.

1. Special snacks

Road trips, airplane flights…it’s the same. Having extra special food is always going to work in your favor (and in the favor of fellow passengers). Food is entertaining, and I pack little baggies of snacks like pretzels, graham crackers, and carrots…whatever extra food we have in the fridge. I usually pack these in a Tupperware-like container so that the pretzels and graham crackers and other snacks remain whole during check-in, security, stowing the kid’s bags at their feet…

If I have time, I like getting the $1.00 snack containers from Target, or loading up on more unusual-for-us goodies like raisins, dried cranberries, different brands of crackers…

I do try to limit the sugar on flights for sure, although I imagine that graham crackers have their fair share.

2. Empty sippie cups / bottles

I try to dump out the water of a couple water bottles (we like these Contigo brand sippie cups) the day before flying so they dry out completely, and I pack them into each of the boys’ backpacks. Then I can add bottled water/airplane beverages into them as we fly, and there is a chance that we’ll remain spill-free during the flight.

When the boys were a bit younger, I would bring empty bottles onto the plane as well, and search for milk in the airport as a comfort for them.

3. Silly putty / clay / “modeling dough”

When flying, we bring silly putty. I have no idea how or why this became a thing for my family, but it is. I think our local King Soopers probably sells those small plastic eggs of silly putty. And because this is an abnormal toy for us, the boys loved playing with them on an airplane once. You can make objects of course, but you can also play with the putty AND toy trucks and cars, which seems to be double the fun. I think the airplane folks probably prefer putty since it stays together pretty nicely and doesn’t make much of a mess.

On our most recent flight, I could not find any silly putty at Target, and ended up with two packages of $1.00 for four cups of “modeling dough.” I wasn’t sure what this was going to be, but it is pretty much Play-dough that doesn’t smell quite as good as real Play-dough. We enjoyed playing with this for at least 30 minutes on the plane, but it was a bit messy…pieces broke off and became embedded in the plane floor. I felt sorry the flight staff for the clean up, but happy for everyone that it helped prevent crying/kicking/tantrums/etc.

4. A baggie full of Clorox wipes

Yes, I am one of those moms who wipes down our section of the plane as soon as I sit down. I’d say at least 50% of the time we get sick after flying, and sick x4 people is just no fun. So, yes, Clorox our seats.

5. Hand sanitizer

And after I wipe down our seats, I sanitize our hands. By the time we get into our plane seats, there is a good chance that the boys have rolled around on the floor of the airport, touched every railing possible, etc., etc., germs.

6. A pad of new paper and markers

There is nothing like brand-new art supplies, especially for my 4 year-old son. It is so fun to see his imagination come to life in his drawings. Paper and markers kill at least 15 – 45 minutes of flight time. YAY!

7. Extra clothes

Even though I’ve only had to use them on one flight, I always pack with one complete extra outfit for each boy, as well as diapers and wipes. (They are potty trained, but I can’t let go of the idea that this could come in handy during an awfully turbulent flight.) (Plus wipes are great for sticky hands, runny noses, cleaning up faces before being reunited with grandparents…)

8. iPad or laptop and headphones

Even though we haven’t found the best headphones for our young kids, I still pack up two pairs and a headphone splitter so that I can resort to screen time towards the end of the flight. I pack a charged iPad and usually my laptop as well as my charged iPhone, so that the boys have some entertainment options. Of course, I am not good at pre-loading movies and television shows or airline WiFi apps…maybe one day.

And when I totally have nothing that the boys want to watch, I pull up old photos and chat them up. Unfortunately, that only entertains them for about 5 minutes!

9. Other small toys

I let the boys pick out a few toys from home to bring on our trip. Unfortunately, their favorite toys have wheels, which means they’ll end up on the floor of the plane, but a couple of their faves make the putty/dough more fun. Ramps can be built out of books or pads of paper between tray tables…

10. Small books

I travel with a book or two for the boys…in hopes that I can put off introducing the iPad for as long as possible. Sometimes they cannot focus on a book, but every once in a while it works. I try to pack light-weight soft-back books or else the Golden brand of books.

11. Painting with water books

The boys are so into these Melissa and Doug On the Go Water Wow toys right now, so I definitely whip out new ones before we fly.

12. Padded car seat bags that are also backpacks

I am pretty fortunate that my mom keeps extra car seats on the East Coast for our trips out that way. For almost all of our East Coast trips, we have managed to use these extra car seats with a bit of pre-planning and logistics coordination. If, however, we cannot swing getting them to our final destination (like the time we flew into Atlanta and drove to Isle of Palms last summer), we pack our car seats into padded car seat bags that are also backpacks. Nope, we don’t bring them on the plane–we check them with our luggage at baggage check. They are a pain to carry into the airport with additional luggage and two toddlers, but we make it work.

13. Car seat transporter

When my oldest was just 16 months, and I was super into being a new mom and super into kid safety, I needed to bring his convertible car seat on a trip to Arizona. (I would love to still do this now for safety, but I just feel that I cannot mentally or physically swing it, especially when traveling solo with the boys.) How to get that heavy thing around the airport? The BRICA Roll ‘n Go Car Seat Transporter was the perfect solution. I attached the car seat to it, put my son into the car seat, and wheeled him around the airport. I took it off the transporter to install the car seat onto the plane seat. Yes, bringing the car seat was a pain, but it needed to happen on that trip, and the Roll ‘n Go Car Seat Transporter made it possible. (FYI–by 16 months, my son was no longer in his infant seat, but in a bigger convertible car seat.)

14. Stroller

If I am traveling alone with the boys, I will definitely bring a larger stroller to the airport. I just cannot carry two kids who refuse to walk, as well as my camera gear (which I always pack) and laptop, and their two backpacks. And I cannot control which direction my youngest may wander off to as we head towards our gate. So I bring my Bob Revolution jogging stroller. I can stick my youngest into the seat, and have my oldest sit on the foot area, and push both boys at once. (I am sure this is a no-no and not totally safe, but my oldest knows to watch the front wheel, and I am super careful. And desperate.)

I gate check this stroller, which means I get a little stressed about getting to the gate early enough to get a gate tag (sometimes the line can take forever and approach boarding time), but that is life.

What are some items that you pack for family flights?

What to pack for the airplane when flying with young kids. || ofmountainsandearth.com
What to pack for the airplane when flying with young kids. || ofmountainsandearth.com

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