Products and Tips for Surviving Any Plane Trip With Kids

We have the perfect gear to survive your next family flight!

Plane travel can be fraught with stresses and challenges, even when you’re flying solo or as a couple. Getting from point A to point B without a hiccup is more of a myth than a reality, and when you throw kids into the mix, a successful flight (or series of flights) can feel downright impossible to achieve.

When I travel, no matter where I’m headed, I operate on two philosophies:

  1. Expect the in-flight entertainment to either be broken or uninteresting, and pack accordingly.
  2. Comfort, comfort, comfort.

Seem obvious? Maybe. But these two reminders help me prepare for just about anything during transit. The same thing goes for prepping for a flight with kids. Of course, the question then becomes: What do I pack to keep my kids occupied and meltdown-free for hours?

Look no further. We’ve got you covered with all the items and tips you’ll need to become a total pro at plane travel with kids of any age.

Toddlers & Younger Children

Traveling with a toddler is very different from traveling with a baby. There’s more movement and curiosity, and often a lot less patience. Here are a few tips for maximizing your peace when planning a plane trip with younger children:

  • Get as much of their energy out as possible while you’re still in the airport. Encourage them to walk through the terminal, push their own luggage, and do some research to find out if your airport has a play area. Try to save screen time until they’re on the plane (more on that later). It’ll make it much easier to help them settle in for the flight.
  • If traveling with both parents, consider having one parent board earlier than the rest of your group. They can set up your seating area and make it easy to board with little ones. (Just make sure to make your plan ahead of time!)
  • Gate check your stroller if possible. This makes it easy to plop your kiddos right down in a familiar spot when you land, freeing up your hands for luggage, passports, and other important items.
  • Don’t be too focused on reinforcing lessons in flight. Think of the plane as a special zone where you overlook some behaviors you may be more strict about at home (like screen time or eating “junk” foods). It’ll save your sanity — and that of your fellow passengers.

Practical Items

Plane Trip With Kids | Stojo Collapsible Cup
Traveling with a Stojo cup can help young kiddos pop their ears during plane travel, and they take up minimal space thanks to their collapsible design.

Stojo Collapsible Cup

Babies and small children don’t have the same swallowing or yawning reflex that older children and adults do. That can make your plane’s ascent and descent a painful and frustrating experience for both of you. Fill up a Stojo collapsible travel cup with their favorite drink so they can sip to alleviate any discomfort. You can also bring sucking candies if that’s an easier sell for your kids.

Plane Trip With Kids | Inflatable Travel Bed
Planning a long or overnight flight with small children? Bring an inflatable travel bed — trust us, you’ll be glad you did.

Inflatable Travel Bed

If you want your child to be able to sleep at all during your flight, they’ll be a lot more comfortable when they can actually lay down. Inflatable travel beds prop up from the plane’s floor to extend your child’s seat all the way to the back of the seat in front of them, giving them room to stretch out. Don’t forget a pillow and a cozy blanket!

Plane Trip With Kids | Single-Serving Snacks
A plane trip is a perfect excuse to let your kids indulge in a few more snacks than they otherwise might — they’re on vacation, after all!

Single Serving Snacks

Your kids are going to be hungry during your flight — even if it’s a short one. And don’t expect them to wait patiently for the snack cart to pass by your aisle before they start to get straight up hangry. Single-serving snacks are great for travel because they allow you to bring a variety of self-contained goodies and clean up quickly.

Plane Trip With Kids | Sanitizing Wipes
A plane’s floor has nothing on your kids’ dropped toys when you’re armed with a travel pack of sanitizing wipes.

Sanitizing Wipes

Accept the fact that when you’re on a plane with small children, things will fall on the floor. A lot. Set yourself up with a travel pack of sanitizing wipes stashed somewhere you can easily get to throughout the flight (or just stick them right in the seat back pocket). Use them to clean off toys, pacifiers, and your entire seat area before and/or after your flight.

Fun Items

Bringing a new toy for kids to bring on their trip (or open in-flight) can foster a sense of excitement and curiosity during travel. You might even consider wrapping these items individually and having your child open one each hour! Here are some fun ideas:

Plane Trip With Kids | Washi Tape
Washi tape is colorful, fun, and easy to reuse — the perfect item to pack on the plane when traveling with small children.

Washi Tape

Ever wonder why kids love putting stickers on literally everything? It’s their way of making their mark and expressing themselves. Lean in without causing any damage to the plane with a few rolls of Washi tape. It’s easy to peel and re-stick — meaning for easy clean up when you’re done too. With tons of colors to choose from, a few rolls can really go a long way. Post-It Notes are a great option as well!

Plane Trip With Kids | Kids’ Tablet and Headphones
Flying with kids? Just give in to the tablet. An Amazon Fire Kids Tablet comes with easy parental controls and a sturdy case.

Kids’ Tablet and Headphones

Like I said earlier, airplanes are not the place to enforce any of the hard rules from home — including the rules that have to do with screen time. A kid-friendly tablet (and a pair of toddler headphones, of course) can be a life-saver for your family and those around you. The Amazon Fire Kids Tablet comes with easy parental controls and is already equipped with a sturdy case, so you don’t have to worry about a thing. Be sure to download your little one’s favorite shows and apps for in-flight fun!

Plane Trip With Kids | Activity Books
A water painting book is great for traveling because it lets kids stay creative without any of the mess.

Activity Books

If you’ve got a longer flight coming up, a tablet may not keep your little one’s attention for the full duration. So, it’s good to have some alternative activities at the ready. Activity books, like a water painting book, are great for holding their attention, allowing them to be independent, and staying mess-free. In fact, they’re good to just have on hand whether or not you’re in transit!

Plane Trip With Kids | Wax Craft Sticks
The creative possibilities are truly endless with a pack of colorful wax craft sticks — great for long plane trips!

Wax Craft Sticks

I remember being occupied by these wax crafting sticks for hours as a kid, and they’re just as popular as they were all those years ago (you can guess when that was). Kids love these versatile, mess-free sticks because they can come up with three-dimensional creations or stick them right on the plane’s window. When they’re done, simply peel them apart and start over!

Tweens & Teens

Traveling with older children? They’ll likely have a good idea of what to pack to keep themselves occupied during your flight — but here are a few tips to enhance the experience:

  • Make sure your flight is WiFi enabled before it’s time to start packing. If it’s not, don’t panic. Just make sure you’ve given your older kids enough notice so they can download any content they may want to access in transit.
  • If you can, give your tweens or teens a bit of spending money for the airport. They’ll love having the freedom to use it on whatever items catch their attention at those tempting gift shops — and you’ll love having a pre-set limit.
  • Just because they’re older doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate a pre-trip surprise gift. Not sure what to give them? We’ve got a few ideas below.
Plane Trip With Kids | Book About Your Destination
Equip your kids with interesting facts and knowledge about your travel destination with a travel book they can read on the flight.

Book About Your Destination

Even as a kid, I loved to pass the time on an airplane by reading. One of my favorites was the book about Disney World my mom got me to prep for my first trip to the parks — I was an encyclopedia of facts, and it had me so much more engaged with the details of our trip. If you’re traveling with a reader, consider surprising them with a travel book with fun facts and information about your destination.

Plane Trip With Kids | Apple AirPods Max
Treat your tween or teen to a quality pair of headphones for your next plane trip and they’ll reward you with peace and quiet.

Apple AirPods Max

With a good pair of headphones, you can trick yourself into thinking you’re anywhere but on an airplane. Give your older kids the gift of escape through sound and you’ll all be happier for it. Apple’s AirPods Max are a game-changer for air travel: Their cushioned over-the-ear design is ultra-comfortable, and the noise-canceling feature blocks out the rest of the world. They’re so good, you may as well get a pair for yourself!

Plane Trip With Kids | Fidget Toys
Fidget toys are a great tool for anyone to calm any travel nerves while in transit.

Fidget Toys

Plane travel can make anyone anxious, and fidget spinners and other fidget toys can be a huge help, even for older kids. These magnetic fidget rings are pocket-sized and completely silent, so they won’t disturb your travel neighbors while they ease anxiety and stress.

Plane Trip With Kids | Magnetic Board Game Set
Lean into non-electronic in-flight entertainment for your older kids and surprise them with a set of magnetic retro games they’ll love!

Magnetic Board Game Set

Like I said above, your older kids will have their electronic gear covered. You, on the other hand, can supply a dose of nostalgia and old-school games by packing a magnetic board game set. These travel-friendly sets include checkers, chess, snakes and ladders, and nine other fun retro games they’ll love playing while in flight.

Plane Trip With Kids | Travel Journal
Your older kids will love recording their travel memories in a dedicated travel journal with creative prompts to spark their thoughts.

Travel Journal

Traveling with older kids can open up meaningful conversations and spark insights they’ll want to remember. A travel journal gives them a place to record their memories, hold onto keepsakes, and write down their travel wishes. This option comes ready with thoughtful prompts to get them started.

Happy Travels!

Now that you’ve got all the best items to keep everyone occupied in flight, you’re ready to embark on your next family adventure! Remember — the journey is half the fun, so embrace every moment and lean into the craziness that’s impossible to avoid while traveling.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. The ideas are ours, but we may be compensated if you make a purchase by clicking on one of the links. Thanks for your support!

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