Inspiration Explore 6 Tips for Flying with a Toddler

6 Tips for Flying with a Toddler

December 19, 2023
Father flying a toy airplane with his child, preparing for a flight with a toddler.

Flying with kids is all in the preparation – these practical tips make toddler travel go as smoothly as possible.

With a toddler, every day is a heady rollercoaster of emotions. Add in the overstimulation, excitement and routine-disruption that travel brings and things can quickly become overwhelming – for everyone.  

Happily, there are a few insurance policies you can put in place to minimise hiccups along the way. 

Read on for our tried-and-tested tips.  

Book with an airline with a reputation for being on time 

Delays and cancelled flights are less than ideal with young children in tow and can lengthen your overall travel time considerably. By tactically choosing your airline, you can potentially avoid a stressful scenario. According to government aviation data, in October 2023, Rex Airlines reported among the lowest number of cancellations of all Australian carriers (at just 2.3% of flights compared to almost double for competitors).  

“As a pilot, our main priority is safety first. A close second is on-time performance (OTP),” says James Rice, a pilot for Rex Airlines. "Our flight crew co-ordinate with the ops team, dispatch, baggage crew, engineers, and refuellers on every flight all to ensure we leave on time.” 

Take spare clothes – for everyone  

Parents will likely know what a toddler is capable of in a day when it comes to mess, and in a confined space with food and drink involved, it’s better to be safe than… soggy. Clean, dry clothes for your little one AND yourself is a good insurance policy in case of any unexpected accidents, so you can all continue your journey in comfort. You’ll also thank yourself in the moment for packing an extra plastic bag for soiled clothes. 

Entertainment: think small but mighty  

With limited space in carry-on luggage, you’ll want toys and entertainment that are compact but offer a lot of mileage. Colouring books, reusable stickers, small jigsaw puzzles or card games like Spot It! are all great options. Avoid LEGO and small figurines, unless you want to spend the whole journey scrabbling around in the footwell trying to retrieve them, to the soundtrack of a wailing toddler. An iPad pre-loaded with their favourite shows and toddler-friendly game apps is also a lifesaver to pull out in fraught moments or long queues.  

Opt for an early- morning departure 

The early bird gets the worm: by booking one of the first cabs off the rank, you’ll minimise the likelihood of knock-on delays across the day.   

“In my experience, the main reason for delays is weather, which causes a knock-on effect throughout the day, so book an early flight,” says James. “As a Dad and a pilot, I know it’s more likely that we’ll get off on time with an earlier departure, and less risk of a grumpy toddler in case there are any delays. 

I always tell friends and family to book their tickets 7-12 days from date of travel and use the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website to briefly study the weather patterns and synoptic charts to see if any weather will incur delays for travel.” 

Invest in a wheely kid’s suitcase 

If your offspring is of the blink-and-they’ve-run-away variety, a busy airport can be an alarming setting. With your attention spread between juggling luggage, travel documents, checking in and parenting, it can be hard to have eyes on everything. If your little one’s past the point of being strapped into a pram, a wheely kid’s suitcase, like a Trunki, is a great investment. These ride-on cases come in child-friendly designs, meaning kids love to sit astride, and there’s a pullable strap so you can easily guide them along. It also saves tired toddler legs (and potential tantrums) with all the walking between gates. 

Pack for a snack attack 

The only thing more temperamental than a toddler is a hangry toddler. Save yourself by taking as many snacks as you can possibly carry, in case they don’t like the food offered on the plane. Plus – bored in a queue? Whip out a snack. Fidgety in their seat? Snack. Ears popping? SNACK. You get the picture. 

Looking for more inspiration? Check out How to Travel Long-Haul with a Baby.

About Rebecca Ellwood
An English girl in Melbourne, Rebecca's exploring and tasting her way around Australia and beyond – and she does love a little luxury (who doesn't, darling?)

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