My family and I recently went on a Maui vacation, better known as a trip, because kids were involved. Did you know there was a difference? Well, sure enough, there is. A vacation is going somewhere without your kids, and a trip is taking them along. We brought our 7-year-old daughter and our 3-year-old toddler son, better known as a “threenager.” We flew from Portland to Maui non-stop, about a 6-hour flight duration.

So, what do you do to entertain a toddler for six hours in a confined space, you might ask? Well, let me begin by saying I did a bit of research before leaving on our trip. I asked numerous moms (and dads) and got several ideas. Now, I do realize every child is different, but this kiddo is definitely “busy” by definition and needs constant entertainment. At home, I allow for boredom, but for the sake of the other passengers and my own sanity, I needed him entertained for that entire flight!

Before we left, I made sure each kiddo had a mini carry-on sized suitcase with wheels, so they could pull their own. We filled them with things they like and a few new items that they were surprised with. Below you will see my list of must haves and highly recommended items, along with a few toddler flying tips. Of course, every parent feels differently on utilization of electronic devices, but for the sake of this post, I am recommending them. If you don’t agree, I understand.

Must-Bring Travel Items for Kids

  1. A tablet/electronic device, such as a Kindle Fire, that is inexpensive and able to be loaded with numerous games and shows/movies prior to takeoff. Reminder for those flying over the ocean: don’t depend on WiFi for streaming, as this is unavailable during this type of flight. Also, I recommend a padded case with the ability to stand the screen up to watch. Don’t forget headphones, so everyone on the plane doesn’t have to listen to Frozen for the 100th time.
  2. Coloring books, stickers, and crayons with their favorite characters/themes.
  3. A small new toy, item they get to “open” during the flight to play with. Check out the dollar section at Target or the Dollar Tree for inexpensive items.
  4. SNACKS! Probably one of the most important items to bring! Bring more than you think you need, and a huge variety, because you are bound to hear, “I’m hungry” a lot, and “I don’t want that,” as well.
  5. Magnetic board games – these are life changing. No more losing game pieces; they will “stick” to the game board magnetically. Depending on the age of your child, there are themed backgrounds available that they can build and play with.
  6. A change of clothes, diapers, and wipes for those accidents, spills, etc. that are bound to happen on the plane.
  7. A reusable spill-proof drink cup you can fill with water, milk, or juice on the flight to avoid said spills.
  8. Books for you to read to them and for them to look at.
  9. Stuffed animal and blanket in case they want to lay down, take a nap, or to soothe them if they get scared.
  10. Gum for older kids and lollipops for toddlers to help ease their ears and release pressure during take-off and landing.

toddler flying tips

So, there you have it! It’s not an all-encompassing “toddler flying tips” list, but it will get you thinking about things your toddler likes, and is entertained by. And remember, you will need to replenish their snacks for the flight home, and may want to consider updating their games/shows while you have access to WiFi on land before taking off again. This will give them a fresh set of things to entertain them for the return flight.

I encourage you to plan ahead, be prepared for all situations, and give yourself and your toddler grace during the flight. Because this, too, shall pass! Happy travels!