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Tips for Long Flights with an Active Toddler

Updated on September 3, 2013


When I traveled to India with my daughter last fall, she was a fifteen-month-old bundle of joy-- and energy! She had been walking for nine months, and she wasn't used to being contained. Our days consisted of a visit to the playground and the library, a walk around our apartment complex, another visit to the playground, and plenty of active indoor play. I dreaded our nearly twenty-four hour journey, so I did my homework. How could I entertain (and in lieu of entertain at the very least manage) my toddler for so long with none of our usual distractions?

Our over-stuffed carry-on
Our over-stuffed carry-on

Something Old

For starters, I had to plan ahead. I stood in her bedroom and looked around. What things were small enough to pack, fun enough to distract, and quiet enough not to bother everyone around us? I packed somethings old:

  • Her favorite stuffed animal
  • Her beloved blanket (which thankfully was small)
  • Several of her favorite books
  • Toys with buttons (and volume control)
  • Hair clips she liked to click open and shut
  • Her favorite snacks and go-to sippy cups (or bottles-- bring extra!)

Something New

I decided to pack a few new toys, as well, since anything new is fodder for the curious toddler's mind. I purchased then packed:

  • A child's remote control (with volume control)
  • A small wooden puzzle
  • A couple of new books (with flaps and moving parts)
  • A small flashlights
  • New snacks

Something Creative

My daughter has long been fascinated by writing utensils and paper. So I packed:

  • A dry-erase board with several colorful markers and an eraser
  • A magnetic drawing board with the built in track eraser (See suggestion below)
  • A few pipecleaners with colorful beads
  • Colored pencils and new coloring books

Something Electronic

Let's face it, today's kids seem to be born with more tech savvy than we could ever hope to learn. So we bought a new tablet (see ours below) and loaded it with free (yes, free!) toddler-friendly applications. Some of our favorites include:

  • abc Wow!
  • Toddler Counting 123
  • Train
  • Barnyard Games for Kids
  • Fireworks (the surprise hit!)

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is this: you know your toddler better than anyone. You know which old toys bring him/her the most joy (and the most distraction). You know what new gadgets and toys will appeal to his/her personality. I say, err on the side of bringing too much.

And don't forget the snacks. A good tube of puffs might save your flight.


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