Kids On A Plane: Tips for Travelling with Offspring.

We interrupt our irregularly scheduled blogging to bring you this important announcement: I’m going to my first ever blog “do” next week! It’s called ProBlogger and I am rather thrilled about it – I get to meet some bloggy heroes, gush with like-minded grownups about the joys of blogging, learn stuff that will help me to do it better (blogging), and drink an as-yet-undetermined number of beverages in fancy glasses with umbrellas in them.

Or from great big jars with paper fruit straws; it’s all good.

Also exciting are the various events being held for attendees… and as such this post is an entry into the ProBlogger Virgin Australia competition. No doubt I’d’ve done a travel tips post eventually, but I’ve always worked best when being kicked up the bum to a deadline.


Disclaimer: These work best if you have two adults with two or less kids who can at least toddle themselves along. I can’t vouch for their effectiveness if kids outnumber adults (best of luck with that) and travelling with babies really needs its own post or dozen. Our kids are old enough that I can’t remember that much about travelling with them before toilet training except one particularly explosive Number Two (-and nine tenths) and THANK GOD it didn’t happen while we were still on the plane just in the hire car where we could crank open the windows. And then hand the car back.

  • First of all, try to be organised. If that’s too hard, try to have kids with someone who’s organised. Bonus points if they don’t give you a hard time about it.
  • I find compiling a list of what to take essential. That said, I have still managed to forget unforgettable items such as the baby sling, medications and the favourite dummy. (How could I forget the dummy!??)
  • Especially for first time travellers, get them involved and excited about the journey. Dig out a map and show them where you’re going. Tell them you’re going to see their Oma in Ballarat or their cousins in the snow in New Zealand. Talk about some of the places you’ll see and adventures you’ll have there. Sell it!
  • Get your kid a cute little wheely suitcase when they are ready, ie when they insist on dragging yours.
Goin’ on a plane Mummy!
  • Help them pack their clothes, a book, their teddy and other needful things into this smaller case. If you have two, check one, and use the other to help carry the family’s refreshments for the flight, as well as a change of clothes for the checked bag-ee. This saves you stuffing your own backpack full of everyone’s everything and giving yourself a hernia. (Keep in mind possible stairs up to the plane and other hand luggage you’ll have to carry down the aisle – preferably without clocking seated passengers).
  • Book the flight for morning, as early as is practical. Get the travelling done while they’re as fresh and cooperative as they’re ever going to be. Offer them a special travelling breakfast; my kids love banana cereal poppers, but they only get them on oh-dark-hundred travelling mornings.
Sleep is good. Sleep is wonderful. But don't let them sleep too long or you'll pay for it at bedtime.
Sleep is great. They’re easier to manage when they aren’t tired. But hopefully you won’t pay for it at bedtime.
  • Book  direct flights if possible. No connections. Noooo more connections ever again.
  • Allow plenty of extra time for toilet stops, slow walkers, toilet stops, trying to go through metal detectors while juggling tiny humans plus fifty pieces of baby-related hand luggage, and toilet stops, because of course they never need to go when you ask them.
  • Take them for a casual 5km jog before getting on the plane. If you can’t fit that in,  take them exploring; airports are magical places with dozens of airplanes right up close, rows of seats to crawl beneath / window ledges to parkour off, among other delights. Try not to freak out if they go a little bananas; as long as it‘s not disrupting anyone or dangerous it’s good for them to enjoy their freedom while it lasts.
One of the many things a toddler can get away with while waiting in a queue that I can't.
One of the many things a toddler can get away with while waiting in a queue that I can’t.

The awesomest airports, like Dunedin in New Zealand, have mini playgrounds for kids to blow off steam before boarding their plane. (*hint hint any airlines reading this*)

  • Give them a drink/lollipop for during takeoff and landing; increased swallowing helps their little ears equalise the pressure changes quicker and without SO MUCH YELLING.
  • Sit them by the window. This way they can take turns in the window seat for takeoff and landing, and you are on the aisle seat blocking their path so they can’t sprint off up the aisle and get taken out by the snacks trolley.
  • Bring snacks and bottled water because those cups are tiny and only good for spilling. And treats for the kids (and parents) if they’re being good. Not too much sugar though – there will be consequences. And bear in mind one of those consequences will happen in an enclosed space with recycled air conditioning.
Did your parents ever use 'rocket' as a euphemism for 'fart'?
Did your parents ever use ‘rocket’ as a euphemism for ‘fart’?
  • Baby wipes. You’ll never not need baby wipes again.
  • A favourite story, game of Grandma’s Chest or What Am I? Bring a puzzle/ colouring/ drawing book each, though don’t bring too many pens; they’ll get dropped on the floor before takeoff and then you’ll need to go collect them from the back of the plane after takeoff. Once they’re bored of all that… iPad, your phone, whatever technology you can fling at them.
  • Enjoy a cuppa compliments of the airline. Enjoy fleeting thought of drinking it warm for a change until it gets knocked off your tray table by squirming 3 year old.
  • Don’t place your open backpack directly under your tray table, especially if you’ve got a full cup of tea on it.
  • If the kids start bouncing off the walls and just HAVE to go for a walk, it should be ok once the service trolleys are finished. It’s not like they can escape.
  • At flight halftime spousie takes their turn to sit with the kids. (Set a timer.) Then hightail it across the aisle, stick your nose in a book/ magazine/ movie and try to wangle a fresh cup of tea.

– Michelle

Gold Coast airport

4 Comments Add yours

  1. JulieAnn says:

    Congrats on your win – I take it your going to the Gold Coast 🙂 Problogger is rather helpful site for many bloggers. I was going to throw in the towel but thanks to his latest post, I might just hang on a while longer 🙂
    Once again congrats


    1. Michelle says:

      Haha no I haven’t won anything! Not yet anyway, but you gotta be in it to win it, right? I’m lucky as I live on the Gold Coast so don’t have to fly anywhere. But thank you anyway, and thanks for reading! 🙂


  2. Great post! These tips are awesome and I’ll definitely be following them. I like what you said about either being organized, or having an organized partner. (It’s the latter for me.) I also appreciate the idea of having a timed ‘halftime’ where one of us sits with the kids, and the other person relaxes. That makes a lot of sense to me! That way we each know we’ll get to enjoy at least half of the flight. Also, I’m going to take into consideration what you said about flying first thing in the morning! So far we’ve aimed for late afternoon/evening so that the baby might be sleeping. But, the idea of her being as rested and well behaved as she’s ever going to be makes perfect sense. 🙂


    1. Michelle says:

      Hey Schnitty! 🙂 Yes I love the half time thing. Though we take into consideration the kids do get a bit more restless and tetchy during the second half of the flight, so we even take turns going first! In flight democracy at work. And our guys haven’t napped in a couple of years so mornings have long been the best time for us.


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