International travel with toddlers

Last updated on July 28th, 2020 at 10:54 am

We have recently landed in the west coast of America to see my side of the family, for the summer. If you have followed LTM long or even my instagram you would know this is a yearly summer tradition coming to America. For those that follow along with my holiday spamming, I thank you. If you are new here, welcome and I hope you love seeing what we are getting up to state side this summer. Coming to America isn’t the easiest journey to take from England with two toddlers in tow. The twenty-six hours from my front door to my Momma’s front door can be exhausting on my own let alone hauling two toddlers with me for the journey. Over the years, I have learned to be prepared for those long haul flights over the ocean and traveling with toddlers with these handy tips. 

International travel with toddlers tips and guidelines to survive

1. When booking your flights, request the bulk head seats as there is always extra room at your feet for your toddler to play on the carpet below or run back in forth in between you and your partner. This gives them freedom from sitting the entire time. If you can’t get these then ask for three seats on either side of the aisle and not the middle so you can corner them in by giving them the window seat (like I did with MM below). I know you think middle seats between you and your partner are better but the window seat provides more entertainment and exploring for them looking out the window or even playing with the shade. Also, helps when they want to nap they can lean again the window and wall of the plane instead of ending up over both your laps on either side with legs spread eagle. 

2. Pack a backpack for each toddler. Don’t let them fill it with things they think they need but essentials you will need to keep them occupied for the long haul flight. Don’t share one backpack, they will fight over the mere fact its’ mine, no it’s mine, trust me. Include entertainment, coloring, snacks, drinks, changes of clothes, more snacks, books, stickers, child friendly headphones for international flights to watch movies, cartoons and listen to music for each toddler. Beat the arguing by being prepared. Don’t pack sugary snacks or drinks though you don’t want the sugar high to deal with on top of traveling nor the come down afterwards.

3. When you get through security check, let them run free. Don’t keep them in strollers or have them sit down to wait. They will be doing that enough on the plane. I pick a corner that’s empty and let them chase themselves, each other, or run wild (within reason). This will also tired them out for that international snooze you pray for when you are six or seven hours into your flight. 

4. Ten minutes before boarding, bathroom break if you are potty training. You can bet your bottom they will shout for the toilet as soon as you start to take off. Board early enough to have time to settle in but don’t be the first ones on or you are forcing your toddlers to sit still even longer. You have assigned seating on international flights they will still be there for you when you get on board. When you get them on board and in their seats, give them a tiny snack and one sticker to play around with while the rest of the airplane boards. The flight attendants usually come over and say hello and talk to them which is always helpful. Distractions are a parent’s best friend when flying long haul.

5. During long haul flights, you have to be as relaxed as possible. They will feel if you are getting upset and angry and trying too hard to keep them silent. They are children. Let them laugh (a little), talk at their volume (a little) and even let them stand in the seat as you just might be lucky enough to have a funny person behind you who entertains them for half the flight. It’s a godsend when this happens. If you have grumpy behind you pray they close their eyes and go to sleep or your child vomits on them. Only kidding, kind of. Expect the unexpected like a whole bottle of water going all over you when he squeezes it by himself. Expect for vomit and other bathroom accidents to happen, flying makes everyone’s tummy unhappy. Best of all, just think of it as one long day and you won’t be on the plane forever. Mind set is everything for the flight and packing is essential for a restful mindsight. 🙂 

International travel with toddlers tips and guidelines to survive

6. I like shopping around for a new toy for each of my toddlers to pull out of my carryon when the going gets tough. Remember what I said about distractions. A new toy is great for this tactic. I try to find soft toys that are light, small and don’t make a lot of noise. There are numerous online baby shops that you can shop at for these. This is to be brought out when you are more than half way through your journey don’t wimp out and give it to them straight away no matter how bad the tantrum is.. promise you will thank me later. 

7. When the seat belt sign is off let them walk up and down the aisles. They are big enough and on most international flights there are two aisles so you aren’t blocking them completely. A lot of people like to start talking to your cute little ones and it can make the time go faster and give you time to stretch your own legs without looking like one of them. You know who I mean. Obviously, be prepared when the seat belt lights go back on you have a bribery snack or toy hidden in your bag to get them back in their seat and distract tactics in order like a new movie or cartoon to keep them there. Always a good idea to do the walk just before drinks or food are served so they have a reason to stay seated by telling them, “we are about to eat”.

8. Always bring a good stroller with you when traveling long haul flights. There is most likely going to be flight connections and your tired little ones may need to run and be free in between but it’s great to use to carry all your carryon items in when they aren’t using it or if they have fallen asleep to carry them. I once had to run extremely fast to make my connecting flight in Paris to Seattle with two toddlers on my own. My double stroller was my very best friend. Strapped them both in and hung all three carryon bags on the handles and ran as fast as I have ever ran before in my life. I made the flight. My kids thought it was the most fun ever running past everyone while mommy was mortified, screaming, coming through, and look out. Too bad, I didn’t know french no one moved out of my way. 

9.  If your destination doesn’t have a cot or bed for your little one you can easily buy a travel cot to take with you. I have taken one with us on numerous flights and just used a travel bag over the cot to check it at baggage. The benefit of this means you can stuff extra clothes and necessities in that bag along with your cot. Win, win. You can never over pack when you are traveling with toddlers. 

10. The best thing for an international long haul flight with toddlers is to know you aren’t going to watch any part of any movie, or have that bubbly drink you used to enjoy while flying, your dinner tray most likely will be their feeding ground too or end up on you or the floor. Be prepared for it all to go completely wrong. Ignore everyone around you that will only stress you out further, children are loud, it’s a known fact.  So when it all goes smoothly it’s like pure heaven.

I have probably been on over a hundred flights with my toddlers right from the first few weeks my son was first born. I have also probably encountered every horrible flight story with a baby or toddler you have ever heard. While you can’t always prepare for everything or carry everything with you, as a parent you can sure try. That’s what I do, I try my best and well if they end up screaming for ten hours on a flight from Seattle back to Paris and your standing the entire 9 hours minus take off and landing to rock and try to console them and it doesn’t work. Well, that’s only nine hours of your life gone and a few hundred strangers hating you but you are still getting to where you need to go and never going to see any of them again. Isn’t that the whole purpose of flying to reach your final destination?

Happy international flying with your toddlers. 

International travel with toddlers tips and guidelines to survive

*collaborative post

6 thoughts on “International travel with toddlers”

  1. This is ace!! I just wrote something similar but I feel like a total novice now…. I can’t believe your toddlers have done about a hundred flights!! There’s some great advice in there that I’ll have to remember for any more flights we do with our little one… Although I’m not I would ever have the confidence to go long-haul with him, you’ve done amazingly well! Great read xxx

    • It’s all apart of being an expat and living abroad…I have flown on so many flights with them with their Daddy and solo a bunch now too and it just comes easy. Doesn’t help that it takes three whole flights just to get to my parents house and a three hour car drive after that. I think I have experienced every scenario you can think of on a plane and in the car so I could have made my advice pages longer but I got the most of it down I think. lol 🙂

    • I promise you I am not once you do it a few times it becomes second nature honestly. I thought the very same at first that I couldn’t do it.

    • Thank you I wouldn’t call it brave just necessity but once you do it a few times it’s easy. We are living it up here and loving our summer.


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