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Air Travel with Toddlers

Your bags are packed, the flight is booked, and you don't have a clue about how you are going to keep your child happy for the next eight hours of travel. Here are a few tips to make your next trip a dream, not a nightmare:

Snacks! Most airlines have cut back to a limited amount of food service on flights under three hours. Bring along your child's favorite snacks. Grapes, for example, help rehydrate during flight and are a non-messy alternative to juice boxes that can spill.

Games! Even the littlest member of your family can get occupied with a tablet for hours on end. Download child-friendly games to an iPad or Android tablet to keep your toddler entertained during the flight. Just make sure the games will work even when offline and don't forget the set the gadget on Airplane mode before take off.

Gifts! When my daughter was seventeen months old, I took four airplanes and managed sixteen hours of travel by using this trick. Go to a drugstore and purchase inexpensive items (a small figurine, crayons, etc.) For every hour in the air, pull out a wrapped "gift" that the child can open. It will keep him busy for a while and will give him something to which he could look forward.

Books! Bring along your child's favorite books and have a story hour. Neighboring children might join in the fun!

DVDs! Some airlines have only one feature film that may not interest your child. Check out if your airline offers in-flight portable DVD rentals. The cost is roughly $20 and may be very well spent.

Backpacks! Every child likes to have her own suitcase. Fill the child's backpack with a new activity book, crayons, playing cards, and a new spiral notebook. Older children may enjoy writing down their travel experiences as they go.

Lights! Smaller children may have a hard time sleeping on the airplane. Keep the overhead lights around you off to minimize distractions during naptime.

Camera! Give your older child a disposable camera. She can document her trip in pictures, and you'll have a great memory, too!

Action! Don't forget your paper tickets and passports if you are flying internationally. Most airlines do not accept e-tickets if flying abroad, and replacement tickets at the counter can be costly.

Have a safe and fun trip!

Christine Louise Hohlbaum, American author of Diary of a Mother: Parenting Stories and Other Stuff, has been published in over 120 publications. She teaches a teleclass on book marketing. Check out her Web site for more details at

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