Skip to Content

Traveling with Children: How to Stay Sane

Temper tantrums at customs. A baby that screams for six hours straight. A toddler that won’t stop kicking the seat of the passenger in front of them. Strangers giving you the stink eye. Becoming a casualty of projectile vomit from your sick child. These are a few of my travel experiences that I hold near and dear to my heart. Let’s face it, traveling with children has its moments and can be tough on parents and children, but it hasn’t stopped my husband and our three young children from our globetrotting adventures. Here are some of my top tips to help you stay sane the next time you fly. Bon voyage!

For long flights, I always choose a red-eye. My kids (fingers crossed) always seem to fall asleep immediately once we take off—gotta love the white noise. When we fly to France, I make sure that Maeve, my 17-month-old, and Graham, my 3-year-old, skip their afternoon naps. I always pick flights with few connections—nonstop work best with my family. Do yourself a favor and dress for comfort on travel days for both you and the children. Pack an extra set of clothes for your baby in your carry-on. Wet clothes are no fun! Airplanes tend to be cold, so bring an extra sweater for the kids. Car seats may seem like a bulky carry-on and just one more item to add to the pile, but a car seat is much more comfortable for your tot than a seat designed for an adult.

A light umbrella stroller is a must! I’m still using my Maclaren Quest for Maeve—the same one my eldest son Liam used six years ago. It’s clocked some serious mileage and is still going strong.



I always throw my ERGObaby carrier into my suitcase for Maeve. It allows me the option of wearing her while keeping my hands free—perfect for subway rides.

Keep your children entertained with a bevy of options: portable DVD player, iPod or iPad, Nintendo DS (Liam’s favorite), books, stickers, crayons and coloring books. My clan enjoy the oversize headsets, plus they just look cool.

Be sure you’ve packed the “must haves” for your carry-on bag: a hearty supply of snacks that aren’t super messy, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, tissues, diapers, rash cream, ziplock bags, sippy cups, formula, extra bottles, pacifiers (a favorite in our home), Tylenol/Motrin and any special medications your child may need.

Do you have any travel tips to share with our readers? If you do, I’d love to hear them.


Thursday 8th of December 2011

Taking off and landing can mess up their little ears because of the change in pressure, I normally breastfeed at those times as the sucking will keep the ears from 'popping', older children can sip water, suck sweets ... even older they can chew gum. Also carry everything the children need in an open top sturdy shopper bag or tote. In the UK supermarkets do a jute bag for £1 that is perfect for easy access. Last but not least, forget any round toys or those with wheels because invariably they would roll off the fold up table and go to the back of the plane!!


Thursday 8th of December 2011



Go sooner than later. At 9 wks, you don't have to worry about carseats, food, etc. just feed and sleep!


Wednesday 19th of October 2011

I agree with Sabrina but we use the Childress car seat travel bags to bring the car seats onto the plane. I love that my husband can wear the backpack and still have his hands free for pushing the stroller. I've seen strollers get wrecked after checking them at the gate and the Gate Check bags have always kept our stroller clean.

I also wrap little gifts for the plane. Keeping organized with lots of bags keeps everything in its place so I know exactly where to go when I need something.... or if I'm tied up, I can "yell" to my husband where to get something. :)


Wednesday 19th of October 2011

Oh, just a note because I see someone mentioned them, be careful with those wiki stix (wax-covered yarn) in the car. The colored wax melts. If you're traveling by car, make absolutely sure every one of them is accounted for and packed away or else you'll have a huge mess on your hands. It doesn't take long in a hot car (or even in direct sunlight in a cold car) for them to become a huge mess. On a plane, though, they're much less of a problem.


Wednesday 19th of October 2011

We traveled quite a bit via airplane with our twins when they were smaller and we've taken quite a few long road trips with all 4 of our kids who currently range from 2-9.

What worked best for us was collecting little toys from friends in the weeks before the trip. These were often Happy Meal type toys or just little toys people were eager to get rid of. Friends have always been eager to rid the house of some little toys. We made a point of asking for no toys that made noise (they're a pest on flights or in the car) I hid them away from our kids until we traveled. Then, once we were in the plane or on our way in the car, we gave them different bags of toys. They were able to swap when they wanted.

We also always pack big bags of a variety of snacks. We made a point of staying away from sugary snacks since we were going to be in confined spaces. I second the Pirate Booty recommendation up there. That's usually one of our favorite snacks for the kids. A flight attendant once came over and thanked us profusely for packing snacks for the kids. She said she saw quite a few parents who didn't pack snacks and what little they give on the flight is rarely enough for the tiny travelers and then they get antsy very quickly.