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  • Writer's picturePaula Robertson

Hassle-free travel with little ones

Practical tips for stress-free travelling with small children in tow...

I once took a 17-hour flight alone with my son when he was 7 months old, and survived to tell the tale...with a lot of practical survival tips! Traveling with young children can be an exciting adventure, but it often comes with its fair share of challenges. Whether you're embarking on a family vacation or visiting relatives over the holiday season, travel with little ones does require some careful planning and preparation. To help make your journey hassle-free, here are some practical tips and advice:

Before You Fly:

Plan Ahead:

  • Book direct flights whenever possible to minimize layovers and reduce travel time.

  • Try to choose flight times that align with your child's sleep schedule to increase the chances of them napping during the flight. It's ok to turn up to the airport with your little ones in pyjamas, if necessary!

Pack Wisely:

  • Carry essential items in your carry-on, such as diapers, wipes, snacks, a change of clothes (for you and your little one), favorite toys, and any necessary medications.

  • Bring a lightweight stroller or carrier for easy maneuvering through the airport. I like the inexpensive umbrella-style strollers, which are light-weight and easy to fold away, but not so expensive to upset you in they are banged about in the baggage claim.

Seat Selection:

  • Opt for seats in the front of the cabin for easier access to lavatories and quicker exit upon arrival.

  • Consider bulkhead seats for extra legroom and space for your child to play. Often airlines will allow you to pre-book or request these seats in advance.

At the Airport:

Early Arrival:

  • Arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare to manage unexpected delays and security procedures without stress.

Prepare for long walks to the terminal:

  • For young infants, remember to pack a baby carrier or sling so you can 'wear' your baby and keep your hands free if you have to make a long walk to your departure gate.

  • For children who are a little older, it may be a good idea to use kids' luggage that they can ride on, and rest their tired legs. I'm a big fan of the Trunki® ride-on kids suitcase for this reason, but there are other similiar models on the market these days.

Security Checkpoint Tips:

  • Wear slip-on shoes for easy removal during security checks.

  • Be prepared to fold and stow your stroller if required by security.

Snacks and Entertainment:

  • Pack a variety of snacks and drinks to keep your child nourished and hydrated during the flight.

  • Bring along their favorite books, coloring books, toys, or electronic devices to keep them entertained. Make sure to upload some of their favourite movies or shows to your tablet before you travel.


Engage During Takeoff and Landing:

  • You'll want to encourage swallowing during takeoff and landing to help equalize ear pressure. Offer a pacifier, breast feed, bottle, or snacks for infants and toddlers during the plane's ascent or descent. Once you're at cruising altitude, the cabin air pressure is usually stably maintained and more comfortable for your little one's ears.

Seat Strategies:

  • Request a window seat for your child to marvel at the view and reduce disturbance to fellow passengers.

  • Use seat belts designed for children, if available, to ensure their safety during turbulence.

Be Courteous:

  • Apologize in advance to nearby passengers for any potential disruptions caused by your child and maintain a positive attitude throughout the flight. In my experience, many passengers are very understanding, especially if they are also parents and have been through the experience of travelling with little ones themselves!

Coping with Challenges:

Calming Techniques:

  • Try to stay calm and composed if your child becomes restless or upset. Comfort them with soothing words and distractions.

  • Take short walks up and down the aisle to stretch and change the scenery.

Bathroom Breaks:

  • Accompany your child to the lavatory and be prepared for potential accidents by having spare clothing easily accessible.

After Landing:

Pace Yourself:

  • Take your time disembarking the plane, allowing other passengers to leave first to avoid rushing with tired and cranky children.

Rest and Recuperate:

  • Allow for sufficient downtime upon arrival to settle in and adjust before diving into your travel plans.

Stay Flexible:

  • Remember that things might not go as planned, and flexibility is key to a smoother travel experience with young ones. Be gentle with yourself, and remember to practise your own self-care!

By implementing these practical tips and staying adaptable, you can significantly reduce stress and enhance the joy of traveling with your young children. Bon voyage and safe travels!

Be well,


Dr Paula Robertson is a busy mom and a paediatrician with over twenty years' experience working with young people and their families. She is also a certified children's mindfulness teacher and Positive Discipline Parenting coach. You can find out more at

Our AI wellness assistant has contributed to the writing of this article.

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