After travelling to over 8 countries and taking several long haul flights with my son when he was baby to now when he is a kindergartner, I have come across several brands and products that I have loved and hated. We parents on our travel come across so many hiccups like a frantic airport terminal, rogue luggage carts, judgmental passengers and thousands other possible hiccups that can make daily parenting battles a bit more strenuous? So being prepared with the right travel gear and travelling light has become my mantra for traveling!
This post has been updated after the pandemic and our recent travels to Hawaii , Kauai in April 2021.
The key to successfully flying with kids boils down to three things:
Getting to the airport early, planning, and packing light and the right gear. And extra snacks always help.
Below is a list of items I recommend for travelling with toddlers.
1.) JetKids BedBox
I highly recommend this JetKids Bedbox to all parents who are traveling with their kids in flights especially on long haul flights. We got this for our 23 hour journey to India in 2019 and I knew that it would simplify traveling for me and my son. Vir has been using it for more than 2 years now. Its an investment and has saved us with the long walks, flight delay related tantrums and exhaustion etc. while traveling.
This suitcase comes with adjustable strap, two sheets of decorative stickers and a mattress with seat extension.
Although Vir was only 3 and his feet weren’t touching the floor then, he comfortably sat on it while I pulled the jet-box around the airport. The mattress is convenient to extend the seat in the flight and turn it into a bed. It is great for keeping little children’s feet up and also gives space to stretch especially on long flights. Now Vir’s feet cannot be straight like the below pics as he is much taller.
Also I recommend getting an economy plus or the front row seats for more leg room if your are traveling coach. The jetbox also had ample of storage space to hold some snacks, books, iPad and headphones . When my son didn’t feel like sitting on it while we were waking around the airport, he enjoyed pulling it . We also used the JetKids Bedbox in a train chair car from Kota to Delhi which was a 7 hours journey! And I seriously felt I hit the jackpot as my son slept comfortably on it. Also there was way more leg space than in a flight.
2. Ride Safer Travel Vest- ((Updated 8/14/2021) I was introduced to this vest by my friend Pattie and after researching and trying this myself on our recent trip to Hawaii in April 2021 and Panama City Beach in May,2021 I had to add this to my list of travel must have for parents. We love it and also now have been using it regularly.
With RideSafer you won’t need to haul that heavy car seat through airport security or while you’re rushing through the terminal to make it to your gate on time.. We have a large carseat for our 5 year old which we love however it is not ideal for air travel, Uber, cabs, etc.
Lightweight and compact, the RideSafer® Travel Vest easily stows away in your luggage or even on your child’s backpack. It is simple to pull out and use SAFELY once you arrive at your destination!
As a FMVSS 213 certified child restraint, RideSafer is a legal child restraint when used according to manufacturer’s instructions. We loved keeping in our carryon and having available as soon as we reached the destination without the hassle of carrying a bulky car seat. Note- Technically the RideSafer is rated starting at 3 years old and 30 pounds.
Note, it has few more steps to get the child in the vest than a typical car seat. So it can take a few minutes to tie it correctly. I like to offer my son a neck pillow on long rides. You can learn more here.
3.A Busy Bag
In my previous post I shared a lot of ideas for toys and activities you need to have ready in case your in flight entertainment is not going as you preferred. I added below items on my list. With growing kids, we need activities that keeps them interested and occupied.
Water Wow color book – If you don’t already know about it, the Water Wow! is pretty much the greatest coloring book ever invented. I love that there is no hassle of taking markers, paints, or crayons. I bought 2 new books for Vir to keep him busy!
Play dough with new shapes and cutters.
New books -We love reading and so I got some new Pete the Cat books for my son. For older kids I recommend some cultural books that can educate them more about the destination. Please send me recommendations if you have any for India.
4. Fold–able earphones
We have the J Buddies folding headphones that are east to pack in a bag and not bulky. Also they aren’t too expensive so I am not worried about misplacing them.
We can’t leave without one anywhere. And the tablet or ipad is absolutely a must when locked in an aircraft. I took it out only when Vir was done with everything else or when I needed to catch a nap for atleast 1 hour. We took the youtube subscription where you can download the videos in offline mode. I also downloaded his favorite Nat Geo animal documentary series and many games. I highly recommend having a variety of age appropriate games to keep them busy. And one tip, definitely download some new games and videos that you think the kids will enjoy.
6. Fold-able potty seat
We are still working on potty training so I made sure we had a convenient potty seat that I can carry with me anywhere. Thanks to my cousin I was introduced to this easy to carry potty seat that came with liners and a carry bag. And yes it was so convenient than buying a potty seat in India and carrying it within the cities I was going too.
7.Hand sanitizer and wipes + ( Masks ) 2021 update
We cant do without wipes, but we carried a big and small pack for lots of cleaning. The hand sanitizer is very important on travels. I didn’t want Vir to be sick for any reason and was almost sanitizing hands almost every few hours in flight and outdoors.
8. Adjustable face mask lanyards for kids
The lanyards are comfortable and easy to adjust when needed. The variety of colors is great too. We have lost several masks on our travel and so has our son. These lanyards are great to keep the mask safe and we are using them everywhere especially at school now.
9.Blanket and sleeping toy
I definitely recommend carrying your child’s favorite blanket and plush toy. Its is especially helpful in a long flight and also when you are sleeping in new places and beds. My son slept comfortably with his Pooh everywhere and I carried it with me on flight and in train too.
10. Collapsible bottle
One of my favorite gift items and must have item for people on the go. This collapsible bottle from Hydaway is truly the best. It is ultra portable, easy to pack , non toxic and leak proof. This is one of the portable bottles that have a spout , so my son was able to sip easily. I carry it with me everywhere, and the best part is that there is no need to carry any plastic bottles that take space in a backpack or bag.
11.Insulated food jar and water bottle.
This jar has saved us so many times. If your baby or toddler is eating solids but is picky, likes warm snacks, or is just not into eating restaurant food yet (and you aren’t too keen on always giving them jars of pre-packaged food), I would bring along one of these Thermos insulated jars. and bottles too
12. Kid’s Travel Neck Pillow
We got this neck pillow last year on our road trip from Houston to Breckenridge, Colorado. This neck pillow was the perfect accessory we needed for the journey and is now a must have on all our trips.. The surface of the cloth is like a honeycomb, which is more breathable, dry. Not easy to deformation, no pilling, 100% washable.
Airplane Busy Bag Must Haves + Tips on Flying Internationally with a Baby or Toddler
A Pediatrician’s advice on caring for your child’s health while travelling to a new country
Tips for Traveling with a baby. (Our short trip to New York)
How I Survived a Long Haul Flight With a Lap Baby