How (not) to Travel with Kids

This Christmas and New Year, we flew to Ohio to spend time with my dad and his side of the family. It was super fun, but there were definitely some hiccups along the way. Almost everyone got sick for some duration, we were almost pulling our hair out during the five hour delay in Chicago, etc.

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How to Travel with Kids | Flying with a Baby | Flying with a Toddler | Flying with a Preschooler | Sane at Home Mom

There are so many blog posts that I should have read (and could have tried to write) about how to travel with toddlers and babies and how to stay relatively calm. But I didn’t. I don’t have the best advice how to do this, because we failed on that front. Ha! I do have a lot of things that you shouldn’t do however, and I feel as though I should share them with you now.

How Not to Travel with Kids

Don’t Set High Expectations

Christmas is a pretty magical time with kids, and the Christmas we spent as a family the day before we left was pretty awesome. We left on Christmas Eve to the airport, and I had dreams of cute little backpack toting kids being perfect and sipping tiny hot chocolates. Uhh. What? I’ve been a mom for almost five years. I should know better by now.

My two-year old’s Christmas outfit was covered in chocolate by the time we got to our destination. I honestly don’t remember giving her chocolate. She was wriggling out of her airplane seat the entire four hour flight to the east coast. My four year old was going nuts about not being able to play on the laptop. Oi.

How to Travel with Kids | Flying with a Baby | Flying with a Toddler | Flying with a Preschooler | Sane at Home Mom

My expectations of a magical Christmas Eve flight were high going in, and I was sorely disappointed. I was expecting a lot out of three little kids who really don’t grasp the concept of time very well, and were dealing with oncoming sicknesses, the excitement and sugar of Christmas, and the unknown of being in an airport for almost six hours. With lower expectations, I know I would have been able to keep my cool a lot easier, and just laugh off most of what was making me so upset.

Don’t Forget Plane Activities (and don’t be afraid of technology)

This is one part that I thought I was doing a really great job at. I had packed two miniature backpacks full of activities like coloring, stickers, and books that would definitely keep my two older kids occupied for the plane ride over to Ohio. When we dropped our car off at long term parking, one backpack got left behind somehow.

How to Travel with Kids | Flying with a Baby | Flying with a Toddler | Fly with Kids | Sane at Home Mom

My two year old had enough to keep one kid occupied and it was not enough. We also didn’t bring the iPad, because we don’t like having to rely on it. Big mistake. Kids love movies and it’s one of the only things that keep ours still.

Luckily, Micah got a LeapPad for Christmas while we were over there, and it kept him super occupied the whole way back! (If you have a preschooler, I highly recommend these for plane and car-rides. They are safe, fun and age appropriate.)

Don’t Forget the Small Stuff

My sister-in-law recommended these amazing things called Ear-Planes, and I’m not sure if they actually worked, but I’m going to believe they did because my kids did not complain about their ears once. We used them in the two older kids along with gum and pacifiers. I nursed the baby and nobody was screaming about changing ear pressure.

It may seem like a hassle to order extra things to make flying just a little bit easier, but I will say it’s worth that last drop of sanity that’s keeping you from taking the nearest emergency exit.

Make sure you have enough diapers and wipes/extra clothes/snacks to last through the flight time, plus some. Bring Tylenol and diaper-rash cream, because you will need it. Don’t treat this like a trip to the grocery store. Be the annoyingly over-prepared mom!

How to Travel with Kids | Flying with a Baby | Flying with a Toddler | Flying with Kids | Sane at Home Mom

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (or the big stuff)

Seriously, everyone has either had a kid or been a kid. People will give rude stares and make comments, but they’re probably just as stressed about traveling as you are. You’ll get there eventually and then you can have a glass of wine while the kids are sound asleep.

You’re doing great. Kids just aren’t meant for travel. Trust me.


I will end with one thing we did right.. Sophia is just barely over the limit for being a lap child, so she has to have her own seat. We made the decision on the way back home to lug her carseat through the airport so she could be contained. And. Oh. My. Goodness. Game-changer. Girl took a 2.5 hour nap and was completely contained. Highly recommend. Next time, we will probably invest in one of these to make carrying it a little bit easier though.

What tips do you have for traveling with little ones? Let me know in the comments below!



  1. Lora

    January 17, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    Traveling with kids definitely isn’t easy. I hate relying on the iPad or other “screen” devices too. But Chris and I love watching movies when we are on the plane – so why not the kids as well 😉 I haven’t flown with the kids since they were 2&1. Thankfully we had grandparents with us and could pass my son off to different arms throughout the flight. Lots of snacks and activities for sure! And when they are super little a stroller is a must! Especially when you have a long walk between gates.

    1. saneathomemom

      January 25, 2018 at 10:34 am

      Yes. The screen is limited around here, but the plane is somewhere we let them watch movies and play games to their hearts content ha!

  2. Amy

    January 19, 2018 at 8:23 am

    Love this. I laughed out loud more than once. Been there, done this. Love you!!

    1. saneathomemom

      January 25, 2018 at 10:33 am

      Haha it is not for the faint of heart. Love you, mom!

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