Air Travel with Toddlers Made Easy

Getting through an airport can be quite an affair alone, but add two small children and the anxiety level can rise quickly. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that our chosen lifestyle involves lots of travel. We love to discover new places, but getting to them can be tedious. In this post, I’ll let you in on our secrets of making air travel with our kids quite enjoyable.

The Childish Art of Luggage Riding

Below is the one and only way we have been able to smoothly get through an airport with our 4 & 2 year old. If you’ve got spinner luggage you’re ahead of the game. Spinner luggage has four multi-directional spinner wheels that allow 360 degree upright rolling in multiple directions so there is no weight on your arm. It’s easy and you can push the suitcase with your foot, hip or whatever body part is available. We use Samsonite luggage for their reputation of durability. Below is our Luggage Riding technique, which is NOT approved by any luggage manufacturer (and I hereby release all liability from me). Try it at your own risk.

We zoom in and out of airports pretty effortlessly with our spinner luggage

We zoom in and out of airports pretty effortlessly with our spinner luggage

The childish Art of Luggage Riding

The childish Art of Luggage Riding at Ohare airport

  • Use Spinner luggage (any sturdy luggage with wheels will do)
  • Have your toddler sit on it and hold on
  • Push/pull them all the way.
I can handle two at once!

I can handle two at once!

Okay, sure…an umbrella stroller would do the same job, but this is much more fun!

We love, love, love our spinner luggage. It’s so easy to push or pull that sometimes I’ll tie a scarf or rope to it and create a fun job for a four year old to pull to the immigration desk.

G pulls our luggage through the airport to the customs desk.

G pulls our luggage to the Bali immigration desk.

TIPS: Air Travel with Toddlers Made Easy

Keep your hands free. Don’t carry a purse that you have to hold in your hand. Backpacks or shoulder bags work best.

Get to the airport early. The airport is a fun place for toddlers and they naturally want to explore. But you’ve got security lines, ticket lines and a long terminal walk to get to the gate, so get there early to avoid being anxious and stressed. Expect the unexpected, then be pleased and relaxed while you wait at the gate and let your child explore the new surroundings. Everyone will be much more happy and relaxed.

Book nonstop flights whenever you can. It’s just easier to load and unload your children from one plane instead of 2.

Make the airport experience fun. From a toddler’s perspective, the airport is a place of new discovery. If you follow the most important tip (get to the airport early) then you can enjoy watching your toddler explore. A train or subway ride will be a more fun experience when you know you have extra time to get to the gate.

Hanging on the train in Hong Kong...super fun!

Hanging on the train in Hong Kong…super fun!

Don’t overpack. You don’t need to carry on 14 diapers, wetwipes and 3 changes of clothing. Unexpected things can happen, but if you overburden yourself with baggage, you’ll have less hands available for your kids.

Ease ear pain with a few snacks. Lollipops (or our favorite, gummy worms) are great.  The sucking will help prevent your child’s little ears from hurting due to the air-pressure changes in the cabin during take off and landing.

Book them their own seat. Now that both of our children are over 2, they are required to have their own seat. It was a welcome relief for us as it makes for a much more comfortable journey.

Miss I enjoys first class

Miss I enjoys first class in Costa Rica

Relax. Your child will be more relaxed if you are. A stressed parent makes for a stressed child.

Click for even more detailed tips on the Suprisingly Easy Truth of Traveling with Children.

What tips would you add to the list? Leave your tips below in the comment section.

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4 Responses to “Air Travel with Toddlers Made Easy”

  1. Erin August 10, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    I’ve never put the kids on our Spinner, going to try that next time, but our 3 yr old pushes it with so much ease she loves it.
    We recently almost missed our flight in Boracay. Was upstairs playing when a flight attendant said miss ur plane has boarded, we’ve been paging u. What service: 2 guys grab our bags, 2 grab our kids & we run for the plane lol. It takes off early & arrives half hr early- 40 min plane ride! Then they grab my kids again carry them off the plane & into shelter. So my tip be almost late, but not late lol. But really my tip would be:
    REMEMBER TO CHARGE EVERYTHING – the ipad, the laptops, the phones, whatever you have make sure they don’t die half way through Dora otherwise you are in trouble lol.

  2. Kate Green August 11, 2012 at 3:33 am #

    I twice had to get across terminals at Atlanta airport in less than an hour with young children in tow. Both times the airline arranged for us to be taken the back way via a bus for staff — it took 10 minutes as bypassed/went under buildings. Just a tip:)

  3. Lisa Wood August 13, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    Love the idea of travelling in style – by sitting on the suitcases! What a great idea for little ones who cant work for long periods of time.
    And yep travelling with kids can be so easy!

  4. Emily March 19, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

    We’ll give the “spinner” ride a try next week, I bet my 2 year old will love it. We have him pack his own carry on back pack with small toys, coloring supplies, and books.

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