help toddlers travel well

The Airplane is Dancing!!! (and other silliness to help toddlers travel well)

Does your toddler roll with the changes or need a little extra prep for things outside of the comfort zone?  Regardless on your child’s personality, these fun ideas are designed to help toddlers travel well!

Traveling with toddlers can be a ton of fun but even when everything is going as planned, little issues can pop up and ruin a perfectly good afternoon.  It’s a general consensus that one of the most high-strung times can be when you’re on the airplane, flying to or home from your family vacation.  Naps are missed, snacks forgotten and well, temperatures can rise!  Luckily, there are a lot of tricks and ideas that can help keep your little ones (and you) calm and less cranky.

Here are a few of our favorite ways to help toddlers travel well on an airplane.

  • Books – the first thing I suggest to parents who ask for tips on plane travel with kids is to prepare their kids before their vacation by buying a couple of books, specifically about airplanes and airports.  These books can be taken on the plane but be sure to read them a few times before you take the child to the airport so that their young minds will have an idea on what to expect when they get there.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and prepping you child will reduce their anxiety and make the trip more of an adventure.  My 3-year old and I have flown dozens of times (literally) but we still read the airplane books and have fun with them.
  • Songs – Finding a good song to sing on take-off and landing can work wonders for the mind of a child and help toddlers travel well.  We have a song and book by Barefoot Books called Up, Up, Up that we edit for airplane travel.  It works well.  This gives us a great opening to use tip #3, which is…
  • Silly Explanations For Anything Scary – the way a parent reacts to stressors has an immediate impact on their child’s psyche.  We already knew that, right?!  Still… calming yourself and taking hold of the situation with silliness will bring smiles instead of tears, especially on an airplane.  For example, turbulence is likely to happen on take-off and landing so if you’re utilizing tip #2 and singing, you can always just tell your toddler that the plane is dancing and convince them to dance along with it!  It works like a charm and even makes the stressed strangers sitting next to you smile, too.  Haha
    Just the other day, I returned home from a trip that I’d taken without my 3-year old and when he and daddy picked me up from the airport, he ask me if the plane had danced for me.  It was super sweet.  Unfortunately, the plane had danced a lot of that flight!
    Other parents say things like the angels are bowling, we’re playing bumper cars with the clouds, and so on.  You’ll find your own ideas and silliness to share with your children, of course.  (And if you already have some good ideas on how to help toddlers travel well, we’d love to hear them in the comments below!)

    help toddlers travel well

    If you want to help toddlers travel well, simple games and songs about airplanes are an easy way to ease their anxiety.

  • The Rest – and then of course, there’s the rest of the stuff that kids always need… distractions (toys, brand new surprises, snacks, a nap, etc).  You know your child best here so I won’t try to tell you what will work best.  I will say, though, that crayons, clay and paper work best for my 3-year old and I’ve written some ideas in other blogs, as well.  Oh, here’s a big consideration, too… we schedule flights during naptime because he will actually sleep on the plane.  Thank goodness!  If your child won’t, schedule around them, if possible.

So I hope this blog has helped to remind you that making light of high-strung situations instead of letting yourself get caught up in the stress can really help toddlers travel well.  And creating new silliness with clay, songs, and other distractions will help you, as well!

How do you explain away things like turbulence and help toddlers travel well on an airplane?  We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section!

About Susan D

Curious Mind, Adventurer Heart... Susan D is a frequent traveler and the mother of an (amazing) toddler boy, Ian. They often travel together, just the two of them, (daddy doesn't have the travel bug as often) and hope to inspire others to travel more with their kids.
At the age of 3, Ian has been to 18 countries with mommy, and on over 30 airplane rides. They love to visit family, friends and interesting places all over the globe and are excited to share their great adventures, mishaps, and tips for traveling with kids with you! Traveling with children is rewarding and an education that should not be missed.

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