We have gone on quite a few international trips with our children now and I wanted to create this post on tips and tricks for plane travel with kids since I had a few requests for it. First and foremost, pack lightly. If you forget something, you can most likely buy it if you really need it. If it’s something that you wouldn’t be able to buy last minute, make sure that you have those items on the top of your priority packing list. When it comes to plane travel, we pack lightly. The gear is essential when traveling as a family. Over the years I have narrowed it down to the items you see below. I am writing this in 2022 when we are traveling with an 8,6,4 and 1 year old. Obviously, as they get bigger, a few of these items won’t be necessary and our gear will decrease. We typically bring one large suitcase, one small suitcase + two Tom Bihn duffel bags (the ones we have are bigger than the ones linked but they don’t sell them anymore) for all 6 of us. On top of that we have a portable crib, Slumberpod, lightweight stroller + one backpack. Each child has a backpack that they bring onto the plane with their snacks, 1 change of clothes, + activities. I pack the one backpack for the plane with snacks for my husband and I, snacks for the baby, diapers, wipes, etc. I will go more into depth on the plane details later on. We will often bring an infant car seat for our baby to sit in on the plane. If they’re a year or younger, we will just choose lap but over age 1, we get them their own seat with a car seat to strap them in. I also bring this booster for our oldest and this booster for our 6 year old. For our 4 year old, we rent a toddler seat. I recommend placing seats in this bag.
We typically check the suitcases, duffels, crib + booster seats. We take the car seat, stroller + backpack on the plane with us. Packing lots of snacks for the kids is crucial. Think lollipops (great as a last resort), bars, raisins, dried fruit, protein sticks, etc. Each child will pack a few things to do on the plane. Planes are the only time that they use their fire tablets. They will load a few games on there as well as a few movies. We have used these when we did long car rides as well, like the 12 hour road trip we had from Switzerland to Austria. A few other great items to bring: hidden picture books, polly pocket, a bracelet making kit (have them secure the bracelet to the back of the headrest with a clip), wiki stix, a few of the Blockaroo blocks for the baby, audio books, + playing cards.
I wear this belt bag across my chest through the airport for easy access to our passports/wallet/plane tickets so that I am not digging through the big backpack bag whenever I need them. This bag fits a lot so you can have a lot more items easily accessible. If you are curious as to how this all looks when we enter the airport, I will paint the vision for you! I am typically wearing the belt bag on my front, diaper backpack on my back and pushing the stroller with our baby. We will usually attach the car seat bag onto the back of the stroller while I push as well (until we get it through security). My husband is wearing one of the backpack duffel bags and carrying the large suitcase on wheels. Our oldest will have her backpack on and then pushing the smaller suitcase on wheels. Our 6 year old will have her backpack on and be holding the baby crib bag (it’s very light). We check the large + small suitcase, 2 duffel bag backpacks, baby crib/tent, car seat boosters (these are smaller). We take the diaper backpack, kids backpacks, stroller and infant car seat with us onto the plane.
The biggest thing to keep in mind is that this is a trip with kids. This won’t be the most relaxing trip you’ve ever taken but I promise it will be worth it. Our kids talk often of our trips and love going through the photo books we make whenever we get back from one. It’s tough for kids to sit still on a plane for a long period of time, I know. It can be especially hard with kids ages 18 months – 3 years so don’t set any expectations. You will do great! 🙂