How to Survive Flying with a Toddler

After spending 9 months in one spot (the longest I’ve stayed in one place for the last 10 years), my husband Siya , daughter Kai and I packed up and flew to Costa Rica for the winter. This was our first time flying with a toddler.

In case you’re new here, we bought land in Costa Rica and will be spending the next little while designing and building our dream home. There’s much more to this story, but we will tell you in time. Just know, it’s VERY VERY exciting!

Our daughter turned two in October, and although she’s flown multiple times in her life, this was the first time being fully aware and well…a toddler. Her first flight was when she was 4-months old and we filmed a video about flying with a baby. The video has received a lot of attention including hundreds of comment telling us that flying with a baby is easy, but flying with a toddler is a whole other challenge.

Well, it’s safe to say, we did and survived… and then we even did it again! Now, that we have experience flying with a toddler, I’m able to offer you my survival tips so you too can save your sanity. Let’s go!


How to Survive Flying with a Toddler Tips:

Fly in the AM

The earlier you fly, the better. I know that doesn’t sound too fun, and you’re right, it isn’t. But, the less amount of sleep your child gets before the flight, the longer they will sleep on the flight. Sleep is the best past time for kids on a flight by the way. This also means you can sleep too, which is always the best way to feel fresh after a long flight.

Bring Activities

I recently bought myself, I mean my daughter, a Polly Pocket. If you’re an 80’s baby like me, then you’re probably feeling pretty nostalgic right now. If you have no idea what a Polly Pocket is, it’s basically an entire world that fits into the palm of your hand. It’s great for imagination play and super compact, making it the perfect distraction when flying with toddler. I surprised my daughter with a new Pineapple World Polly Pocket on our flight to Costa Rica, and it occupied her for a couple of hours. It’s also had hours of play time throughout our trip. Some other great activity options I recommend are water books and Brain Quest.

Pack Lots of Snacks

I’m the snack queen. That’s what my husband calls me anyways. I always pack a bag full of snacks, no matter how long the flight may be. My go-to staples for every flight are: mixed nuts, chocolate, raisons, seaweed, bananas and dried fruit. My daughter and I have the same taste and she would devour my entire snack bag…if I let her. Be sure to bring snacks your child loves and maybe only gets for special occasions. This makes it extra exciting, which means happy toddler aka happy mom and dad. See, flying with a toddler can be both delicious and fun for the whole family.

Movie Time

There’s no better time to let your toddler watch a movie or show than on a flight. We download a bunch of movies from Netflix and Disney Plus so we can access them offline. We almost make sure to a couple of movies or shows she already loved along with several others she hasn’t seen. She’s very specific with the type of movie she wants to watch so having options is key. We bought these headphones for our daughter which are designed for smaller children. This way she can be in the zone and not interrupt other passengers on the flight.

Upgrade Your Seats

Once your child turns 2-years old, they can no longer sit on your lap. You need to purchase them their own seat. That alone gives you and your little one much more needed room, especially for sleep time. If you want even more room, paying a small fee to upgrade to a front row or aisle with more leg room is an option I’d choose. Upgrading your seat allows your toddler to stand and move around and get some energy out if needed.


Overall, flying with a toddler isn’t much different than flying with a baby in terms of difficulty. It may require a bit more patience and extra prepping ahead of time, but it’s not as scary as it’s made out to be. With my sanity saving tips I’ve mentioned, you too will survive. Happy Travels!

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