What to pack for airplane-travel with a toddler: coming to Malaysia we were moving house: so I brought 7 bags!! I am not sure how I managed with my two-year-old, changing flights twice, but I did. I will not do it again in a hurry, mind, so here’s what I would recommend for a airplane travel; for short-haul, short-stay, you can probably pare it back a bit…

For getting around: rule of thumb-

Take what you can manage.

I ask myself: “Do I really need it? Can I manage to transport it? Will it be a hassle? Is there an alternative?”

I take a big case, a small backpack, and sometimes a car seat. My daughter takes a Trunki. Bear in mind some hotels etc. have a fair walk to the rooms and if a beach bungalow, the ground may not be even. Daisy was never that keen on the buggy, so I’ve never taken it: one thing less. If, like me, you are travelling without a partner I honestly think a baby carrier (or nothing) is easier, but you know what your child likes best.

Should you take a car seat?

Are you thinking of hiring a car and doing some sightseeing? If so, and you can manage, go for it! At airports you can always put it on a trolley. I have found I can also manage mine, as it is light, carrying it one-handed; this means I don’t have an arm for Daisy, though. It’s worth checking out if you can hire a car seat: some car-rental companies have them.

Your cabin bag:

Assume there will be little room for manoeuvre when in the plane, so I recommend having a soft bag to put under the seat in front of you. To save too much rummaging around, organise stuff into separate bags/ pouches (ideally of different colours) so you can find it more easily. A backpack can be good so you’re hands-free when you arrive and you can stuff it under the seat in front.

Essentials for on the plane :

Pack a couple of changes of clothes; nappies if needed; something warm (a fleece or a blanket); wipes; toilet seat protector; tissues; favourite cuddly toy; snacks and goodies; things to do and distract! Oh, and something for your little one to suck on for take-off and landing- to help avoid ear pain.


My daughter loves the kiddies snack box on Easyjet. I make my own version; I try to include things that won’t spoil if they get a bit warm on the way and when opened. Suggestions:

  • sarnies (jam, just bread with slices of cheese separate to put in later)
  • fruit (if soft fruit then in a non-squashable box)
  • biscuits, crackers, cereal bars
  • raisins and other dried fruit, such as mango.
  • You are allowed some water/ milk, so check the airline policy. (It’s worth noting here, that at Gatwick I was told to throw away a drink once as not in a children-style container so now I put her water in a baby bottle!)

Things to do on the plane:

I spy with my little eye (something the colour…)

Stretch legs and say hello to people

To add to the time and intrigue, try wrapping some toys and activities up..

  • Crayons and a notepad/ colouring book/ ink stamper
  • a small board game
  • play dough
  • stickers and pad
  • little toys (not balls- they’ll get lost)
  • an iPad or tablet, with a series or a film downloaded plus headphones ( so you don’t annoy people) and a portable charger.

For when you’re there:

  • Soap or a small bath wash in case the hotel one irritates their skin
  • A small towel ( the sort that dries almost instantly so not soggy if moving on to another place)
  • First Aid kit and medicines you may use. We take plasters, paracetamol, a thermometer, paracetamol and  homeopathic travel kit.
  • Sun cream
  • Mosquito repellant (though if there are mosquitos you will doubtless be able to buy there)
  • A comb
  • Water bottle
  • Stuff for a bottle of milk
  • Some toys

It’s worth considering having a separate bag for your little one to bring. Bear in mind you may end up carrying it though! My daughter loves her trunki and with a little direction chooses which toys she wants. She likes being whooshed along on her trunki at the airport and even pulling herself. That said, I do have to watch out for people’s legs..

Clothes: must haves

  • 3 pairs of pyjamas (wash, wear, dry)
  • lots of knickers / pants/ enough nappies (as you may not find the right size and they could leak!) Besides, when they’ve been thrown away, think of all the room you will have!)
  • plenty of tops ( thinking food spillages and stuff)
  • mix and match bottoms
  • layers for warmth
  • a hat and an umbrella or raincoat
  • a couple of pairs of socks (for walking round the room/ on plane/ for if there’s an indoor play area).
  • shoes of your choice (depending on the weather) and possibly another pair for if they get wet or whatever
  • worth considering: do you have two of his/ her favourite outfit? I am seriously going to do this as when we’re on holiday Daisy keeps wanting to wear the same dress!

Please bear in mind we tend to travel to hot places, so I may have forgotten things you need for cooler climes…