14 Sanity-Saving Tips For Traveling With Babies & Young Children

Think your adventurous days are over now that you have kids? Nonsense! This globetrotting mom of three helps you become a footloose and fancy-free family.

A mother traveling with her baby and toddlers while using the Clek Liing Infant Car seat

Some have called us clinically insane, but my husband and I recently travelled across the world with three children under the age of four. When you factor in the two flights (one of which was 14 hours!), the layover and the car trips on either end, it took us more than 24 hours to get from our home in Australia to my hometown in Canada. And you know what? It wasn’t that bad. Honest.

We had an arsenal of tricks up our sleeves to entertain, distract and cajole our three-year-old and 15-month-old twins – and we learned a few more along the way. Hopefully, the wisdom we’ve gained will help your vacation go smoothly too.

You can thank me when you’re reclining by the pool with a cocktail in hand (and small children splashing you, but let’s leave that out of the fantasy).


#1 Request a bassinet or purchase extra leg room on your flight


My kids have always been over the weight limit for bassinets when we’ve flown, but I hear they’re a lifesaver when you’re traveling with an infant. Check your airline’s rules before you buy your tickets because each carrier has different height, weight and age limits for their bassinets, and many require that you request one at the time of booking. Another option is to spend a little more on seats with extra leg room. They saved our sanity because we were able to put our twins on the floor when they became too wiggly and to stretch out our legs when they fell asleep on us.


#2 Leave your house an hour earlier than you think

Calculate how long you think it’ll take to get to the airport, factor in killer traffic jams and tsunamis, and then tack on another hour. “But I don’t want to wake up at 4am!” I hear you say. DO IT. We got there in plenty of time, but there was some issue with our tickets and we ended up dashing for the plane once they’d finally sorted it out.


#3 Wrap surprises to open on the plane

Wrap a bunch of small presents in crinkly paper. Whenever your little ones start to complain, whip out a new gift and let them unwrap it slowly. The wrapping stretches out the process, and for the young ones the paper is often more entertaining than what’s inside! If you have several kids, color-code their wrapping paper and place each set of gifts in a separate Ziploc bag that will be easy to grab when you have your hands full.


#4 Bring pillows and baby carriers onboard

Forget those fairy-sized plane pillows – bring one full-sized pillow per child so they can sleep comfortably on you or in their seat. Feather pillows are a great choice because they roll up into a tight package that can be secured with a belt. If you have a baby, bring their carrier too. When our overtired twins wouldn’t settle, we strapped them to us and paced the aisles until they fell asleep.


#5 Pack LOTS of snacks

Bored kids are ravenous kids. Bring snacks for an army: granola bars, fruit, crackers and anything else your kids love. (A few treats won’t hurt!) We had an entire carry-on bag devoted to food and we devoured it all. Also, don’t be shy to ask the airline staff for snacks in-between meals.


#6 Treat flight attendants like royalty

The flight attendants went above and beyond the call of duty to assist us, but I don’t think it hurt that we were super-nice to them even when we were frazzled and exhausted. The same goes for the people sitting near you – they don’t have to be understanding, but they probably will be if you acknowledge them. As soon as I boarded, I joked, “Poor you! I wouldn’t want to be sitting next to us!” which broke the ice.


#7 Load up the iPad and let them watch all of the plane.movies

My twins don’t normally care for screens because they have each other to play with, so I tried to train them to play on the iPad and watch movies before we left. I know, Bad Mom, but these were extenuating circumstances. A long-haul flight is NOT the time to worry about screen time – you’re in survival mode plain and simple. You can run for Mother of the Year when you get home.


#8 Bring your sense of humor

Before I had kids, I met a family of six dancing near the bathrooms on a long-haul flight. I was in awe. How could those parents have so much fun while juggling four kids?! I get it now. I often tell my kids, “You can’t cry when you’re laughing” and tickle them until they stop complaining. My husband and I used that and a ton of other tricks to make them forget their exhaustion and boredom during that 14-hour flight. The high-fives and praise we received from other passengers as we got off the plane made it all worthwhile.


#9 Pack all your kids’ creature comforts

When you’re packing, prioritize your children’s favorite teddies, blankets, snugglies and sleeping bags so they feel comforted when they’re sleeping in strange beds. You can always buy more clothes, but you can’t replace Mr. Snuggles.


#10 Use white noise

White noise is THE BUSINESS. You can buy a white noise machine online or at a baby store, or download a white noise app on your device. Choose from a variety of sounds – radio static to ocean waves – that will drown out other noises and help your little ones sleep in new environments. The other things babies love is the Baby Shusher! This genius device mimics the noise they hear in utero!


#11 Stick to your bedtime routine

Even if your kids don’t feel sleepy, their regular “sleep cues” (dinner, bath, sleep bag, story, bottle, white noise, bed) will indicate that it’s bedtime and help them get to sleep. But if the time difference is significant, don’t expect them to go to bed when they’d normally be getting up for the day. Put them to bed a few hours later than usual the first night, and then a little earlier each night after that until they’re back on schedule.


#12 Accept that you’ll have to play at 3 a.m.

If there’s a 14-hour time difference like there was for us, it should take about a week for your kids to fully adjust (sorry!). Smaller time differences should only take a few days. Instead of fighting the process, play quietly with them for a couple of hours when they wake up in the middle of the night. Tag-team with your partner (one hour on, one hour off or alternate nights) and keep the lights dim to avoid stimulating them. As soon as they seem tired, put them back to bed. After three nights or so, their awake time will slowly diminish until it disappears.


#13 Let your hair down

Once you’ve all gotten over the jet lag, it’s time to start enjoying your holiday. Let go of routine a little – it won’t hurt your kids to stay up late some nights and it’ll do you so much good to break free from the shackles of your regular modus operandi. Have a cocktail! Dance the night away with your kids! Everyone will benefit from letting loose.


#14 Plan your return trip carefully

You had a wonderful vacation and you feel relaxed. Hooray! But now is NOT the time to drop the ball. Stock up on new surprises and snacks for the plane ride home, and plan a buffer of two or three days before anyone has to go to school or work. It might seem like wasted vacation time, but you’ll be thankful when you don’t have to face the school run with Jetlag Face.


Our top kids’ travel product picks

Nuna CUDL in Caviar


Want a bonus sanity-saving tip? PACK WISELY!

My packing list always includes:

  • Reusable snack containers, water bottle, and cutlery
  • Wet wipes
  • A backpack diaper bag (You need your hands free!)
  • A baby/ toddler carrier
  • An infant car seat and/or toddler car seat
  • Travel stroller (Get one that can fit in the plane’s overhead compartment)
  • Extra PJs and a sleep bag for the plane
  • Pillows (Especially if you’re holding a baby on your lap.)
  • White noise machine
  • Plane-friendly toys
  • Pack and play
  • Travel toothpaste & toothbrush (A quick brush on a long haul flight will borderline feel as good as a shower!)
  • Travel lotions and balms

Scroll down to see my picks for each!

All Tot Safety Tested and approved, you can rest assured knowing the below products are free of harmful chemicals such as phthalates, PVC, BPA + BPS, formaldehyde and heavy metals.


The Tot On The Go Feeding


The Tot On-The-Go Feeding Set


Expert Tips, Snack Ideas + Feeding Essentials






Jem and Bea Eco Backpack


Jem & Bea Jamie Eco Diaper Bag Backpack



Available in more colors




Nook Niche Feeding Pillow in SeaGlass


Nook Niche Organic Pillow


Ranging from $119 to $129

Available in more colors




HART + LAND Bamboo Baby Sleep Bag


HART + LAND Bamboo Sleep Bag – Organic Dots







Mushie Swaddle Blanket Organic Cotton - Roman Green


Mushie Organic Cotton Swaddle



Available in more colors




Kyte BABY Lovey with Removable Wooden Teething Ring - Lovey Storm


Kyte BABY Lovey with Removable Wooden Teething Ring



Available in more colors




Wee Gallery Peekabook Pets Activity Pad


Wee Gallery Peekaboo Pet Activity Pad






PlanToys Shape Sorter


PlanToys Shape Sorter






Jaq Jaq Bird Bored Boards - Game Boards


Jaq Jaq Bird Bored Boards – Game Boards






Habbi Habbi Book of Careers, Volume 1 + Reading Wand - Spanish


Habbi Habbi Learning Language Books Starter Set + Wand – Spanish




Also available in Chinese





Baby Susher Baby Shusher


Baby Shusher Noise Machine






Nuna Sena Aire Mini Travel Crib in Champagne

Nuna Sena Aire Mini Travel Crib


Available in more colors





Nuna CUDL Olive

Nuna CUDL Carrier



Available in more colors




Babyzen Yoyo2 Aqua Stroller with Black Frame


Babyzen Yoyo2 Aqua Stroller with White Frame

Babyzen Aqua YOYO 2 Stroller



Available in more colors




Clek Liing Thunder


Clek 2020 Liing Infant Car Seat



Compatible w/ the Babyzen YOYO 2

Available in more colors





WAYB Pico Car Seat Ocean

WAYB Pico Ultralight Travel Car Seat 


Available in more colors





Risewell Travel Kit


RiseWell Natural Toothpaste Travel Kit





Erbaviva Baby Travel Set


Erbaviva Baby Travel Set



Body Wash / Lotion / Lip & Cheek Balm





Alex + Nova Organic Cotton Reusable Face Mask - Pink, White and Blue


Alex + Nova Organic Cotton Reusable Face Mask



Available in more colors

Ages 2 and up




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