International flights are brutal.  Adding a small child into the mix can make things, well, interesting.  I’ve taken three long-haul international flights with Jellybean in the past year.  For two of the three flights it was just Jellybean and me flying to/from Boston for my sister’s bridal shower.  I learned a lot about traveling with a young child on those two flights!  And, lucky for us we are currently gearing up for two more international flights in August.  Oh, the life of an expat!

It takes 24+ hours (give or take) to fly from the States to Bangkok, including layovers.  I found the idea of such a long international flight with a toddler to be quite daunting.  Being well prepared for long-haul flights makes things easier.  I’ve learned something new on each of our flights and thought I would pass along what we’ve learned.

Survival Tips for International Travel with a baby, toddler, or young child | airplane, flights, international travel | Life's Tidbits

Here are our survival tips for flying internationally with a baby, toddler or young child:

1. Bring a Carrier (Skip the Stroller)

After flying alone with Jellybean in May, I realized it was so much easier to wrangle a toddler and our stuff by strapping her to my chest.  Having the free hand was an added bonus and helped ensure Jellybean didn’t make a break for an empty plane upon boarding.

2.  Overnight Diapers

The seatbelt sign and ability to get up and around can be as unpredictable and the timing of Jellybean’s inflight naps, therefore diaper changes may occur less frequently when traveling.  If your child is still in diapers I highly recommend using overnight diapers when flying internationally.  A dry baby is a happy baby who might sleep longer – a mother can wish!  These are our personal favorites {tip: go up a size for better protection against blowouts!}.

3.  Skip the Car Seat on the Plane

Car seats are heavy and are just one more thing to shlep through the terminal.  And, unless your child is a car seat napper, they are really more trouble then they are worth.  I have found it much easier to buckle her in for take off and landing.  This allows her to stretch out during the flight and sleep on her seat and on me, or in some cases the free seat next to us … winning!

4.  Pack a Quick Access Bag

This would be the bag you place under the seat in front of you.  All essential items should be in the quick access bag.  The last thing anyone needs on a long flight is for the ‘fasten seatbelt sign’ to be on and your child requiring a snack or their lovie.  For us the quick access bag includes things like: lovie, snacks, iPad (and charger), headphone, diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, and a couple of small toys {like this and this}.  Everything else goes in the roller bag and is placed in the overhead.

5.  Snacks, Snacks and More SNACKS

Plane food is not the best and if you have a picky toddler/child on your hands you don’t want them to be hangry. Our favorite snacks to pack for flights include: pretzels, goldfish, cheese sticks and raisins.  On our flight back to Bangkok Jellybean refused to touch any of the plane food.  She lived off the snacks I brought with me and nothing else.  Clearly it wasn’t the most nutritious day we’ve had, but we made it through the flight.

6.  Bring a lot of Activity Options

A bored child is a loud child.  It’s really as simple as that.

7.  Pack a Change of Clothes

Drinks spill, food splatters and blow outs happen!  Typically I pack 3 changes of clothes for Jellybean and 1 each for the hubby and myself.  Sometimes we go through all the clothes, sometimes none – but it’s best to have them on hand.

8.  Flight Schedules are Important

It’s impossible to perfectly schedule flight times around naps and bedtime, but the chances of having a smooth journey increase if you start off with a well-rested child.  If it’s possible, book your travel for first thing in the morning.  Second best is a late night flight where bed time coincides, as closely as possible, with when you are taking off.  The kiddo will hopefully be tired and drift off to sleep quickly.

9.  Normal Rules Don’t Apply

Juice not allowed?  Screen time is limited?  Snacks are only doled out in moderation?  Forget it ALL.  Keep that toddler hydrated, entertained and with a fully belly by any means necessary.  It will make your flight more enjoyable, trust me.

10.  Comfort Items are a Must

Does your kid have a favorite stuffed animal, lovie or blanket?  In our case Jellybean has all three.  We pack them all in the carry-on.  They make her feel more comfortable and, hopefully, encourage a nap (or two or three!).

What tips do you have for international flights with a child?



Let me set the scene, so to speak.  It’s my first Mother’s Day and overall it was a very busy, yet perfect, day.  There have been a few isolated bouts of crying, but those were mostly a result of Jellybean being overtired.

We took Jellybean to meet my grandmother, Mamma, for the first time.  JB took a liking to Mamma immediately (no shock there – all kids and animals love her).  A few photos were snapped to capture the precious moments of great-grandmother and great-granddaughter in all their cuteness glory.  Before we left Mamma took the opportunity to encourage the husband and me to have another baby … and maybe try for a boy this time she added.  Oh boy (pun intended) … why is it you have one kid and everyone immediately asks about the next?!


After the meet and greet we headed to my sister’s for a yummy Mother’s Day brunch.  Sadly, the day was flying by (pun not intended) and it was time to head to the airport.

Jellybean took a nap on the way to Logan Airport.  Security was a breeze.  There was no line and JB was all smiles for the security guards.  As we stood at the gate JB shrieked with glee and posed for a couple of adorable photos.

As people boarded the plane, many stopped to say ‘Happy 1st Mother’s Day’ and commented on JB’s big beautiful blue eyes and/or her adorable smile.

As the flight took off we fed Jellybean a bottle. Right about the time we reach 30,000 feet she let one rip! O.H. M.Y. GOODNESS did she smell horrible. I giggled to myself and smiled as the husband said “Was that her?” to which I simply replied “yup!”

Only minutes later did my first mother’s day turn into a $h!T show. Yup I said it!

And then … we became ‘THOSE’ people on the plane.

Jellybean had a serious blow out. In fact it was so bad, the disaster extended to my clothing as well.  The smells drifted in the air-tight cabin, with nowhere else to go.  There was no changing table option in the bathroom.  We were almost at the flight’s drink service, and soon there would be large silver carts in the aisle.  After a few horrified glances at my husband, we realized there was no other option. We stripped her naked and attempted to change her right then and there in the main cabin, feces and all.

She screamed while we worked as fast as we possibly could to rectify the situation. She was in a strange place, wiggling over seat, caught in the seat belt and between arm rests. Thank goodness for the poopy bags I had put into the diaper bag. We wound up using six of them, along with one air sickness bag (sorry U.S. Airways). Without the bags to contain the mess as well as the smell we would have been in serious trouble!!

The people surrounding us didn’t say a word. They adverted their eyes. While some were probably thankful they weren’t us I’m pretty sure others were less than pleased with us.  In all honesty, we were doing the absolute best we could.

One relatively clean child and two very embarrassed parents arrived at DCA shortly after 7pm.  We pilled into a cab and (secretly) prayed the cab-ie didn’t smell the blow out disaster on us.  Jellybean went directly into the tub after dropping the bags on the floor.  She happily played with her frogs as we thoroughly scrubbed bathed her.

We were ever so thankful when she went to bed without any fussing.   And then … we remembered we had a bag full of feces to tend to.  Oh what a stinky end to my Mother’s Day it was!! =)

Anyone else have a funny story they care to share?!

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