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Traveling to Europe with a Toddler | Part 2

Flying with a Toddler packing list

Part 2: Surviving the Plane

Turns out surviving the plane ride was easier than we thought it would be. It definitely helps to come prepared – even over prepared! I brought my diaper bag stuffed with everything I could think of that would make the ride smoother. Guess what?! I didn’t even need to pull out half of it. Such a relief. Here’s a list of some of the things that we packed and a few tips and tricks that made our flight easier along the way.  

flying with a toddler

On our flight home we lucked out with 4 seats to ourselves. Miracle!

Necessities Packing List:

Extra Diapers and Wipes The wipes came in handy for any spills and messy hands. I packed extra diapers, just in case. We ended up using the same amount as we do at home during that time frame, but it was nice knowing that I had backup just in case.

Sweatshirt and Pajamas I tend to get cold on planes (brrr!) so I brought Ellie a sweatshirt for the plane just in case. Not only did we use it, but it also doubled as a pillow during naptime or playing peekaboo. Since our flight was overnight, I brought along Ellie’s favorite Minnie Mouse pajamas. PJs mean bedtime, so when we pulled them out, she knew it was time to start our nighttime routine.

Blanket For forts, peekaboo, napping, playing dress up…you know all the fun stuff! Delta did provide a blanket and pillow, but it was still nice to have our own, for both the plane ride and while in Europe.

Empty Water bottle We almost forgot all our water bottles on the counter the day we left. (As in, after five minutes of driving we had to turn around!)  I’m so glad we went back for them, they saved us during the flight and during our travels. We each brought an empty bottle, and filled them up whenever the flight attendants came around or at the airport. I picked up this one for Ellie on major clearance.

Snacks I brought a lot of snacks for Ellie, but somehow forgot to pack enough for Brian and I! The airplane food wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be (I actually really loved some of the meals!) but it would have been nice to have a few extra snacks. For Ellie we packed up pretzels, goldfish, granola, peanut butter sandwich, and a few other little things. Since we couldn’t bring fruit or veggies into another country, we ate those at home before we left and whatever fruit and veggies they served us on the plane. (You can bring baby food, bottles, and pumped breast milk through the airport and on the plane, I think you just have to have it all checked separately.)

Hand Sanitizer Need I elaborate? 🙂

traveling with a toddler

Eating a stroopwafel in Amsterdam, waiting for our plane to take off. Also, that Mickey went everywhere with us. 😉

Entertainment Packing List:

***Can you keep a secret? Ok, it’s not really a secret but it’s the best advice I ever read. See all the entertainment suggestions below? Gather them and wrap them like a present before you go. New toys, old toys, books, everything. Its like Christmas on an airplane. And I’ll tell you what, it worked like a charm! 

Travel Magna Doodle Before we left, I picked up the travel size Magna Doodle at Target. This kept E entertained for half the flight! Ellie, if you couldn’t already tell, is obsessed with Mickey and Minnie Mouse. So she is constantly requesting that we draw them for her. (Turns out, they’re not as easy to draw as they look!) This was one of the best $5 finds ever.

Stickers Up until a few months ago, I never thought of buying Ellie stickers. My mother-in-law sent some for Ellie for Valentines Day, and they kept her entertained for and HOUR! Yes, an hour, every single day! So stickers were a must. I raided the dollar store sticker section and picked up some Mickey and Toy Story stickers. Lifesaver! When she got bored of sticking them on her notebook, she stuck them all over me and Brian. Anything to keep that girl entertained!

Stuffed Mickey Mouse Ellie’s favorite. He went everywhere with us.

Favorite Books We made sure to pack Ellie’s favorite books, including the animal book we stole from Grandma’s house. This girl loves to read and making animal sounds kept her entertained for a good half hour or so.

New Toys I went to the dollar section at Target and picked up a few new toys that Ellie had never seen before. These included a Pez Dispenser (I haven’t seen one of those in years! Totally entertaining for a toddler), a slinky, Minnie Mouse coloring book, pipe cleaners, and playdough. I was skeptical about having playdough on a plane (have you met Ellie?) but an article I read recommended it. I brought it just in case and pulled it out on the flight home. Totally genius!

Buckles This one sounds a little weird, but hear me out. Ellie LOVES buckles. She insists on buckling her car seat, high chair, everything by herself! I keeps her busy self occupied for long periods of time. I picked up a few buckles from the local fabric store, added ribbons, and sewed them to a little bean bag of sorts. Nothing fancy, but it beat buying the $30 toy with buckles that I found on Amazon. Ellie loved buckling them all together, mixing up which buckles go where, and kept her in her seat for awhile.

Hopping Chick My mom wrapped up this wind-up, hopping chick to send to Ellie (we were gone over Easter) and this was by far the best thing we brought on the trip. Ellie was cracking up laughing every time it hopped over the tray. Her little laughter is contagious, so everyone around us was laughing too.

Earphones and Movies We packed our tablet loaded with movies, but Delta had some awesome selections of kids movies for us. I’m glad that we packed Ellie’s child friendly headphones, she watched her fair share of movies. I typically wouldn’t let her watch so much TV at home, but we were in survival mode on the plane. We were willing to do whatever would keep her entertained, quiet, and happy. 🙂

travel tips

The hoping chick – thanks for the entertainment Grandma!

Tips and Tricks:

Take a Walk Nobody seemed to mind when we got up to stretch our legs and walked down the aisles. It helped us wear Ellie out before bedtime and it was something new for her to do. Try to plan walks around when the flight attendants are coming by with drinks and food, you don’t want to get in their way!

Space out Toys We tried to space out the amount of time between when Ellie would open a toy. Sometimes that meant throwing on a movie, taking a walk, or pointing out the window. We also read the Skymall magazine a dozen times and looked for all the dogs and cats.

Make Everything Take Twice as Long Read books five times in a row, give snacks one at a time, do everything you can to make each activity take forever. It makes the time go by a lot faster!

Stop Looking at the Clock The flight went by much faster when we stopped to check how much time we had left. It’s slightly discouraging when you look over and see that you still have EIGHT AND A HALF HOURS LEFT. So just stop looking 🙂


Any other tips or entertainment that you would add? I’d love to hear them! Part Three is up next, with more on how we spent almost 2 weeks with Ellie in Europe. Happy Weekend!

Part One: Before You Go | Part Two: Surviving the Plane | Part Three: While in Europe

Alexa Zurcher




  • Brandi

    Such great tips!! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Amy

    Being prepared certainly is the best when it comes to traveling – and you certainly were! Love all of your tips. Everything about all of your posts are so engaging. Love your happiness, energy, and the sunshine you radiate!! xoxooxxo

  • Unknown

    Lex – these are the best tips! Thanks so much for taking the time to put this post together. We leave in a week for a vacation… one of which will be a week long and include 5 plane flights! This will definitely help to make sure we have our bases covered.

  • Tasha Johnson

    I know you don't know me but I have recently found your blog and I love it! It is so cute! I recently traveled domestic with a 1.5 yr old and 6 mo. preggo and it was definitely a challenge. The idea of traveling international with a toddler seems daunting but you make it seem pretty fun. Great tips for preparing! I will have to keep this in mind for our next trip! 🙂

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