Travelling with Children

Travelling with children is difficult, but with a bit of preparation it can help decrease parental stress. If your child is old enough, involve them in planning for the journey so they can get excited about it. Make sure to include enough family events and child-oriented activities to engross them while on holidays.

In many cases, keeping your journey simple will reduce any problems. Remember that children have short attention spans and get tired extremely quickly. Complicated journeys requiring lots of travelling, jam-packed itineraries or too many visits to adult-oriented attractions, such as museums, can be wearing for children and irritating for parents.

General travel hints

General tips to make travel with children easier include

  • Ask your travel agent for suggestions.
  • If travelling by plane, ask for bulkhead seats or seats near an exit to give your child a safe spot to play on the floor.
  • Some passengers have suggested that taking lollies for children to suck or chew at take off and landing helps ease the popping feeling in the ears, and for younger children some mothers have written in and said bottle or breast feeding at take of and landing seems to ease the discomfit children have from the popping effect in there ears caused by altitude change. Please check this with a medical practitioner.
  • It is a good idea to have children checked by a doctor before flying. Especially if there is any chance of a ear infection. Ear ache can be extremely painful when flying.
  • Choose suitable accommodation, such as self-contained apartments with two or more bedrooms.
  • Hire baby furniture items, such as pram, stroller, cot and high chair, rather than taking your own.
  • Make sure you have a sufficient supply of disposable nappies and wipes and at least 2 changes of clothing.
  • Google children’s activities in the city you are visiting, many museums and art galleries have a children’s holiday program with exciting informative and child friendly adventures.
  • Check shopper dockets for discount children’s activities  in the location you are visiting, they can be found on Google generally and are a great way to see lots while saving.
  • Use the babysitting facilities at your hotel on occasion so you can have a well earned break.
  • Remember that the price of 'kids’ clubs' at some resorts are free while at others there is an extra charge.
  • Older children will like having their own camera and 'holiday diary' so they can record their own memories.

Planning your journey

  • Shop around the travel agents and take your children with you, ask for child friendly tours and broachers on activities the children are interested in.
  • On long hall flights consider booking seats apart from one another if travelling with a partner. This way, one adult can rest whilst the other entertains the children.
  • Obtain your departure cards from your travel agent and fill them out at your leisure at home, instead of rushing at the airport.
  • To help decide whether or not to book a full child's fare for a toddler, see how long you can last with him on your knee in the armchair at home.
  • Check that your airline allows you to pre-book baby bassinettes before the day of travel.
  • Decide responsibilities clearly between parents before embarking on your trip.

Safety Suggestions

  • See your doctor about vaccinations beforehand.
  • Pack sunscreen, hats and insect repellent.
  • Be particularly attentive about the potential dangers of unfamiliar places, such as unfenced swimming pools, balconies and dangerous animals.
  • Take all sterilising equipment with you if your child is bottle-fed.
  • Avoid animals such as dogs, cats and monkeys to reduce the risk of bites.
  • Take a medical kit containing items such as baby paracetamol, thermometer, anti-itching lotion, oral rehydration preparation and band-aids.
  • Always use appropriate car restraints such as seatbelts or car seats. Do not pile items on the back ledge of the car or over the steering wheel, as these items will become dangerous flying objects if you have to brake suddenly. Use shade cloth to keep the sun from glaring in your child's face. Plan for plenty of toilet breaks. Frequent rest stops help to reduce the risk of motion sickness.
  • Use seatbelts on trains and buses if available. Do not allow your child to crawl or walk around while the bus or train is moving because they may fall and injure themselves or someone else. Keep your child seated or on your lap.
  • Airlines can arrange bassinettes for infants. Try to feed your baby or child while taking off and landing, as the frequent swallowing can aid in decreasing the pressure inside their ears. Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids to reduce the risk of dehydration.
  • The safest way for baby to fly is in an approved car seat used as a flight seat. Check with your airline if this is applicable. Check the base of your infant or toddler car seat to look for the FAA approved sticker. If you can't find one, check the manufacturer's instructions or contact the manufacturer to find out if the seat is approved for use in airplanes.
  • Read the FAA's Childproof your Flight brochure and also take it with you when you fly, particularly if you are going to fly non-US airlines which do not always allow car seats on planes without authoritative persuasion. Note that airlines usually ask that car seats are located in window seats so that other passengers can access their seats easily.
  • If you are not able to purchase a seat for your child under two years old, you will be asked to hold your child on your lap. You must then conform with the local regulations for securing (or not securing) your child by means of a lap or belly belt during take-off, landing and turbulence.
  • In Europe, Asia, and Australasia you will be asked to secure your child on your lap using a lap or belly belt. You may also use a Baby B'Air travel vest during the main section of your flight but you will be asked to use the lap belt in addition during turbulence. Check this with your travel agent or airline.
  • In North America and Canada lap-held children under two years of age must be held on your lap or in the burping position without any form of harness. You may only use a Baby B'Air travel vest during the main part of your flight, but not during take-off or landing.
  • The Child Aviation Restraint System (CARES) flight harness is approved by the FAA for use as a child safety restraint during the entire length of airplane flights. It has an equivalent safety rating to an FAA approved car seat. The CARES flight harness is an easily transportable 'H' construction harness that you secure to a regular airplane seat and lap belt. It is suitable for children aged 1-4 years who weigh 22-44lbs.  It is much smaller than a car seat and is easily transported around an airport or an airplane as it can be folded away.
  • You must purchase a child fare seat for your child (even for a child under 2 years of age) if you want to use the CARE harness. You cannot use it for a lap-held child.


  • Take an extra-large purse as carry-on luggage. This will allow you to fit extra things such as toys, snacks, wipes and a fresh nappy. Remember to check TSA guidelines to be sure you can take everything in your bag through security.
  • Keep one or two nappies, a small pack of wipes/cotton wool, tube of lotion, lightweight plastic change mat/hand towel, flannel and nappy sack in a side pocket of your carry-on luggage.
  • Very few airlines (if any) will allow even lightweight travel strollers in the overhead luggage compartments so bring a stroller bag with you to keep your stroller clean in while it's travelling in the hold.
  • Cheap tickets sometimes have hidden restrictions such as tough cabin baggage weight limits - so check yours carefully before you start to pack.
  • Get children to carry their own back packs to reduce your load.
  • When travelling on a plane, bus or train, go for comfort, ease of wear and plenty of layers that can be removed if spills happen.
  • Look to buy discrete nursing clothes if you will have to nurse baby on the plane or at the airport.
  • Dress your child in distinctive clothing to avoid losing him in crowded airport lounges.
  • Take a simple change of clothing for you and for your child in case of spills.
  • Don't forget clothes for your destination too.

Passports & Visas

  • A passport is required when travelling internationally. Make sure passports and any necessary visas are valid for all persons travelling, both for the countries you will be visiting and for transit stops.
  • Some countries allow children up to 18 years of age to be included in one parents passport provided they are accompanied by that parent. Any visa issued in that parents passport must clearly show that any children included in the passport are covered by the visa.
  • Some countries also place restrictions on children travelling on parents passports, so check with the consulates of the countries you will be visiting to verify passport and visa requirements.

Departure Tax

  • Find out about departure tax requirements in advance of travelling to the airport, as in most cases, such taxes can only be paid in cash in the currency of the country you are departing from.


  • It is highly recommended that you take out travel insurance for yourself and your family. It is designed to cover against personal, baggage and cancellation risks. It may also protect against the high cost of emergency medical and hospital care overseas.


  • Allow plenty of time at the airport for check-in and connecting flights. Remember how much longer it takes to achieve anything when children are with you and apply the same formula to your travel plans.
  • Smile sweetly and helplessly at everyone and you may get help and be able to queue jump.
  • Ask if your flight is full when checking in. Some assistants will block out the seat next to you in a less full flight or offer you the option of sitting next to a vacant seat. This is particularly valuable if travelling with a toddler under 24months without a seat.
  • To get a better chance of assistance from the cabin crew, get on the plane first and off the plane last.
  • Take a harness for a toddler so that you can let him walk around the terminal but still keep him close at hand. This is a great bonus as you try to pick up luggage from the carousel or present documents to airline, customs and immigration officials.
  • Watch for fast track customs and immigration check points for those travelling with infants.

At the X-Ray machine

  • All carry-on baggage, including children's bags and items, must go through the X-ray machine, including nappy bags, blankets and toys.
  • All child-related equipment that will fit through the X-ray machine must go through it, including strollers, umbrella-strollers, baby carriers, car and booster seats, backpacks and baby slings.
  • When you arrive at the checkpoint, collapse or fold any child-related equipment. Secure items that are in the pockets, baskets, or attached to the equipment and place it on the X-ray belt for inspection. Plastic bins are provided to deposit such items.
  • If any child-related equipment does not fit through the X-ray machine, security officers will visually and physically inspect it.
  • Ask a security officer for help gathering bags and child-related equipment, if required.

The Walk-Through Metal Detector

  • It is recommended children who can walk without assistance should go through the metal detector separately from their parent or guardian.
  • If parents are carrying their child through the metal detector and the alarm sounds, the officer will have to additionally screen both the passenger and their child. If a baby is carried through the metal detector in a carrier or sling, additional screening may be required regardless if there is an alarm or not.
  • Remove babies and children from their strollers or infant carriers so that security officers can screen them separately.
  • Passengers may not pass the child to another person behind or in front of them during this process.
  • Security officers may ask for help screening children.

Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT)

  • Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) is used to safely screen passengers for metallic and non-metallic threats without physical contact in order to keep the travelling public safe.
  • Any passenger capable of assuming and holding the AIT stance for 5 seconds is eligible for AIT screening.
  • Parents carrying infants or children will not be screened by the imaging technology. Parents with children may opt out of imaging technology screening to prevent separation of family.
  • AIT screening is optional for all passengers. Those passengers who opt out of AIT screening with receive alternative screening, to include a thorough pat-down.

Baby Formula, Breast Milk, Juice, and Other Liquids

  • Medically necessary liquids and gels, including medications, baby formula and food, breast milk, and juice, are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding 100ml and are not required to be in a zip-top bag.
  • Officers may ask travellers to open these items to conduct further screening and passengers should declare them for inspection at the checkpoint.
  • All liquids, gels and aerosols must be in 100ml or smaller containers. Larger containers that are half-full or toothpaste tubes rolled up are not permitted.
  • All liquids, gels and aerosols must be placed in a single, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag. Gallon size bags or bags that are not zip-top such as fold-over sandwich bags are not allowed.
  • Each traveller must remove their quart-sized plastic, zip-top bag from their carry-on and place it in a bin or on the conveyor belt for X-ray screening.
  • Passengers should only carry on the liquids and gels needed for them and their infant/toddler’s comfort. Passengers should pack larger volumes needed for a trip in their checked bag.

Changing Nappies on the Plane

  • Pack a small bag with just one or two disposable nappies, a few wipes, a perfumed nappy sack and some rash cream if needed and put it in your hand luggage.
  • Sometimes there is a larger bathroom at the very rear of the plane with a correspondingly larger change table. Wait for this to become free if you have a larger baby to change, as airplane change tables are small.
  • On some airlines the cabin crew will prepare the change table in one of the toilet cubicles for you if you let them know that you need to use one. This is particularly beneficial if you have a squirmy, smelly bundle to hold while wrestling with lowering a change table in the tiny space of an airplane bathroom. So the first time you need to make a change on the plane, ask an assistant where they prefer you to make the change, and take any help offered.

Sleeping on the Plane

  • The location of many bassinet seats directly in front of the screen is unsettling for some babies and can be annoying to parents trying to settle toddlers to sleep.
  • Take cotton sheets to wrap baby or a toddler and to put up as a light shield over a bassinet.
  • A baby sleeping bag is great as you don't have to wrap baby in the airline blankets and you can pick her up to leave the plane without waking her.
  • Try to stick as much as possible to your baby's 'go to sleep' routine.
  • Talk to your doctor before you fly about whether using sedatives is right for your baby or child. Some children travel well with sedatives, others become even more hyperactive than usual.

Motion sickness

The symptoms of motion sickness include becoming pale, headache, dizziness, complaints of feeling sick and ultimately, vomiting. Suggestions to reduce the risk of motion sickness include:

  • When travelling by car, arrange for regular rest breaks.
  • Make sure your child looks out the window towards the horizon, rather than at a stationary object inside the vehicle (such as a book).
  • Fresh air can help, so open a window if possible.
  • Anti-nausea medications are available but check with your doctor first as some medications may not be suitable for children.
  • Make sure your child eats something before travelling but avoid heavy or greasy foods.

Entertaining Children

  • Pack plenty of toys or games.
  • Offer the toys one at a time, replacing each toy with a fresh one once the child shows signs of boredom.
  • To cut down on fights over sharing make sure each child has their own set of toys.
  • Play family games such as 'I-spy'.
  • Pack a picnic lunch.
  • For older children, show them a map beforehand and point out landmarks as you pass them or let them carry their own special tote with basic entertainment contents such as stickers, colouring book, dolls etc.
  • Wrap toys to add to their entertainment value. Leave one end of the package open so that you can show the 'gift' to security staff if they ask you to.
  • Forget your policy on limiting screen time. Get as much respite as you can from the airplane children’s video channels and games.


  • Always test the temperature of food heated in the aircraft galley before you give it to your child.
  • Take your own baby food, bowl and utensils for an infant. Some airlines do have tins of baby food on board, but it is not guaranteed.
  • If you are travelling with a child or infant aged between 0 and 23 months who has food allergies or special dietary requirements, you must provide their meals.
  • A wide selection of soft drinks and fruit juices are generally available for children throughout the flight. Make sure your children drink regularly on longer flights to counteract the dry air on board.
  • Disposable bibs are a great idea for infant mealtimes on board an airplane.
  • Carry a bottle of pre-boiled water with you (check the liquid limit on airplanes when planning your journey), then make up the bottle and ask the attendant to warm it by standing briefly in a bowl of hot water.
  • Ask for bottles and meals to be warmed well in advance of when you need them. Cabin crew don't have a microwave and have to heat using hot water in the galley.
  • When out and about, relax and remember that a healthy child will never voluntarily starve themselves. Trust them to eat when they're hungry.
  • Try to keep a little bit of familiar mealtime routine, such as having breakfast in the usual way.
  • Do not assume you'll always find something they will like on a restaurant menu. Carry plenty of their favourite snacks and drinks when travelling around.
  • Phone ahead and see if the restaurant you are planning to visit has a children's menu.

Health & Hygiene

  • Arrange to have all necessary vaccinations well in advance of your departure date.
  • If you or your children take any medication make sure that you have enough for the duration of the trip. All medications should be carried with you on the aircraft. A certificate from your doctor verifying the need for the medication being carried is also worthwhile. Some countries have restrictions on certain medications. It is advisable to check with the relevant consulate.
  • Avoid risky foods such as seafood, undercooked meats, peeled and raw fruits and vegetables, and unpasteurised dairy products.
  • If you are uncertain of the water supply, only drink bottled water, carbonated soft drinks or bottled fruit juices.
  • Use bottled water when brushing teeth.
  • Wash your child's hands frequently.
  • Avoid eating foods from street vendors.
  • Make sure your child doesn't put their unwashed hands into their mouth.
  • For bigger children who don't travel well, take along nappy/diaper sacks as sick bags. They tie up to keep the contents in and the odour neutraliser does help! These are also great for storing smelly clothes.
  • Take a bottle of Rescue Remedy for everyone else in the family except baby.
  • No Jet-Lag tablets will assist you and your family arrive well after a time shift. These tablets are safe for children to take as well as adults.

Getting Around

  • Snap on wheels for infant car seats are a great idea if you've booked a seat for your infant and he'll be riding in his car seat. They can be taken onto the plane but take the assembly apart before check-in to decrease the appearance of bulk.
  • Small travel strollers will fit in the luggage bins of 747's or a larger aircraft but airlines have become increasingly strict about not allowing these on board.
  • An infant front pack is really useful so that you can carry baby while you push a luggage trolley.

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • Pharmacist
  • Your Travel insurance – many have a 24 hour call center
  • Travel agent
  • Airline.


Who To Fly With accepts no responsibility for any of the content contained herein.

This site is intended entirely as a form of reference, we accept no responsibility for any accident, injury or misfortune which is a product of following any of the advice found herein, nor on any external sites we link to.

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