Flying with a child under 5 – Preschooler

We are off to Dubai in just over 2 weeks!! Eeek!

So it is the perfect time to share some travel tips with you. I have taken Bee on 2 plane journeys so far. The first time was when she was 18 months to Turkey. Even though it was just a 4 hour flight…I was ready to jump out of the plane half way through. We then went to Pakistan via Dubai. It total it was 10 hours in the air. She was 2 and a half and the flight wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. This time I didn’t have a major urge to try to escape the plane!


Tips for flying with a preschoolerSo here are my tips for flying with a child to try and make that journey slightly easier for you!

  • When you book your flight, make sure you go online and reserve the seats you want. This way you can try to ensure you can get window seats if this is what you prefer, or seats in the middle aisle, seats close to the toilet etc. However, note that all seats aren’t always realeased online, especially the front aisle ones.
  • If you can get a night flight then this may be ideal, as your pre-schooler will eventually fall asleep… after the initial excitement of being on the plane.
  • Planes can get quite cool, so even if you are going to a warm country make sure you have some warm clothes incase your pre-schooler finds it cold on the plane.
  • Use online check-in if the airline provides it. You may still need to queue to get your baggage checked in but in my experience these queues are usually shorter.
  • Let your child have their own suitcase and let them help you pack with their toys and snacks. It will make the whole process more exciting for them. My pre-schooler had a ride-on suitcase which she loved and could sit on it when she got tired.
  • Take some of their favourite toys and games with you. With older children, the in-flight entertainment can be sufficient, depending on the airline, but if your pre-schooler is anything like mine and gets bored pretty easily then you will need lots of items to distract them! You can make a goody bag for them with some small new items.
  • If your child has a tablet (the tablets were my saviour on the plane) download some new apps the day before you travel so that your preschooler has something new to investigate.
  • In my experience, you can never have too many snacks, especially if you have fussy children. Remember to check the restrictions on fluids but you can always purchase drinks once you have passed through security, although most airlines are pretty good at providing drinks if you are on a long flight.
  • Some flights offer child meals. It is worth finding out about them and booking them for your children. In some flights it means the children get their meals before everyone else so they are not impatiently waiting for their food to arrive.
  • If your toddler wants to walk up and down the aisle, let them, just make sure s/he doesn’t get in the way of the crew when they are serving food etc. My little one managed to charm a few people with her ‘angelic’ ways while wandering around when she got tired of sitting in one place.

The other worrying thing about taking a pre-schooler on holiday is what to pack for them. For myself, for the flight the essentials are basic:

  • a number of spare changes of clothes especially if they are freshly potty trained. You may want to consider pull ups if the child is still prone to accidents.
  • wipes. I carry wipes around wherever I go in case of sticky hands and faces and any spills.
  • a lollipop or something to suck on which can help when the air pressure affects their ears
  • of course, toys and snacks

For the holiday itself my essentials are:

  • medicine. I prefer to take medicine from here as that is what they are used to, calpol, ibuprofen and dioralyte are my three main essential medicines.
  • her toiletries; I don’t want to be trying new toiletries abroad which may not agree with her skin. In addition to this, if your child is used to a night light, it may be a good idea to take one with you.
  • your child’s comfort toys that they cannot be without. For example a doll/teddy that they always sleep with.

Hope this helps and if you are travelling soon then enjoy!


This post was originally written for Talk Mum but have amended it to add new tips! 

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  • Thanks for posting! My kids are older already, but I can remember one important thing too. Have enough sleep yourself the night before! Beeing tired with a hyper-active toddler in a plane is no fun 🙂

  • MA great advice. I would add that make sure your child’s carry on bag is not too heavy as you could end up holding her bag as well as yours and your other children’s. The first time we travelled, we got our children their own backpacks but guess who ended up carrying them when the children got too tired and didn’t want to carry them any more? The next time, we bought them the children’s backpack with wheels and retractable handles. They were excited at first but soon got tired of pulling or even to put it on their backs!

    • Very true! We have the wheeled ones and thankfully so far the eldest is happy to deal with her own suitcase… the youngest can get tired and that’s why I make sure I have no extra carry on luggage as I know I will probably have to deal with hers.

  • Great tips.

    I know ‘that feeling’ of wanting to leave the plane half way through. Experienced it on a long flight with two active boys under 5. Nothing beats being prepared and attuned to the needs of young children while travelling. Alhamdulillah, it can only get better.

  • Very helpful Foz. Travelling with young kids may look like a challenge but when we are well organised it’s quite easy.
    We did a 8hours train journey last year when Mister Pop was 1 year and a half. I was a bit scared cause it’s a long ride. But all went just perfectly well. He enjoyed playing and smiling at other people. We did a lot of walking and chatting and cuddling.
    You must be waiting for these holidays! Dubai, sounds exciting!

  • Very helpful. Thank you for this post. ALhamdulillah ,traveling has been very easy with both my kids, one is 4 years and other is 6 years but been traveling with them since they were 6 months but to be honest , all my energy was drained out upon reaching the destination. 😀

  • Great tips! Another thing that may help is delaying the child’s sleep until boarding. (within reason of course!) Often the ride to airports are quite long, so keeping a child busy until then helps when they swifltly fall asleep on the plane.

  • This is a good checklist. I had a hard time traveling with little kids too. The candy/lollipop trick is especially great for keeping those ears from popping!

  • As a solo traveller whose kids have left home, let me entertain your child on the flight if you’re sitting next to me. i always make eye contact with parents with young kids and smile as I’m aware a lot of parents assume us solo travellers are going to complain about your child, enjoy Dubai, sorry I won’t be here to say hi
    chickenruby recently posted…Scrapbooking and ideas for #HDYGGMy Profile

  • Oh wow DUBAI! Please have Texas Chicken for me 🙂 This is the best time to fly to UAE because the temperatures will start going down now onwards. A great post – I will keep all these lovely tips in mind.


  • I couldn’t imagine what it must be like travelling with such a little one. I think I would go crazy with worry at just the thought of taking her on a plane!! You mentioned a lot of little things that can be easily forgotten, so this is definitely a go to list for all mum travellers. Enjoy your trip, in shaa Allah it will be a safe one!

  • As a family travel blogger, flights and travelling are the essentials in my work. Love this post and so nicely put. I would recommend the travelsnug, they were awesome and our boys slept so well. Great post!

  • I love travelling and learning about different cultures and religions. Great tips for mummies 🙂 May Allah bless you

  • Awesome tips.. Wish they were posted back in August lol.. We took a short flight to Florida .. Longest 3 hours of my life! Next time I’ll follow your advice and take a night flight ..