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In August of 2016, we took our first cross-country trip with Squeaker. Hopefully it won’t be our last and we’ll see if it becomes an annual thing. Whether we still do a cross-country visit or if we go elsewhere. We’ll see what happens! At the very least this year’s trip, and next year’s trip, were all about traveling to California with a toddler … and well, I’ll say this much- it went so much easier than I thought it would.

Part of that was because of some planning in advance. And part of it was because my dad helped us out quite a bit with expenses. I’m already starting a savings fund for next year’s trip as we intend to start in Southern California instead. Still, we’ll use this same set of guidelines when we travel next year.

This year and next year, we traveled by plane though eventually we’ll make it a road trip or travel by train.

Are you planning a trip with a toddler in tow? Check out these sanity saving tips for traveling with a toddler before you go!

How to Survive an Airplane Trip with a Toddler

First, I would advise that you check with both your airline and the TSA website to see what you can and cannot bring on the plane. You may just be surprised. Also, by checking with your airline of choice (we traveled with Delta) you can find out what’s allowed for a carry-on item.

Did you know that a diaper bag counts as a personal item and is considered a freebie? That means that you could take another carry-on like a backpack in addition to your diaper bag. So long as it all fits beneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin.

I would recommend taking a diaper bag and another small bag that can both fit underneath the seat in front of you. That way you’ll have everything you need throughout the flight.

Second, use that diaper bag space! Don’t just pack diapers and wipes, but pack snacks. You can also pack an empty sippy cup and purchase a beverage before you board. Or purchase a drinkable yogurt. So long as it’s within TSA regulations, drinkable yogurts are okay to pack. Just don’t forget an ice pack.

Third, have your child dress in layers. It can get cold on the airplane and you never know what the weather is going to be like when you land. It can be as simple as having them wear a short-sleeved shirt with a jacket or sweatshirt. Also, don’t forget to pack at least two changes of clothes in the diaper bag.


For Squeaker, we had her in a light jacket, jeans, and a short sleeved shirt. Another option is to pack a blanket in the diaper bag. You can use this as a blanket, obviously, or roll it up for a pillow.

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Next tip: make sure you have some sort of entertainment on hand. Whether that’s an iPad or Kindle Fire or a portable DVD player, this will definitely come in handy for the plane and if you have an extended layover.

When possible, and if you cannot connect to WiFi, try to have videos that are stored on the device or an SD card. That way your toddler can still enjoy it without having to connect to WiFi. Of course, you won’t have this problem with a portable DVD player.

Also, be sure to have kid-friendly headphones. This will be useful for both their device and if your airline has in-flight entertainment.

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We also made sure to pack one of Squeaker’s favorite stuffed animals. I also made sure that it was one that could be easily replaced, just in case.


Finally, don’t forget to pack a camera. Document your trip often so it’s easy to remember every step. Save your ticket stubs from your boarding pass so you can create a special memory book. That way, you’ll always have something to remember your trip by.

Traveling with a toddler to California can be a challenge. For that matter, traveling within your city or to a closer destination can be a challenge. Hopefully these sanity saving tips will come in handy!

If you're planning a trip with your toddler, be sure to check out these sanity saving tips!
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Digital Product Creator at Kori at Home
Kori is a late diagnosed autistic/ADHD mom. She is currently located in Albany, NY where she is raising a neurodiverse family. Her older daughter is non-speaking autistic (and also has ADHD and Anxiety) and her youngest daughter is HSP/Gifted. A blogger, podcaster, writer, product creator, and coach; Kori shares autism family life- the highs, lows, messy, and real. Kori brings her own life experiences as an autistic woman combined with her adventures in momming to bring you the day-to-day of her life at home. Kori is on a mission to empower moms of autistic children to make informed parenting decisions with confidence and conviction.

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Terri Steffes
7 years ago

That’s a great list. I am glad airlines are being practical and recognize the need for a diaper bag.

7 years ago

Having entertainment can make trips so much more enjoyable for both parents and children! Thanks for the tip

7 years ago

These are great tips. Bringing entertainment and snacks are very important. It’s good to know that a diaper bag is considered a freebie.

7 years ago

Great tips!!!!! Diapers snacks and tablets are what I make sure are at easy access when traveling with my daughter!

7 years ago

Though my kids are far beyond the toddler years, I remember very clearly the horrible experiences we had on long trips. These tips sound like great ideas.