Maps, Apps, and Naps–Tips for Traveling with Children

This week’s theme for Discover & Explore is Vacations, and I am thrilled to have Rachael from Nothing if Not Intentional sharing our first ever guest post on this site. She knows a lot more than me about traveling with kids. Thankfully, I got to read this post before we left for vacation last week, so I could put some of her great tips to use. With a little luck and her great advice, I’m hoping to avoid one of those epic in-flight meltdown stories she speaks of. Wish me luck, and enjoy her wisdom! 

As usual, we’d love for you to link up at the end of this post. Please share any resources, tips, and activities you have that relate to vacations and traveling with kids.

Great Tips for Traveling with Kids


If you love Fantastic Fun and Learning like I do (which I’m sure you do!), then you understand why I’m thrilled to be guest posting here today. I write about a lot of different things on my blog, Nothing if Not Intentional, but my favorite thing to talk about is traveling with children. My husband is a pilot, and I love to travel. Not surprisingly, we’re always going on adventures with our two young girls–a baby and a two-year-old. (In fact, I’m writing this from a hotel room while my girls nap!)

Tips for Flying and Traveling with ChildrenI’m a generally happy person, but it doesn’t take much for me to get stressed when we travel. I know I’m not alone. As I see it, when it comes to flying with kids, there are two main fears.

1) A child’s fear or nervousness regarding the experience.

2) The parents’ anxiousness that their child will be the one to have an epic meltdown mid-flight.

With a little preparation, I think we can minimize this anxiety and stress.

For Kids

My oldest daughter is just a few months shy of her third birthday. For toddlers and preschoolers, it’s important to talk about the flight and trip in advance, so the child knows what to expect.

For our last big trip, I made a simple countdown to use with my daughter to build the excitement and remind her that we were gearing up for a trip. You can see ours here.

My husband had the genius idea to show our daughter where we were going on our big world map. Even with a map, does a two-year-old have any idea how far away her hometown is from Jamaica, Guatemala, or California? Of course not! But the map was a visual that helped her to grasp the concept that we were going to be away from home.

Whether or not your child has flown before, take time to remind him or her of what they will see and experience in the airport and on the plane. For toddlers and preschoolers, make pretend tickets or passports and set up a pretend airplane cabin using chairs in your dining room. For older kids, try this “Frequent Flyer” app from iGameMom. And, of course, airplane and airport books are great teaching tools. You can see some of our favorite airplane books and read more about how we’ve encouraged our daughter’s interest in airplanes in this post.

When our oldest daughter was about 18-months old, she’d cry when the plane engines would roar as the plane zipped down the runway. Her daddy gently talked her through what was happening: “The plane has to go really, really fast so that we can get off the ground! Now we’re off the ground. Do you hear that? The wheels are going up! Look over there. We’re in the clouds! The engines are much quieter now.” We also gave her a toy plane as a diversion and so that she could pretend to fly and be in control.

Flying with Kids

For Parents

Yes, airports can be busy, stressful places. But you can do it! Arrive early, wear your baby, bring snacks, use your stroller as a luggage cart, and gate check your carseat if you won’t be using it on the plane. You got all of that, right? 😉 I break down the details on how to manage the airport chaos in this post.

If possible, try to fly during nap time. For my girls, naps in the car or plane are always shorter than naps at home. However, even a short nap will help pass the time. We read books, give my toddler her paci (I know she’s too old for a paci–don’t judge me too harshly!), and she knocks out. The baby likes to sleep strapped to me in a baby carrier.

When our girls wake up, we make use of the goodies we packed in our carry-on. We keep a well-stocked travel bag in a closet at home. It only comes out during trips, so the toys and activities are fresh and interesting. Some of my toddler’s travel favorites are stickers, an etch-a-sketch, books (leave the heavy and large board books at home), and Mr. Potato Head. You can see what else we keep in our bag here.

Tips for traveling with children!

For those of you who are brave enough to fly with babies, I have a special post just for you: Tips for Flying with Babies. (Spoiler alert: don’t use the water on the planes for drinking or rinsing sippy cups! Gross!)

Flying with baby

Even with good preparation, your travel-weary kiddo may collapse and force you to deal with ear-piercing screams, an angry tantrum, or a snotty, crying meltdown. I’ve been there. Most of your fellow passengers have been there. Sure, you may see a few people roll their eyes or turn up their music. But, for the most part, I’ve exited the plane after a rough flight feeling amazed by how patient and sweet strangers can be.

Okay, now that you’ve heard my best flying tips, I’d love to hear yours! (Have you had an epic in-flight meltdown?)

Get to Know Nothing if Not Intentional

Nothing if Not Intentional started as a way for Rachael and Nate to share stories from their ten trips to Guatemala. It is now an outlet for Rachael’s writing (she’s a former English major), a place to share tips from their travels (Nate’s a pilot), and a way to hold them accountable as they seek to intentionally raise their two young girls (2 1/2 years and 11 months). You can connect with Nothing if Not Intentional on Facebook, Pinterest, and . For more travel tips and stories, check out the travel section of their blog.

Now it’s your turn. We’d love for you to share how you

Discover & Explore: Vacations!

Please read the following guidelines for sharing:

  • Share family-friendly posts related to the weekly topic — kids activities, book activities, crafts, recipes, nature outings, free printables–anything that might be helpful to those wanting to put together activities based on this week’s theme
  • By linking up, you are giving me permission to share your post including one photo in our weekly feature post and on social media channels.
  • Visit 2-3 other posts that have linked up, find some new ideas & meet new friends!
  • If you are linking up, please be sure to grab and post the Discover and Explore button. We love to share! And we want as many people to add their posts as possible, so we have a wonderful collection to share with you.

The linky will remain open for two weeks. Then both co-hosts will feature activities in a separate post and share featured posts on the Discover and Explore Pinterest Board. If you aren’t already, please remember to follow us so you’re sure not to miss those feature posts. And don’t forget to stop by KC Edventures to see what Jacquie is sharing for this week’s theme.

Discover & Explore Weekly Themed Linky
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Previous Discover and Explore Themes

Upcoming Discover and Explore Themes

  • July 17-Life Under the Sea
  • July 24-Space Exploration (Rockets, Shuttles, Sattelites, etc)
  • July 31-Boats, Water Fun & Things that Float
  • August 7-Camping

This post has been shared at some of these fantastic link parties.


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  1. Cute post! I love how you wrote it in a hotel and the picture with the baby in the car seat on the plane!

  2. Here is one more link. I created this when we traveled last year with my 9, 7 and 3 year old kids. 🙂 We don’t travel by air with the kids very often and I was pretty nervous about it. So I did some online research (Pinterest!) and found some fun ideas.

  3. Good information – thanks for collaborating to share this with your eFans. I am about to fly internationally with my baby, so hopefully the flight will cover multiple nap times 🙂 haha.

  4. We have travelled with our (now) 3 year old to Asia, Europe and within US quite frequently. He took his first flight when he was 7 months old and was a gem. We were lucky that we had enough frequent flier miles, so we were able to buy his own seat and we took our car seat on board and he slept in it for most of the 9 hour flight to England.
    I would highly recommend flying during nap times or night time sleep to avoid a lot of the stress. We intentionally buy our tickets this way, and it’s amazing what a few hours of sleep will do. Other passengers will appreciate it too!

    • Thanks for sharing your tips! Both of my girls did fall asleep on our recent trip home…and I was as a thankful as the passengers around us. 🙂

  5. A great post. I am almost always stressed out before travelling. But since DD has grown up, it has been easier to keep her occupied. I used to dread it when she was much younger 🙂 Stopping by from the hop !

  6. Good luck with your upcoming trips! I had to fly 14 hours with a toddler a while back and it was traumatising! He tossed food, screamed, ran around, threw up… but I think better preparation and technology would’ve saved us that nightmare. Have you heard of Bound Round? It’s an interactive travel app that lets kids choose what to do during the holiday… and keeps them entertained, not throwing a tantrum. Maybe when your kids get a little bit older it’d be a great option for those flights!

    • Shaunna says:

      I’m so sorry to hear your trip was tough. I don’t think my girls would have acted any differently than your son on a 14 hour flight. Luckily ours was only 3 hours. Thanks for the app suggestion…I hadn’t heard of that one. Hope your next flight is more peaceful. 🙂

  7. Rachael’s travel posts always make me feel like I could do it! And I’ve been very wary of traveling with my son, so that’s big. When we eventually take him on a big adventure (other than Yellowstone when he was a baby), I’ll have her to thank. 🙂 Also, what a great theme for Discover & Explore this time!

  8. Rachael has so many great traveling ideas and tips, doesn’t she!? As always, I love seeing what’s going on at Discover and Explore! 🙂

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