How to do a TransAtlantic Flight With a PreSchooler

I did a post almost 3 years ago “Air Travel With Your Toddler” that I still use most of the tips for and Madison at the time was only a year old. As you know, I recently took my pre-schooler to London. It was not her first flight but it sure was one of the longest in quite some time. We have traveled to the Caribbean quite a few times, where we have had long layovers and our entire journey took over 9hrs. Now while we’ve been traveling since she was 3 months old, it seems like the older she gets, the more difficult it becomes. As an infant you don’t worry about much besides having those few extras. However for a preschooler (age 3-5) there is so much more you need to remember besides a snack. Flying for long hours can not only a grumpy child make, but it can also make your trip stressful when you have a preschooler who just hates being on the plane, cramped into a seat with little to do. When we flew to London, we had an AMAZING airline and I’ll be sure to share my experience with you, but today I want to give you a few tips and tricks for taking a transatlantic flight with your preschooler.

Before You Get On The Plane:

Getting Through Security:

If you haven’t signed up for a traveler program such as CLEAR or TSA Pre✔ and you’re a frequent traveler you might want to consider doing that. Security lines are usually pretty long and your little one can get restless while waiting. These programs allow you to bypass those lines and get to security screening a lot faster. Have your boarding pass and ID ready to give to the security agent and limit your carry on, know what is allowed so that you won’t be pulled aside. For example, I was carrying a snow-globe (too much liquid) and was actually pulled aside and asked to dump it or return and have it checked onto the plane. Electronics such as laptops need to be placed in a separate tray so have it easily accessible. If weather permits, wear shoes that are easy to take off/put on. Your little one (up to age 12) won’t need to take their shoes off, but you will be required to and the faster you can get along, the easier it will be for all of you.

Carry On for You and For Your Preschooler: 

Whenever I travel with my little one I always make sure she has a backpack, which is her special own carry on filled with supplies that she would enjoy. From age 2 and up a separate seat and paid airline ticket is required, which means that she is also allowed a free carry on. Let him/her choose their own backpack for their flight. Make sure that it can fit under the seat in-front so that you’re not getting up out of your seat to reach in the overhead compartment.

Potty Before You Board:

Visit the bathroom before getting on the plane. While I don’t mind inconveniencing a fellow traveler so that we could use the bathroom, and it’s going to happen eventually on a flight that lasts more than 4hrs, the less we can do so, the better. The airline bathrooms are also pretty small and can barely fit 1 person, much less 2 of you. I also don’t let my pre-schooler use the bathroom anywhere alone, so if she goes before we get on the plane, there is a great chance that she’ll only have to go once.

Items You’ll Need On the Plane:

Extra set of clothing:

Most toddlers and preschoolers are potty trained, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to walk with an extra set of clothing, and include underwear in there too. If this is your child’s first flight, they may be nervous and anything can happen when they’re nervous. Also, if you have an unexpected layover and your bags go on their merry way without you, you’ll also have something to change into.

Wipes and Hand Sanitizer:

Kids are known to make messes and it doesn’t matter if they are thousands of miles in the sky. You can use these wipes to clean up messes, wipe hands and even to clean down those tray tables. You might be surprised to know that it is actually the dirtiest spot on the plane. Yuck!

Light Blanket: 

Unless you’re flying first class, blankets aren’t always available for your use. You may even have to pay for one if the flight becomes a little too cold, even after turning off the air overhead. If your little one has a special blanket that he/she loves, you can take it along for the added security and also for comfort.


Walk with your own earphones. You might probably have a pair that has noise reduction to protect their little ears and trust me, you don’t want to spend an extra $5+ for airline headphones when you can use your own for free.


This is generally any electronic that can keep your little one occupied for hours. Since you more than likely won’t have free wifi on the plane, consider downloading a few apps and movies that can keep your little one happy. Not only would your electronic be great for the flight, but you can also have it for any layover you might have.

Coloring Books /Crayons/ Sticker Pads: 

What better way to keep your child entertained than with a coloring book and some crayons or even sticker pads. I picked up some from my local dollar store before our trip. You might want to get an adult coloring book  or even a crossword puzzle for yourself as well.


While you may get snacks available for purchase and sometimes for free on certain airlines, it’s great to have snacks that you know your child would like on your flight. Fruit snacks, peanuts, granola bars are great to take along. While some security may let go with a juice box or two, it’s not always guaranteed. Water, sodas, orange and apple juice are normally offered on board flights so it’s recommended to ask the flight attendant when the need arises. I also like to have my little one chewing on something during lift off and the landing so that her ears don’t get clogged.

Now those are some of the things that have worked for me on very long flights. Madison is a pro at flying and her ears has only gotten clogged once, and that’s because she fell asleep on our flight from Iceland to London. Our simple trick of holding your nose and blowing worked miracles.

These tips can be used not only on your flight, but also before your flight. If there’s a layover, it’s always a great idea to pull out your supplies and get busy and keep your little one occupied. If there are other tips that you’d love to share, I’d love to hear them.

Let’s discuss: How do you keep your little ones’ occupied on long flights? 

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