5 Things that will NOT be in my toddler’s plane bag

Toddler standing in airport window with a backpack - packing toddlers plane bags

Advice for keeping your sanity on a long-haul flight with small kids

I won’t profess to be the world’s best crafty mum, despite best efforts; or a brilliant cook. And I always forget stuff.

But when it comes to sitting on an aircraft and entertaining your kids for 7 plus hours at a time, I am going to play my flying long-haul with kids trump card

So here’s the real deal.  You are more than likely going to be flying economy class because you cannot justify spending more or using your hard-earned frequent flyer points on people whose legs don’t extend beyond the end of the seat.

Now let’s assume you haven’t heeded any of my previous advice.  You’re flying during the day, you don’t have a spare seat between you and you’re flying a cheapy airline that’s not handing out kid’s packs.  It’s still not the end of the world (though seriously, read my strategies).

Our Globetrotters complete guide to Flying with Kids

If you’ve got this far you’ve no doubt read plenty of articles already on what you can do to entertain your kids on a plane.  Now I’m here to take the candy-coating away and tell you the truth. Not all toys make for good plane entertainment.

This post is part of our Toddler Travel advice series and our flying with kids series

Here are 5 things NOT to pack for your toddlers– despite any myths you may have heard to the contrary!

1. Play-doh

Things that will NOT be in by kids plane bag | Travel Advice | OurGlobetrotters.Net

I can’t stand this shit sticking under my fingernails at home, why on earth would I want to clean it up on a plane? If it doesn’t end up stuck to your chair or ground into the carpet you can be sure it’s been inserted into a child’s ear, clumps of it shoved down t-shirts, every other food scrap and bit of fluff floating around your living space will attach itself for dear life and whatever is left is being inconspicuously eaten by the baby.

Until your child is about six and can control these urges, forget it.

Update – we might just have a new alternative to Play-doh – check out  Skwooshi  – a not so messy alternative (no guarantees on the baby not trying to eat it but it says non-toxic….)

2. Individually wrapped gifts

Things theat will NOT be in my kids plane bag | Travel Advice | OurGlobetrotters.Ne

Come on!! Are you having a laugh? After packing, cleaning the house before you go, checking flights, oh and doing all that everyday mum stuff like feeding, cleaning and entertaining your offspring you’re really going to sit one evening before you fly out and wrap small presents from the dollar shop, one for each hour of the flight?

I have three children; I’m flying for 16 hours. I am not sitting to wrap 48 cute and glorious little bundles of happiness to then sit in a sea of my own wrapping paper filth (and watch the baby eat it).

O.K., if you have one child and your flight is less than three hours long I will give this cute little idea some merit; Long-haulers and those with multiple children, don’t worry you’re not throwing your chances of mother of the year here.

Keep. It. Simple.

Flying with Kids Top Tips

Instead… do grab a couple of new dollar shop items per child but keep these in your bag until you’re ready to reveal something new. If they find it in their own plane bag it will be all over the airport terminal floor before you’ve even boarded the flight.

3. Teensy weensy toys

Make no mistake if you bring anything smaller than about the size of a tennis ball, you will find yourself with your head wedged down between the seats more times than a pregnant woman needs to pee.

Things that will NOT be in my kids plane bag | Travel Advice | OurGlobetrotters.Com

My sons favourite toys at the moment are “Trashies”, adorably ugly when they are not finding their way into one orifice or another of the baby, but a complete nightmare when they fall down the back of the couch, and he knows if just one is missing, he knows…

Spare yourself the search and rescue mission; toddlers need chunky items without small parts.

You’ll find our favourite recommended toddler-sized toys here

4. Cheap crappy headphones

Things that will NOT be in my kids plane bag | Travel Advice | OurGlobetrotters.Net

We all know that an iPad or similar electronic device is the ultimate distraction and entertainer on a plane (park your morals on electronics right now, long-haul flying is the big league here people).

Even a quite young child can be captivated by their magic for short spurts, but nobody wants to listen to Peppa Pig snorting and giggling her way through a jigsaw puzzle for 3 hours straight.  So headphones are essential.

Young children particularly are likely to baulk at the idea at first. This will no doubt mean a bit of rough handling with the headset, ripping it off, sitting on it, throwing it.  These are one item in your entertainment arsenal that is worth spending more cash on.

I can’t confess to having found a brand that lasts more than a few flights, but the cheaper they are, the quicker into the flight they will break and you will be left stranded without a good in-flight entertainment system.

You’ll find the best brands of headphones that we DO recommend for toddlers here!

5. The bag itself

Things that will NOT be in my kids plane bag | Travel Advice | OurGlobetrotters.Net

Ok, I know some people love Trunki, and hey, I think they’re cute too – in concept.  Have you ever tried picking one of these bad boys up when it’s full of toys? Have you ever seen a child opening one of these in the middle of the airport lounge?  Don’t be mistaken.  Sure kids love sitting on them and pulling them along. For three minutes.

Golden rule people, if you can’t be sure your toddler is going to carry it for the full length of the journey, if they cannot lift it themselves, if they cannot open it themselves without the contents spilling everywhere, then why have you given it to them? Now is not the time for “teaching independence”; it’s the toddler years – it’s survival of the fittest.

Ride-on Suitcases work best for preschoolers NOT toddlers – our full ride-on luggage review & recommendations here.

Sure bring toys and activities for entertaining your kids but accept you will be responsible for everything in it and in all likelihood end up carrying it at some point until they are old enough to take responsibility for this all-important piece of luggage for themselves.

Things that will NOT be in my kids plane bag | Travel Advice | OurGlobetrotters.Net
This, folks, is what ended up happening to that adorable Trunki. For 4 flights.

It’s not all bad news parents – there are some items that are absolute winners in kid’s carry-ons!

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In case your insanity strikes – Pin for later!!

5 things that will NOT be in my Toddler's Plane Bag | OurGlobetrotters.Net

Do you have any pet peeves on the plane – what are your MUST NOT PACK items, how did you learn the hard way?

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28 thoughts on “5 Things that will NOT be in my toddler’s plane bag

  1. Pingback: The best luggage for kids: tops picks 2019 • Little City Trips

  2. Matt says:

    We’re off on a trip next week to the UK from Australia and I’m pretty sure we’re going to be breaking at least two of the above. My wife swears by play dough for our 19 month old, I’ve managed to find some common ground whereby we make our own in the thermomix and dispose of various bits along the way. Hopefully saving too many dramas with separating colours and keeping it dry. Hate the stuff myself, but hey, what you gonna do.

    Came home a couple of months ago to find an orange trunk I sitting in the living room. WTF is that I spout. As it turns out, the little prince runs around the house pushing it or shunting it with a similarly sized Thomas the tank engine. So maybe not such a bad idea for the trip as a toy during long transits. Best part is that it can fit under our Mountain Buggy nano pram (with the help of a carabiner) so carrying it shouldn’t be on the cards (he says at this point in time)

    Really enjoying your blog, thanks and keep it up.

    • Keri from Baby Globetrotters says:

      Your comments gave me a great laugh Matt!

      I know not everyone agrees with my thoughts in this post – put playdough haters unite! If you’re fine with it on dry land then sure take it up in the air if you think it will keep the peace for 5 minutes. Weird sticky shit under your finger nails or not.

      The Trunki though, hmmm. Mine thought it was great at home too. Once its stuffed full of toys that they will likely lose interest in the second you leave the house, drag it around at your own peril!!! I’m impressed you can fit it under the Nano! We just got a Nano to trial this week so I haven’t tested its toy stuffing limits just yet, its ultra light-weight so I am concerned on the tip factor. Good luck fitting Trunki, and the Nano and your bags in the overhead locker!! (Board early)

      Thanks for reading and getting involved, let us know how your trip goes!

  3. emilyandindiana says:

    Hahaha! Searching for ideas for our toddler for our holiday next week and came across this, thank you for giving me a giggle 🙂 Will put the tub of play doh back in cupboard 😉 xx

    • Keri from Baby Globetrotters says:

      Ah fabulous you found us Emily! its really each to their own with the play dough, I simply can’t stand the crumbly sticky stuff at the best of times but I know other mums swear by it!!

  4. Jessica Ryles says:

    I love this list. I too hate play doh. The lid is evil! My fingers always feel so raw after opening the cups. In retaliation for a very loud Christmas present, we may have given a package of tiny play dough cans as retribution.

    • Keri from Baby Globetrotters says:

      Ha ha, I knew I wasn’t alone when I wrote this! And don’t get me started on mixing colours….

  5. Clara Wiggins says:

    Coming a bit late to this party but YES hurrah for some honest and real advice. Who are these people who wrap up the little presents? And I am still scratching my head at the idea that ANYONE would take play-doh on a plane!!!

  6. Laura @ Life with Baby Kicks says:

    Ah see I am so the other way! I love playdoh but I limit it to one teeny tiny pot of the stuff so it can’t get mushed into BROWN and he basically likes to hold the pot and poke it in there. Maybe I have a dream child (hahahahaha) and whilst the trunki DID NOT serve as it was meant to as a child ferrying tool I quite enjoyed trailing it like a dog and at least I couldn’t lose it!though cheap headphones I’m with you – check out kazoo ours are still strong 8 flights in and also being walked around the house like a dog……

  7. mytravelmonkey says:

    I am so with you on the Trunki case – we’ve used it twice and vowed never again! It’s a pain in the bum and hubby carried it everywhere just like yours! 🙂

    • Keri from Baby Globetrotters says:

      oh I’m so glad I’m not alone in my complete misunderstanding of this deceptively cute product!!

  8. Phoebe @ Lou Messugo says:

    This is hysterical, thank goodness for some sensible advice! I can’t believe how often I see posts advising people to take play doh and lego on planes, it’s clear madness! There could be nothing worse than either of those 2 on planes. Do these people live in Pinterest worlds? The certainly haven’t actually flown with young kids. I LOVE this post!!!

    • Keri from Baby Globetrotters says:

      Thanks Pheobe – since entering the travel blog world I cannot believe how many people seem to claim themselves as a flying expert after a 2 hour fight to Spain with completely misleading advice. Granted each to their own on what may have worked on a particular flight but you’re right, we don’t live in a Pinterest perfect world ; )

  9. Pete says:

    Nice post! My wife and I have yet to experience the “joy” of airplane travel with our daughter … but that’s coming up in a few weeks. I’m making note of everything you just mentioned here. Fingers Crossed!!! Thanks for sharing on #effitfriday

    • Keri from Baby Globetrotters says:

      Good stuff Pete, you’ll be fine – have a quick look through the site, I did a post on first time travel a couple of weeks ago that may help

  10. mummyfever says:

    Totally with you on the crappy headphones – also we took 3 trunkis and a baby bag to Florida – just shoot me! #effitfriday

  11. mrssavageangel says:

    I LOVE this. We have never flown as a family (and are unlikely to any time soon. With a 3 year old autistic toddler I cant believe it’d be fun for anyone) but when we do I will heed your wonderful advice. Thanks hon #effitfriday

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