Best Airplane Travel Gear on Amazon for Kids (3-5 years)

January 27, 2020

We are by no means expert family travelers. T and I are lucky enough to have traveled solo to over 25 countries collectively, but when it comes to traveling with our children I still get some serious pre-flight jitters. Like, how do other parents look so chill at the airport? Tell me, people!

But now that we’ve traveled internationally with our kids a few times, I feel like we have a better handle on what we absolutely need (and don’t need) when we fly. And I’m intentionally focusing on what to pack for the airplane flight ...that’s always the hardest part for us since we try to limit what we carry onto the plane.

1. Rolling Backpack

I was so excited that Greyson Scout was old enough to roll her own carry on through the airport. This means more responsibility for her -- and a slightly less bulky diaper bag for this mama. There are a TON of kids carry on suitcases on the market. And some with really nifty features. But here’s what I LOVE about this rolling backpack: It’s built for longevity. We bought this when she was 3.5 and she loved it -- and the hope is that she’ll still be taking it to grandma’s house in 5 years time. And on that note, it’s durable. This isn’t a cheaply made kids backpack -- instead, it has the solid feel of adult luggage.

Parent Pro Tip: The night before the big flight I fill up G’s carry-on with some surprises and her own stash of snacks. The deal is that she cannot open her carry-on until she’s sitting on the plane. This makes boarding the plane her favorite part of the day, and gives me time to entertain Wilder. And you never know when you'll be sitting on the tarmac for 2 hours.

2. Crayola Mini Twistables Crayons

Under normal circumstances, my daughter colors with markers exclusively. But I'm not about to spend half the flight looking for the caps. Been there, done that. I like Crayola Twistables because you don't have to deal with broken crayons, missing markers caps and dried out markers. We sometimes travel with the Mess Free sets...but my older daughter really likes the variety of this 24-count Crayola set.

3. Power Bank for Backup Battery Life 

We’d be up the creek if we lost power on the phone or headphones. Charge it at home the night before and stash it in your carry on bag pre-flight. Everyone in your family will use this and it’s a great back up for adult phones, too. When we arrive at our destination, we charge it up again.  

4. Folding Portable Toilet Seat

We’ve been traveling with this handy little product since GS began potty training, and it’s been a lifesaver on flights, at the airport, and our final destination. We inevitably encounter turbulence while using the toilet on the airplane, and this cover helps GS feel more secure. And even though she’s fully potty trained, we’ve used some rather *unique* toilets while traveling, and this little cover helps alleviate some of the uncertainty she may feel. It's so easy to carry with you and folds down rather small. We wipe it down with a wet wipe, fold it up, and slip it back into the carrying case.

And if you're not keen on pink, I love this adorable blue foldable seat cover here.

5. Poppy The Troll - 2-in-1 Hoodie and Soft Plushie

We always pack a zip-up hoodie for the kids, and this one is so cute. I love that the plushie can double as a pillow if you need it in a pinch.

6. Inflatable Airplane Bed 

If you're doing a long flight, this is probably the best $16 you’ll ever spend. Buy one for each of your kiddos to help them nap, pull an overnighter, or just get comfortable. Another added benefit is that it helps catch some of the ancillary junk which will inevitably fall to the floor from the tray table..all...flight...long. Keep in mind that some airlines don’t allow these, so check out the exclusion list on Amazon.

Parent Pro Tip: If our flight is an overnighter -- or if we want desperately hope the kids will get in a looong nap -- we pack their favorite blankies and a small pillow from home. It makes their airplane seat extra cozy and sleep-friendly.

7. Kids Wireless Foldable Headphones 

No matter which headphone set you buy, your four year old is going to complain about something in-flight (slipping off her ears, can’t plug the jack back in, can’t hear), so definitely invest in a set that (1) is designed for younger children and (2) can be thrown in your carry-on at the end of your flight, and you don’t have to worry about the thing falling apart. Foldable headphones are key. And I’m a big proponent of adjustable volume limiters so your kid isn’t blowing out her eardrums...and the padded, pivoting ear cushions give a snugger fit on younger kids. Although Bluetooth seems a bit indulgent, you’ll be happy you don’t have to deal with a cord.

We have a few of these handy little kits stashed in the cars and diaper bag. And when we travel, we stuff it with extra remedies from home, like Children’s chewable Bendryl, Melatonin, and cough medicine. All of it goes on the plane with us. Note to overly concerned parents: Obviously our kiddos are not ingesting all of this, but I like to be prepared in case anyone gets sick! FYI, From personal experience none of the above medicines help my kids sleep. In fact, just the opposite. So I’m not an advocate of giving out those remedies unless they’re needed. What I especially like about this first aid kit is that is comes with thermometer strips -- a big help when your kiddo gets an ear infection while in Portugal.

9. Fuzzy Fleece-Lined Socks

These thick and fuzzy socks are a must on long flights. I usually skip them on anything less than 3 hours because it's one more thing to get on and off my kid....and since I'm traveling with two now, I try to minimize my workload! But I  highly suggest these or these Fuzzy Babba socks for any parent who wants to help their kiddo nap or sleep on the plane.

10. Kindle Fire Tablet 

Don’t rely on in-flight entertainment (or wifi!) for your 4 year old. I learned this the hard way on our recent Volaris flight. We currently have an old iPhone that's loaded with games and movies. By our next trip, our younger toddler, Wilder, will be old enough to watch movies. So the plan is to invest in two Kindle Fire Tablets -- they’re much more reasonable than an iPad, and get the job done for entertaining kids. You can fill it with 32GB worth of movies, music, games, and Kindle children’s books all for less than $69.  Also, check out this adorable case here.

Parent Pro Tip: Again, we don't allow GS to play with the phone until she’s seated on the plane. Between that, and the other surprises, she has a lot to entertain herself for at least the first hour of the flight.

And finally, I stash some coloring books and a blank notebook. The latter is kind of clutch for my 4 year old right now. She likes being able to doodle away with her crayons, and if she has a whim to draw horses for 30 minutes straight, she can freely indulge. 

12. Airplane Tray Table Tablet Holder 

Ever been on a flight next to a kid and spent 80% of your time on the floor looking for marker lids? Yep, me, too, sister. Our girls are busy kids who want their snacks, crafts, games, tablet/phone, and drinks with them all at the same time. This tray is super helpful. One thing I didn’t think of on our most recent flight was that my 4 year old would be stuck holding her phone in her hand the whole time she watched videos on our old iPhone.

Since then, we’ve invested in this convertible lap tray which works for both airplane tray tables and carseats. I love that we can slip GS’s phone in the tray and she can color or play a game while watching her movie. Keeping her device in the sleeve also helps her commit to one move at a time! I don’t know about you, but my kid gets super excited when she can watch videos on her phone and loves to change her selection every 10 minutes. Bonus: Cup holder. You’ll be grateful for this when you encounter some turbulence. I will admit that this is a bit cumbersome to carry through the airport, but I promise it’s worthwhile.

So how about you? What is your must-have items for your 3-4 year old's carry on? I'd love to know!

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