Last Updated: February 15, 2018
Do you know a family planning air travel with preschooler? Here are some great ideas for gifts for toddlers, preschoolers and kindergartners (and their parents) getting ready for air travel for vacation, adventure or to visit family for the holidays.
Need some help as you brainstorm what to pack for preschool busy bags and preschooler activities for your flight? Check out this list of suggestions to help prepare yourself and your little ones for air travel with preschooler…
Building a Busy Bag for Air Travel with Preschooler
Books – If this is a child’s first time traveling, talking about the trip in advance could be invaluable. Along with new backpacks (we talk about them here), my children received several air travel books months before our planned trip.
With every reading, we had a chance to anticipate the visit with family, as well as discuss any concerns about the logistics of the trip.
P.S. If your little one has lots of airport questions, here’s an adorable airport game that just might do the trick!
Preschool Coloring Books and Sticker Activities – Small, consumable travel activities such as a coloring book and crayons, or a pack of stickers and an empty notepad are wonderful, simple gifts that are fairly universally appealing.
These are great ideas to give at any point before or during the trip, as these new gifts can provide entertainment at their destination or as a novelty item for the return trip home.
Looking for durable, hands-free carry-on backpacks for you or your preschooler? Check out the carry-on recommendations in my international travel post.
Getting Around After Air Travel with Preschooler
Strollers – My simple, no-stress choice for air travel with small kids was to have two umbrella strollers plus connectors. During the trip, we used the “double” stroller (sometimes for two children, sometimes for one child plus a bag.)
Once at my destination, I could use either the double or just a single stroller depending on the needs of the day.
If you need a more robust stroller at your destination, you can of course check a larger stroller with your luggage. But, also consider any local Craigslist options at your destination, too!
Staying hydrated – Water bottles for everybody! And, all of these options have a handle, to allow for easily attaching to bags when empty.
Yes, the bottles may need to be emptied at TSA checkpoints, but most of the time (traveling or at your destination), you’ll be grateful you have them.
Plus, it’s nice to be able to hand the kids something no-spill when you’re on the plane and only have one change of clothes…
Easiest Way to Stress Less? Carry Less Stuff! – I just learned about these baby rental companies. Not really a “gift” but great options for additional car seats (including toddler / preschool sizes) than your rental car company may offer as well as toy rental for the duration of your visit.
Search for your destination and “baby equipment rental company.” Here are a few that I’ve discovered:
Technology Tools for Air Travel with Preschooler
iPad or other tablet – I don’t think most modern parents need to be told how helpful a little technology can be once in a while. If you already have a tablet, just take a few minutes to make sure it’s charging fully and operating well.
Right now, we have a pair of “original” iPads (easily going on 5 years old now) for our kids. When either of those finally need to be retired, I’ll be searching for either another refurbished iPad or a budget friendly Amazon Fire.
Be sure to click around in Amazon (or check out Honey if you’re shopping from a desktop) if you decide to get a Fire tablet – I’ve noticed semi-regular sales and “special offers” available.
Here’s one sized for an iPad Air, but just search for the right size for your device…
Well, we have been using ours since 2013 and 2014, and two iPads have survived to this day. No guarantees, of course, but these have survived toddler-hood, threenagers, and keep on going, so I’m a satisfied customer!
Headphones – Our LeapFrog headphones (purchased in March 2016) don’t appear to be available any longer.
Here are some of the highest rated headphones for smaller children, with many of the same features I liked in our headphones purchase.
Portable Charger(s) – Many parents (me included) have been so grateful for technology distractions during travel. You don’t want to suddenly lose that option because of a charged-down device.
Here are four of the best reviewed portable charging options currently on Amazon. (I’m not listing units that I own here – in the six months since I’ve purchased my last charger, better and more affordable options have hit the market!)
Yes, I’m seeing more frequent options for powering devices in-flight. The last few flights I’ve been on had some pretty nifty built-in USB options (yay!) But, I’ve also been assigned seats for long flights with non-functional charging outlets.
I typically go with having several of the cheaper options charged up and tucked in different bags, to allow for possible loss, charge down or damage of one unit.
And, it’s not just in-flight charging that is challenging. The charging towers in the gate area (when they exist) are often full pre-flight. With small children, parents may be too busy anyway with a dance party or a game of tag (get that energy out!) to keep watch of one more thing.
Great gift, and honestly, if your recipient already has a few, that’s okay, there’s always a place for a spare charger (in the purse, in the car, in the gym bag, in the laptop bag, in the backpack, in the overnight bag, etc.)
Audible – Consider gifting an audiobooks subscription for parents or child. With the subscription, they’ll receive 2 free audiobooks.
Deliver Gifts to Destination
If you are providing a gift (like diapers) that will be used or consumed completely at their destination (and is not needed during travel), consider if circumstances allow you to have Amazon ship the items directly to the destination.
The duration of the visit, family preference and lodging arrangements will help determine how realistic this option is for the family. Definitely only go this route after speaking with the family, to be sure this is as helpful for them as you intend!
However, if a family with small children is visiting a destination for more than a few days, this could be a potentially huge help in freeing up luggage space and stress!
Do you have some more ideas for the family travelers in your life? Do you see something missing in this list? Tell me your favorite must-haves in the comments, and let’s make gift-giving easier for our loved ones (and the next reader!)
Get even more ideas for busy bags and activities for air travel with your preschooler in Gift Guide for Family: International Travel Edition and the Gift Guide for the Family: Road Trips Edition.