We've been lucky enough that the boys have both been on airplane rides a bunch of times. We've had good and bad experiences so I thought I would share with you things to bring to make your plane trip with small children a more enjoyable ride.
1. Snacks: These will be a life saver. Not all airlines offer a snack or something that your children will even want. I tend to lean toward snacks that are not super messy and are easy to eat on their own. Think crackers, fruit snacks and raisins/dried fruit. Bring plenty of them.
2. A sippy cup: As you know, they only offer regular cups on a plane which only mean spills that can only lead to tears (for mommy or toddler). If you have an older child, just bring something with a lid but won't easily spill. Drinks are great for take off and landing to help keep their little ears from popping. Since you can't have drinks with you through security, we buy a drink once we find our gate.
3. A car seat (optional): I'm not sure most people know this but you can bring your toddler's car seat on board for them to sit in. As long as it is approved by the FAA (see here) it's good to go. Now if you know your toddler will sit still, then you probably won't need it on board. When we flew in November, Parker refused to sit in his seat and he hated the seat belt. It made for a very frustrating trip. When we discovered that car seats were allowed on board we quickly made sure ours was approved for our Hawaii trip and you know what, he was so good! It was comfortable and familiar to him. Yes, it's a little bulky to bring on board but it saved us!
4. Toys/games: Flights are boring. We bring a couple books, coloring stuff, an iPad, movies and other little things our kids like.
5. Incentives: When we fly long distance, I like to surprise the boys with new little
toys if they are behaving good. I find things at the Target dollar
section or cheap little things in the toy section that I know they will
like and play with. Just be careful of tiny pieces because those get
lost easily. Also, I bring a few lollipops with us (I like dum-dums) to reward good behavior.
6. A sweater: It doesn't matter what the weather is outside, those planes can get cold! I make sure to bring them something warm just in case.
When we travel, both boys have their backpack that I put this stuff into. Hudson can carry his own but Parker still needs help. Keep in mind to not make them too heavy so you won't have to carry them all! We have the small size backpacks from Pottery Barn Kids but I have recently seen some cute little ones at Target.
What have you brought on a plane ride with your children that has saved you?