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Home + Family 3 years ago

traveling + restaurants with a toddler: my tips and tricks

A few weeks ago we flew to Mexico with Shiloh for a little family vacation and had the BEST time. This was the first time we’ve flown with Shiloh in about a year – and the first time we’ve flown with her since she’s been a full on toddler haha. She did SO great on both plane rides though so I wanted to share some of our tips + favorite toys for traveling with a toddler. This roundup will also include our favorite toys we bring to restaurants for Shiloh! We are FAR from experts in this category (or any parenting category LOL) but these are some tricks and toys that have been helpful for us so thought it could maybe be helpful for some other mamas out there too!


FIRST we can chat about the mask situation. Currently, airlines require anyone 2 and older to wear a mask the entire flight., which if you have a two year old….you know how impossible this is lol. We did everything we could to try and keep Shiloh’s mask on – we practiced for weeks (months) before our flight, got her a book about masks, talked about it all the time, had her wear it at home etc. Once she got on the plane, she wanted to wear it for about 30 seconds and then wouldn’t. On the way to Mexico we flew Southwest and they were veryyyyy strict about Shiloh keeping her mask on (she is 2 1/2). They came around a few times to make sure she had it on which of course stressed me out big time. We did our best to make Shiloh wear her mask but at the end of the day…couldn’t force her to keep it on. We had snacks out for her the entire flight to Mexico so if a flight attendant ever said anything I’d just tell them she was eating / drinking. (*insert shrugging emoji haha* just trying to survive!). On the way BACK from Mexico we flew American and they were wayyyy more lax with Shiloh. Of course Michael and I both wore our masks the entire time but the flight attendants never said anything to Shiloh. So, I think it just depends on the flight attendant honestly.

ALL THAT TO SAY. Snacks and drinks are helpful with the mask situation haha.


Something else I try and keep in mind when traveling with Shiloh: all bets are off when we travel haha. At home we stick to her routine – what time she naps, what type of snacks she has, we hardly do any screentime at home…and I’ve learned that when we travel, you have to just let go and be more flexible and do the best you can! For Shiloh – there is nooo way she will nap on a plane so I had to let that go. At home I try and keep packaged snacks to a minimum and do more fresh fruit / cheese etc but on a plane…we just survive and that’s okay!

toddler travel: essentials from amazon

So like I said, we are definitely okay with some screen time on a plane…but I try and use that as a last resort. We have an old iPad that we will let Shiloh watch Frozen on (we download it beforehand) but try and use it as a last resort! I rounded up our favorite travel / restaurant toys for Shiloh in the collage below (you can click / tap on any product directly to shop!)


We love EVERY toy included in the collage above, both for airplanes and for restaurants. A few of my favorites are:

Characters – I know every toddler is different but Shiloh’s imagination is incredible. We love to bring little characters like this with us on planes or to restaurants because she loves to play pretend with them – like, make Mickey take a nap or give Daisy a snack haha it’s adorable and entertains her for a while!

Magnetic wooden blocks – these have been a great restaurant toy because they don’t take up a ton of space in your bag and they all stick together, so they won’t get lost easily at a restaurant. Shiloh loves to ‘build a tower’ with her blocks!

These $15 headphones are great if your toddler is watching something on the iPad or a tablet!

I like to have these hello bello wipes with me at all times when we travel! Toddlers are messy haha and I find myself wiping Shiloh’s face / hands / anything with these wipes allll the time.

Reusable stickers like this have been a GREAT restaurant / airplane toy for Shiloh! It’s small and easy to throw in your bag and you can use it over and over again.

These water wow coloring books are a MUST for restaurants or travel with a toddler. We actually keep one in the car too for roadtrips. You just fill the marker with water and then it only colors on that paper! So, it’s mess free and you only need one marker!

This magnetic drawing pad is definitely one of Shiloh’s favorite toys! She loves the little stamps it comes with!



travel / restaurant tips

So those are all of our favorite toys we like to use for travel and restaurants. A few other tips that have been helpful, whether we are on a plane or at a restaurant:

  • Keep a basket of your special toys by the back door so you can just grab them and throw them in your tote when you are heading out
  • Don’t let your toddler play with any of these toys unless you are at a restaurant or traveling! That way, it’s like a new toy every time and it’s extra special / entertaining
  • Before your trip, go to the dollar section at Target and stock up on random trinkets / toys she can play with on the plane! Don’t let your toddler see these new toys until you’re on the plane though!
  • “I spy” has also been a helpful game I’ll play with Shiloh while we wait for our food at a restaurant
  • Manage your expectations: when I go into a trip knowing ‘I am not going to be able to do anything on this plane other than take care of and entertain shiloh’ it majorly helps my mood haha. If i’m trying to get work done or text people back or whatever…I end up getting frustrated because Shiloh needs my attention. If I know my one job is to just take care of her, my mood is a lot better.

screen time @ restaurants

When Shiloh was a baby, we never gave her a screen at restaurants. Once she started walking…restaurants became a lot more challenging because she didn’t want to sit still, but she was also still kind of too young to engage with people at the table. So when she was probably 1 1/2 we would let her have a phone at a restaurant. But I very quickly started noticing that anytime we’d go to a restaurant…she would want / expect a phone, and I really didn’t want to make that a habit.

I talked with a few other moms who have kids a little bit older than Shiloh. I noticed their kids were always SO great at restaurants so I asked them their thoughts on phones @ restaurants. Their advice was so wise and helpful. They told me if you start giving your kid a phone at 2 years old at a restaurant…they will always expect that. So then you’ll have a 5 year old who can’t engage in conversation at a restaurant because they are glued to a screen.

Don’t get me wrong – if we have a dinner where we are eating and hanging out with friends for 2+ hours…I don’t expect Shiloh to just sit and read a book at a restaurant for 2hrs haha. If it’s just me and Michael and Shiloh…we try and just be in and out and not give her a screen. We bring her toys, engage her in conversation, sometimes we’ll let her get up and walk around for a few minutes…but we really try hard to not give her a screen (as tempting as it is!). If we are out with friends / family though and hang out for much longer…we will definitely let her watch a screen towards the end if she’s getting really antsy.

I’m definitely not judging ANY parent out there who gives their kid a screen at restaurants! We’ve definitely been there and sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do haha. I just wanted to share our philosophy on that topic and what has been working pretty well for us (so far!).


Do you have any favorite toys you use for restaurants or traveling? I would love to hear any of your recommendations in the comments below! Thanks for reading!

xo Lauren

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