Tips for long haul flights with children
Flying with children can be a daunting prospect and flying long haul can seem like an impossible mission, especially if you have several children and only two adults to entertain them. However, having taken my little adventurers to Thailand, Malaysia, Middle East to name a few, the task of flying long haul has gotten easier. Don’t get me wrong, it is not all plain sailing but nor should it be enough to put you off! Here are my top tips for long haul flights with children.
- Try and book late evening or night flights or have a part of it around nap time. Late evening and night flights are a good idea especially if it is your first time flying long haul. It will also help once you arrive at your destination as you will hopefully arrive during the day, and having a few hours getting the children outdoors will really help with any jet lag.
- If your travelling with a baby, ensure that you have booked your bassinet. These are perfect for not only have a child sleep in, but perfect to let the baby play in a safe way. Always pack your baby’s favourite toys and put them in the bassinet once they set them up.
- Always have your baby’s blanket and ensure that you remove it from the pushchair before you hand it in.
- Always check your seat allocation, a blogger friend who was travelling on her own with her daughter realised that they had been allocated different seats on different rows. Luckily they noticed in enough time to change the seats, so always check and double check!
- Ensure that you have ordered children meals. On our last flights with Qatar, they ordered the children vegetarian but not children’s meals. So my three adventurers were very jealous as they watched the children getting their kids meals.
- Have your hand luggage planned. If you are travelling with a baby / toddler, have your items for nappy change together in one quick ziplock bag, so instead of taking a huge changing bag to the tiny cubicles you can just take a small bag. Likewise have your items for food, clothes organised in an easy to get to way. The last thing you want to is spend ages finding you need.
- Pack lots of snacks and treats. Snacks need to both healthy and treats. Long flights can be tiresome and a few treats can really help with a tantrum (but save them for the right moment!) and it can help pass an hour or so.
- Have a few activities packed, we have started all the little adventurers with their own rucksacks and we add the activities to their rucksacks. If you are flying long haul you usually will have inflight entertainment but after a few hours the children will need another few distractions. We have found colouring books, playing cards, a few reading books and wordsearch/word books as a great way to entertain the kids. One thing to be careful of is buying something with lots of small bits. Things will get everywhere and the children can become really upset, so often it could be more headache then its worth. So try and keep things simple, noughts and crosses and rock paper scissors are firm favourites in our house!
- I love this DIY travel kit, and we will be making our own this year, but may be making them A5 sized to easily fit into the kids backpacks!
- Medical kit are a must but I know a lot of people who pack them into their hold luggage. We have had a baby who started with a bad temperature on a flight and were glad we had calpol to hand. I make a small carry on medical kit with the limits on liquids, you will need to ensure these comply with the rules. We have calpol sachets (best way to travel with paracetamol), sudocream, paracetamol, plasters, bandage, anti bacterial wipes and suncream (to have it to hand if we land and its very hot!)
- iPads/tablets and headphones. We only have one working iPad and as such never take them on long haul flights as the inflight entertainment is fantastic. If however, you have children who use them a lot I would recommend you buy child appropriate headphones to go with them and ensure that they are fully charged!
- Preparing for comfort on flights, we have used the TravelSnugs on our flights last year and they were superb! Our Zayn slept like a log from Singapore and Doha (7 hours straight). They are a little bulky but for the comfort that they afford, they are well worth it.
- Carriers, I have a carrier with me on all my long haul flights and it normally involves a stopover somewhere which can be hard work with toddlers. We have a Manduca which is perfect even with my 3 year old. These are ideal also for the walk through immigration and after a long flight children are much less reluctant to walk anywhere so you always have something planned.
- If you have a stopover on a flight, make sure you have plenty of time in between. We were having this discussion with other bloggers and sometimes a short stopover isn’t an ideal solution if you are rushing to get from one flight to another. Factor in toilet stops, kids wanting to run around and passing through
- I would split who is in charge of which children before you fly. In our flights, Maya always stays with her dad whilst I have the boys. It makes it easier when you are planning seats, keeping an eye on what the kids are doing and generally helps with the management of the flights.
- Before arriving at the airport, see if there are any child friendly attractions in the hotel. We have found soft play facilities in Manchester, Edinburgh, Qatar, Singapore and Athens airport, these are ideal to burn of any excess energy and also to have the children entertained before they head onto the airplane.
- Wait to board the plane as late as possible, there is no point adding an extra half an hour onto the time on the plane by boarding first. Always take the children for one last toilet stop before you board the plane. Even if you board last you will still have about 20 minutes before the toilets are available for use.
- If you are travelling overnight, try to keep to your little ones sleeping patterns as they would be at home. Have their PJs in your hand luggage, sleeping teddies etc and try and make it as normal as possible. Hopefully that will help your child sleep for a few hours. During the flight, if you have newly toilet trained your child, I would consider putting them in pull ups to avoid any accidents.
- Always complete your landing passes on the aeroplane (always remember to pack a few pens in your hand luggage). We do a quick spreadsheet of all the information we need, name, DOBs, Passport number, Date of issue and expiry so you don’t need to take out all the passports and just have it all on one separate sheet.
- Most importantly of all, try not to worry. Your child may cry and get upset, we had a meltdown around an hour before we landed in Edinburgh and sometimes these cannot be helped. Deep breaths and patience, you’ll be fine. Remember, you are most likely never going to see most of these passengers again so don’t over think it!!
- For even more tried and tested tips for flying with kids, check out Flip Flop Globetrotters