The Long Haul Flight – Survival tips for flying with Kids

Bags packed ready for the long haul

Bags packed ready for the long haul

How to survive the LONG HAUL FLIGHT with kids

Fingers crossed that so far our three children love to fly.  Tommy often requests a drive to the airport just so soak up the vibe of the airport!

The children from a young age have flown to their grandparents house in Sydney so they started flying early on.   I was very nervous and over prepared for their first long haul flight to LA.  They were 6, 5 and 2.  Everything went as smoothly as possible and now I have mastered the flight prep and how to survive on board!

So excited to be flying

So excited to be flying

  1. FOOD

If I am honest plane food sucks.  There is no nutritional value in any of it and it can make you feel blah.  Secretly I do get excited reading the menu but it never lives up to the hype.  It is important to order your child a meal before you fly.  When booking online this isn’t an option so you will need to login to your flight details at least 4 days before you leave.   I always take food for the kids so that they can eat when they want and therefore go to sleep when they need to instead of waiting for a meal.  Pack little sealer bags of snacks, go for dry, non messy food.  We like to take nuts, dry food, muesli bars, apples, crackers, soya crisps or packets of chips.  You are allowed to take food on the plane so do not stress over that.  On our last trip all food was extra so we picked up SUBWAY on the way to the airport and had it cut up into quarters.

Safety first!

Safety First Tommy

2.  WATER

International flights limit all liquids to 100ml max per container
(exceptions are made for baby liquids).  My best tip is to take empty drink bottles through customs.  I like to take brand new ones so I know they won’t leak and they are clean.  Once through customs you can then fill up each persons drink bottle.  Many airports have water fountains with a special attachments (usually at eye level) to fill bottles.  Otherwise use the water fountain itself.  The kids always want more water than the air hostess hands out and it saves constantly asking for water which is given in a little cup.  The kids keep their own drink bottles in their seats.

3.  SPARE CLOTHES

Regardless of age I like to pack a spare set of clothes for each child.  In a large A4 GLAD seal bag I pack spare undies, socks, t-shirt and shorts.  I label the bags with each child’s name so they can be easily found.  If you are in the situation where a new set of clothes are needed you have to have everything ready to go.  Once the change has happened the soiled/wet clothes can go into the seal bag.

4. DOCUMENTATION

Once the seatbelt sign is turned off the air hosts will come around with documentation forms that will be needed when landing.  I am the person who fills in all the forms (a sucky job) so it is handy to be organised and ready to go ASAP then once done you are ready to watch your movie.  On a separate piece of paper I write everyone’s passport numbers, the date the passport expires and the flight numbers needed.  In doing this all the passports can stay zipped away until needed at landing.  REMEMBER to pack a pen!

5. BABY WIPES

No explanation needed here just pack a few packets to clean up any mess on hands and faces during the flight.  They are also a nice refresher when landing.

6. SHOES AND SCARVES

Depending on where you are travelling to will affect your footwear.  Regardless of the destination a pair of thongs (flip flops/jandals) are a must when you fly.  My kids take their sneakers off immediately, put their socks in the seat pocket and have their thongs ready to put on. Going to the toilet with thongs on is a must as wet feet or socks from the toilet isn’t ideal.  The kids will put their socks on once they are ready to nap and the aeroplane gets cool.
I always pack a few scarves to keep warm or to cover the kids up and to make it a bit darker when they are sleeping.

7. HEADPHONES

Headphones – not the ear bud type – are a must and will make the trip so much smoother.  DO NOT buy the noise reduction ones for children as with the plane noise they will not be able to hear the movie they are watching.  We have found SkullCandy to be hard wearing and suitable.

8. IPADS AND SPLITTER

Each of our kids have their own iPad which I purchased second hand on eBay.  I like to rent a few different movies from the iTunes store for the trip.  Each child selects a few different movies or TV series, sometimes they are $1 on iTunes.  The splitter, like the Belkin Rockstar, means that the kids can watch a movie together.

Belkin Rockstar headphone splitter

Belkin Rockstar headphone splitter

9. Entertainment in the Airport

The wait for the flight can sometimes the beginning of dramas and meltdowns with kids, especially if there are delays.  After walking around and visiting the shops and have a bite to eat what else can you do?  We like to travel with a pack of UNO cards or Snap cards.  The kids love the game Spot It which we found in USA.  If there is a power outlet the kids will spend some time on their iPads

Good luck for your next flight.  Remember FOOD, HEADPHONES and ENTERTAINMENT and you will survive.  Ignore any stares from other passengers that think your kids will interrupt their flight.  Just make sure they don’t kick the seat in front!

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40 Replies to “The Long Haul Flight – Survival tips for flying with Kids”

  1. Thank you for all of your tips. I am just about to take a long haul with my kids. I have read a few posts about this but none as helpful as yours. The tip for the passport numbers is really a winner.

  2. Awesome tips! I’ve flown MANY times with my kids and this is pretty much how I do it. Only other thing I (try) to do (if possible) is take carry on luggage only. Everyone gets there own bag on board, that way we don’t have to fuss about with luggage collection.

    And travelling with a baby I accept the possibility that they might scream the whole flight, anything less than crying the whole time is a pleasant surprise. 😉

  3. Good tips! I agree with all of these, especially the pen for the customs forms because I somehow forgot one last time and had to ask an annoyed flight attendant to borrow one – whoops.
    I’d add a change of clothes for yourself, too!

    1. Yes a pen and the passport numbers written on a piece of paper to avoid getting the passports out of the bag. I hate filling in everyone’s forms

  4. Yes! We do the empty water bottles too. I usually try and take something like cheese cubes and crackers or a vegemite sandwich too as the plane food is usually inedible!

    1. Any non messy food that keeps them happy! Glad I’m not the only one who fills up water bottles. The airport charges $5+ for a bottle and I need 5!!!!

  5. Great tips! We’re yet to travel international with the kids. Empty drink bottles to fill up are a great idea! And I haven’t seen those splitters before 🙂

  6. These tips are also good for the train as it can be very long for kids.
    It remembers me a stupid colleague who always had a lot of bias on everything. One day, she said we shouldn’t accept animals in the trains. She was such an irritating person that I told her we should also forbid the kids and old people who are so noisy 😀 Funny to see how she was furious. Like for everything, it depends on how we prepare things and on tolerance. Trains like planes are public transportation. If we can’t bear others, we have the solution to use our private transportation or stay at home!

    1. Yes I agree. When I hear a baby crying on a plane all I can think of is that poor parent. No one wants their baby to cry. Salome cranky would have no empathy.

      1. So true. I have no kid (but a quiet dog lol). Even if I don’t like to hear a child crying, looking at the parents in a bad way is just adding more stress for them, that means more stress for the child… and more cries!

  7. What fantastic tips! I can’t believe that you travel with three little ones but you make it look do-able! My son is now grown but I am sure these tips would be really helpful to other parents who want to try a long-haul flight with their kids. Happy travels!

  8. Great tips. I have never thought of carrying empty bottles – brilliant! My kids are older but I still travel with baby wipes because they are so useful!

  9. I don’t have any kids yet, but to be honest those are some great tips for every traveler! Never thought of bringing flip flops on board and the empty water bottel is genius (I hate constantly having to ask for another tiny cup of water…)!

  10. I don’t have kids yet, but I remember flying from Europe to the US with my sister and my nieces and luckily they were very well behaved on those flights. I also read the idea to buy a gift for them to unpack and play with and I think that might be a cool way to keep them busy. Love your suggestions!

  11. Great tips! I especially like the water bottles, headphone splitter and snap lock bag for spare clothes so soiled ones can go back in it. The winning tip though is writing the passport numbers down! I’m always messing around looking up each passport as I too am the sucker who fills in everyone’s forms! PS, what gorgeous children you have

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