These 11 Tips For Travelling Long-Haul With Kids Will Save Your Bacon On Your Next Flight

These 11 Tips For Travelling Long-Haul With Kids Will Save Your Bacon On Your Next Flight

Due to fly long-haul with your kids? Read this first.Due to fly long-haul with your kids? Read this first.

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After much umm-ing and ahh-ing you finally bit the bullet and booked that long-haul trip with your family. But will you come to regret flying long-haul with your kids? Not if these parents can help it.

Fellow frequent travellers, who also happen to have children, have shared their top tips for surviving long-haul flights with young kids. And honestly, some of this advice will be life-saving if you don’t really know where to begin with keeping the nippers entertained on a 10-hour flight. 

Whether you’re travelling with a baby, toddler, a school-age child or multiples, there are super handy tips for everyone here.

1. Let your kids know what’s coming

“Preparation is key when it comes to travelling with young children,” says dad-of-two Giacomo Piva, 43, who lives in Rome. 

“You should set clear expectations with them, letting them know how long the journey will take and focus on the positives.”

If you have older children, you might want to watch some online travel guides to help build up excitement levels before leaving home.

“This will give the kids a sense of investment and making sure they are well-behaved on a long-haul trip,” adds Piva, who is co-founder of global luggage network Radical Storage.

2. Travelling with a baby? Pack a carrier, sling or cabin-friendly stroller

While airlines tend to let you keep your buggy until you board the flight, when you arrive at your destination, you might be left without your pushchair for some time – especially if they’re coming via the baggage carousel.

In this instance, Piva recommends bringing along a baby carrier or sling so you can at least carry your little one safely, while remaining hands-free. 

If that’s not an option for you, Sinead Archer, who is 39 and based in Crystal Palace, recommends taking a stroller that can fold up into cabin luggage – particularly if you have a transfer flight to catch. These are lots of cabin-friendly stroller options out there including the GB Pockit+ All-Terrain pushchair (£189.95)and theSilver Cross Jet3 pushchair (£262).

For manoeuvring incredibly active toddlers around airports, some parents also swear by hip seat baby carriers (£39.95) (great for once you’re on holiday as well), while others recommend ride-on kids suitcases like Trunki (£39.99).

Ride on suitcases can be a godsend for parents – especially while navigating massive airports with kids.Ride on suitcases can be a godsend for parents – especially while navigating massive airports with kids.

3. Bring loads of snacks

Honestly if there’s one thing all travelling parents agree on, it’s that you can never have too many snacks on hand for your kids.

While lots of parents agree snack rules kind of go out of the window once you’re on a flight (you’ve got to do what you can to survive, after all), Sarah Campus, a mum-of-three and nutrition coach, recommends packing some healthy bits too.

Chopped up fruit and veg – things like carrots, peppers, cucumber and apple – are her go-tos as they’re healthy and hydrating. The 34-year-old, who lives in Chiswick, also recommends packing oat bars for a slow energy release, as well as raisin boxes.

“Hungry children tend to act out more, so keep their tummies full,” says the founder of LDN MUMS FITNESS. What’s more, if you’re on a night flight, it should help them stay asleep too.
“You may also want to consider something they really like and can suck on incase their ears pop with the change of pressure,” she adds.
Drinks are also super important, especially as we can easily dehydrate on flights – and this applies to kids and parents. Cups with straws, like these from Nuby (£22.01 for a pack of two), can be useful as the sucking motion helps with their little ears during landing and takeoff.
If you’re breastfeeding, feeding your baby on take-off and landing can help prevent your baby’s ears from becoming sore too, while helping to settle them.

4. Bring a change of clothes for you and the kids

Sinead Archer has taken quite a few flights with her now two-year-old daughter, ranging from a 30-minute sea plane ride to a 12-hour long-haul trip. She urges parents to bring changes of clothing for their children and themselves.

It’s a lesson she learned the hard way after ending up soaked in coffee after her last flight. It goes without saying then that having plenty of wipes (these Mum & You ones – £18.49 for pack of 12 – are gentle and biodegradable) and tissues in your hand luggage is also pretty essential for when accidents inevitably happen. 

5. Book the bassinet row if you have little ones

The bulkhead or bassinet row is well worth booking (and/or fighting over) – even if your child has outgrown the bassinet, according to Archer, who works with the UK’s biggest frequent flyer website headforpoints.com.

This is because of the location of these seats, and also the extra room afforded to them. “The bulkhead has loads of extra legroom so there’s space for a baby or small toddler to play on the floor by your feet, along with more room for the vast amount of baby-related ‘stuff’ you tend to bring with you on a flight,” she says.

“You can move around the cabin easier from bulkhead as you can access both aisles on a long-haul flight and it also means you can be the first of that cabin section to disembark.”

6. Download their favourite TV shows and games onto a tablet

Yes screen-time isn’t great, but it’s definitely the lesser of two evils when you’re stuck on a flight with an extremely fidgety child who is just a moment away from having a boredom-induced meltdown.

Parents agree it’s well worth downloading their favourite TV shows on a tablet or laptop so they can watch a few here and then throughout the flight. If they’re older children, it might be worth downloading some of their favourite films on there too.

“Make sure you have portable chargers for devices,” adds Piva. “But do check airline-specific regulations on battery size.” This Anker power bank is super lightweight, comes highly reviewed and costs £22.99.

Victoria Moy, a 32-year-old mum who runs her own PR firm, recommends getting a sturdy (and bouncy) case for whichever device they’ll be using – because inevitably it will end up being dropped. Try these hardy, shockproof cases for iPad Mini (£21.99) or this Fire HD 8 tablet case with a stand (£14.99). Moy also swears by YouTube Kids to keep little ones entertained, as videos can be easily saved for offline use.

You might also want to pack a selection of reading books, children’s magazines, puzzle, sticker and colouring books to help break things up a bit. 

“Small, portable games are always a good idea for long wait times,” says Moy, who has a one-year-old. She also recommends games like Snap (try this Gruffalo set, £5.99)or Travel Bingo (try this magnetic set for £10.90)for older kids which always go down a storm – especially if you have more than one child with you.

Activity and sticker books are your best friend. Activity and sticker books are your best friend. 

7. Pack a handful of toys to keep them busy

Sarah Campus says a good selection of entertainment is a must. “Only take a few small toys with you and provide only one toy at a time and rotate through them,” she suggests. “Plus I find that window clings are a great source of entertainment for a long time and can be easily removed.” (You can get a pack of 12 colourful window clings from £3.50)
She adds that water magic books (£6) are great for small children, too. While Piva recommends fidget spinners (like this pack of five for £9.99) and popper toys (like these for £5.49) to keep little fingers busy. 

8. Don’t be afraid to explore the plane

It’s hard for anyone to sit still for hours at a time – let alone little people. So don’t be afraid to get up and move around once the seatbelt signs are off. 

Sometimes your exploring can pay off. “I once took a flight that had a large bit of unused space at the back which I turned into a mini-playroom,” says Archer.

9. Bring all the stuff that helps them sleep 

All parents agree night flights are the best for travelling with kids because they will at least sleep for some of it. If you’re due to fly overnight, Campus recommends setting out exactly what the plan is to your kids before you get on the plane – ie. you’ll have dinner, watch a film or TV show, and then it’ll be time to sleep. 
“Tire them out before the flight,” she advises parents of younger children, “let them run around in the terminal.”
Once you’re on the flight and it’s approaching bedtime, try and stick to your normal routine as best as you can – have their comfort toy on hand, get them into their pjs and use the provided inflight pillows and blanket to make them feel snuggly, suggests the mum.

10. Got a layover? Check out the kids area in your airport

Vanessa Gordon, who has two children under 10, says for flights with layovers, it’s well worth considering heading to an airport lounge or kids area within the airport.

That said, the 34-year-old from New York recommends waiting until everyone has settled and relaxed instead of rushing over to the lounge or kids play area straight from the flight – as young children may be very wired after a long flight. And this can make them prone to injury.

Case in point, her daughter got a cut over her eye upon landing in Dubai after flying from New York and the family spent the entire seven-hour layover in the emergency room. 

11. Try to relax (as much as you can, anyway)

Every parent knows that flying with little ones is bloody stressful. But with plenty of preparation, you can at least make it manageable.

Lazara Canton, a mindset healer and author, who regularly flies long-haul with her children, urges parents to stay calm and relaxed, as our little ones can pick up on and react to feelings of tension and worry.

Canton, who’s working with Comparethemarket, says she’s come to realise that other passengers are mainly sympathetic to the situation of parents on planes, so try not to worry about what others are thinking and focus on managing your own mood to make the journey as stress free as possible.

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