Long haul flights with kids do not have to be miserable. In fact, they can be pretty enjoyable. The last long haul flight with kids I took I was flying with my 2.5 year old son and my daughter turned 4 the day we flew. Both kids enjoyed dinner, watching their own movies and then they slept for about 7.5 hours of the 10 hour flight. I caught up on new release movies courtesy of Delta’s in-flight entertainment. I also had a glass (or two) of wine.
So, how can you make long haul flights more enjoyable with toddlers or young kids? I have put together the best ways to make long haul flights easier for both parents and kids.
Here are 12 Tips for Making Long Haul Flights Easier with Kids
1) Pick your seats in advance. Where you sit on the airplane matters, especially if you are going to be living in that airplane for the next 8-15 hours. When choosing seats for a long haul with children you need to consider things like: proximity to the restroom, proximity to the galley, are you in a good seat configuration for your family size, and are you in a bulk head, extended leg room or regular leg room seat. The most important thing for long haul flights with kids, in my opinion, is choosing the right seats.
**I HIGHLY Recommend investing in the CARES harness (seen in photo) for your young children. The belt is FAA approved and provides a 4 point harness for children. This is much safer than the lap belt only.
2) Choose your meal options in advance. One reason we love to fly Delta is that we are able to choose a “Child” or “Toddler” meal for our children online. These meals are delivered before the rest of the airplane, so your child is occupied while the meal service is in progress. The toddler meal on an airplane is usually the same as child’s meal on an airplane. In my experience, they are small sandwiches with fruit, a cookie, and some kind of child friendly drink.
3) Invest in an inflatable foot pillow. We have one of these for each of our children and they are worth their weight in gold. Your child will be able to extend their legs out or lay down flat through the flight with one of these foot pillows. **Not all airlines allow these pillows, so be sure to check your airline’s website before your flight.
4) Pre-Load the Electronics. Airline wi-fi is not always reliable, so be ready with some pre downloaded games, movies or educational applications. Read my full list of recommended Educational Applications for Toddlers and Preschoolers HERE.
5) Take a lap…or two. Even as an adult it can be hard to sit in one spot for several hours in a row. One way to pass the time is to take a walk. Walk along the aisles or do some trunk twists and leg stretches in the open areas.
Related Post: 16 Tips for Flying with Kids
6) Go to sleep. This is sometimes easier said than done. See our blog with 9 Tips for getting your child to sleep on an airplane! While we have many tips to beating Jet-Lag, I understand that not all children will want to sleep on a flight. That’s totally ok. If they go to sleep, HUGE WIN. If they stay awake, that’s totally OK too. Remember to stay calm and roll with the punches on this one.
7) Invest in Child Headphones. I have found the best headphones for toddlers. Whether your child is 2 years or 10 years, they need good headphones. Toddlers like hearing noise just as much as we do, but they need to be protected and comfortable. Invest in decibel limiting headphones that are comfortable and inexpensive.
8) Get comfortable. I always pack a pair of pajamas or soft clothing for my children to change into. I know I like to be as comfortable as possible on long haul flights, so I make sure my kids are comfortable as well. Check out this awesome zippable wet bag that we use to store our extra clothes in.
9) Stay hydrated. The air crew will offer water on their rounds, but having access to your own throughout the flight is imperative. Staying hydrated not only helps you relax, but it helps alleviate jet lag. Drinking lots of water and electrolytes on long haul flights is so important. I prefer using these cups so they don’t spill in flight.
10) Accept help if you need it. I have traveled alone with my kids on more flights than I can count. There have been a few instances where I just needed help. Someone offered. I accepted. 30,000 feet in the air is not the time to prove your prowess, it’s ok to need help and it’s definitely ok to accept help!
11) Get good entertainment! We have traveled so much with our kids and we have only a few toys that we use over and over and over again when we travel. These are the best non-tech toys and entertainment for Toddlers and Preschoolers we have found! A big tip is to provide only one toy at a time and rotate through them. When I give too many at once, they are “bored” more easily.
12) RELAX. Something I always tell people who ask me for Tips on Flying with Kids or traveling with kids in tow is to just RELAX. The flight is the shortest part of the entire trip. You will survive, the kids will survive and the lady from aisle 14 who’s been glaring at you for the last 3 hours will also survive.
The biggest thing to take away from all of this is that a long flight is only a short portion of your trip. It will end at some point and everyone on board will move on with their day and life. If you start to feel overwhelmed, ask yourself what you would do if you weren’t flying. How would you handle it on the ground? Keep an open mind about your flight, be flexible and seriously, RELAX. Long haul flights with kids CAN be enjoyable for the entire family.
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