Entries Tagged as 'flying'


With the Summer holidays coming up lots of us are planning a family holiday.  Even though we aren’t going away this Summer travel has always been a huge part of my childhood and adult life for as long as I can remember.  Even when Anya came along, we didn’t stop traveling.  In fact it was the opposite – we realised we just needed to plan a bit better but it was entirely doable.  We also didn’t let long-haul put us off.  She’s only six and has already been to places as far flung as Argentina and Uruguay, San Francisco, India and Nepal (lucky kid!).  Some of these journeys have involved 14-15 hour flights but we managed.

Some people have commented to me that it’s easier for us with only one child and in some ways it’s true – we don’t have squabbles to sort out, no one fights over which plane seat they’d like (except Richard and me who both always want the window seat!).  But on the other hand Anya has no one but us to entertain her.  And sometimes it’s been just her and me on long journeys so that has been a bit trickier but still entirely manageable with a little planning beforehand.

Having been through so many journeys and with the holidays coming up I thought I would share some of my best tips on flying long haul with children.  There are loads of tips out there for flying with toddlers and babies but not as many for slightly older kids who are around 4-7 years old.  I also wanted to share my own experiences of what’s worked and what hasn’t as I’ve tried so many little things to make long flights as bearable as possible.  Long flights can be trying with young children and in some ways a lot harder than flying with babies who don’t move.  So I hope these tips help you if you’re planning a long haul flight with children soon.  And if you’re still thinking about whether you should brave long haul or not,  I hope these tips inspire you and make you go for it!

1. Get them excited not just about the holiday but the journey too.  If they’ve never been on a plane before then this will be a huge excitement in itself.  Even if they have, planes are always exciting – I have taken thousands of flights and I’m still excited every time I get on a plane.  Tell them about what to expect at the airport and on the flight so they know what’s coming – include the good and the bad.

2. Let them pack a little back pack or mini stroller suitcase to take on the flight.  I use the words ‘let them pack’ very loosely.  What I mean is let them believe they are packing a case.  Left up to Anya she would cram the most random things in to her hand luggage (she once tried to pack her collection of pebbles that weigh a ton!) so I keep a sharp eye on what she’s putting in there and subtley guide her towards the things I know we will need.  Try and get the kids to pack their hand luggage a few days in advance of leaving because this not only builds up excitement but it gives you time to see what’s in there and to change things around if needed.   This way you can avoid any last minute panics and arguments.

3.  Buy a few cheap toys from the 99p/dollar store but don’t show it to the kids beforehand.  Keep it hidden away and surprise them with it when they are showing signs of boredom.  In addition to a few toys I also take along surprise snacks and treats which always work like magic.

4.  While I wholeheartedly suggest taking a few surprise toys and treats, you can’t go overboard with these as there is only so much you can carry in hand and you don’t want to end up lugging 50 kilos worth of hand luggage around with you with two tired and whiny children in tow!  The next best thing is an ipad or similar which is fully charged and loaded with games and movies.  I know a lot of parents are against screen time but believe me on a long flight it is a godsend!  If you have two kids and one device then be very clear in advance of the flight as to who get’s it when or let them both watch a movie together if that’s an option.  Besides occupying the kids, ipad’s are lot easier to carry around than toys.  This may sound a bit strange but I have a little calculation I use to decide what entertainment comes along and what doesn’t – minutes/hours of entertainment it can provide divided by weight/space it takes.  The ipad wins every time!

5.  Carry Calpol, iburpfen or similar in your handbag.  When Anya was five and we were flying to India, with no warning she developed a burning high temperature mid-flight.  She was so hot that there was even talk of an emergency landing.  Kids getting sick is bad enough at the best of times but at 30,000 feet above ground, it’s scary!  Luckily there was a doctor on board who checked her out and managed to get Calpol off another passenger.  The doctor suggested waiting to see if the Calpol helped before doing anything else.  Luckily it worked and I learned my lesson. (Even with the no liquid on board rules, you can still take medicines along ).

6.  When flying long haul with children, expect the unexpected like delays, lost luggage and extra long queues.  While you can’t plan for every eventuality, it helps to consider the things that can go wrong.  I tend to keep a spare set of clothes for Anya in her hand luggage which came in very handy when the airline lost our luggage when we landed in Buenos Aires after a 24 hour door to door journey.  Also spare underwear is handy as even at 5-6 years of age, accidents can happen especially if there are long queues to use the inflight loos.

7.  If you too have a fussy eater like Anya (and even if you don’t) it’s a good idea to get the children well fed before a long haul flight.  Meals can be delayed, they may not like the options available, their choice of meal may run out – so many reasons and the last thing you want is bored, tired and hungry kids.  We usually head to the airport early and let Anya have a full meal at one of the restaurants there.  That way she’s fed as late as possible which in theory should keep her full for several hours and then I give her the surprise snacks and treats on board as she won’t eat the airline meals.

8.  Keep the best for last.  In my experience, that last hour of a long haul flight is the most painful.  The last 60 minutes can feel longer than the entire flight!  By that time you’ve probably been traveling for several hours and the kids have just about had enough.  You’re probably tired too and I know I start to lose every bit of patience that I had at the start.  So I keep one special toy or treat, usually the best one for this last hour.  It really helps in taking Anya’s mind of her tiredness and boredom for a little while at least. And every minute of calm at this stage helps.

9.  Lastly, don’t forget to relax and enjoy the journey which is the first part of your holiday.  Once we step inside an airport we are in holiday mode and all normal at home rules are broken from the word go.  It really helps if you focus on the fun side of things and keep your sense of humour because after all if you’re relaxed, your kids will be too.

*I’ve linked up to Honest Mum’s brilliant blog posts and Mums Days the list.

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