Preparing for a flight, particularly long haul, can be a daunting task for parents.
Concerns over how we will manage to keep them entertained and will they sleep are shared by many of us. But don’t allow your fears to ruin the start of your holiday, be prepared, feel confident and then go with the flow…
Here are the ‘Our Tribe Travels’ top tips for flying with toddlers or young children
Pre-booking and airline considerations:
• Similarly to flying with a baby, I’ve found long haul night flights are preferable with an active toddler.
• Do you need a stopover on your journey and if so do you know what facilities are available at different airports? Some airports offer areas that you can pre-book for a snooze, shower or to have a private space to rejuvenate. This is the Snooze Cube in Dubai.
• Window seats are ideal with toddlers as during daylight hours they enjoy looking out of the window and at night time they can get more comfortable and once asleep they do not need to be disturbed.
Preparing for the flight:
• If we are taking a night flight we get our son into his pyjamas, go to the toilet and clean his teeth shortly before we board the plane. It’s far easier to sort through your bags and change in the airport, rather than a space restricting plane.
• Flights often give families priority boarding. If you have a partner with you we find it preferable for one adult to board with the hand luggage, giving the other parent an extra 20 mins at the gate – precious time for your kids to burn off more energy and stretch their legs pre the flight.
• Ask for extra blankets and pillows prior to take off. You can make your child more comfortable from the offset.
• Have a drink ready to hand for take off and landing. Swallowing helps to naturally equalise their ears so there is less chance of pain from pressure.
What to take – hand luggage:
• Baby wipes – always good for sticky hands and spills
• Spare set of clothes
• Nappies / pull ups – if you’re flying log haul I recommend using nappies. Changing a nappy is a lot quicker and simpler than a pull up as you don’t have to remove the child’s clothing. This is also the case for long train, boat or bus journeys.
• Toothbrush, toothpaste and flannel
• Calpol sachets
• Anti bacterial hand gel and wipes
• Healthy snacks – some children’s airline food is very high in sugar, which is not ideal for keeping a child calm for long periods of time. Pack plenty of food to allow for delays, but if you’re carrying fruit or fresh produce don’t forget to dispose of it before reaching your destination, otherwise you could receive a fine.
• Comfortable headphones – airline ones aren’t designed to fit on children’s heads so avoid this frustration by taking your own.
• A favourite toy for sleeping
• A couple of new small toys wrapped up as treats to give during the flight (novelty factor)
• Sticker books – DK do some fantastic sticker books. We tend to buy a new one for a big trip as they keep our son entertained for hours.
• Activity books with simple games or colouring books (the magic ink ones with the water pens are great and are mess free)
• Transfer books are enjoyable for older children
• Ipad – favourite games, books and movies are VERY handy
• Small toys chosen by your child
• Lego – take a small tin of lego and glue a lego board (cut to size) in the tin lid. Children can build/create onto the upturned tin lid.
• Where’s Wally books or books with a similar concept are great for extended periods of calm.
If you have any additional tips or advice that you would be willing to share then please drop us a line – we’d love to hear from you.