Just because you’ve become a parent, it doesn’t mean you have to give up the jet-setting lifestyle you were once accustomed to. However, adding kids to a long flight will definitely cause you to do things a little differently; think organizing activities, prepping for the unexpected, loading up your bag with lots of snacks and more. To help you out on your long journey, we’re sharing these 10 sanity-saving tips for long flights with kids from our friends at Flytographer. Read on to check out more about how you can become the globe-trotting family you’ve always dreamed of.
1. Board early: Take advantage of early boarding even if you don’t think you’ll need it. You’re not only doing yourselves a favor, but you’re helping out your fellow passengers as well (even if they don’t always realize it). By the time they board and stow their bags and find their seat, you and your kids will already be settled in and out of their way.
2. Plan ahead to deal with any discomfort: Pack any medicines that your kids might need, so you’re equipped to deal with any discomfort that might arise. Changes in pressure commonly hurt little ears and can be a huge source of trouble for your child. Check with a doctor to see if it’s safe to give your kids a decongestant or antihistamine pre-flight to help avoid ear pain.
3. Pack entertainment: Pack plenty of entertaining activities for your little ones to keep them busy and help them (and you) pass the time quickly. Pack a portable DVD player or a tablet loaded up with movies and their favorite shows. Try to find programming that they haven’t seen yet to make it extra special. If you plan to entertain your little one with movies, be sure to pack child-friendly headphones. And if you want to watch together, a headphone splitter is always a good idea. Games like Uno, coloring or activity books (the Brain Quest series is excellent for school-aged kiddos) and books (we love Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, Wonder for older kids and the Ultimate Book of Airplanes and Airports for all ages) are also great ways to keep your child engaged.
4. Bring snacks: Don’t rely on the airline’s food for snacks to feed your child. It’s likely that the airline won’t have that many kid-appropriate snacks. Pack a variety of portable, TSA-friendly snacks like Annie’s crackers, Pirate’s Booty, granola bars (we love This Kid Saves Lives), cut up apples as well as a surprise treat that they can enjoy at some point during the flight.
5. Comfort is key: Airports and airplanes can vary wildly in temperature and an easy way to keep kids happy is to keep them comfortable. Dressing kids in comfortable clothes (think elastic, not buttons and zippers) is a good way to get the trip off on the right foot. A light sweater is also a great idea since some flights can be rather chilly. You also might want to pack a portable pillow and a light blanket so your child can comfortably take a nap in their seat.
6. Wipes are your friend: Keeping wet wipes on hand during your flight is key for a variety of situations. Accidental spill? No problem. You can handle it without even leaving your seat. Not only will you be able to manage any sticky spots, you can also wipe down everything your kids might touch to help them avoid encountering the melange of germs that are likely on the seat tray in front of them. And getting everyone to your destination healthy is half the battle.
7. Pack spare clothes in your carry-on: Packing a spare set of clothes for your kids (and for you) will give you peace of mind even in the event that nothing goes awry during your flight. But if something does happen, say, your child gets sick or has an accident or even just spills something all over you, the stress of the situation will be over quickly because you’ll be able to handle it with ease and get yourself in fresh clothes, pronto.
8. Go hands-free: Rolling carry-on suitcases just add another thing to manage when you’re traveling with kids. Check your suitcase and store all your stuff in a backpack to ensure that you’ll have two hands free to manage the important stuff. And if you’re kids are a little older, consider having them travel with their own backpack that they can fill with their activities.
9. Frequent bathroom trips: Taking your kids for frequent bathroom trips will save everyone down the line. Even if they say they don’t have to go, use your best judgement and take them every one- two hours, if possible. If they say they don’t have to go, tell them you’ll just go for a walk to stretch your legs. They’ll likely want to get up and move a bit and once they’re up, it won’t be hard to get them to the bathroom, just in case.
10. Pack a comfort item: Whether kids are accustomed to spending hours in the air or not, they will feel more content and safe if they are allowed to bring something special from home. Whether that’s a favorite blanket to curl up with, a cuddly toy, a pillow, or even a cherished book is entirely up to your child, but let them choose one special item to make the long flight a little easier. And keep a close watch over it because misplacing that comfort item could end up derailing the trip unnecessarily.
What are some of your go-to tips when you have long flights with your kids?