Are you planning an airplane ride with little ones soon?
Is it a really long overseas flight and you kinda worried about how you are going to keep your kids entertained (and you sane)?
Don’t stress. You’re not alone and you can do it. We are here to help!
My family and I have successfully completed several overseas adventures from the US to Europe and Australia…not to mention 50+ domestic flights with our little adventurers. These international long haul flights have been from 7 to 17 hours and we’ve managed them happily with kiddos from 15 months old to 4.5 years old; it obviously gets easier to entertain them the older they get. Every trips has not been perfect, but with the right preparation you can easily avoid the nightmares you might imagine. Here are our tips to help you have just as much fun on the journey as you do at the destination!
First let’s start with the kids packing list:
Each child had a Skip Hop backpack with the following items in them.
1 coloring book
favorite doll or small toy
Stainless steel water container
If you need extra entertainment, don’t hesitate to ask the flight attendant. Most international flights have coloring books or some activity packet to help
keep kids happy.
What we didn’t already have at home, we went to the Family Dollar Store so we
wouldn’t mind as much when a toy inevitably disappeared.
Buy a super cheap toy that you are willing to throw away for every hour of the flight. During the waking hours onboard, give them a toy to enjoy. When they get bored with it, replace it with a new one and throw the old ones away.
Now on to the parent’s onboard packing list…here are the kid-centric items in my
Sleepsack (For the little ones who us them at home…replicate bedtime experience)
Pajamas and Socks
Diapers and Wipes
Old wash rag
Plastic grocery sack
Old iPad and iPhone (loaded with some movies and doubles as our sound machines)
The reality is that only so much of the preparation for long flights is about packing lists. A lot of our prep has to do with communication and setting our minds to the task at hand.
Your attitude will dictate their experience.
We prep the kids by telling the exactly what would happen on the trip so they knew what to expect! Kids are awesome and capable of doings awesome things if you help them and traveling well is no different.
Overnight flights are your friend when traveling abroad with kids. Hours pass faster sleeping than doing anything else onboard!
When we’re at the airport before our flight, we eat a big, healthy meal and change into pajamas if we grabbed one of those overnight flights. The big, healthy meal was a recommendation from our pediatrician as younger children will sleep better on a full stomach. We also try to run a few laps in the airport before boarding! This gets some looks from other travelers but pays off to have gotten our wiggles out before sitting for a long, long time.
Once we’re on the plane, we get everyone situated in their seat with their pillow and blankets. Because we try to book night flights, we usually go right to sleep. Then their reward for sleeping is watching a movie when they wake up. Depending on your children, that will only last so long. That’s when the backpack items come out! So far, these few items have done the trick for successful international flights.
Check your stroller at the gate, not at the ticket counter if possible. If not, get clear instructions from airline staff.
We also travel with a stroller which at most airports you can check at the gate and pick up as soon as you get off the airplane. Having the stroller to get kids from security to the gate is a life saver. It also doubles as a nice shopping cart if you have time to pick up some goodies at duty free. Not all airports will let you take the stroller all the way to the gate, so check with your carrier upon check in. Example…the Berlin airport not only didn’t allow the stroller to go to the gate, we had to take our stroller to a separate building to check it. Amsterdam was also different as we picked up our stroller in oversize baggage in the baggage claim area after having checked it plane side. When in doubt, ask lots of questions of the staff around to be sure.
There you have it…the Go With Daddy plan for having an awesome flight with kids. Don’t be scared, be prepared and make the journey as awesome as the destination.