I generally find that people either love flying or they hate it. I remember my first flight very well. It was short-haul and I don’t think that helped my nerves because the aircraft was small and the bumps were more noticeable. My heart was racing sitting in the departures lounge worrying about what the actual flight would be like. It actually was fine and I realised that flying didn’t worry me half as much as thinking about flying. I now actually prefer to fly long haul, but you always have the worry about how to pass the time. Flying long haul as an adult is one thing, but what happens when you add kids into the mix. Having done this more than once, and spoke to friends with different age children, I have some tips to survive a long haul flight with kids.
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Food And Drink
Generally on a long haul flight your food and drink will be included in the ticket price. Do check this though with your airline as not all offer the same service. Some airlines will also offer dedicated children’s meals but these often have to be pre ordered and sometimes aren’t to the tastes of the children. In our experience, we have never ordered the children’s meal as the choice is a little better from the standard meal choice that is served. We also take snacks on board with us in case the meal choices aren’t going to be eaten by Miss A. I do find if the main meal choice is rejected then the bread roll is often eaten, along with the dessert.
Screens are a big part of children’s lives now whether we like it or not. Whilst I often try to limit screen time when we’re at home, I allow almost unlimited time when on a long haul flight. We check out the in flight entertainment before we fly to see what may be of interest, and then we also load the tablet with film choices and games.
Headphones and audio book choices are a great way to get children to switch off for a while without staring at a screen and can be a great way to chill out and attempt some sleep if you’re wanting them to snooze.
Often a long haul flight can be very exciting for children, especially if they’re going somewhere exciting like Walt Disney World at the end of the flight. The excitement can often lead to over excitement and then tears and melt downs. No parent wants their child having a melt down at thirty thousand feet in an enclosed space do they! Packing little surprise such as a new book, bind bag treats, colouring books, a travel game can be a great distraction. Give them out at spaced out intervals through the flight so there is something new to distract works great.
Comforts from Home
I know the airlines often provide the headphones and blankets as standard, but when a child has their hand luggage allowance, we often find it’s a good idea to take their own blanket if its small enough, a favourite soft toy, or a small pillow can help them feel more comfortable and relaxed with their favourite things.
There’s no point dressing in uncomfortable clothes on a flight. It can get chilly so I always take an extra layer, usually in the form of a zipped through hoodie that’s easy to take on and off. Elasticated trousers or leggings are a good choice rather than restrictive denim, and if you’re visiting a hot climate think about arriving at the other end. Often just packing a spare change of clothes in the hand luggage is a good idea to change once you have landed. Comfy socks are a godsend on an overnight flight as you can take your shoes off but not end up with cold feet.
If your trip is a surprise then preparation may not be doable, but often if you’re worried on how the child may be on the long haul flight then talking to them about it before hand can put paid to any anxiety from the child, especially if it’s their first long haul flight. You can always chat to the flight staff if you have any worries as remember they will have seen it all before.
What tips do you have for surviving a long haul flight with kids?