Updated: Apr 21, 2022
Top five stressful life events... Death of loved one, moving house, divorce, losing your job and major illness or injury, plus for anyone who has attempted to travel across the world with small children - long plane rides.
My kids are used to flying. Especially the eldest. She has been flying with us internationally since she was 6 months old. Now that we are travelling with two other children as well, I have been getting asked by people a lot how we do it. So here are some of my best tips when it comes to surviving long plane trips with kids.
1.Try to get a good nights sleep before you leave - (Yep, this step alone made it worth you spending precious seconds reading this blog - brilliant right?!)
Seriously though, long trips test everyone's patience and it makes matters worse if you start out tired. Ensuring the kids are tired and in bed at a reasonable time the night before will give you the best chances of having a somewhat sane flight.
2. Keep your important travel documents in a secure place that is easily accessible (and more importantly, a location you can remember). You don't want memories of your husband on the floor of the airport terminal pulling out nappies, pyjamas, bras, undies and packets of tampons in an effort to find the passports that he swore were in the front pocket of your backpack.
3. Allow your children to pack some of their own things that they will need for the trip but monitor this closely - many times after checking my daughters' bags that they packed themselves, I have found completely random items such as an empty plastic bowl, a weird looking doll that they have NEVER played with, a sharp pair of scissors and a sock (because why not?!)
4. Pack your own snacks for the plane (and I mean lots of them). Not only do you rarely get fed on planes these days but when you do the food is rather unappealing. Bringing your own will not only entice your kids to actually eat something but it can also be used as treats to break up the flight, or as bribery to get them to stop pulling faces at the child in the next row of seats.
5. Wear dark clothes. Why, you ask? Because it's fun to pretend that you are some sort of undercover spy and on a top secret mission. It also hides the fact that your 8 month old baby just peed right down your front.
6. Pack a change of clothes for both your children AND yourself in your carry-on. Yes, being a spy is super fun, but there is nothing wrong with being a dry spy!
7. Get the kids to go the bathroom before takeoff. Yeah you will get lots of "I don't need to go...." but do your best. It's not fun to wonder what the heck you are going to do when you see that warm wet puddle spreading underneath your child because the seatbelt sign was on for a little too long. True story.
8. Pack a towel. See point #7. Also good for sudden airsickness, other southerly emergencies and playing peekaboo with the baby.
9. Carry plastic bags with you. Just think of them as show bags for the less nice souvenirs you may collect on your trip.
10. Don't board early. Your kids are stuck in a very small space for a very long time. Don't lengthen it. Instead use this time to let them go nuts by running around the airport. It wears out some of their energy and you can become better acquainted with your fellow passengers as they see how wild your kids are (and then gain extra seats when they ask to be seated elsewhere else on the flight).
11. Have some games planned that don't require physical materials for times such as going through security, waiting in lines and takeoff and landing. Games such as eye-spy, counting games, 20 questions and such work wonders for this.
12. Have plane activities planned that will outlast the flight duration. Kids can do things a lot quicker than you realise when you have a lot of time to kill. On the other hand, if you are in a rush they will compare more closely to a sloth on a Sunday morning.
13. When packing don't go overboard. You already have the kids to deal with, do you really, really need 14 pairs of shoes and a makeup bag large enough to fit an extra person in? Go with essentials only and stick to travel size toiletries to save space.
14. Lollypops are great for kids to suck on takeoff and landing to reduce pressure in the middle ear but carry a kids Panadol with you as well in case they get a lot of ear pain.
15. Use a baby carrier if you have a non-walking infant. Sure, you might like the thought of having a pram to put them in but having them in a hands-free location can make your life a lot simpler. Plus carriers that wrap around you can be useful for other things too such as wrapping your baby in position to nap on the plane, covering your husbands nose and mouth when he snores and tying your kids to the chair if they get a bit rambunctious.
16. Expect the worst! Kids are unpredictable. Its better to count it a win when your kid cries for three hours on the flight instead of the entire flight, than to be all stressed that they cried at all.
So there you have it. With these fantastic tips under your belt you will be travelling the globe with kids in no time. So get out there and start making memories (even if one of the memories is you mopping up a large suspicious puddle from under the airplane seat).
I'd love to hear some of your travel tips too. Comment below or send us an email.