A long flight is quite a trial to go through when you’re traveling, but even more so when you’re traveling with kids. You don’t want to be that one parent who has a crying child for the entirety of a long flight. You don’t want to go through that. You don’t want your child to go through that. You also shouldn’t want your fellow passengers to have to bear that for the entirety of the flight.
That’s why you need to prepare for a long flight when you’re with kids. While my own daughter Madison is now a trooper when it comes to airline travel, as she’s been traveling since she was a baby, there are still things I do to prepare us for long flights, including our longest being our journey to Australia. If you’re planning a long flight with your own kids, here are seven parenting tips to keep in mind to help you get through the ordeal a lot easier.
1. Treat it As an Adventure
Parents can get caught up in all the plans that go on when you’re traveling with family, especially with your kids. The logistics of traveling with family can occupy your mind, but you have to think about your kids in this case. Since you’re doing all this organizing, they have no idea what’s going on, so they probably would be bored.
If you’re going to travel and need to board a long flight with them, you need to find a way to make it exciting for them. Otherwise, they’re going to be fussy, especially when they never expected such a long flight anyway.
Treat the flight itself as an adventure or part of a significant adventure.
You can get them excited by letting them know what sort of travel activities with your kids that they can try at the destination. Creating a sense of excitement around it will help keep your kids excited and less fussy during the long flight.
Even before the flight itself, it pays to be prepared and plan out with your kids what they could do during the flight to make it more fun for them. Involving your kids in planning out the trip can make it feel like a bigger deal to them since they know what’s going on.
2. Expect and Plan the Chaos
No matter how well-behaved your kid is or you believe them to be, it’s still a good idea to prepare and plan for your long flight. Even before the entire debacle of boarding the flight and prepping them for the flight, your planning session shouldn’t start there. The first thing you need to consider is planning out a unique destination that will interest your kids.
Having a unique destination and prepping your kids, and getting them excited about it can help you find a way to divert their attention during the long flight. It’s a way of planning so that you can find something to grab your kids’ attention during the long flight while still being on track with your trip.
It would help if you also planned what you need to pack and how you pack your things. If you have younger kids particularly, you want to have a free hand as often as possible. Therefore, you should plan your carry-on luggage in a way that makes it easier for you to do that.
3. Pack Their Snacks
You can get away with not packing your kids enough snacks for two-hour flights, but if you’re going for very long flights, it would be a mortal sin not to have enough. There is nothing quite as loud or as fussy as a hungry child who can’t move anywhere. To avoid being an inconvenience to others and give you a relaxing flight, remember to pack their snacks.
If your child were bringing a backpack, it would be a good idea to give one or two snacks in there and then keep the rest with you. You don’t want to have to buy those expensive snacks that they sell you on the plane, and your child is pleading you to buy it for them.
4. Consider Early Boarding
It pays to arrive early, right before boarding starts, because parents who travel with small children get to have early boarding privileges. Early boarding is excellent, especially for parents because they get to settle their kids down and fix their carry-on luggage before other people start coming into the plane.
Trust us when we say that you and your kid need that extra time.
At the very least, if you can’t get settled down yet, you can at least have all of your carry-on luggage properly situated above you. You won’t have to juggle controlling your child while also fiddling with potentially heavy luggage that’s overhead and can be in the way of other people.
5. Pick an Ideal Flight Time
You might also want to pay attention to what time your flight will be because it might be more convenient for you to choose a flight time when your kids are supposed to be sleeping. The exhaustion might make your kids go to sleep through the entire flight without you having to worry about anything.
However, you can’t expect that this would work all the time because sometimes the excitement and all the fuss going on around them can wake them up. Therefore, you want to make your child as comfortable as possible so that it’s quite likely that they will fall asleep if your flight time is during their bedtime.
6. Book Separate Seats
If you have a young child, you might want to keep them on your lap for the entirety of the flight, but if they have some form of independence, it’s best to book a separate seat. A separate seat allows your child to have some form of autonomy, and you can also move around more and fix things up when needed.
Having the space to move around when they want to will allow your child to be less fussy, and it will be less stressful for them. At the same time, you also get your space to relax and stretch out for a long flight. You can even better care for your child this way because you can bend over to them and fix them up when they need it.
7. Keep Them Entertained
Bringing a tablet where you downloaded all their favorite shows as well as a power bank to charge the tablet during the flight can keep them entertained. If you can, try and give them earphones or headphones as well so that they won’t be disturbing other passengers.
There are also no tech-related toys that they can have that can keep them entertained as well. Coloring books can be a good idea if you have space.
If you’re bringing more than one toy, make sure that you don’t hand them more than one at a time. That way, they won’t get bored of their toys as fast if they had everything at once during the long flight.
All these tips will help make it easier for you and your child to survive a long flight. It should give you the best chances to go through a flight unscathed. Once you finish that long flight, you’ll be extra peppy for your trip ahead, so make sure that you properly plan and prepare your kids for that long flight.