Tips for handling a long flight with your kids

September 17, 2018 | Allison Gibbs

It seems like a lot of times when people hear about our travels with children, the most common reaction is, “I would love to do that, but I’m so stressed out about the long flight.”

We get it. We were stressed, too. Don’t let that stress keep you from the amazing memories you’re going to make with your kids.

Here are our tips for making it through your long flight.

Consider purchasing your child a seat

If your child is still under the age of two, but can sit in his or her own seat, I recommend considering purchasing a seat. The extra space for your family might be helpful.

Some airlines will offer a bassinet to those seated in the bulkhead row for international flights. Call the airline customer service to find out if this is an option and the process to request this.

Prepare yourself for the death stares

It’s irritating, but there will be people upset that there are children on the flight. You’ll get looks and you’ll hear whispers, but just tune them out. Don’t let their hang-ups stress you out about the flight.

While we’re on this subject, I know it’s a viral sensation to pass out cute notes and candy bags just apologizing for your kids being on the plane, but I’m a big no on this. Just extend kindness and be patient.

Calm, soothing thoughts

We all know that our kids pick up on our mood and anxiety. Remaining calm will only reassure your kids that this is a cool experience.

Bring a car seat

If you’re child is still young enough to be in a car seat, bringing it on the plane and allowing them to be in a comfortable and familiar seat in an unfamiliar setting can help in maintaining a good attitude. Plus, the restraints help you keep your child in one spot without crawling all over you.

All the snacks

I literally mean, all of the snacks. Whatever I think my kids might need, I double that. You never know when you’ll have a delay and being prepared in the moment will help everyone’s spirits. No one wants a hangry toddler, am I right?

I also try and grab snacks that I don’t get them on a regular basis to make it like an extra treat. Just keep in mind that you’ll want to follow the TSA guidelines for the food you pack in your carry on.

Pack a change of clothes

This applies to you and the kids. It always seems like our children throw up or have a giant blowout at the most inopportune times. Like, let’s say, on an airplane? You won’t always have the ability to get into your checked luggage right away. Having an extra outfit handy will help you keep fresh after a long day of travel.

Raid the dollar store or dollar section of stores

We love putting special bags together of cheap items for the kids to spend time exploring while on the flight. Our favorites are small toys, activity books, and playdoh. Toss in some window clings if you have a window seat. 

Stickers and pieces of paper

I don’t know what it is about stickers, but they provide hours of entertainment. Sticker books are fantastic, but you can also just find stickers at the dollar store. Toss some paper in your bag and let your artist go to town.

If you have a roll of painter’s tape lying around, pack that in your bag. Kids can spend a ton of time just making pictures on the seat back or tray table.

Take advantage of the seat back entertainment

The planes for longer or international flights will have screens on the seat backs. Take advantage of the movies, shows and flight information on the screens. Just remember to bring kid friendly headphones.

Videos, apps, games

My kids have their own tablet that they share. We can easily put it in airplane mode and that keeps them occupied for a while. Just make sure you download and apps or movies ahead of time.

The real treat is using mom and dad’s devices. I always have apps downloaded at the ready in case I need to call in for reinforcements.

Ready to get on the plane now? Don’t worry! You got this!

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