Luxtripper Travel Editor
1. Book an evening flight
If you travel at night, your little ones will (hopefully) spend most of the flight asleep. Even better – make sure they get plenty of exercise before the flight so they will sleep more soundly. Plan ahead to leave time for an afternoon at the park or, if you’re too busy packing, enlist a friend or family member to take the children for some active playtime before the flight.
2. Pack a gadget
Don’t feel guilty about letting your child indulge in technology for a few hours – it’s just for one flight and it will make everyone much happier. If you have an iPad or tablet, be sure it’s fully charged and loaded with your child’s favourite games, TV shows and movies. Bring along any favourite toys as well, as long as they’re not too heavy and don’t have many small pieces.
3. Book early
Booking early means you can have a better choice of seats. Be strategic – while bulkhead seats have the most space and are great for babies in bassinets, the armrests don’t usually go up, meaning your older child won’t be able to lie down. Study the airplane’s seat map and think about where you and your family will be the most comfortable. Just remember, you’ll be stuck there for a while.
4. Keep them comfortable
Your children have a definite advantage on an airplane: they’re tiny. Still, long haul flights are not comfortable so pack a warm blanket and pillow to keep the kids nice and cosy. Another expert tip is to make sure the kids have something to suck on during take-off and landing, to help relieve ear pain. A bottle is great for babies, while a lollipop works well for older children.
5. Bring snacks
Do not – we repeat, do not – rely on airplane food. While you can order a kids meal in advance and get options like macaroni and cheese or ravioli, we all know from experience that airplane food can sometimes be a little bit “yucky”. Make sure you have enough food and drinks to keep your hungry toddlers full and happy for the duration of the flight and any added travel time such as hotel transfers. Think rich in protein and low in sugar, to help the children sleep soundly.
6. Consider an upgrade
If it’s within your budget, it might be worth upgrading for at least one leg of your journey. The children will be more comfortable and sleep more easily, and you can enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne and warm towel while they nap.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
It’s to everyone’s benefit that your children are happy and comfortable throughout the flight, so don’t hesitate ask the flight crew for help. If you ask nicely, they will likely be more than willing to store food for you, warm bottles, or find an extra pillow or two.
8. Be prepared for the worst – and messiest
Put together a mini survival kit with anything you might (but hopefully won’t) need, such as a first-aid kit, a change of clothes for yourself and the children, plenty of nappies and wipes, and plastic bags in case of sickness or spills. Hopefully the flight will be a dream, but be prepared for a nightmare.
9. Pack light
Remember that whatever you put in your carry-on bag will need to be carried through busy airports with restless children in tow. Carry the essentials but be strategic and don’t overdo it. Take the time to make a packing list a few days before you leave and then stick to it.
10. Rethink Early Boarding
Families travelling with children can usually board the plane first, but is extra time on the plane really the best idea before a long-haul flight? If you’re travelling with a spouse or partner, consider having one adult board early with the luggage and baby gear while the other waits with the children to let them enjoy the wide open spaces of the boarding area until the last possible minute.