Let’s face it – no one likes long flights. You’re stuck 30,000 feet above the air for hours and hours, jammed in a cramped space (unless you’re lucky enough to upgrade to business class!), and the food is not that great. Luckily, you do have a chance to catch up on a lot of movies. But how else can you pass the time? How can you ensure that you arrive feeling decent (especially if you’re accompanying little ones!)
I’ll be taking yet another long haul flight (24+ hours) to central New York and then to San Francisco in a few weeks. It will not be fun. But I’m at least used to it by now and wrote about how to stay comfortable on a long haul flight here. My family has expanded and I wanted to share a few tips for how to survive a long haul flight with kids.
How to survive a long haul flight with kids
1. Have your own water bottle
Drink up! The air on an airplane is incredibly drying. Your little ones will likely forget to drink enough water. Have their favorite water bottles handy. I find this incredibly convenient because she loves the comfort of a familiar item and is also able to have a full bottle of water throughout the flight (keep asking the flight attendant).
Also note that you can also ask for two drinks whenever the flight attendant serves drinks. I may sometimes end up with one water and one iced cranberry juice (gotta love those antioxidants).
2. Bring snacks
It’s a long flight and you will get hungry. Your little one will get even hungrier. I don’t think my daughter has gone more than 3 hours without eating something. I’ll bring about two or three different types of snacks (nothing with too many crumbs!) for the little one. I may go with some packaged seaweed, jerky, and freeze dried yogurt snacks for our next trip.
3. Keep everyone warm
It’s almost always way too cool on a plane. Remember that you can adjust the individual airflow right above your seat. Also remember to dress everyone in layers (luckily my little one loves jackets). I like to bring a wrap that doubles as a blanket that may cover both the little one and my husband. If you don’t have a blanket, ask for one, but do it at the beginning of the flight because they may run out!
4. Pack your carryon wisely
I always have an extra change of clothing for my little one in my diaper mat. I pack that and an extra stack of diapers in an accessible place in my carry one. As a matter of fact, I ensure everyone has an extra change of clothing in their bags in case something happens to our luggage (it happened once and we were stuck in Japan with no fresh clothing!) I will keep some toiletries on hand including my Su:m 37 Rose Cleansing Stick, hand sanitizer, lots of tissues, games/markers for the little ones, and of course snacks.
5. Walk around
Sitting is great, but all you do is sit on a plane and it can be too much of a good thing. Your little one will be supppperrr bored. Keep moving by walking around every few hours and wear compression socks if you have more serious issues with circulation and swelling. Little ones have energy to burn and are happy to walk up and down the aisles.
6. Let it go
I only let my little one watch videos and movies occasionally. That all goes out the window when we travel. Of course I will attempt to bring games and try to amuse her for as long as possible. These Melissa & Doug water reveal pads are brilliant – they contain only one pen that is filled with water. There is no mess and everything is contained on one pad. Otherwise, I just let her with “Frozen” until she’s sleepy. We are all trying to survive. Did I mention that we are traveling for 26 hours in a few weeks? So yeah, leave your judgment in your seat.
7. Find comfortable positions
Once you have booked, select your seats right away to ensure you are all sitting together and are also in less crowded areas. If you’re lucky, you may get a row to yourself. Pay for the extra legroom in premium economy and find a comfortable position for the little one.
I’ve been fortunate to upgrade a few times on long haul flights and even took the little one once (before she had her own seat). It is so worth it to be able to truly sleep horizontally with the little one beside you But I know it’s controversial about having kids in business class. I say if you paid for a ticket, you paid for a ticket. Obviously, this option is less likely, but hey if you come across an upgrade or cheap business class fare, go for it!