Planning For Long Haul Flights With Toddlers
A reader recently asked for tips for flying long haul flights with toddlers. So far the longest flight I’ve been on with my kids was scheduled 6 hours, becoming 10 hours long with delays and diversions. I reached out to some of other great family travel bloggers and they shared with me some of their best tips for flying long haul flights with toddler. These are great tips to follow even if you are on shorter flights with toddlers. Comment below if you have any tips to add! I’d also love to hear which tips help you the most, so come back and comment after your flight!
Although toddlers usually require more attention in flight than older kids, you can still have a fun time traveling with them. Be as prepared as you can, slow down and enjoy the things they find joy in, and don’t stress when schedules are interrupted. When your toddler gets fussy, just focus on meeting his needs and remember we all get a bit fussy when tired/hungry/hot/cold/irritated. One of the best ways to help your child calm down when irritated is to show empathy. “I understand” are such useful words.
1) Create a Routine
Kid World Citizen shares how they followed a routine to get through the flight: “This is what our 13+ hour flight looked like with a 3 year old: snack, walk to potty, read books; snack, walk to potty, put stickers in in-flight magazine, color; snack, walk to potty, play dough, play peekaboo with neighbors; snack, walk to potty, beg Vivi to snuggle and rest for a bit (to no avail).” Read here about their 13 hour flight from the US to China.
2) Learn From Experience
One of the best resources I’ve found for travel tips is the book The Travel Mama’s Guide. This book gives so many great travel tips, including an entire chapter about flying with kids. Even though I have lots of experience with flying with kids I still found a few great tips in this book. Packing lists, entertainment ideas, snack ideas and humorous stories are all included in the chapter on flying. The rest of the book gives tips for all kinds of travel, from road trips to camping, hotels to hostels. It’s time for me to read this book again! There’s so much great information for all types of travel!
3) Find Space
When booking your tickets, select seats that will offer you a little wiggle room. Bulkhead seats might work well for your child to play on the floor in front of the seats. A grouping of middle seats for your family might work out, especially if the flight doesn’t end up being full and you get lucky with a seat or two empty next to you. Travel With Bender, in this blog post of 10 Tips for Perfect Flight with Kids shares these recommendations about finding space on your flight:
“When you travel with a baby the bulkhead seats are a lifesaver. Not only does it offer more legroom, which is great for a crawling baby, but often comes with a bassinet for sleep time.
With older children, attempt to gain extra seats at the back of the plane after take-off. There won’t be more legroom, but there are often spare seats to spread out on and catch a few z’s.”
4) Consider Your Child’s Temperament
When traveling with your child, it will help everyone function better if you consider your child’s temperament. Plan activities and distractions to meet your child’s needs. Shelly Rivoli’s Travels with Baby has a blog series on temperament. Read these to determine your child’s nature and find ways to travel well with them. Positive, Negative, High-Sensitive, Low-Sensitive, Intense, Mellow, Slow-Adapting,….What type of child do you have?
5) Pack Essentials
Be sure you pack everything in your carry on bag that you might potentially need for the next three days. That way if your checked bags don’t make it there with you, you will have what you need until you either get your bag or can get to a store. Diapers and wipes, snacks, thermometer, fever-reducing medicine, several changes of clothes (for everyone in the family) are examples of the things you need to be thinking about when packing your carry-on bag. Click here to read a more detailed list of what I pack in my carry-on when flying with toddlers.
Do you have tips to add for flying long-haul flights with toddlers? We’d love to hear them! Comment below to help other readers as they plan for their flights.