Long-haul flights with kids – prep

LSH and I have just returned from a holiday that involved 2 long-haul flights.  After being stopped by several friends and acquaintances I realised that everyone was struggling with the same thing “how on earth do you get through the flight”?  I’m not going to lie and say its easy but I realised that as we do it quite regularly (to visit LSH’s family in New Zealand) I have managed to gather some top tips on preparing and top products which might be worth sharing.  This is the first of a series of posts I will do on flights, surviving the heat etc. I hope it’s useful……..

So (based on the 12 long haul flights we have done with under 3s) here are my top tips.  Where I have mentioned products I have included a link to them at the end:

  1. Buy your child a set of children’s headphones and start practicing with them in the weeks leading up to the flight (watching movies and playing on tablets / smart phones)

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  1. Buy / find from your toy selection a set of small toys (see suggestions below) and wrap them up.  The Terrorists are too young to recognize that they already own a number of the items in the presents and are still thrilled when they unwrap them!  The wrapping is key as you can bribe good behavior throughout the flight with the promise of another present and the unwrapping itself, and excitement it brings, can eat-up.  I usually reckon on one present for each waking hour (although some of these are very little i.e. a pack of stickers)

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  1. Buy a selection of boxed drinks (security may ask you to open one at random and test it but they are normally very good about liquids for small children and I have always been allowed it through) and small bags of snacks. Try to go for snacks with a relatively low sugar content (for obvious reasons!) which take a while to eat (boxes of raisins are our favorite). Also pack some little zip -loc bags of your child’s favorite sandwiches and a couple of little treats (The Bear loves chocolate dinosaurs biscuits) which you can dish out as presents and for when you need a sugar rush (usually immigration queues for us!)
  2. Pack your child’s favorite beaker which you can re-fill on the flight with bottled water to ensure they remain hydrated
  3. Pack 2 /3 changes of clothes  (for you and them) into zip-loc bags and them put them into your hand luggage with your travelling partner (so you are both clear on where they are).  Speaking from experience, if a plane makes your child sick and you are both stood dripping in vomit in the toilet you want to be very clear on where your new outfit is.  The zip-loc bags are also great for containing your vomit covered clothes until you can wash them!
  4. Buy some sachets of calpol and have them at hand.  Sore ears are a common complaint and its good to be prepared.  As an aside calpol always sends my children to sleep which is an added bonus!
  5. Pack all of the components of your child’s night time routine (their PJs, favorite cuddly toy, comforter, sleeping bag, fav book, bottle (again security will let through cooled boiled water / milk and usually just ask you to taste it)).  The more you can follow the bedtime norm from home (albeit in a plane chair) the more settled they are likely to feel and the better your chance of the ‘holy-grail’ (sleep!)

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  1. Buy and pack a couple of packs of wipes (you’ll need them for you, your child and the plane!)
  2. Download a few new aps if you have a smart phone or tablet and treat these as some of your presents, dishing out access to them throughout the flight (I am looking to pull together a separate blog on our favorite kids aps over the coming month)

10. Buy several episodes of your child’s favorite TV programme (in our case Raa Raa the Noisy Lion) or a couple of new movies you think they will like (Happy Feet and Ice Age were our most recent hits) and add these to your tablet / smart phone.  You can either buy direct from i-tunes or LSH uses Xilisoft’s software to rip movies from the DVD and put them onto our tablet

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11. Buy a pack of balloons and put them in your handbag.  They are great to keep small children entertained in the departure hall (an energetic game of chase in a quiet corridor can also run off excess energy before you board!)

Lastly, prepare yourself for an argument with your other half over the size of your hand luggage and how much it has grown since the pre-kids days!  LSH is eternally in despair over this fact but has to concede when we are sitting in (relative!) in-flight peace that it was well worth it!

Our top Flight Products

The product list below is based on the things we have brought and used with The Terrorists.  It is meant to be indicative and you should use your own judgment based on age suitability warnings on the products themselves as well as what amuses your child normally

Products – General

  1. Children’s Headphones – we have found these ones to be really good and comfortable enough that The Bear can keep them on for a couple of hours at a time – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Groov–GV590PBB-Kids-Style-Headphone/dp/B00378KLQU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392712969&sr=8-1&keywords=childrens+headphones

Products – 6-18 months

  1. Happyland figures (or similar, for The Bear it was always a tub of safari animals) – they are perfect for putting in and out of bags and other containers and lining up, chewing or in Bollie’s case just holding on to! http://www.elc.co.uk/HappyLand/5503,default,sc.html
  2. Stacking cups – these are great for playing hide and seek with other toys as well as for when you arrive for making towers, bath times and sandcastles on the beach – http://www.elc.co.uk/Stacking-Cups/130764,default,pd.html#q=stacking%20cups
  3. Stickle bricks – great for building towers and (when LSH gets involved) fantastic planes, cars, and animals.  They are very versatile and more lightweight than blocks – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bristle-Block-piece-builder-bucket/dp/B00770JBVA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1392714517&sr=8-2&keywords=sticklebricks
  4. Colouring pencils and paper – we like these Crayola pencils as they are easy to hold and easy to make a mark with (avoid felt tips – I probably don’t need to tell you why!).  These still keep The Bear entertained as well though he likes a coloring-in book to go with them – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Crayola-My-First-Decorated-Pencils/dp/B00BG417I8/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1392714656&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=crayola+my+first+pencils
  5. Water Magic books – both of The Terrorists love these and you just need a little bit of water in the pen to paint over for the picture to appear.  It then dries out and you can re-use it – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Galt-New-Water-Magic-Farm/dp/B0017ISFE2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392715290&sr=8-1&keywords=water+colouring+book
  6. A small magnetic drawing board – the bigger ones tend to have more to them but a simple little one is easier for travel.  We have this one – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kids-Magic-Drawing-Board-Magnetic/dp/B00BTZHOPO/ref=sr_1_sc_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1392715705&sr=8-3-spell&keywords=magnetic+drawiging
  7. A plastic tea set – this is pretty much Bollie’s favorite thing.  I take a teapot, two cups, saucers and spoons and some dry penne pasta and she will happily sit pouring one to the other for 20 mins (it is also great for in the pool when you arrive – minus the pasta!) – http://www.elc.co.uk/Tea-For-Two-Set/136141,default,pd.html
  8. Finger puppets – this usually involves some grown up story telling but finger puppets are great for doing shows over the edge of the tray table (in our house it is all about animals but there are loads on the market) –  http://www.whiteshore.co.uk/finger-puppets-set-6-wild-animals.html?gclid=CMbUsc-w1bwCFYjLtAodhiUABQ

Products – 12 – 30 months

  1. 2 / 3 piece jigsawsThe Bear has always loved these and they are the perfect size for the tray table.  We have a couple of sets and we keep them in a zip-loc bag to save boxes http://www.elc.co.uk/puzzles%2C-games-gifts/5598,default,sc.html?prefn1=ageRange&prefv1=2-3%20years
  2. Sticker books – our favorite have been the Usbourne ones.  The stickers aren’t too ‘sticky’ so they are easy to peel off the chair in front!  There is also a great range for all interests.  We usually have a couple of each and they keep us going for the flights and meals out when we arrive- http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_sc_2_9?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=usborne%20sticker%20books&sprefix=usbourne+%2Cstripbooks%2C164
  3. Snap cards – The Gruffalo is The Bears favorite character and from about 26 months he has loved a game of snap.  Again there are loads of these on the market in all the top kids characters but here are ours – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wild-Wolf-Card-Game-Gruffalo/dp/B002YUDQ5A/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1392714900&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=gruffalo+snap+cards
  4. Orchard games – our personal favorite is the shopping trolley game but all of these games are great as they don’t take up much room if you keep them in a zip loc bag.  The only problem is making sure you get all of the pieces back (though this in itself can involve your child and takes about 20 mins for just ‘putting away’) – http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dkitchen&field-keywords=orchard%20games&sprefix=orchard+games%2Ckitchen&rh=i%3Akitchen%2Ck%3Aorchard%20games
  5. Play dough – this is a great tool for keeping The Bear still and quiet.  It does coming with a warning though as if Bollie gets her hands on it it is a disaster as she likes to rub it into the plane seats! We just take a couple of small tubs – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kids-Toys-Play-Dough-Case/dp/B005ZE524U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392715184&sr=8-1&keywords=travel+play+dough
  6. Magnetic books – there are now a lot of these on the market.  This one is nice and compact and there are a variety of different themes you can buy – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Robots-Magnetic-Figures-Mudpuppy/dp/0735321396/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_1 also very good (though quite a bit more bulky) are the Janod box sets.  Again there are different themes though The Bear likes this one and will spend up to an hour making all of the different vehicles – http://thetoadstool.co.uk/shop-by-brand/janod-wooden-toys-and-puzzles/janod-magnetic-puzzle-book-box-vehicles-50-pieces.html

This list is by no means exhaustive and I will re-publish a new list with anything else I find post our next trip!
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This blog post also appeared as a guest blog on the Pbloggers page

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4 thoughts on “Long-haul flights with kids – prep

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