How to Best Survive Flying Long Haul with Kids
It’s something parents dread, but at The Stork Exchange, we meet families all the time who have travelled from all corners of the globe - from 9 hours to 45 hours of travel.
I won’t lie, they arrive tired and occasionally a little fractious, but for the most part they tell us it wasn’t as bad as they expected. We’ve compiled a collective list of their tips to share with anyone about to make a long haul trip.
Fly Around Child's Schedule
A fundamental key to success when traveling long haul with small children or infants is flight planning. Consider your baby or toddler’s routine and look for flights that fit around their schedule. They may not be the cheapest flights, but it’s worth taking the extra effort and perhaps expense to get the right times. That said, once you start the journey, let them sleep when they are tired, and you try and do the same. You can work through jetlag once you get to your destination with fresh air and gentle exercise, there’s no point in worrying about it beforehand or during the trip.
Keep it Direct
Keep the route as direct as you can, for many reasons. In theory you may think it’d be great to have a stopover; break up the journey, re-fresh the legs etc, but quite a few of our parents said that actually that was a mistake. You don’t know what way your kids will go – they could be wide awake when you want them to sleep and vice versa, so booking a hotel layover might not work. Aim to get there as quickly and directly as possible.
Allow Plenty of Time
The standard time allowed for connections is 2 hours, but remember that you will be moving much more slowly with children with many toilet stops and nappy changes, so make allowances for that and give yourselves adequate time. You will only increase the stress factors if you are worrying about trying to make a short connection, never mind the added stresses of flight delays etc
Keep Them Entertained
If you do have a long layover, consider booking in to an airport lounge; they often have a children’s room with ‘new’ toys, TVs with cartoons, and showers. It goes without saying but pack a carry-on bag solely for the kids and stock it full of supplies – bring plenty of snacks, food and drinks, games, toys, and a changes of clothes including pj’s. And re-stock at each airport. For what kind of toys to bring read this article on the best travel toys for kids, but the obvious ones are colouring books and sticker books. Avoid things where pieces can easily go missing – like jigsaws... unless they are small enough for the flight table!
Comfort is Key
Lastly, travel in comfy clothes – tracksuits are so handy for kids, with zip up cardigans you can take on or off depending on the temperature. There is no point dressing them up in pretty clothes when they will get crumpled/hot/cold/uncomfortable. The clothes may be adorable, but a child won’t look so adorable in them if they are screaming!
For more travel tips and information, talk to eumom Travel Experts, thestorkexchange.ie
Do you have any tips for long haul flights?