After nearly five years of travelling around the world, we are getting pretty good at international long-haul flights.
But we have learned some things the hard way, whilst others we researched before we started to travel, so some of what I now know as a parent, I wish I had known right from the start.
It doesn’t matter if you are a single parent, or a whole family travelling, both parents and kids need to be prepared for travel.
So here are my top tips
for long-haul flights with kids.
Let me start with something crazily amazing that I only just found out about last week.
Did you know that you can literary take a bed with you into an aeroplane?
I wish I had this product five years ago – how our travel life would be different!
All this is made possible thanks to an Australian business called KooshyKids. The ‘Kooshy’ is an inflatable cushion that perfectly fits in between aeroplane (or for that matter train and bus) seats, allowing your kid to stretch out and have a nap during their travels.
The product comes with a free pillow which comes in handy too and has a very light weight. And you can use a foot or battery operated pump to inflate.
Long haul flights can be a nightmare if you have no way of letting your child fall asleep comfortably. They will be all over you, and then you as the parent gets no rest. I’ve found this to be true – kids love their parent’s laps, but now they can sleep comfortably, giving you extra room to spread out. They are also useful for elevating little legs and helping them to reach the tray table.
So, If you didn’t know, then now you do know how beds get into aeroplanes! I am just cranky that I only found out about it now, and my son is 12-years-old. I just think it is one of the most practical ideas I’ve seen for travel in a long time!
Wear loose fitting clothes
My many years of travelling have made me quite conscious of the type of clothes my son wears on a flight.
While most parents overdress their children with the assumption that they will be kept warm, they never realise the flipside of doing that. These kids become more or less like ‘walking statues’, they cannot bend or sit properly, and they can overheat. As a result, they end up not enjoying the flight and are constantly restless. All they pray for is to get to their destination as soon as possible and take off the many layers of shirts and pants that you forced them to wear.
Or on the opposite side, their skimpy top leaves a huge gap at the back and they cannot get warm as the cool vents blow down on them. If they flip over, their stomach is then cold. The child just can’t win.
At that time, their backs probably hurt, or with a belt that cuts into the waist, they may be in pain, or with tight elastic they can’t feel their joints. Loose clothing assists in having a happy and relaxed child on a flight.
Don’t forget too, that babies don’t have developed sweat glands, so overdressing or wrapping can be really dangerous.
So when you travel, you might want to ensure that your child is in some loose fitting clothes for the sake of flexibility.
If you are anxious about cold weather, you can bring along a travel blanket or a sheet to be used by both of you.
Toys and Gadgets for Entertainment
My son has most of his games stored on his tablet or 3DS. While travelling, I find it wise to let him use them since it is often the only way he can kill boredom. I can’t tell you the number of flights we have been on and the personal TV ‘s is not functioning. Just make sure that all rechargeable gadgets are fully charged prior to departure, and remember, they can even be charged in the airport lounge.
Just make sure that all rechargeable gadgets are fully charged prior to departure, and remember, they can even be charged in the airport lounge.
When my son was younger we carried a bag of toys that were his favourite ones. If your child is glued to his tablet or playing happily with a toy, this will allow you to work on your personal stuff, reflect on your journey, or even have a quick nap.
You, as a parent, will really need to have a nap too on the flight especially if you are the only adult travelling with them. You can’t afford to dose off in some airport lounge if ypu have a connecting flight to wait for. Nor arrive and fall asleep in the parking lot, the restroom, or even the waiting bay of the airport in your country of destination. The child might wander off and get lost. You might also lose your luggage or be pickpocketed whilst snoozing with just one twinkling of an eye.
ID Bracelets and Tags
While travelling, you always have to expect anything might happen as a parent. Losing your child in the crowded airport is the worst thing that might happen and frighten the life out of you.
We’ve had ridiculous security staff that has insisted my child go through separately, then detained me and we have been separated, and this can be scary for both parent and child.
To buffer the effects of this, I bought two ID bracelets, one for me and the other one for my son. These bracelets or tags have our details, and my son knows who to show it to, in case he loses sight of me.
Make sure you add this to your checklist prior to travel and have it engraved with at least 2 or 3 emergency numbers in various locations in the world. At least we can easily be reunited because of this, as opposed to if he never had any identification document with him.
Mine is also very important just in case I become unconscious and helpless. The emergency team can reach my family and help ease my child’s worries. Again, as I said, these bracelets or tags are relevant for unforeseen emergencies. So don’t lose them and we actually never take them off. Yes, I’ve worn mine for 5 years!
Make sure that your child visits a toilet before getting into the aeroplane. This is most important if this is his first time on an aeroplane.
I’ll never forget my son as a toddler deciding the day we went on a flight was the day he would become a ‘big boy’ and refused to wear a diaper/nappy. Needless to say, the minute the plane started off on the runway he ‘had to go’, and it was a very unpleasant and stressful situation. You just know what would happen if a child decides to freak out during takeoff. The last thing you would wish to happen is to spend hours in the air with a child who has messed up his pants. The stink and the discomfort would make the flight terrible. It would be worse if all the clothes are piled up with the other luggage and as a result; you just can’t access it.
You just know what would happen if a child decides to freak out during takeoff. The last thing you would wish to happen is to spend hours in the air with a child who has messed up his pants. The stink and the discomfort would make the flight terrible. It would be worse if all the clothes are piled up with the other luggage and as a result; you just can’t access it.
But to be on the safe side we always pack a spare change of clothes. Even now my son is 12-years-old, there have been times he has become ill or airsick or spilt a drink on himself.
Don’t rely on the snacks that will be provided in the aeroplane. Rarely do kids enjoy plane food, and they are finicky eaters, so a small lunch box with snacks is often a life saver. For my trip, I always carry enough bites for the whole journey and keep them in his own drawstring carry bag so he can access them easily,
I have realised that snacks help pass time and will often, in a crazy way, make you feel satisfied during the flight. I try to bring healthy snacks, but there are times I can’t get them, so we then try something zany and fun and a surprise that he will enjoy like these iced cookies and cakes.
It is also great as you don’t have to wait until the flight attendant serves you.
What do you think?
Do you have any ideas that I have not listed here? I would love to hear about them.
Feel free to leave your comment below.