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How To Tackle Long-Haul Flights With Children

Many would argue that no level of preparation can reduce your likelihood of going through at least one glorious tantrum while you’re in the clouds with kids.  Psychologist Olivia Jones looks at how to survive a long haul flight with a young child….

As you know by now, your little bundle of joy can be tempted to unleash all the wrath of hell lest you provide ample entertainment options and snacks.

Mastering the art of childcare deserves a whole chapter dedicated to this conundrum only, hence our inspiration to suggest a few tried and tested parental plane-friendly programs that will help you keep your kids engaged.

Bring on the fun

Kids are curious and they have practically infinite levels of energy which makes them a tough crowd to please on a monotonous journey. Especially when it comes to those dreaded moments to fasten their seat belts in case you run into turbulence, you’ll need something exceptionally fun to keep their minds off the struggle to stay seated.

Think above and beyond colouring books and digital gimmicks – you should steer clear of screens for as long as humanly possible because you don’t want your kids hooked. DIY jewellery projects for girls will likely keep them set for quite a while, but storytelling can always be fun for the whole family and it might help them fall asleep. Books, cartoons, non-messy painting (imagine that!), cards, you name them, if your kids love them, don’t leave them at home.

The Emergency Kit

And we don’t mean the classic box of band aids, cotton pads and the like. No, we’re referring to the parental emergency kit with a special selection of tantrum-tackling toys, snacks and other goodies that you use only in those extreme situations. You don’t want to play this SOS card unless your child is really disruptive or out of control – we’re talking screaming, whining, head-banging moments of pure bliss.

This is where your tablet belongs, with a set of their favourite cartoons and movies, their comforting plush toy, a special story book you know they’ll adore, their favourite fine liner pens when drawing with the regular colouring pencils becomes boring and a few carefully chosen, typically not so healthy snacks. Your child’s favourite chocolate bar, or gummy bears might be your only ticket out of a tantrum in certain moments, so make sure to use it well.

Hygiene 101

Many first-time parents don’t realise just how fever-friendly airplanes can be. As a result, you risk ending up with a sick child for the rest of your vacation or throughout the entire flight, at best. In order to avoid the omnipresent germs even on the cleanest of flights, never ever forget to bring plenty of sanitising hand wipes. They will be your key weapon to cleanse the belt, the tray and all that your kids can touch – it might seem slightly obsessive compulsive, but you’ll thank us later.

Airline pillows might be handy, but it would be ideal to bring your own, or at least use a wipe to disinfect the one you get on the flight or use a disposable cover. Additionally, teach your kids to avoid contact with door handles and arm rests, so use sanitizers and hand wipes on every possible occasion to avoid those pesky germs.

The Bare Necessities

Make a list of all the things that can simplify your airport hassle and the flight. That may include a particular bag to use for food, diapers, an extra pair of warm socks, a car seat, or a sling for your youngest little rascal. Many of these basic items might be forgotten in all the hustle and bustle of prepping and packing, so the list should be your travel bible.

Pacifiers, ear plugs, sleep masks, headphones, ear drops for those harsh pressure changes and all the medical supplies you might need for diarrhoea, nausea or a fever – you’ll likely need them all. Don’t forget a change of clothes for you and your spouse as well, because you never know when an unplanned barf can ruin your flying arrangement.

Muchies on the go

As delicious as airplane food can be (not), kids can be very fussy eaters, and as such, very difficult to keep happy in high altitudes. Bring one separate smaller bag to contain all of your meals, snacks and drinks, so that you can organise more easily and keep spilling under control. Healthy and satiating bites such as nuts, protein bars, fresh fruit and veggies cut into chewable pieces, and sandwiches are always your best bet.

However, due to security, you’ll have to rely on juices they have available after the checkpoint. Fresh water is always available on the plane, but you can also shop for an extra bottle or two, and use your own plastic or sippy cups to make your kids even more comfortable.


Olivia is psychologist and entrepreneur.  Mother of two beautiful children and proud owner of two silly boxer dogs. She is passionate writer, a traveler and conscious consumer, seeking healthy and sustainable products to incorporate into the lives of her family. Her motto is “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

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