Junior’s guide to breezing long haul flights with kids
With international travel restrictions easing up, the long haul adventure is finally a viable option again for families. But if the thought of an extended flight with kids fills you with a hot dread, then read on. Here are travel writer Zoey Goto’s top tips for a stress-free journey with little ones in tow.
Junior’s guide to breezing a long haul flights with kids
- Do your homework when it comes to mask buying
If masks are required on your flight due to the airline’s mandate or personal preference, then it’s time to put the time aside, pre-flight, to source the specific mask that meets your child’s approval.
I discovered this the hard way. Following many attempts to get my four-year-old to mask-up on flights, and countless subsequent tantrums, it transpired that the string hoops were rubbing and causing discomfort behind the ears. Cue countless hours of shopping, before we finally struck gold with a soft fabric option, decorated with a riot of unicorns and rainbows. She wore it proudly on a recent transatlantic flight, minus the meltdowns this time, thankfully.
- Nab a bassinet crib for babies
Bassinets, the detachable cribs that clip into the wall in front of your seat, can be ideal when travelling with babies under six months old (or 20lbs in most cases).
There’s only a limited number available on each flight, so booking is essential and each airline comes with its own bassinet policy. If the option isn’t available when booking your flight, then follow up by calling the airline directly to request. It also helps to arrive early on the day of departure to remind the cabin crew. The bassinet seats also come with the added advantage of giving parents a little more legroom.
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British Airways is always a fairly safe option for families, offering free carrycots for babies and child seats for infants up to age two, on a first come first served basis.
- Invest in the JetKids by Stokke case
The Stoke JetKids case is a lifesaver (and Junior Design Award winning to boot!) for parents hoping that their child will indulge in a nap during the flight. Because not only is this a sturdy cabin bag with space for inflight essentials, but it also doubles as a bedbox, extending the seat so kids can stretch out for a snooze. For extra comfort there’s also a padded cushion included.
But it’s not just on flights that the Stokke JetKids comes in handy. Ours really came into its own when we reached our holiday destination. Rather than carrying our tired bundle, she happily hopped on the pull-along case and we taxied her through the streets. Children can also make the case their own by decorating it with the pack of cute stickers.
- There’s no such thing as too many snacks!
The root cause of many a travel tantrum is kids getting hangry, exemplified by energy levels flagging and having to eat on the airline’s schedule. Swerve this by packing an abundance of healthy, substantial snacks, juice cartons for rehydration and a few treats too. Feeding babies liquid during take-off can also help alleviate cabin pressure in the ears.
- Technology is your friend
Post-pandemic, most of us are trying to cut back on screen time. It’s a noble goal, however, one that’s best completely ignored when attempting a long haul flight with children. Because this is about making the journey as pain-free as possible, which unfortunately tends to involve easing up on screen time allowances.
Don’t forget to pack tech chargers and padded headphones (test that they’re working beforehand). If you’re using your own devices rather than relying on the inflight entertainment, then ask your child to make the viewing choices and download them prior to the flight.
- But also pack some surprise activities
Although catching up on the latest Disney films is a welcome distraction, it’s also wise to factor in some inflight activities away from the screens to mix things up.
This one requires a little forward planning, but stocking up on colouring books, a magazine, small game or a little Lego set can pay dividends when trying to break up a long flight.
The key here is the element of surprise, so the child shouldn’t have seen the toy or book yet. This one also works well on road trips, when an unseen activity book can magically appear; just as a backseat meltdown is brewing!
Keep ‘Em Quiet are a good one-stop-shop for activity bags, tailored to your child’s age.
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