How to Travel Long Haul With Kids

25/01/2022Melissa Keeling

As any parent knows, life changes when you add a baby or toddler into the mix. We’re here to help you navigate the best travel tips for travelling long-haul with a little one in tow.

Introduce your child to the joy of travelling. Image credit: Gustavo Fring, Pexels

Imagine you’ve booked a long-awaited family-friendly holiday to a far-flung tropical destination. If it’s your first time travelling long-haul as a family, you may be wondering what the flight might entail.

Although it may seem daunting, it is manageable. And just think, you’ll have some amazing travel memories to look back on. Read on for tips, ideas and inspiration to ensure the flight is as stress-free as possible.

Top Tips to Get You Through a Long-Haul Flight With a Baby

Babies can be unpredictable at the best of times and a parent can never guarantee how their baby will behave. Throw an unusual experience into the mix and that changes things entirely. Therefore, it’s easy to see why the thought of an eight-hour flight with a baby might be anxiety inducing. However, our top tips should make things a little easier.

Prepare for a long-haul flight with your baby. Photo credit: @plhnk, Unsplash
Prepare for a long-haul flight with your baby. Photo credit: @plhnk, Unsplash

1. Pre-order Your Travel Essentials

Make use of the Boots airport service. This enables you to order items in advance which you can then pick up after you’ve been through security. It’s great for those bulky items like nappies, sun-cream and formula. Plus, you avoid the airport security liquid limits.

2. Prepare for Every Eventuality

They may be small but boy babies don’t travel lightly. Every parent understands there’s what feels like a million things you can’t leave the house without. Imagine multiplying this by enough for a week away and you get the idea why the thought of packing for a week away can put the fear into even the most organised Mum or Dad. Think nappies, clothes, sterilisers and an endless supply of baby wipes. It’s a good idea to pack more than you think you might need, you don’t want to run out and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

3. Have the Important Things to Hand

Ensure nappies and wipes are easily accessible. Place them at the top of your bag so they’re within easy reach. Also, pack a change of clothes for both baby and yourself, you never know when an accident might happen.

4. Help Your Baby Be Comfortable

Take advantage of the early boarding offered to families to try and get your baby settled in their new environment before take-off. Many parents like to feed their baby during take-off to prevent the pain of popping ears as the cabin pressure changes. If you’re formula feeding plan to bring double the amount your baby would usually drink. The ambience on board can enhance thirst levels and it’ll also help keep your stress levels at bay in case of flight delays.

5. Try to Book Flights That Fit Around Your Baby’s Routine

Check your flight times before you book and remember to factor in your travel time to the airport and time spent getting through check-in and security. Scheduling the flight to coincide with bedtime or naptime can be really beneficial.

6. Don’t Worry What Other Passengers Think

Babies cry, it’s a well-known fact. If you’re baby is inconsolable most passengers will be sympathetic if they can see you’re doing your best. Remember to stay calm as babies do pick up on how you’re feeling.

Don't worry if your baby starts to cry. Photo credit: RODNAE Productions, Pexels
Don’t worry if your baby starts to cry. Photo credit: RODNAE Productions, Pexels

7. Check What the Airline Provides for Babies

Some airlines offer carrycots onboard long-haul flights so your baby can sleep on the plane. Do your research and remember to book this with the airline in advance. You can also take your own carrycot cover to provide a dimmer lighting experience for the baby to encourage them to sleep.

Top Tips to Get You Through a Long-Haul Flight With a Toddler

Gone are the days you could kick back and enjoy an in-flight movie or a cheeky tipple mid-flight. Travelling with a toddler is a whole new ball-game. Be prepared to be an entertainer for the duration of your flight when travelling with young kids.

Toddlers can be much more challenging than a baby, they don’t call them the terrible twos for no reason! Try to see it from their perspective though, they’re mini explorers who don’t like sitting down for too long. Throw in the fact they’re very vocal, headstrong and prone to meltdowns which is why we needed a new set of tips for journeys with a mini human.

Holidays are exciting times for young children. Photo credit: Vlada Karpovich, Pexels
Holidays are exciting times for young children. Photo credit: Vlada Karpovich, Pexels

1. Maximise Your Baggage Allowance

Once your child reaches the age of 2 they need to have their own seat on the aeroplane. This means they also receive a full luggage allowance. Yes, you can use it too, if you really need to! Ask your toddler to help with packing too for a fun activity.

Involve your child with the packing. Photo credit: Ivan Samkov, Pexels
Involve your child with the packing. Photo credit: Ivan Samkov, Pexels

2. Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Whether that be an extra 30 minutes to get through security, extra time for bathroom stops or even to deal with the inevitable tantrums. If you know you’re not up against the clock it will ease some of the pressure you may be feeling. Also, plan extra time to get to the airport. With the best will in the world, it can be hard to leave on time even without a young child.

3. Delay Boarding as Long as You Can

You might want to board later than everyone else. Waiting for take-off can feel like a lifetime for an excited toddler especially as they won’t be able to wander about. Boarding too early could result in you using all your distraction techniques too early, so take your time. Especially when you have a nine hour flight ahead of you.

4. Encourage Your Child to Burn Off Some Energy

Read soft play. Yes, you heard us correctly. Some airports have hidden soft play areas that you likely won’t have noticed on your travels pre-kids. It’s a little-known fact that many of the larger UK airports have a dedicated soft play area. So, it’s worth a quick check online ahead of travelling so you know where to find them. If you’re lucky there might even be one at your destination airport ready for the return flight.

5. Involve Your Child

Talk to your toddler about the upcoming holiday, take them shopping and let them choose new clothes. If the airport isn’t too far away, find a runway viewing point so they can view aeroplanes taking off and landing so they get used to the noise. Prepare them for what will happen at the airport and what they need to do. A good technique is to buy a book where their favourite character goes on holiday. This way they’ll have an idea what to expect, especially if the experience is completely new to them.

A runway viewing point makes for a fun day out. Photo credit: @waldemarbrandt67w, Unsplash

6. Toys, Toys, Toys

Pack a plethora of new toys, books, magazines, stickers and crayons to capture their interest, the more interactive the better. Try not to choose a toy with loads of tiny pieces, you don’t want things going missing mid-flight. Some parents swear by individually wrapping the gifts too, for an extra activity. If your child has a favourite toy it’s a good idea to include that too. You don’t want to be 5,000 miles away when little one suddenly asks for Peppa pig.

7. Game On

Toddlers love playing games, so why not up the fun level the moment you arrive at the airport? The check-in desk and airport lounge make great areas for a game of I-spy. Let the fun continue as you show them all the new things in the airport that they might never have seen before. Talking of adrenaline, if you’re heading over to the middle east you might want to look up the Best Theme Parks in The UAE.

8. Embrace Technology for the Win

Being 30,000 feet in the air is not the time to be super strict with screen time rules. We say if it keeps them good then it’s a clear winner. Load the tablet in advance with their favourite films, TV shows or games. Remember to pack headphones and try them out beforehand.

9. Snack Attack

Arm yourself with snacks and plenty of them. Make smart choices that are not too messy. But also consider what your toddler enjoys. For older children lollipops are a great option to help alleviate the pain from ear-popping.

Ready to Travel Long-Haul With Kids?

Now you have the knowledge, it’s time to turn your holiday dreams into reality for the whole family. Nowhere is out of reach now. So check out our guide to Family-Friendly Resorts in The Maldives for the ultimate family getaway.

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