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How Do You Deal with Young Kids and Long Flights?

I am going to have a long flight (at least 33 hours?!) coming up in a couple months and I was wondering if anyone know any good tricks to keep your kids so they aren't trying to jump out the windows or really annoy the other passengers.

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Thanks so much all for the great advice. We have a shorter trip coming up to go to Colorado in a week or so. I'll definitely try a lot of your advice as a warm up for the big Australia trip. I'm just so ready to be over there already. :)

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This might be too late but when I've traveled with my kids I had more trouble getting things in and out of their backpacks, so I tied pens together on a string and put velcro on the end and velcroed them to the seat in front of theirs. It helped somewhat so pens didn't keep rolling off under seats. I'm now wondering if you could find a backseat organizer (like you would use in a car) that might fit on the back of a plane seat to help with all their stuff and it might be fun to rearrange items in there for the kids. Also, finger puppets are small and can be fun to create skits. Good luck!

Create a goody bag. Use a large ziploc bag full of crafts...crayons and paper, pipe cleaners (to create anything they want), playdoh, etc. I also heard of someone who brought small boxes and tissue paper and wrapped the boxes over and over again. It doesn't have to be perfect, because they'll do it again and again.

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WOW - and I thought our flight to Korea to adopt our son was long. Ok well what I do when flying anywhere with our children - now 12 and 4 - is to bring a protable DVD player or ipod that you can download movies on and bring headphones so they can listen to it without allowing distraction from other noises -(this is my sons favorite). We also use a portable CD player that they can listen to music, and often my son will sing along which is really cute. I also do ziploc bags with different things in them that are a "surprise" and when I see them "in need" I pull one out. Some may have a treat in them, a toy, a book that they can look at or I can read to them, a coloring book with crayons or wonder paper and pens. The dollar store is a good place for these things. Small plastic animals (my son like dinosaurs), matchbox cars/trucks. A small photo album (brag book) with family members, friends, events, etc that can occupy time with talking about the picture and people in them. With our experience on our flights to/from Korea, the flight attendants were extremely understanding, patient and helpful with our kids. They allowed us to stand when needed and walk up and down the isles. So that the kids didn't have to stay confined in their chair the entire time.
Good luck to you and your new adventure. Hopefully some of this may be helpful to you.

Five and three are awsome ages. I have two children ages 5.5 and 3.5 and when we never leave home without our activity bag. What I did was take an old diaper bag and packed it with a zip lock bag with about 10 cars,2 small pop-up playsets (one for each they are the most drop-dead, awsome toy on the planet), dry erase boards complete with markers and erasers, crayons, 3 or 4 small coloring books, sticker books and sticker. Don't forget a deck of cards and who can live without balloons, small chalk boards and chalk (from the dollar store). Since you are taking such a long flight you might want to have a separate bag for each of them that also includes some snacks and juice boxes.

For additional ideas on traveling with kids you might also want to check out momsminivan.com they have great ideas on entertaining the little ones for long trips.

Hope this helps. Have a nice flight.

L. S.

You have gotten such great advice! My daughter is younger than your kids, but I would just stress to bring as little as possible as carry-ons. I limit myself to just the diaper bag and if my husband is with me then he will bring a bag also. The less you have the better! That being said, it is also important to have some (small) new toys/games to help keep them occupied.

And I really like using my stroller and checking it right at the gate when we get on the plane. It was easier for me to have my daughter in her stroller while I eat/use restroom/etc. before getting on the plane. But again, she is not walking, so that might not the the case for you.

Good luck!

Wow, you have some great advice already.
The only things I would add:
- airline lounges - these have been a huge help for us in the past. When I used to travel for work, the lounges were always relatively quiet places full of business folks - the last few times I've used it, it's been at least half full of people with kids (maybe I just picked the right times of day/months of the year!) You'll have a relatively limited space so the kids have a larger 'safe' space to be in (no large concourses to disappear down), and drinks, snacks and nicer bathrooms on hand. You'll also be able to do the recharging on whatever electronics you have with you - usually the front desk will have the plug converters as well for you to use.
- airlines - different airlines are good at different things. Some have really managed to work out what makes traveling with kids easier (or harder, it seems, with some airlines!) Research what they do from their websites - make sure they routinely bring kids meals ahead of the main food rush (others might do that if you ask, but no guarantee), have separate video programming for children (and check what that is... not just tween/teen boy content, but little kid content), gift travel bags for the kids with toys, snacks, etc. (I remember one of my kids having a heated discussion with a flight attendant once because we only got one in one direction, we thought it was both and hadn't brought anything.... he wanted his goodies!)
- airports - do you have a choice in airports? Some are definitely easier than others to get in and around with kids. I'd probably forgo the ones with the coolest kid play areas, if I could pick one with fewer passengers and lines.
- check the car seat and get the "infant" seat from the airline. Depends on the airline, since they don't all provide an infant seat, but that can be great especially for when they sleep. (Virgin has an EXCELLENT seat - and they won't let you put it in.... one more thing you don't have to do). Lugging your own car seat and installing it with your kids around is a major pain - if you have another grown-up with you, it's a little easier, but with everything else, I've given up on that. If you think the 3yo will be too big, there's also a harness called CARES that helps to really secure them better than the regular lap belt, so will also help keep them sort of upright while sleeping.

We've usually kept our stroller and gate-checked it, just so I can control a kid or two ;-> and as much as possible, have the kids carry their own things. Special/new toys and snacks, a notebook for journalling the whole trip (or just for doodling), spare clothes and regular bathroom breaks to avoid accidents.

Have a great trip, and good luck on the move!

I highly recommend that you get a portable DVD player, if you don't already have. For a flight to Austrailia, see if you can get some extra recharagable batteries, that you can have charged up, because they run out quickly. Of course having a bag of other activites is useful too (coloring books and portable Doodle Pros--I have one for each of my kids). Trail Mixes are always fun for the kids as far as snacks go.

LOTS of activities to keep them super busy! Some ideas:

Flap books
paper and stickers
color wonder markers are great because they don't get on stuff
small light up toys that are quiet like a fan(disney store)
lollipops(for take off and landing)
books with magnetic characters

These are a few ideas off the top of my head...hope this helps!

If they like to watch movies, one option is to rent or buy a DVD portable player so that they can watch movies during the flight. We flew to California and that kept my 3 children quiet the entire time! Also, we recently went on a 13 hour drive to Florida and we brought a backpack full of travel games, coloring books and notebooks for the kids to write in. It was a pain having to bring the extra stuff but it was a great way to keep the kids busy so that they weren't asking us every 5 minutes, "Are we there yet?". Good luck with the long flight! I hope it goes well.

Hi R.,

I think that the children may be crying from their ears hurting more than jumping out of their seats. Take a stuffed animal for each. Take something for them to chew or drink to keep their ear drums opened.
Hope this helps. Good luck. D.

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