INFO & TIPS On Flying Internationally with 4 Young Children

Updated on December 07, 2009
S.R. asks from Saint Peters, MO
8 answers

Hi Moms!
I need some great tips. I just found out I am flying to Switzerland ( leaving in 2 weeks) with my four kids (daughter 9,twin sons 6, and baby daughter 11 months)and God bless Mom! We will be staying there for 3 weeks to visit my husband. I have flown many, many, many, many times and so have my 3 older children. However, never more than a few hours INSIDE the United States. We have a 2 hr flight to Atlanta and then have a 9 hr flight to Milan, Italy.... and then have a an hour and a half drive to the small town in Switzerland. UGH!
As of right now, I do not have a seat for the baby. My hubby's employer did not buy one. She has to sit on my lap. UGH!
I would love to hear some info on what I can take on the plane as far as baby food, formula and snacks go.
What the heck do you do when their DVD, DSi and iPod batteries DIE?!?!?!
Are the staff helpful to people with a ton of kids or do they secretly hate us?? :)
Do they play kids friendly movies?
Any information would be helpful. I am so excited but sooooo nervous.
Thanks in advance!

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answers from St. Louis on

Hi S.,

I've been flying over seas for a while now and have two daughters ages 12 and 10. They've been flying with me since they were very small.

There is a way to check your airplane layout online and see where you are sitting. All planes have areas where seats are located next to an outlet to charge games. It tends to be about every 5 aisles in the bigger planes in coach. If you aren't sitting in a row that has a charger in the seat then I'd request to move.
A new series of books out are the "39 clues". Bring a few of those. They go fast and are fun to read for your 9 year old. The 6 year old boys will most likely like the DS and DVD instead. Don't discount the in-flight entertainment though. Most flights have choices now and you can have many movies/shows to choose from. Some flights even have a screen in each seat. (You can ask someone from the airline or check the website to find this out)

In addition, if you can request an aisle where you have no one in front of you, usually called a bulkhead seat, (a wall in front of you, not an exit row) sometimes they give you a bassinet that attaches to the wall where the baby can lay flat. I've also seen where mamas put a small bassinet type of bed on the floor in front of them in that row.

As far as the flight attendants, most are very courteous. As with anyone, it depends on the day and the flight as to how they want to be. Sometimes the attendants are indispensible and sometimes you just wish they would keep to themselves. No advice really, just my observation.

One last thing, Milan airport can be a bit crazy from my experience. I've been thru there 4 times and I now choose to by-pass that particular airport if I can. NO worries though if your flight lands in the morning and you have at least an hour and a half to get to your connecting flight.
Here's hoping you do and that your flight is the best time ever that kicks off to to a great time with your family.


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answers from Kansas City on

I just went to Italy (KCI to ATL to Venice) in June with my 2 yr old. I basically took what I do on domestic flights, just a lot more of everything. Visit the TSA web site and there is an area for traveling with children. It is very informative.

Going over is pretty easy since you will have them sleeping most of the way. The flight attendants let my daughter eat first so we could begin the go-to-bed routine with her. Coming back is more difficult since it will be daytime the whole trip. I felt bad doing this, but on the return trip, I gave my daughter a dose of benadryl so she'd nap a couple hours. Frankly, she needed a nap and was was bouncing all over the place.

With the baby, you can take formula, just alert the TSA officials that you are coming through with a baby and that you have liquids and/or medicines. Similac makes to-go 8 oz bottles...I always used these for travel. Just pop on a nipple and go, of course dry formula is lighter to carry. Instead of buying the packets, I made my own using snack size bags. I'd pre-measure the formula for one feeding. You can take a small scissor (blunt end...see TSA web site) and cut the end of the bag off and pour into the bottle. If there's any way to afford a seat for the baby, I'd buy it and put her in her infant seat. She will sleep better. We went to Hawaii when my daughter was 6 months. She slept a lot of the trip in her own seat and I could sleep a little too.

As for the older kids, snacks: teddy grahams, cracker cut size cheese, grapes, whatever their favorites are, just take extra. Some airplanes have plug-ins for DVDs, but don't count on that in coach. You should check with your airlines on that. They always have family-friendly movies showing, so there should be something your kids will enjoy.

Just let the flight attendants help you as much as they will. Presuming you're flying Delta, I found them to be very nice and helpful. Best of luck. Most important...stay calm yourself, your kids and baby will pick up on it if you're nervous. Email me privately if you want to talk by phone.

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answers from St. Louis on

Bless you, you are my new hero!!! I thought that driving 15 hours was hard!

I don't have much advice, but just wanted to say that you get the mom of the year award :o)

We flew to Germany when I was 14 and my sister was 7. That was hard on us then, can't imagine what it will be like now.

Have you called the airline to see if they have anyone that can aleast tell you what you can and can't take on the plane?

Good luck and God Bless!!

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answers from Wichita on

Good Morning S., WOW what a wonderful trip to be able to take.. Even with Children I would be so excited. God Bless your Mama to. I have only been to Hawaii on a long flight and never with Children. So I flying by the seat of my pants here S.. :)
I would call the Airline and ask them about the movies in flight. Plus ask if you can take extra batteries for the CD/DVD/etc.players..
If you took coloring books or reading books with you before do it again. Maybe get a few new toys at the $$ store to entertain them.
You should be able to take snacks and baby formula, baby food. They don't expect children to do nothing while on a flight. If his employer gets another seat for the baby girl you can take her car seat with you. If not well passing her back and forth with Mom will work some. She will probably sleep alot too!!

As for the drive after, have your hubby request a car seat's if it is a rental car. You'll need a

Have a wonderful trip S.

God Bless you with a safe trip to Switzerland and safe trip home.
K. Nana of 5

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answers from Kansas City on

I would def call the airline and see what you can and can't bring, and see if they don't have any suggestions for you on what to bring for the kids. I know they have the snack carts etc, but not sure what they will and won't have, and how often it makes it's rounds. I agree into checking about an extra seat just for the room, and for a nap for baby, as well as bringing her seat. The dollar store suprises are good too! Try maybe getting some card games, or just regular playing cards for the kids, puzzles, or coloring books etc... If you're going over seas with a wall outlet charger for all the games and DVD make sure you have a converter for the wall plug too. Also, maybe make a scavenger hunt passport type thing for the kids, things for them to keep an eye out for in the airport, the car etc... Best of luck, and Happy Holidays!!

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answers from Kansas City on

Have you checked to see how much an extra seat would cost? I'm sure it's astronomical, but it may be worth your sanity. Not only would your baby have a place to sleep, but it gives you extra room for the gear that you will need for the other kiddos. It might be worth looking into...

You will most likely be flying on a pretty large plane to get overseas, and I'll bet the flight attendants could charge some of the games for you if they need it. I like K.'s idea about calling the airline in advance.

I know that on domestic flights, the attendants can get kind of crabby - but on the overseas flights, you usually get a more experience and patient crew. After all, you will be stuck with them for a while!!

Give the airline a call, give each kiddo a backpack with a few surprises from the Dollar Store (that way, if they don't make it back home, you aren't out of alot of money)and hug your mom.

Most of all, have a fabulous trip!

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answers from Kansas City on

I'm from England and so we fly back home once a year. We went in April of this year with a 3 year old and 10 week old. The flight over to Europe is usually OK as it's a red eye flight and the kids sleep. I would suggest that you call the airline and ask about the bulk head seats. These are seats at the very front of the section so you have more leg room and (at least on Continental) where they can install the bassinet for the baby.

The entertainment system this time was amazing. Everyone had their own screen and there were about 20 movies to choose from and tons of games. I would be surprised if your old kids couldn't find something they're interested in. Some planes also have the cigarette lighter outlet that you can use to charge up ipods, DVD players etc.

I hope you have a great time and a stress-flying experience.

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answers from Kansas City on

S. I just got back from Dubai (a 15 hr flight) with my 2-yr old. Key things I took: the DVD player (although we flew Delta and they have personalized movies on each seat - and TONS of kid friendly movies - even Baby Einstein!), coloring book and crayons, play-doh, small compact books an puzzles. Obviously, plenty of snacks (although you travel through the night, so you might be lucky for them to sleep through most of it. About your 11-month old: when you get to the airport in ATL, have them change a few of your seats to be in the bulk head (once airborne, the flight attendants will bring "crib-like" bed that can be hooked up to the bulk head wall for your little one). Dont have all seats in the bulk head, because you will not be able to lift the armrest for the other kids to comfortably sleep. One last thing, in your lay over, yor make sure your kids run around to burn some energy - GOOD LUCK!

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