Long Flight with 2 Small Kids - Ideas?

Updated on July 14, 2011
H.A. asks from San Francisco, CA
11 answers

Hi there,

I'll be taking an 18 hr. flight (to visit family, in case you are wondering why in the world I would attempt this!) in a few weeks with my two little ones, almost 4 yr. old girl and 9.5 mo. old boy. I've made this trip with my daughter a few times and she's been great. This will be the first time I'll be traveling alone with the two kids.

Any tips? Ideas of what to bring to entertain them? I'm planning to bring some old school Sesame Street on my iPhone with kid sized headphones for my daughter, as well as drawing stuff, stickers, play dough, puzzles. For my son... I have no idea, and I'm a bit worried. When we planned this trip he wasn't moving around much, but now he's crawling very fast, standing all the time and "cruising" on furniture. He is very active and cirious. Any tips or ideas of ways to keep him happy?


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answers from Beaumont on

I did something similar with an infant. My 2 best tools ended up being bubbles and a small inflated balloon that we played "catch" and "volleyball" with. You might also bring some Benedryl to help him sleep when you need him to so his system will be as adjusted as possible when you land. Good luck!

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answers from Kansas City on

Oh dear! ;) Well if possible I would actually try and get a portable DVD player. The iPhone is good, but even if you could borrow a DVD player, I think it will make your life easier! The battery will probably last longer too. Are you carrying your son or did you buy him a seat? If you bought him a seat I would highly recommend taking his car seat on the plane. It will be much easier to keep him confined. My son is also very active and although we've only flown 2X with him (but we did take him on a 12 hour car trip at that age!) I have anxiety over it each time! Things that will help him are cups of ice...believe it or not, but it may keep him entertained for 30 mins or so! Maybe you could bring a container of small objects, like barrel of monkeys or a tupperware with smooth stones or something that he can take in and out over and over again. At that age my son also loved those Disney flip phones that made noise when you opened them or pressed buttons. Those kept him quite entertained on a long car trip! Another favorite was the electronic books by Vtech. They really aren't that loud and honestly I hink I'd rather have a loud toy than a crying child next to me anytime! Other ideas are squishy soft balls, a magna doodle (for both of them really), a maracca, cars and trucks to race around, and touchy feely books. Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

Just to add, you can by a handful of cheap new toys and wrap them in tissue paper. Every hour or so give them a new present. Good luck!!



answers from San Francisco on

First of all get kids headphones for both kids - I've tried all the brands and the only ones truely worthy of a plane ride are from amazon.com and called kidz gear child headphones - absolutely worth it! I would do tons of game and videos on the iphone but ALSO get a DVD player and DVD's - your infant will do good watching them too! Pick up some small new toys and don't let your children see them until they start getting fussy in the plane, and only give 1 at a time to spread out the attention of them (good ones for 4 year old are strawberry shortcake or little princess figures, travel aquadoodle, the new crayola dry erase crayons). Also, get cool snacks that they haven't had before. I set up a schedule of events sort of to draw out the entertainment - color for a while, then do play dough, then snack, then short movie, then a new toy, potty break, stickers, read books, another movie, another snack, etc. And hopefully they nap in there too! Just remember not to let your kids out of their seats to walk/crawl around so they don't get the idea it is even possible, this is a hug safety hazard for them on a plane and it is the number 1 thing to piss off the flight attendants (who you need to befriend you in case you need hep with 2 little ones!) And lastly remember kids react off your emotions, so if your happy,calm, quiet, not nervous, plling out something new when they get borred, they should feed off that and be happy, calm as well.



answers from Washington DC on

If they don't allow his seat on the plane, consider seeing if they have a seat or sky cot you can reserve for the flight and check your carseat as baggage. Also, ask the airline if they have special seating for little ones, maybe near the restroom for diaper changes. I would bring his favorite snack, too. And soft toys he can manipulate but won't make a lot of noise or hurt anything if the throws them.

Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

Hi H.,

Yes, I have tons of ideas..

If you are planning to bring your car seats, use the gogo Kidz Travelmate from Go-Go Babyz www.gogobabyz.com (call and mention mamapedia for free shipping). You can transport your kids in their car seats each with one hand. This helps a lot through the airport as you can have the kids harnessed in their seats. You can gate check your car seat with the Travelmate attached if you don't want the car seat on the plane.

Next...bring a backpack as your carry on. This helps keep hands free for your little ones.

Sippy cups, snacks, Tylenol and a change of clothes is a must as spills do happen! Also, if you are willing to invest, I highly recommend the little handhelds like the PSPgo over the DVD players because they are lighter and take up less space. You can download TV shows for kids and movies directly to the device.

Hope this helps!



answers from Dallas on

Luftansa had bassinets that hooked into the side of the plane. I would check with the airline to see if they have them as well. It was a life saver with my 15 month old on a 10 hour flight. Just her having her own space made things easier. I tried Benadryl with my daughter and it didn't work, but I've heard it works wonders for other kids. Just test it out before you go. It makes some kids very hyper. Also, get an aisle seat so your little one can stand in the aisle and hold on to your seat. My daughter loved this at 9 months because it was like a game. She got to stand up and everytime someone walked by I had to pick her up. She laughed everytime I had to launch her in the air.



answers from Sacramento on

I haven't been on a flight that long with a child, but here's my tips for any plane flight with small children:

- iPad if at all possible for kids over the age of 3. DVD players are bulky, batteries die quickly & iPhones are too small. you can pack a lot of great things onto an iPad, not just movies or shows - lots of interactive activities that can keep the older child busy.

- plastic Easter eggs, especially for the little one. fill them with stickers, healthy snacks, toys, etc. - keeps their hands busy, it's "new" every time, it's a mystery every time & they're relatively easy to carry a lot of them onto the plane. Keep snacks & other items packed away for the flight home or better yet, buy things from your travels to pack into the eggs & they'll be a memory maker as well :)

- great idea about the masking tape & I 2nd the silly putty or any other kind of non-greasy/messy manipulative; just be sure to avoid things that can roll off the try as you'll never see it again & have 1 upset kid on your hands :(

- for the baby, it's good if they have their own seat because you can also use the floor space as a "play area" of sort - putting things on his seat while he's on the floor allows him to stand on his feet & get a different point of view.

- car seats; while I think it's a great idea for sleep purposes, they do take a lot to get them onto the plane, get them attached properly & keep an eye on your kids & your stuff; i think it's worth it if you plan on traveling by plane a lot when they're young - then it's kind of like the seatbelt rule: every time you're on a plane it's just like being in a car - you have to buckle into your seat. We only traveled by plane 2 or 3 times a year so I always thought it was easier to just rent a carseat & not have to worry about it.

- head over to a craft store & look for things like pipe cleaners, things to bead, etc. - things that will keep their hands busy.

best advice i can give is to make every effort to STAY CALM & just know that even if that "worst" happens, whatever that is for you, that you have a whole lot of great things to look forward to. That will make it easier on your kids & the other passengers - your own attitude about it. :)

good luck! I'm sure your family will be SO appreciative of your efforts!



answers from San Francisco on

We are also taking a long flight with our 3 children, the youngest being 16 months. What has worked for us in the past for little ones are painters tape, magna doodle, the water pens that color on the thick cardboard books and make the colors appear, pair of sunglasses (although my son is a bit older), lots of snacks, new books, and the toy straps that snap versus the links, so I can bring toys that he likes and not have to pick them up from the ground all of the time. If you can find a small tape measure that is fabric and has a button to retract it, it is one of the best things to entertain a little one. Unfortunately, my son does not like tv for now, not a bad thing, but it would be perfect on the airplane if your son does enjoy it.

Some new ideas I have found for my 4 & 6 year old girls that may also help are the melissa and doug travel games - they are big, but are very durable and no loose pieces, magnetic travel tanagrams, travel activity book that got great reviews on Amazon. See if you can wrap rubber bands around your crayons or colored pencils and then loop them around a key chain clip to keep them together. This way you aren't having to pick individual crayons throughout the flight. Personally, I would stay away from little pieces and play dough which can fall and make a mess. It will be one less thing for you to deal with when you have the younger one to tend to. Hope that helps and best of luck on your flight.


answers from San Antonio on

baby mozart movies and a small dvd player.
bring a balloon to play with at the airport before they get on.
treats for the people sitting next to you :)



answers from San Francisco on

A roll of masking tape and play dough were great when my boys were young and we took long flights. Maybe some string and cheerios so your daughter can string them up and your son can eat them. Have fun!

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