Seeking Advice for Long Plane Flight

Updated on November 20, 2012
S.C. asks from Santa Monica, CA
14 answers

I'd love some advice. I am taking my two kids (ages 1 and 4) on a 17-hour plane ride to Thailand in a week. We will be living there for four months. We are NOT flying with my husband, who is preceding us by a week.
Every time I think of this 17 hour flight, I start freaking out. I can't even get the two kids to sit still in a restaurant for half an hour, ha ha! How do I get them to stay put and be happy for such a long flight? Any tips - for flying or packing - would be greatly appreciated!!! BTW, we DO have an iPad, and we are flying business class. Thanks, S.

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answers from San Diego on

Here's what we do: pack snack bags, bring small brand new toys they've not seen before (i.e., blocks, characters that you can dress etc.), portable video player (with extended battery pack) & videos. Bringing tape is a great idea too. Good luck!!

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answers from Los Angeles on

The Ipad will help you a lot! A few things that helped my toddler stay busy was a roll of tape and a box of bandaids. Yep. Kept her real busy. Also playdoh. I would also say wrap all the little things to play with like gifts but I think that might be hard to get through security! Bring a blanket to allow her to sit on the floor. Activity books. And snacks that you rarely get that are considered special. Fruit leather and trader joes suckers (made with fruit juice) are great. What about glow stick necklaces and bracelets? Good luck!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I would get at least one portable DVD player as well so they both can watch a video at different points. Also, I would have a bag of new little toys handy you can pull out every couple of hours. Dress them in extremely comfy clothes and have their lovies handy. Good luck and try not to stress out by worrying about the other passengers if one of your kids has a meltdown. How exciting to be spending time in another country! Very cool!

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answers from Miami on

Alot of walks down the Aisles for sure. For the 4 year old pack 3 presents that are wrapped up cool looking with a toy inside that will keep his attention. Then every few hours when he has had enough give him one. No sugary snacks for sure. I've done 6 hours before and its the only way to go. Also give the poor kid a break and let him play a ds or leapster that will keep him going for a few hours. Request an aisle seat foryourself if you can.

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answers from Beaumont on

I would do my best to have them sleep as much as possible on the plane to adjust to the new time zone. A DVD player would be a Godsend. I came from Europe with a baby and a small thing of bubbles was a HUGE source of fun. (Not sure if they're allowed now with new regulations). Those big seats in business class will be a big help to help everyone be more comfortable. Maybe an I-SPY game where the 4 year old could find someone with a "yellow shirt" and such...

You'll do great! Have a wonderful time! What an adventure!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

We have traveled to Florida every year with two kids (from CA), and one year to England with an 11 month old. I would avoid sedatives (I do not think you need to got to that extent). Like everyone says, I have done new toys (lots of new little toys, or things that are not toys but will keep them busy (magnet stuff, drawing stuff, I never did this, but just thought about it, what about a box of paperclips, and you show them how to connect them (maybe tge 4 year old, and then give the product to the one year old to play with), and they hang together and they could keep connecting them, dvd player, for the four year old I have gotten those little books, that have the invisible pictures and with the marker that comes with it, they can uncover the words with the marker). I always brought lots of snacks, like people are saying, from cookies to healthy things like fresh and dried fruit, or granola bars. I was really nervous when flying to Florida from CA with an 18 month old, alone, but it went fine. Just be positive and make it fun for them. You will be fine. Best of luck.



answers from San Diego on

Go to the 99 cent store and go shopping for every toy u can possibly buy. They have play dough, activities, toys, coloring books, crayons! It's a one stop shop type of place.



answers from Chicago on

Media will be your friend. Your 4 year old will be perfectly happy watching videos, but I would suggest you try to recreate their schedule. So when it is "bedtime," put them in their PJs and tell them it's time to read a book and have a rest.

The 1 year old is going to be harder than the 4 year old. I suggest lots of snacks. Go buy one of those 12 day pill boxes and fill it with lots of different little things.

Make sure you bring lots of extra clothes for everyone on the plane.

We do suckers for take off and landing when they are old enough.



answers from Charlotte on

If your one year old is still taking a bottle, make sure you give it to him at take off because the g-force will hurt his ears. (Same thing with landing.) If your 4 year old can drink out of a sippy cup or chew gum, that will help him.

Talk to your ped about possibly giving your 4 year old Benedryl to help him sleep. If you decide to do it, make sure you try it a week earlier to make sure it actually makes him sleepy, rather than revving him up. The last thing you want to do is to try it the first time on the plane, and then you can't keep him still. Btw, my kids asked for benedryl when we flew overseas because they hated being awake for 16 hours straight being stuck in their seats. Hours of movies seems fun at first, but that gets really old, really fast.

The airplane will turn the lights off when they want people to quiet down and rest. That's when you should consider letting them watch the ipad - not before. Little books and toys before that, and food as well. Hopefully you can find out what the children's menu is early on and order it for the kids. Bringing favorite snacks with you will help as well. The attendants can bring warm water for you for your formula. If you haven't changed from formula to milk yet, I wouldn't. Continue with the formula until you get there and get settled. The Thai milk will probably taste different from American milk, and you will want to be able to transition only once, rather than from formula to American milk to Thai milk. (Once you get in your house or apartment, buy the milk that you like the taste of and add an ounce into the formula. As your child gets used to that, add another ounce. Eventually it's mostly milk and then all milk.)

This will be hard, S., but the one thing that you CAN control is being super organized and ready for this. You will need to be right there with your kids in the "entertainment" department. You cannot allow them to think that they can get up and walk down the aisles of the plane. That will NOT work. If you start, they will expect it and cry for it, so don't even go there.

Get to the airport in plenty of time. See if someone will go with you and help you get all your luggage checked in and wait with you until you have gotten through security. Having a stroller that holds both of the kids will really help you navigate the concourses. Keep a smile on your face and talk sweet and quietly to your children. In order to hear you in the loud din around them, they will have to focus h*** o* you and distract them from doing things you don't like. I would buy bottled water once you get through security to use for your formula.

I always have a ziplock gallon bag in my pocket book that holds my family's passports, airline reservations, itinerary and info on my destination, as well as the customs cards. That way, I grab it out and it's all together, and then when they are done looking at it, I put it all back in my purse. In and out quick! I also say OUT LOUD (it's okay, you can laugh!) something like "passports back in the purse" to make sure I don't misplace them and my plane tickets. Believe me, I have had friends who walked away without their passports, including one of my foreign exchange students. I don't need that debacle happening in MY life, that's for sure!!

Make sure that you know what Thailand's law is regarding dates of expiration on the passports. Some countries will not let you in if they are less than 6 months away from expiration. You wouldn't have that problem with your 1 year old, but it's foreseeable with your 4 year old and you and your husband.

Have a wonderful 4 months! Avail yourself of hiring help in the house and a trusted someone to help take you around with your children to learn the culture of Thailand. You will never forget this terrific experience!!



answers from St. Louis on

I have always asked the kids pediatrician for sedatives, figure worst case I will take them. :p I would rather have them and not need them than watch my child scream for 17 hours.

This may seem mean, as if the sedative comment isn't, but I took their favorite hand held toys away from them a month before the flight. That way not only were they cool but they missed them. Ya know, sort of like toys on Christmas that they can't seem to put down.

At some point they will fall asleep.

Oh it has been forever since my kids were little but they used to have these ear plugs that kept their ears from popping. I put them in my then one year old's ears and he didn't even wake up during take off.



answers from Las Vegas on

If your kids are good in the car and behave well in their car seats, those can be a huge help. Although my son wouldn't sit still on a plane for a long time, once he turned two and we bought him his own seat and used his car seat in it, he would just stay in there happily. He is great in the car and on long road trips though, so the car seat makes sense for him. I think a car seat can only be in the window seat (that is what we were told a couple of weeks ago on a flight), so you can probably only do one.

It probably won't be nearly as bad as you think, just be prepared, and ask for help if you need it.



answers from Los Angeles on

Please tell me you bought a seat for the 1 year old. I would pack a DVD player and I would pack 17 "gifts." Basically 1 new exciting thing they can open each hour (or so cause if they are wrapped up in a DVD I would not fight it) You can put the items in a brown paper sack and fold it over a few times. Decorate the outside to make it fun. They will enjoy looking forward to the new things and it will keep the stuff from getting old. It doesn't all have to be new. It can be stuff you already have. But just opening the "gift" would be exciting. If you do this I would also bring an empty bag for trash. If they are not ready for the new thing you can wait. Maybe even bring an extra or two in case they tire of something more quickly. But I think between DVD's meals and "gifts" 17 should be plenty.



answers from Dallas on

I had a 17 hr flight with a 2 yr old. It's challenging, but some things that help.... food is served multiple times on international flights. Be sure to reserve kids' meals now. The kids are fascinated by all that food. The seats will have a video screen and various channels, and that will fascinate them for awhile. Bring a variety of small, quiet toys...preferably new ones that they have never seen before. Dole them out slowly over he course of the flight. Expect that they will need to get up and walk in circles around the plane, and don't worry too much about it as long as they are not bothering anyone. Be sure to take some headphones for the iPad games to not bother anyone. Avoid doing the Benadryl thing, as that can backfire. Liquid melatonin is safe for can find it at Walgreens, Whole Foods, GNC or other health food stores or pharmacies. It will NOT knock them out but will help their bodies prepare to sleep a few hours later. Be sure to pack blankets and a favorite lovey for each child. Also, be sure to have a full change of clothes with you for each child as well as yourself. Take some extra snacks, and also have extra wipes with you to clean hands, faces, or tushes. If you have a stopover, spend the time walking and getting energy out. Good luck.



answers from Las Vegas on

Lots of great answers for keeping the kids busy. Another challenge for you will be packing and carrying the carry-ons. Call your airline and find out how many carry-ons you're allowed (I'm assuming 2, one for you and one for the 4 yo, but not one for the baby). You might consider backpacks rather than totes or small suitcase because you'll also be carrying the baby and a car seat (another question to ask the airline -- what is their carseat policy). Ask if you can take a collapsable stroller so you don't need to have the baby in your arms all the time (the airlines usually let you take it onto the plane and then "gate-check" it). In packing a change of clothes take the entire outfit - top, pants, socks, underwear-- roll them up together in a small bundle and put into a zip-lock baggie. That way you can grab the baggie and everything you need is there and you're not hunting through the backpack to find things; then put the worn clothing back in the empty baggie. Take a large, extra baggie to put wet clothing in, in case a drink gets spilled or the baby has a diaper blow-out; that way you don't have wet clothing getting everything else in the bag wet.

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