Travel Abroad with Six Year Old for First Time - a Lot of Travel Questions

Updated on October 25, 2010
L.S. asks from San Diego, CA
11 answers

Hello Mamas,

We are going to travel to Peru in December. The flight is 9 hours long but luckily we got into a night flight and we hope our son will sleep through most of the trip. I have some questions that I hope you can answer, here goes:

1) Do most airlines have on screen games to play? Should I buy a portable game for him to play to keep him occupied ... what kind?
2) Have any of you bought a child restraint system (like an added seatbelt) by CARES for the plane? Was it worth it to buy?
3) Our son has dietary needs that I know the airline can not accomodate. We will have to bring our own food ... Have any of you mama's brought your own food on the plane and did you need a doctor's letter? Did you have any trouble?

Thanks again travelling mama's and help would be appreciated.

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answers from Dallas on

i've traveled A LOT with my children. i wouldn't mess with a seat. it isn't really neccessary and it's a pain in the butt to try and get through the airport and on and off the plane it. I always take food for my kids and they have never given me a hard time. a dvd player is a must. I would research different types of extended batteries though. The only problem we've had is that the battereies always die before the trip is over. If you're taking a night flight, let him fly in his jammies and take a pillow and blanket so he can be nice and comfy! the more comfy they are, the longer they'll sleep, and that makes for the best flight!! Good luck and have fun.

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answers from Los Angeles on

looks like other Mom's have answered too: you can check TSA website for info, but you can bring food as long as it's in closed containers and it can go thru security check. Liquids have some restrictions, check website. You can buy food in airport once past security. Activities and games are GREAT for a plane. Depending on the airline, some like Jet Blue have seatback screens.
We still brought stuff for our then 5 yr old...sticker books, coloring books, his Leapster and games, etc. Little Happy Meal type stuff is great as a novel thing to distract.--maybe check the 99 cents store. New coloring
books and crayons were a hit for my son too. Hope that you have a good flight. :) OH, just remembered, bring an extra shirt for YOURSELF. If you have a big spill, then you won't look like a complete grunge when you get to your destination.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I travel with my son all the time. He's 8 now.

1) Some airlines have video screens and some don't. Some airlines have them on some of the planes and not others. You sometimes don't know until you get on the plane. We always bring a portable DVD player (with 2 charged battery packs and the charger for the return trip) and we just bought a PSP with several games. Our old DVD player was Sony and our new one is Hanspree - you want one that is small and easy to use. Also bring headphones so your son can listen to the movies or games without bothering other passengers. We also bring activity books, chapter books, playing cards, and travel size games (Toys R Us has a whole travel section).

2) I have never brought a child restraint system on the plane. A 6 year old is big enough to sit with the regular seat belt.

3) I always bring my own food on the plane and I always bring a big bag of snacks from home. They will only stop you if you bring liquid or if the food you bring looks too liquidy - so you might need a doctor's note for that but any solid food you bring they should not stop you.

4) Also bring a favorite stuffed animal or small blanket and lots of antibacterial wipes.

Hope you have a great trip! Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I've been traveling alot for work lately. Most planes do not have onscreen games, and those that do would not have ones appropriate for a child. I would bring toys along for him to play with. Some airports rent DVD players, then you turn them in at your destination airport, but I have no idea if an airport in Peru would have this feature.

I would not buy an extra restraint for a six year-old (I have an 8 year-old), the airplane seatbelt should work fine. The CARES system is for age 3 and below, from their website (22-44 lbs).

The airlines I've been on do not care at all what type of food you carry on, getting through security is the issue. You can't bring any liquids or gels in containers larger than 3 oz. (baby formula, breast milk, or medications with a written prescription are the only exceptions that I know of). If your food must be liquid, then I would contact them ahead of time to see if a doctor's letter will get your (liquid) food through security, solid food is not a problem.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I would call the airline to ask about screen games. BUT, never rely on that alone, because sometimes they are broken. I would definitely bring games, books, etc to keep him occupied. We always bring a portable DVD player.

I don't think you need a CARES system. He is old enough to sit in the seat by himself. My son is only three (40" and 40 lbs) and has been sitting in the seat with no car seat or extra harness for over a year. Plus, if you want your son to sleep, he'll be a lot more comfortable with just the seat belt and hopefully even able to lie down.

You can bring as much food as you want on the plane. There aren't any restrictions on food at all, for adults or children. Only drinks are limited, and you'd even be able to work around that if he needs special things to drink. We always bring soy milk on board and it's never a problem. You don't need a doctor's note, but you do need to take it out of your bag when you go through security, so don't pack it near the bottom.

I sell Discovery Toys, and would love to recommend a couple that can be very fun for six year old boys and will keep him occupied for a long time on the flight.

One Odd Old Owl:

Wiz Kidz: (this one is great if he is reading, or even if he knows all of his letter sounds and can tell you what letter a word starts with)

Tricky Fingers:

Have a great trip!
K. - Got kids? I've got toys! Make your holiday shopping easy by choosing Discovery Toys

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answers from Los Angeles on

Hi; not all airlines have a screen to play games, definitely bring something (for you too) however they do play movies. I traveled abroad a few times with my toung daughter, beginning at age 7 (longest flight 16 hrs to Asia) and never purchased an extra restraint, but do what you are comfortable with. As for foos, you can call the airline amd they'll tell you. I know for certain they should heat food up for you. I've always brought food on plane with me. Have fun

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answers from Las Vegas on

1. Call the airline; screens will depend on the type of aircraft. But I wouldn't depend on using the airlines for games; I'd buy a portable -- that way you also have something to keep him busy in the car, bus, hotel room, etc.

2. Again, call the airline to find out if restraints are required for a 6 yo.

3. Go to the TSA's website ( to find out what you can and can't take on the plane. I'm pretty sure you can bring food; and there are exceptions to allow bringing liquids for infants, but not sure about a 6 yo. Remember, that once you are through security, you may take onboard food and liquids that you buy at the airport.

4. As a packing tip -- take pants, shirt, undies, and socks and roll them into a bundle (can even put each roll in a baggie). Cuts down on time to get dressed and your son can just grab a roll from the suitcase and everything he needs is all together. If you use the baggies, then you'll also have the empties to put wet a swimsuit, ect. in, so the rest of the clothes in the suitcase don't get wet. Enjoy your trip!

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answers from San Diego on

1) You need to check with the airline itself - otherwise, we always have a portable DVD player that we use as a last resort. Ours is a Sony with 4-6 hours of battery life.

2) Our daughter is 2.5 and we didn't use the CARES system - the user reviews are very mixed and say that it is actually quite uncomfortable for the child. She had her own seat and she was fine for the most part. Save your money.

3. Bringing your own food is fine - we do it all the time. We don't bring liquids due to security but I always buy a bottle of water and juice (I dilute it for my child in her cup) for the plane.

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answers from Los Angeles on


My two sons, 6 and 7, and I live overseas and we travel home every 6 months. We have had really nice flights because I prepared in advance.
1. It depends on what what airline you fly on if they have games. We use Etihad and they do have seat screens and in flight games...some American Airlines flights do not. I pack a bag with brand new, teck decks, action figures, to keep them occupied.
2. I have never bought a restraint system so I am not sure if they are worth it or not. They usually end up sleeping all over me anyway!
3. There is never an issue bringing your own food. I pack another bag with food that they have picked out.

If you are prepared it can be a really easy flight! Also, most of the flight attendants are usually really helpful too!

Good luck!

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answers from Hartford on

1) Not all do and you should not rely on it because your child might not like it anyway. Eventhough it is overnight, there is no guarantee your little one will sleep. I bought some small toys and activities and I brought out something new for each hour. I had bought a handheld game, but my son was not interested in it. They did have an inflight movie for children that he liked, but if he has a favorite, then a portable dvd might be good. For the trip I bought an mp4 player and put music and shorter videos on it that he liked (actually, it also had games). Mostly, he liked coloring and frequent trips to the lavatory to play with stuff. So, it really just depends upon your child and what they like to do.

2) I do not have the CARES system, but you do not need it. I believe that most airplane seats were designed for 6 year olds anyway.

3) Definately bring your own food. You can check out to see actual pictures of inflight meals. My son sometimes liked it, sometimes preferred mine, and sometimes ate his own thing. As you know, however, avoid liquids.

Lastly, as another mom pointed out - comfort is the key. We also travel with pajamas, a blanket, and a pillow. My son also has his own inexpensive digital camera to capture the vacation from his perspective. He really liked taking pictures, but if you do that be prepared to be able to download the images or buy a secondary memory card.

Most important, have a great time!

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answers from Raleigh on

1) They will not have on screen games. They will have movies, but they are not always appropriate for kids. I suggest buying a portable DVD player and a gaming system if you are worried about there being enough for him to do. My son LOVES his Leapster. It's educational and they have games for kids up to 2nd grade I think. You could also look at a DS.

2) At six, other than his booster seat, he doesn't really need anything else. My son has flown on long trips without his car seat before (because of ease) and has had zero problems. (He is 4)

3) You can bring any sort of food you want on the plane with you. Check with the airline to make sure that you can get it past security, but we have always had snacks with us and have never had a problem. He is a little too old for them to allow drinks through security, but the food shouldn't be a problem!

Good luck!

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