Flying long haul with a toddler or baby? Dreading it a little bit?

We did our first long haul flight with our toddler this week and I have to admit I wasn’t looking forward to it in the slightest. Regardless of my fears of having a fed up toddler on not one, but two very long flights, Evie was as well behaved as she could be. Especially given the circumstances of being in a confined space for a long time. In fact, I think the train journey up was worst than the flights themselves.

If you too are planning on flying long haul with your toddler, I have rounded up some top tips from some experienced travelling families, that should help you on your way.


tips for flying long haul with a toddler or baby

1. Spare Clothes

Take a change of clothes for both of you! Just in case! – Natasha

2. Upgrade!

If you can, I wholeheartedly recommend you do, having a bed is a lifesaver on long hauls. Sticker books are also a huge hit, a fully loaded iPad is essential(!) and headphones for your little one so you don’t have to sit and listen to the Peppa theme tune 5000 times! – Steph

3. Take New Toys Packaged Up

I took new toys packaged up, he could then unwrap them and play with them. But to be honest he just wanted to walk up and down the plane lots and flirt with other passengers!! Make sure you look after yourself, I travelled with mine alone and didn’t manage eating much. Regretted it when I nearly fainted. – Sara

4. A Constant Supply Of Distractions…

…whether that’s a new toy, snack or something you’ve downloaded on the iPad/phone (don’t forget that!!). Every time you give them something be sure to say it’s a treat because they’ve been so good so you’re reinforcing good behaviour! – Hayley

5. Etch-A-Sketch

I really recommend an etch-a-sketch stye device for drawing as opposed to pens and paper because dropping pens and trying to search for them on a plane floor is no fun ?.  Emily –

6. Let Older Kids Decide What To Pack

We went to Thailand. Took around 14-18 hours. Two planes. 6 hours in the airport in between. We had two kids at the time (3 and 5). We let them decide what they wanted to pack and we helped a little too. They packed their crayons, colouring books, eldest packed her little diary and we also packed the iPad (which was used a lot) and some books. They watched a lot of the TV that was on the plan though, which was really handy. – Beth

7. Lots Of Snacks…

….small toys to keep them entertained and a tablet! The tablet is a godsend and all screen time rules go out the window when we fly! I flew long haul to Hong Kong on a 12 hour flight. My eldest was 4/5 at the time and managed to entertain himself watching movies and playing games. My youngest was 18 months and thankfully slept a good chunk of the way (but not after crying his eye out before we took off which was rather stressful for me!) – Maria

8. Organised Hand Luggage

We’ve flown a lot with Luisa – over 20 flights in two years. The longest was to New York when she was 18 months. We phoned ahead to reserve ‘bassinet’ seats at the bulk head – tonnes more leg room and close to the snack / bar area. The thing I’d do differently next time is pack my hand luggage really light and very carefully organised. Preferably using clear toiletry bags so that I can find whatever I need quickly.
Here’s what got us through (just about) Those colour magic books from crayola (the pens only work on them so they can’t wreck the place) lots of snacks, small toys as distractions, stuff on your kindle / iPad, low expectations and a let it be attitude. – Hannah 

9. Be Calm

I’ve flown a lot with my girls. We took Ophelia to Australia when she was 5 weeks old. One of the most important things is a relaxed, calm attitude from the parents. Don’t worry about what anyone else is thinking and just enjoy it – Kerry

10. Window Gels

I would recommend window gels for a bit of something different to do that doesn’t make mess and something they can count down the hours of the journey on to try and reduce the ‘are we nearly there yet’ questions – Lisa

11. Burn energy pre-flight

Make them run round the airport at your connection (time dependent), Snacks, snacks, snacks because they never eat aeroplane food but in case they do make sure you order the kids meals because they are yum even if they don’t like them. (Yes I’ve eaten my kids food over my own…..), Books are overlooked but a lovely way of getting them calm for sleeping. But don’t expect sleep in large portions just hope for some!! Little toys they aren’t normally allowed are a hit here. And the inflight magazine. Just because….Finally – wine! – Laura

Family Travel

Need more tips about travelling as a family? We have reviews and tips of the best places to visit both in the UK and all over the world. Find out how we got on touring Europe with our toddler and find the best days out in the UK and Cornwall in our travel sections. If you want to find out more about flying with kids, check out Boy Eats World’s blog post ‘8 Tried and Tested Tips For Flying With Kids’.

Latest travel posts:

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Have you ever flown long haul with your toddler, or are you about to? Let us know your tips and experiences in the comments below.


1 Comment

  1. Rochelle
    March 12, 2017 / 12:30 am

    Very good advice I wish I considered when I first took my twins away!

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