Just this month, our family of three headed across the United States and the Atlantic Ocean for a European vacation. Coming from California, that means we all boarded a flight that was a little over 10 hours, and with a 5-year-old-in tow, it was an adventure to say the least. While I can’t call myself a master of trans-Atlantic flights, I will say I know more now than I did when heading into such a trip. Here are some of my tips and tactics for getting through long flights with young kids.
1. Start Talking About Your Trip Ahead of Time
While this tip may not apply to families traveling with kids under the age of 3, we found that discussing the impending looong flight to be a big help with our 5-year-old. Even though she doesn’t quite grasp the complete concept of time and hours, she knew that it would be a lengthy trip. We talked about needing to get some rest but also that she could watch some movies and have snacks. We outlined what would happen when we were on the plane, and how we would need to navigate the airport, a car ride to the hotel and a few other things when we arrived. Although we still landed exhausted, we all knew what to expect which was a huge help for two exhausted parents!
2. Bring Comfy Clothes
Oh, the outfits people wear on 10 hour flights! I’ve never witnessed such uncomfortable ensembles for a half-day journey as I did this trip. We personally threw all fashion caution to the wind and brought PJ’s for our red-eye flight. While not all long-haul trips are overnight, most will involve sleep in some sort, even if just for a nap. Keep the kiddos comfy and pack pajamas or sweats that won’t inhibit sleeping, and get ready to cozy up with your little’s fave blankie.
3. Consider Natural Supplements to Encourage Sleep
If you’re traveling overnight, chances are your kiddos will be pretty excited and sleep won’t come easy. If you’re not into using Benedryl (no judgment here!), consider a natural supplement like melatonin to send the kiddos off to dreamland. We personally used Wink Naturals Sleep Melts with melatonin once we got on the plane and were pleased that our daughter snagged 6 hours of sleep (parents got pretty much zero-because planes). I have no doubt she would have tried to stay up the entire time without melatonin, and that precious 6 hours meant we could navigate London from our 3pm arrival time to bedtime and beat jetlag.
4. Bring Extra Snacks & Food
If you have a little sleeper, chances are they miss mealtime, or just not enjoy airplane food (no surprise there). Bring plenty of snacks and other food to help bridge the gap between takeoff and landing. Don’t depend on airport shops and kiosk to have what you need––come prepared to the airport! No one wants a hangry kiddo on a long flight!
5. Pack Plastic Bags
As a mom of a queasy traveler, I know first hand how small “barf bags” can be on airplanes. Good luck catching a potential vomit incident in a pint-sized doggy bag! It’s never a bad idea to pack a few extra plastic bags (grocery or 4-gallon trash bags) for motion sickness or to just corral the mess that kids always make. They take up virtually no space, can help catch huge messes and bring tons of peace of mind.
6. Plan Non-Screen Activities
Most long flights host small televisions with plenty of kids games, shows and movies but even those can grow tiresome on a lengthy trip. It’s a good idea to pack some non-screen activities like coloring books, search and find activities, small toys and easy craft materials like Wikki Stix. One of the keys to surviving long travels is diversity! Let the kids watch one movie, and break it up with a snack, a trip to the bathroom and a hands-on activity. You’ll be at your destination before you know it!
I received a free bottle of Wink Naturals Melatonin Melts in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.