Surviving long-haul flights with young children
Updated: Nov 19, 2018
Thinking back... when we first decided to move to England, I wasn't sure what would be worse: setting up a new life in a strange country or the plane-ride getting there.
But having done the England-Australia trip a couple of times now, the 30-hour trip with two small children isn't actually as bad as it sounds.
For some strange, miraculous reason, kids seem to take it all in their stride. I'm not sure whether it's the novelty of having their own TV screen with unlimited movies... or having food regularly delivered on a trolley... but most kids will surprise their parents and actually behave. Of course, there will be meltdowns - the worst we experienced was on the shortest leg of our first journey: Brisbane to Sydney. My 2 year-old was absolutely losing it - and didn't want to be carried off the plane. She was screaming - horizontal in my husband's arms as he walked down the aisle. There's not a whole lot of room to move in those aisles so every time he passed a row of seats, some poor part of her body copped a nudge or two. I'm not sure what we would've done without those lovely, smiling air hostesses that day.
In hindsight, our stress levels probably didn't help that tantrum. If you can muster your inner zen - go for it. But to be fair, you walk a bit of a tightrope between zen and OSD-levels of organisation. Planning for a trip like this can take days of scheming. You need to find the perfect moment to swoop on your child's favourite toys so that you can scuffle them away until you're mid-flight and your kids 'discover' them in their carry-on. Throw in a couple of presents for bribery and the odd lolly for taking off/landing and you're good to go.
Old toys that they love but haven't played with for a while
Colouring in pens and paper
Their own headphones - made especially for children (the audio is capped so they can't damage their ears)
Their own water bottle (to avoid mid-air spills)
Presents they can unwrap during the flight
Dried fruit or lollies for taking off/landing
Food - crackers, sandwiches, nuts, dried cereal, popcorn.
Change of clothes for everyone
Ipad (just in case the TV screen allocated to your seat doesn't work)
Extra battery for iPad and phone
(The roller-bag for the overhead lockers)
Another spare pair of clothes for everyone
Toiletries for the stop-over in Dubai or Singapore - a good scrub of your face and teeth can do wonders
The chargers for the ipads/phones/computers/batteries
Plan ahead. You don't want to be debating the pros and cons of a taxi Vs train when you're walking out of the airport. It doesn't end well.