Many people baulk at the idea of flying long distances with children let alone with a baby. Yet, with careful planning and preparation, the flight can be a success. In fact, flying long haul flights with a baby or with children can be an enjoyable experience.
My daughter, Rachael was under 3 months old on her first flight. Babies sleep a lot so the fight from Australia to Jersey, Channel Islands despite being over 22 Hours and transferring airports in London, went well. As you can see in the photo she has a comfortable seat or rather a crib for the flight.
It is important to request a bassinet for your baby for the flight at the time of booking flight tickets. Also, confirm multiple times that you will have a bassinet. There are only a set number of bassinet seats on a plane and when flying long haul with a baby a bassinet can be a blessing.
7 Tips to help you have a happy and enjoyable flight with children.
You do not need to put your travel goals on hold when you have children. In fact, travelling with children is fun. The memories you build together far outweigh the little preparation needed when travelling as a family. Flying long haul with a baby or young children can be enjoyable for everyone.
1. Schedule flight times.
If possible schedule flight times to suit routines. Changes to both meal routines and sleeping routines can upset children. Hence where possible choose suitable flight times to stick to the routine. Yes, a long haul flight may be twenty-four hours plus, however routine is still possible. Well, a sort of routine, an adapted one that is similar can help the children be happier travellers.
Travelling when the children were babies I found feeding time was a good time to fly as the sucking on the bottle assisted with pressure in the ears and then the movement of the plan assisted with sleeping once satisfied. As the children got older I found that it was better to ensure they ate something before they got on the plane and then had a treat as the flight was taking off.
2. Be prepared for the flight.
Have plenty of nappies, wipes, and changes of clothes with you for the flight for your children and for you. Also bring some small toys, and books to entertain. Most long haul flights give out a small gift package to children. But, as you know, most children enjoy having their comfort toys and security blankets with them. I know my two did.
Rachael had a blanket she liked to have with her and Jason’s thing was toy matchbox cars, preferably two one in each hand. Driving his cars on the seats would keep him happy for hours.
3. Use your pram.
Use your child’s pram up until the last moment. Using your pram up until the flight ensures a comfortable transit in the airport and a rested child. Flights currently allow you to check the prams and car seats at the check-in gate. Do however ask your airline when and where you need to check in the prams. This is because flying procedures are always changing.
4. Pack some food.
Yes, ensure you have meals with you. A hungry child is not a happy traveller.
When travelling with the children I always ensured that we had packed meals with us and additional bottles when they were babies. Although airlines do provide meals, you don’t know if your child is going to like what is served and it is best to ensure they don’t go hungry
Also, ensure the family, this includes the children, stay well hydrated during flights by drinking plenty of water.
5. Plan the take-off, the landing and the flight.
During the take-off and the landing, both babies and children feel the air pressure changes just like us adults. Explain what will happen and ensure that children have something to suck on during take-off and landing.
As babies, Rachael and Jason both had dummies, and pacifiers which they used during take-off and landing. As children, we gave them a lolly to suck on and taught them how to hold their noses to relieve the air pressure in their ears.
6. Respect other passengers on the plane.
It is natural that children like to run around and explore. Therefore, walk with your children on the plane to look out a window or to the bathrooms. Children like adults naturally find it challenging to be confined to a chair for a long time.
I found the children settled quickly in their seats when entertained with toys, books or in-flight children’s movies. I did, however, ensure that every so often either my husband or myself walked up and down the plane, quietly talking about the flight, and what people were doing.
During the flight entertain your children, provide some toys and activities they enjoy and encourage sleep. If prepared well for the flight, your child will know they have x amount of meals and sleep time while on the flight.
For my family X amount of time was often 24 hours, flying from Australia to Switzerland or England. Because we had two long haul flights, we would encourage two periods of sleep. Fortunately, the flights also turn down the lights after mealtimes for sleeping.
7. Put out positive vibes.
This goes without saying for flights and in life. Babies and children sense our body vibes and if we are anxious they are more anxious, when we are calm, they appear to be calmer.
Mirroring the vibes we put out is something we have observed on all the flights we have been on over the years. The children were anxious only when we were. Both Carsten and I have flown together and alone on long haul flights with our children and gone back for more.
Just like life, the challenge of long haul flights can be viewed in different ways, a task that needs controlling or a journey that you can go with the flow on. Although we are prepared for flights, we always choose the latter and enjoyed the journey, finding solutions to situations as we go. The vision of the end destinations of seeing family or heading home to Australia keeps positive thoughts and positive vibes in our minds and bodies.
Related post: Special gift ideas for family living overseas.
Choosing to fly long distances.
Now my children have grown, they are embarking on journeys of their own and embracing the flying, the travel. Choosing to fly long distances they now realise for themselves the challenges long haul fights can have.
Whether you are flying with a baby, with a toddler or with older children, hopefully, these 7 tips on flying long haul are helpful.
- Schedule flight times
- Be prepared for the flight
- Use your pram
- Pack some food
- Plan for the takeoff, the landing and the flight
- Respect other passengers
- Put out positive vibes
Also, ensure that you follow Qantas tip and get your children excited about travel. For us travelling to see the family is always exciting. As although we choose to live abroad, we miss family and friends and cherish our time together. Family is one thing I can’t live without.
I still have many travel goals on my life goals list. Share in comments where you are travelling to or any other flying with children tips.