Surviving Long Haul Travel With Kids

Whenever we are bound for Australia, I start collecting my ‘on the plane stash’ a few weeks ahead of time.  It’s a long flight so I try to make it as comfortable as 24+ hours stuck in a plane and airport can be.  We haven’t been to visit in 4 years, so I’m a bit rusty, but it’s coming back to me.  I’m making this list to help me the next time as much as for anyone else.

Thankfully, now that our kids are a bit older at 11 and 8, they can pack and carry their own backpacks.  I still make sure I have things on hand that will make the long journey the smoothest and easiest it can be, but it’s nice to no longer have to carry it all and worry about packing diapers (I always packed WAY more than I needed since for some insane reasons airports don’t sell them!).

Before The Flight:
  • Get adequate rest – don’t rely on sleeping on the flight because it’s not always easy to do
  • Hydrate beforehand
  • Eat light and healthy – it’s no fun feeling bloated on a long plane trip
  • Exercise, get up, and stretch – I do this in the airport lounge and also on the plane
What To Take On The Plane With Kids
  • Baby wipes – for messy, sticky hands after eating or whenever and to wipe down trays/armrests or whatever.
  • Inflatable neck pillows
  • Eyeshades/toothbrush/toothpaste are usually provided on night flights, but you might want to check your particular flight
  • Thin fleece blanket for the domestic portion of the flight since it’s at night and cold – we are taking 2 for four people – we got stuck on the tarmac once for hours and it got really cold
  • Contact solution/case/glasses
  • Hand lotion – plane air is drying
  • A good book – I prefer real books, but a kindle would hold more
  • Mp3 player and earphones for music or audio books – a great alternative to screens
  • A dual splitter for earphones – a must with two kids.  They can listen to the same audiobook or watch the same movie on an Ipad.
  • Drawing pad and colored pencils for drawing and games (tic tac toe, hangman)
  • Other small activity books – crosswords (these are faves), extreme dot-to-dot, sticker books, look-and-find
  • Extra snacks (if you have kids that eat like mine – this is a must)
  • Gum (or raisins for littles) –  for ear popping
  • Gas x – plane and airport food is not always kind to bellies
  • I also have my purse with me that always has band-aids, tampons, lip balm, mints, wallet, ibuprofen
  • Get an aisle seat so you don’t have to wake someone up to get past them
What to wear on a long flight
  • We wear a short sleeve shirt plus a hoodie/cardigan/sweater – the temps seem to fluctuate on planes so it’s good to have options
  • Comfy clothes that will move with you and allow you to sleep and stretch
  • Loose shoes or shoes that untie so you can slip them off and get back on at the end of the flight – your feel will swell and it’s sometimes hard to get your feet back into shoes after a long flight
How to feel your best on a long flight
  • Drink lots of water
  • Limit the coffee/tea/alcohol that are all dehydrating
  • Go to the back of the plane and stretch often and do foot exercises in your seat
And the best tip for when you arrive to avoid jet lag? 
  • Get outside in the sunlight and exercise
  • Eat at normal times
  • Do NOT go to bed until as close to your normal bedtime as possible
  • Do. Not. Take. A. Nap.

It’s not a perfect list and everyone (and every kid) is different, but this is what works for us.  I’m always open for new ideas!  What are your favorite travel tips?