Hi. Hello. My name is Justine and I have been on countless flights long flights with my kids, without my children, and flying solo with multiple kids.
Does this mean that I am an expert traveler? No.
Does this mean that I LOVE traveling with my kids? Also, no.
But I do like to think that I have enough life experience in this area to give you some unsolicited advice! 👍🏼
The Double Eye Brow Rub - the sure fire way to get sleepy kids asleep. This WILL NOT WORK if your kid is crying uncontrollably. If you start to rub your child's eyebrows while they are throwing a tantrum you will get hit in the face. You have been warned.
So Justine, in your opinion what constitutes a long flight? Without kids? Anything longer than six hours nonstop. With kids? Anything longer than four hours nonstop.
I’m here to give you trip tips and gear tips for LONG FLIGHTS with kids.
Note: My children are 7, 4, and 2. I remember flying with infants was much easier for me because they weren't as mobile and all they needed was cuddles and milk. But I also remember that security took a little longer because they had to test bottles and formula.
Before the flight
Book your flight around dinner time or bed time if you feel like you can keep your kids awake one to two hours past their bed time. For kids, flying is either SUPER exciting or SUPER terrifying... either way your kids probably want to stay awake for a while on the plane. When you’re travelling, you’re basically in the Wild, Wild, West. Anything goes, baby. So if you try and stick to their normal schedule of say, dinner at 5:30PM and sleep at 7:30PM....🥴 Just keep your expectations suuuuuper low on travel days.
Bring snacks and buy dinner. Unless you’re flying in business or first class, airplane food is kind of sketchy and your kids probably won’t eat it. When you’re at home, pack a BUNCH of snacks in your carry on (granola bars, squeeze pouches, apples, small bags of chips, etc) and splurge on some easy, sharable, take-away dinner (like chicken nuggets and fries) to bring onto the plane. I know I normally preach low-waste and eco friendly traveling and like, bring your own container, but its difficult to do this when you have to feed/pack and make three very different kids happy.
While you’re at the store picking up some snacks, head on over to the vitamin section and throw some melatonin gummies into the cart for you and the kids. Melatonin is a supplement that helps you relax and fall asleep. You might not have the best sleep on the plane between lights, drink service, food service, turbulence, and other people. You def. need to pick some up.
Bring a reusable water bottle My husband and I have Hydroflasks while the kids have CamelBaks. We personally love the stainless steel because it keeps drinks cold for longer. We've also used Contigo brands in the past and had a really great experience with those! They are also a little cheaper than the stainless steel CamelBak! 👍🏼 from home and fill it up at the airport. Maybe I’m a psycho (actually, I know I am 😅), but after that 1999 news story broke saying there was E. Coli in the water and ice served on airplanes... 😖I rarely order drinks on the plane (Wait, I lied. I ask for ginger ale no ice if I feel nauseous). Since I can't justify buying a $9 bottle of water from the newsstand for each of the kids, we bring our own from home and fill it up at the drinking fountain. I would much rather have drinking fountain water than E Coli Water or Expensive Water, TBH.
If your kid gets motion sickness, pick up some Dramamine, Seabands, mint gum, and hard mint candy to suck on. If you don't have any, grab some peppermint oil from the store, too!
When you’re on the plane
If you know your kid will feel sick, put the Seabands on at the gate. After you board the plane and find your seats, give them Dramamine while people are still boarding. You don’t want to give it too to them too early. Dab some peppermint oil on their wrists and behind their ears. Open the air vent all the way so cold air is blowing. Bring a plastic bag just in case and hang it on the back of the chair. Even if your child doesn’t get sick in it, you can use it as a trash bag instead of shoving all your rubbish in the seatback pocket.
Kiddos after their abbreviated bed time routine just playing until they get sleepy.
After the Fasten Seatbelt sign is turned off, we like to use A Plane Pal. It's basically an inflatable ottoman and bridges the gap between chairs. Your kids can put their feet on it while they sit or they can scoot down all the way and sleep flat.
When it’s bedtime, do their bedtime routine. You don’t have to brush teeth and all that because the sink water in the bathrooms is questionable😳… but DO bring your child to the bathroom, put your kid in a Pull Up if needed, change them into their pajamas, read them a story, and give them a melatonin gummy. The simple act of doing an abbreviated bedtime routine will help them fall asleep better than just turning off the light and saying “k! time to sleep!”
When you bring your kid’s favorite cuddle toy/blanket – don’t wash it before you leave. Let it smell like home.
Enforce the rule of putting something away before playing with something else. If your kid wants to play on the iPad, okay… put your coloring activity away. Does your kid want to play with stickers? Okay, put the car away. Don’t bring TOO many things because the bag could get heavy and the amount of stuff could be overwhelming. But one or two books, a coloring activity, stickers, an iPad, the airplane movies, and a good chunk of sleep should be enough to keep the kids busy with minimal melt downs.
Things to add to your Packing List for kids:
Motion Sickness stuff (seabands, Dramamine, mint gum/candy, peppermint oil)
Reusable Water Bottle
1-2 of their fave. toys/new toy they've never played with before
Extra change of clothes
1-2 Paperback Books
Water Wow Activity Book (my fave activity books to travel with because they can be used over and over again!)
Plane Pal or blow up footrest
When I was young and single, I used to LOVE flying for 8-10 hours... I read so many books, listened to so many things, slept, etc. Now its rather uncomfortable – not because I’m waiting on every single beckon call from my children but also because I'm just older and a lot less bendy and easily swollen!
If you’re flying for more than 5 hours, wear compression socks. When you fly your feet/legs swell because you’re in a sitting position for SO LONG. And if you take off your shoes? Forget it. There’s no way you’re putting those shoes back on. Make sure to hydrate before and during the flight, don't eat overly salty food, and PLEASE FLY WITH COMPRESSION SOCKS. They’ll keep the pain and swelling to a minimum and they reduce your chances of getting a blood clot! I got mine from a race store (when I thought I was a runner LOL) but you can pick some up from any sports store or drug store!
Sometimes the onboard movies are LEGIT. Sometimes you just want to listen/watch whatever is on your phone. Make sure to bring a portable changer with you to charge your phone/your kids electronics. We have one from Anker. It charges your device super fast!
If you have an iPhone, you know the controversy of the iphone getting rid of the headphone jack. Cool for the iPhone, not cool for any other electronic that has a headphone jack. When you fly and you bring your Apple headphones… don’t forget your dongle (i don't know wth it's called) the thing that converts your lightning cable piece to the headphone jack. Usually airlines will provide you with headphones, but sometimes they run out! And it's a bad time when you can't watch movies or have to share with someone.
Bring lotion, eye drops, and chapstick because planes are SO DRY omg.
I’m not one of those women that look super glam while flying. I normally show up in fancy sweats and no make up. While you’re flying and listening/watching and you have nothing else better to do… why don’t you give your skin a little TLC? I like to bring sheet masks on the flight and wear one while I’m watching a movie. People might look at you funny but hey, at least your skin is more hydrated than theirs. 💁🏻♀️
TRTL Pillow. OH MY GOODNESS. What a game changer! First, it’s smaller than the traditional travel pillows so you can pack it and shove it in any bag. SECOND, its SO COMFORTABLE. Its like laying your head ever so slightly to the side – no more neck pain! Its totally worth the hype, if you’re in the market for a new travel pillow. You NEED to get the TRTL. Downside? You look like you’re wearing a neck brace but who cares, you’re gonna walk off that flight without the slightest bit of neck pain. My husband and I have the normal C Shaped Travel Pillows. They're really uncomfortable. I was complaining how much my neck hurt, so I stole my friends
Things to add to your Packing list for Parent
Reusable Water Bottle
Okay, I think that's all! Remember friends, keep expectations and your salt intake VERY LOW on travel days. It might be way better than you anticipated. Be safe, be organized, be calm (practice slow and controlled breathing), and have so much fun! ♥️ Give us a follow on Instagram for more travel and daily antics!
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