Traveling on a long flight in general is not easy, and then when you have kids it can be especially challenging! Our family has had our fair share of international travel, so I’ve learned a thing or two when it comes to keeping them happy, entertained, and most importantly… quiet 😉
Here are my tips and tricks for surviving a long flight with kids, and my favorite items that make international travel with kids a breeze!
Our kids have gotten comments from passengers on how good they are on flights. Now, I am NOT trying to do a humble brag here – my true reason for sharing this is to point out that there are things we have intentionally done to make our kids better fliers. They weren’t born great fliers – we have trained them!
I think these four things have helped :
- We have purposefully flown with them from a young age. Reese’s first flight was when she was 3 months, and this will be Paige’s third international trip (she’s 3.) They look forward to flights, know what to expect, we talk through the steps at the airport and on the flight, and just make it seem like it’s as easy as getting in a car.
- We make flying something to look forward to with special treats. They don’t typically use the iPads at home, so this is something they look forward to. They’ve also lately been getting a special snack they don’t get to eat at home at the airport. Scroll to the end to find out!
- We stay calm about flying. And this is coming from someone who used to be a nervous flyer! As I have learned I need to keep it together for the kids, I have become a better flyer as well. They really pick up on our energy so if I approach the day of travel in a calm way, the kids have a better chance of staying that way. Even when we have had to sprint across airports to make a connection, we have made sure not to visibly or verbally freak out 😉
- We don’t bring a ton of things on the flight. I find that having a ton of things to lug around makes travel more stressful; it’s more things to keep track of, and more to carry. Which is tiring. Just like living with less clutter in your home, bringing only the necessities on the flight – not packing everything I can think of “just in case” – feels mentally and physically more freeing and enjoyable.
What I pack for Kids on a Long Flight
We’ve had these for over 3 years now and they are indestructible! I put the kids’ names on the side with our Namebubble labels (they have round ones that are a perfect fit for the sides.) Remember that if you have a newer iPad or iPhone, you might need an lightening cable to audio adapter that goes into the lightening cable port for many plug-in type of headphones, because newer Apple products don’t have the audio port.
The girls get unlimited screen time on flights – and I have zero guilt about it! They have their in-seat screens in front of them for the long haul, but they also use these for the domestic flights and any games or additional shows they might want. We make sure to download their favorite shoes on Netflix and games/apps prior to the flight. Paige likes coloring apps the best, and Reese loves Minecraft, so we don’t go too crazy on apps. (Epic books is a new app we just downloaded for books!) We have our iPad mini in this case, and a larger iPad in this larger case. Having the handles and stands on them are super convenient for travel.
An iPad is useless unless it’s charged, so I always make sure to bring a charger. I love this retractable USB to lightening cable charger because the cords don’t get tangled up. It can plug into the USB port by your seat if you have it, or into a plug that then goes into a socket. I also bring this gold Mophie backup portable charger, and our Away luggage comes with a removable charger too.
These are my favorite things ever. What DON’T I use these for is the real question! I label each of these on the top left with a label maker and then “file” them into my carry-on tote and into the kids’ backpacks. It makes finding what you need SO much easier! Here’s what I use them for :
- Change of clothes for kids. I like to pack these super packable Hannah Anderson dresses that are comfy and don’t take much space. A dress is easier because it’s one extra item to carry, not a top and bottoms.
- Change of clothes for me (once you get thrown up on on a plane, you will forever pack yourself an extra outfit!)
- Coloring books and books
- Chargers and electronics
- All my wellness products like tea bags, collagen packets, mushroom tea, oils, etc.
I always pack lollipops for the kids! They last longer than other treats and don’t fall all over the floor like pieces of candy do..
I use these to store crayons, small markers, and little notebooks. What’s nice is that they keep the items from rolling out onto the seat tray and all over the plane’s floor like they can when they’re in the paper cartons they come in. I also store my fragrance free wipes for my face in these! (see more here)
So let’s talk outfits for a minute. Three things I think about when putting together the kids’ airport/travel outfit :
- Comfort. A sweatshirt tee is always a fave. They’re warm but not too warm.
- Looks. I don’t want them to wear PJs – I want them to still look presentable while traveling. It’s how I dress so it’s how I dress the kids, too. I think I would have fit right in back in the days when people dressed up for air travel!
- Matching. TIP! Match your kids’ outfits exactly the same or in coordinating colors so that you can spot them more easily in the airport. It really works and is helpful when you need to do a quick visual sweet to make sure you got everyone!
Basics that go with any kids’ airport outfit, I top it off with a comfy top like the ones above.
I pack these as backup dresses, or this what they often wear on shorter flights. They are so comfortable, the material washes and packs well, and the bright colors help with the easy-to-spot aspect.
These shoes are our hands-down favorites for the girls!! I buy several pairs every year as they grow. Waterproof, comfy, easy.
This is what Reese uses for school and each year we get a new one. They last and hold up really well, so we have used the previous years’ backpacks as their travel bags for that year. This year, though, Reese was really excited for her “2nd grade” backpack so I think I’m letting her take this new one. PB Kids backpacks are the best.
Sure, these are cute, but there’s a strategic reason for big hairbows – locating your kids in the airport! I put them in matching colors or ones that coordinate with their outfits and then I can spot them anywhere, just like I do for outfits. It sounds stilly but it works! If you have girls, I suggest it!
Our girls love to just draw, doodle, sketch, write, play tic-tac-toe, etc. so blank notebooks are what they enjoy the most and what I bring on flights. These are neutral notebooks that have the cutest travel-themed covers.
OH, and here’s something do what we do for a special airport treat : they get Cheetos. They don’t normally get to eat Cheetos but they do at the airport. So they really look forward to this and a bag keeps them excitedly content and eating while we wait. Paige literally went to bed tonight going “and tomorrow we get CHEETOS!” LOL.
Whether you’re traveling in the near future or another time later on and just thinking ahead – I hope you have the best time (and the kids behave! 😉 )
If you want to learn more packing and travel organization tips, check out my online courses! I have an entire module dedicated to travel in my Organization Masterclass where I share ALL the details you need to know to survive traveling with kids.