Some of our best memories are created on our family holidays; wherever you go and whatever you do, spending quality time exploring new places with your loved ones is truly special.
While the prospect of the holiday itself may excite you, you’ve first got to navigate the journey there, which can be daunting and stressful. If you fly frequently you’ll know that sitting next to a misbehaved or noisy child can be nightmarish, especially if you’re flying long-haul. Therefore, the worry that your children won’t behave on a flight may make you break out in sweat, BUT there are measures you can put in place to ensure the journey goes as smooth as possible, and that you, your kids and your fellow passengers are happy.
Here are our top tips for surviving a long-haul flight with family.
1. Plan ahead
Organizing your family – especially if you have small children – is difficult at best. Everyone has different needs, different wants, different feeding and sleeping times, and is not afraid to let you know what they want! Planning ahead is the best way to ensure you minimize the problems you may face on your travels, from planning what to take and washing clothes beforehand, to pre-booking transfers and checking-in online.
What’s more, if you’re traveling long-haul it’s wise to book an overnight flight, so your children will have more chance of sleeping and you won’t have to constantly entertain them.
2. Pack cleverly
As a parent you may find that when traveling with children, their belongings and clothes (despite being so small) take up most of the luggage space, and you’re left with no room for your own stuff! A good way around this (and to avoid paying fees for extra luggage allowance) is to give each of your children their own carry-on bag which holds one or two of their favorite toys, a book or iPad (whatever keeps them entertained) and a spare change of clothes. This way, you’ll free up some space in the main suitcase, they’ll have everything they’ll need (including clothes if they have an accident), and it teaches them responsibility!
Another great tip is to give each child their own pillow to take on the plane – it won’t count towards their carry-on luggage and means they can get comfy during the flight.
This way, your carry-on luggage can exclusively contain the important stuff (passports, boarding passes, documentation, money, etc.) as well as any electrical items (e.g. phones, laptops, tablets).
Top tip: when it comes to organizing the main suitcase(s), you can fit a lot more clothes inside if you tightly roll them up. Also, pack things inside of things – bags and shoes – to free up more room.
If you’re unsure which suitcases/hold-alls/backpacks are best for you and your family, reviewing the best luggage brands will help you decide.
3. Plan meals
Children are hungry creatures, and because they use so much energy they need constant stacks to sustain them. Long-haul plane journeys aren’t the easiest time to keep your child well-fed, as generally the meals are processed, lacking in nutrients, and fixed to a schedule. A smart thing to do is to bring your own snacks (e.g. fruit and sandwiches) with you or buy them in the airport prior to boarding, so you always have something to-hand.
If you’re flying long-haul – whether your flight is overnight or during the day – you should plan your children’s meals in the lead up. If you know you’re not going to be eating for a while on the plane, take your children for some food in the airport. This minimizes any chance of hunger and is probably more nutritional than consuming plane food.
4. Try not to worry!
Lastly, don’t take any notice of rude passengers who make snide remarks or tut at your child. Your child’s comfort should come first, and if you’re stressed your child will be stressed too. Not to mention, everyone has been a child or has one in their life, so parent shaming is unnecessary.
Smile at your fellow passengers and accept help if it’s offered to you. You’ll never have to see them again anyway, so don’t fret too much!