Recently I did a round trip with my 2 kids in Jordan. I noticed if you look up for any information about what to do if you travel with 2 small children, you hardly find any good information. So I will write 2 blogs, one about how to survive a flight with children and the other one about what to bring and how to survive a round-trip abroad with kids.
My kids are currently 3 y/o and 1 y/o. So one side note, this blog is mostly written for parents with babies / toddlers.
Essential items to pack for a flight if you are traveling with kids:
As a parent and what I noticed during my job as a flight attendant (or what I hear from friends), flying is like the least favorite activity you could do with kids. Traveling with small babies is easy, they sleep, they eat, they don’t need a lot of entertainment and they can sit still on your lap. When they are able to crawl the fun is absolutely over. So what are the most essential items to bring with you on a flight except for your passport and your wallet etc.
- Food!! If you are traveling with babies / or small toddlers. Bring enough food! Food is the key. If they cry or acting difficult….it’s not the time to be the strict parent and buy them off with food.
I worked for 4 airlines so I can absolutely say it does not differ per airline, it is a global thing. If your kid is below 2 they don’t have an extra seat and they sit on your lap (that’s why you don’t need to pay for the baby only a small fee or tax). This DOES mean an airline will NOT cater food for your baby. At some airline they will have some emergency babyfood somewhere in a container in a galley. But that’s never enough to supply 10 babies on board of an aircraft. You are always allowed to bring babyhood / milk / sackets of fruit/warm baby meals. I always packraisins / baby cookies / crackers / powder milk and of course a bottle and spoon for formula / hot meals from Ella’s kitchen and fruit sackets. Security isn’t allowed to deny this. They tried one the way back in Jordan just to act difficult. But if you pack it in a transparent plastic bag and it does not exceed the amount of ml they are not allowed to refuse it. Also keep in mind if a flight is delayed you need more food or formula than planned in the first placed. An airplane can have a technical problem, there could turn up bad weather. So bring it with you, no airline is reponsible for your babies food or formula!
- Diapers! Same with diapers, no airline is responsible for bringing diapers on the flight. If you normally won’t leave your house without diapers, do not fly without diapers. And also bring enough for a possible delay.
- 1 set of extra clothes. If kids are getting tired of they are getting airsick (it happens but it mostly a combination of turbulence and being tired at the same time) – they sometimes puke. One set of extra clothes is a must to bring on your flight! If you are really scared of anything involving kids puke you can cover the seat with a big hydrophilic cloth and bring medicine and wet wipes in your bag.
- An iPad with enough off-line entertainment. Download movies, get Youtube premium and download children terror series, download enough games so they have the possibility to watch their preferred series. The entertainment system won’t provide 3 hours of peppa pig or paw patrol. So bring it yourself. If you are kind bring a kids headphone. The passengers behind you are maybe not so into peppa pig as your kid is.
- Munchkin skippy cups. Most kids drop and spill a lot of drinks. It’s normal because they are kids and they need time to learn all these kind of things. But in a small space with limited table space, it’s maybe not the time to practice. Bring for example the munchkin sippy cups or other anti-leaking cups. Just order a glass of water / apple juice or whatever with the flight attendant and poor the glass over into the sippy cup.
- A changing mat. The lavatory isn’t the most spatial place you can think of. But most airplanes do offer changing tables in the lavatories (notice the sticker on the lavatory door – if there are several lavatories some of them are equipped with changing tables but not all of them). To keep it a bit cleaner for your baby and for the other babies please bring your own changing cover. Don’t change your baby or toddler when seated. There are passengers around are maybe eating and the diaper has to be thrown away in the lavatory anyway as dirty diapers cannot be thrown away in the galley (airplane kitchen) because of food hygiene rules.
- For long flights and particularly nightflights it’s maybe a good idea to check out a bedbox (but please consider the airline rules before the flight). This may differ per airline plus it is never allowed to attach something to the seat in front, obstruct the recline function of the seat in front or block the exit for other passengers. I never did a flight longer than 6 hours with my own kids, but at work I saw this item is very convenient for small kids during long flight.
- Also for long flights / night flights: consider to bring kids pj’s, a sleeping bag, your babies favorite stuffed toy so your baby or toddler will get more comfortable to fall asleep on an airplane.
- A few toys (not too much), maybe some presents for during the flight. Sometimes I read parents give one present every hour. In my opinion it is not necessary if you bring enough food and a fully charged iPad. But one or two small presents will keep them satisfied during the flight. I gave them for example re-usable stickers from the brand Ooly. Don’t give them regular stickers. If they put in on the tray table or on the airplane interior and you cannot get it of you feel really ashamed. Also I gave them a wooden camera toy and some small plastic dolls from the children series named Bing. I also brought some paper and pencils and a small Miffy book so we can read with the girls during take off and landing which is the time you have to stow your tray table / iPad etc. Don’t give them toys which make a lot of rubbish or with a lot of small parts which you will loose for sure. Toys like a ball, tennis racket or toys which make a lot of noise is maybe not that convenient for passengers around you as well.
- A collapsible travel buggy like the Yoyo Zen or the Joolz Air. If the flight is not completely full and there is enough space for hand luggage you can bring these travel buggy’s on board and stow them in the overhead luggage bin as it is so small. I use the Yoyo Zen (of course the Air France edition as I work in the aviation industry it is a must) for about 2 years right now and this was one of the best buys ever! Even at home I rather take the Yoyo out instead of my normal Joolz stroller.
I spot a lot of parents with a Trunki (a plastic hard cover bag on wheels where the kid can sit on). Most of the parents are carrying these trunki bags while the kids run around or need to be carried because they are tired. Most of the time this item looks like a extra hazard to carry and those things do not fit in most of the overhead bins so easy. In my opinion this item does’nt seem like a real travel hack.
Other advice for surviving your flight with small children:
- Be aware of the fact your flight won’t be as comfortable as before the time you did not had kids. You won’t have time to read a book or whatever. You are constantly entertaining your kids, keeping them busy, getting stuff in and out of your bag (so bring a big soft bag which fits under the seat in front). With the right spirit you will survive!
- Also keep in mind that children are children also during the flight. They can’t sit still, sometimes they will acts terrible and sometimes they won’t sleep, just like at home. It’s not true if people say some children will always behave well during a flight and some of them ‘always’ acts terrible. Mostly I notice during work that some parents are afraid of the flight as their child was acting terrible on the previous flight and their acting like little angels on the way back. At other times we have to deal with a screaming baby and ashamed parents which should not feel ashamed at all, who keep telling everybody that he or she never did that before. Babies and kids can be moody or tired or both and will act up like it and it’s ok. We’ve al been there, don’t be ashamed. If other passengers are complaining, well they booked a commercial flight themselves and they know there will be other people and kids on a flight. Don’t worry!
- Your routine maybe won’t work during the flight or the holidays. It’s an other environment, your kid is not at home, the departure time is maybe a bit inconvenient, your child gets a lot of incentives, time difference etc. Don’t be to harsh on yourself and let it go. If your baby or toddler is tired it will sleep somehow. But he or she will be maybe a bit more grumpy than usual. It is what it is. Same with screen time. You are in an airplane with limited tools and limited area to move. If they watch tv series for 8 hours to keep them comfortable…if you are traveling it is absolutely ok!
- If your baby is crying and it will calm down when you carry it around it’s fine. Ok maybe not when the flight attendants are busy during the service and there are carts in the aisle or if all the passengers are sleeping and your baby is screaming non stop maybe it’s a better idea to wake up a small area in the aircraft and not the entire aircraft, but move around if it works!
- Don’t be shy! If there are some empty seats and you have a baby on your lap, it is much more convenient iif you can place your baby on the seat next to you when the fasten seatbelt sign is off. Just ask the staff if something can be arranged when the flight is not full.
- Give them something to drink during take-off and landing. A lot of parents are afraid their baby or child will have to deal with ear pain during take off and landing. My experience is that adults are finding it more difficult to adapt to a changing pressure than kids do, but if you are nervous about this just give them something to drink during take off and landing so they swallow during these stages of the flight ad they cannot clear their ears yet.
- Divide the task or agree with your partner to work in shifts. It should not be the case the mom is taking care of the child and does not have one moment for herself while dad is watching movies. You both need some rest during the flight so make agreements with each other to make this happen.
- If you have a baby or a child under 2 who has to sit on your lap during the flight, make arrangements with the cabin crew to eat separately so you have more space for the baby. 2 trays on the traytable is not very comfortable for mom/dad or the baby. They can keep your meal apart and if mom/dad is finished they can bring the other meal for you so the other person can eat normally.
- Change diapers before the flight on the airport and half an hour before landing so you don’t have to stress out during take-off or just after take-off when the service is starting and the aisle is blocked or during disembarking when everybody is stressed and rushing out of the airplane.
- Re-pack your hand luggage before landing. A lot of parents feel stressed out as they re-pack their bags during disembarking as they feel pressure to do it as quickly as possible. This is how many iPads, phones, passports, toys, jackets get lost. Get ready half an hour before landing so you can leave the aircraft as soon but also as relaxt as possible. Just keep one or two essentials in the seat pocket which you really need during landing and pack your other stuff. If you do it 30 minutes before you won’t get in trouble with any fasten seatbelt sign or safety check (if there isn’t any turbulence).
I know this is a lot of information and a bit more boring than a regular travel blog, but as I get this question so often I hope this info helps you to reach your holiday destination as organized as possible!
Lots of Love!