Flight support: how to fly long haul with kids

Being blessed with beautiful children does not mean your holidays are limited to your country – or even your continent. Armed with top tips from well-travelled parents, Claire Spreadbury reveals how to go long haul with little people

Every parent needs a good holiday from time to time, but in a bid to avoid the pain of a long, stressful flight, many of us choose to stay closer to home – limiting our enjoyment and our children’s experiences. But anyone who’s loaded the whole family and their luggage into the car of late will tell you that driving to the seaside can be just as stressful as flying to Barbados, if not more. All it takes is a bit of preparation, and you’ll be good to go.

Sitting comfortably? My personal top tip is, in fact, taking the car seat on the plane with you. This may sound strange, but my little ones always sleep well in the car, so it makes sense they’ll do the same on the flight if they’re in the same seat. Just be sure to check the airline’s website for specifications so you can see if your seat’s the right size for the plane.

Baby-proofing “If you’re thinking of moving on from breastfeeding to bottles, time this for after your trip,” says mum-of-two Emily Shelley. “I wish I had. Instead, I started bottle-feeding about three weeks before flying from London to Canada with a nine-month-old, and spent the whole flight attempting to make up formula. Take a change of top for yourself in your hand luggage, too, and double the amount of baby wipes and snacks you think you’ll need!”

In the bag “Colouring and puzzle books, e-readers and magazines are all essential items for the flight. Invest in a good kids’ rucksack with pockets for crayons and snacks,” says regular flyer Hannah Stephenson, mum to Grace and William. “Before you leave, make new playlists for iPods and iPads, and download games that two can play on one tablet.”

Creature comforts “As a mother who has travelled to Australia and New Zealand several times, usually on my own with two pre-schoolers, I would advise booking the first leg of a journey overnight,” says Josie Clarke. “Try and check in first too, then you can request the bulkhead seat, which has a bassinet where baby can sleep and extra leg room for your bag. For food, take one decent-sized carry-on bag filled entirely with things that your children actually like to eat, then be sure to pre-book the children’s meal option.”

Present perfect “I found it really handy to buy some surprise toys, which you can bring out during the flight to keep them entertained,” says mum to one-year-old Ollie, Kate Whiting. “Nothing too noisy, obviously. Books are great for all ages or, for little ones, try a new glove puppet or an activity block.”

Stop worrying “Don’t overthink it!” urges blogger Corrina Stone, who has five children. “If you do, it will overwhelm you, and you won’t bother going anywhere.”

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