Family at the airport

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7 Top Tips For Flying With Children


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It took us a long time to pluck up the courage to attempt a long haul flight with three small children, I know some people travel all the time and don’t bat an eyelid, but the thought of nine long hours with bored, cranky children filled me with dread, although in reality it wasn’t as bad as I thought. The sheer excitement of going on holiday got us through the first hour and the rest passed by relatively smoothly thanks to iPads, card games, in-flight entertainment and a good supply of snacks.

That’s not to say our flights were without incident. The night flight on our return was blissfully easy thanks to tired, sleepy children, but I would recommend putting a nappy on recently toilet trailed little ones and taking spare clothes, as my wet jeans for half the flight and the car journey home weren’t ever so comfortable.

For fellow parents planning on taking children on holiday abroad, and after learning the hard way myself, I thought my top tips on flying with children may come in handy and help you prepare, so here is some essential advice:

1. Be Prepared

Pack baby wipes, sick bags, spare clothes for the whole family (if you have space), nappies, calpol, plasters, healthy snacks and buy water once you get through security at the airport.
Check you’ve booked children’s meals for the flight if that’s your preference.

2. Allow extra time

Give yourself extra time to enjoy the travelling and allow for unexpected toilet/snack stops, running to the gate with kids in tow is not a fun experience. Give the children chance to take in the sights and sounds of the airport without rushing.

3. Don’t take too much hand luggage

We once tried to navigate an airport with two mini suitcases, a backpack booster seat, two huge rucksacks and a pushchair. It was not a happy journey. I’d recommend travelling as light on hand luggage as possible and giving children bags they can easily manage themselves.

Girl using her colouring book in on the airplane

Take games to help you through the journey

4. Be ready with games

We’ve spent many journeys playing rock-paper-scissors, I spy, making up stories or working our way through the alphabet thinking of animals or objects to match the letters. Card games are also great for keeping kids busy. We love Dobble, any kind of snap, top trumps etc. All of which don’t take up much space and keep the kids busy for hours. Colouring books, reading books, sticker books, empty writing books to write a holiday journal, handheld puzzles, loom bands or even plasticine have also worked well in our experience. There are some great ideas for homemade games on my travelling with kids Pinterest board if you fancy getting creative!

A little boy with his teddy bear on an airplane

Comforts are a necessity for kids on airplanes

5. Stay comfortable

If you want children to sleep on the flight, dress them in warm, comfortable clothes and don’t forget teddies, comfort blankets and anything else needed for a nap.

6. Don’t forget the technology

Make sure tablets are fully charged, loaded with suitable apps and music and don’t forget headphones.

Child using a tablet on an airplane

Keep the kids entertained with their favourite books, games and programmes

7. Be organised

Make sure you have your car hire, car seats and hotel organised for the first few days of your holiday, while spontaneity is wonderful, it’s not always practical with children, who will most likely be exhausted at the end of a long flight.

Can you think of any more tips to make flying with children easier?

Emma Vanstone

Emma Vanstone is a Guest Author at James Villa Holidays.

I'm a busy mum of three who loves all things creative. I left my career in IT to be a...

See all articles by Emma Vanstone

See all articles by Emma Vanstone


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