Tips for Long Haul Flying with Children

It has never crossed my mind to stop exploring the world now the boys have crash landed in it.  Quite the opposite, we’ve been more places since they were born than we could have imagined we just take them along for the ride.

One thing that often puts people off is flying.  Especially flying long haul.

At least once a year we make the seven hour trip from Dubai back to the UK.  Be it a family wedding to attend, taking part in the mass summer exodus or, in my husband’s case, seeking retaliation on a stag do.  Flying is a big part of our lives.

The Big One is becoming a plane geek (like Daddy) and the Baby just goes along for the ride, as long as he has boobie he’s perfectly happy.  For at least 50% of the time.

This is all a good thing because yesterday we flew from Dubai to head for a 2 week cruise round the Caribbean.  Flying from Dubai to Birmingham, meeting my mum and repacking our cases, then driving up to Manchester and flying to Barbados.

A total of seventeen hours flying time.  With a crawling 8 month old and a recently potty trained 3 year old.  With an eight hour time difference.

Crazy?  Maybe.  But the end justifies the journey and the thought is often worse than the reality.

In the past I’ve shared my top travel toys for Toddlers and how to cope with time zone changes.  This time, in line with Travelbags Travel with Kids campaign I’m sharing my top tips for flying long haul with the small people in your life.

Hand Luggage – what to pack?

The dreaded hand luggage. Most people, myself included, over pack and don’t need half the junk essentials in the bag. These days I’ve cut right down to my changing bag, a rucksack (for the husband) and a monster bag (for the Big One).


Across the three bags we make sure that we have the following:

Passports– well we aren’t going anywhere without them are we?
Money and Credit Cards – similar story to above!
Nappies – I work on a one per hour of the flight basis to get me through airports, flights and to the other side. If I use half I’d be surprised.
Wipes – from wiping bums to cleaning faces to being the best toy in the world
Changes of clothes – for the Big One and the Baby. Poo in any form on any clothing is vile. And accidents are bound to happen.
My Travel Medical Kit – mainly for the Calpol
Snacks – I try to buy in the airport just before we board. An extra carrier bag getting on the plane doesn’t seem so bad but a snack box taking up room in your bag is an irritant you can do without.
iPad/DVD Player – a must for us when flying. We don’t limit screen time on long trips as it can be a lifesaver.
Toys – the smaller and easier to pack the better, don’t do what I did and ask what they’d like because that then leads to tantrums when they drag their massive toys to you and you have to say no.

The Airport

Invest in reins – especially for younger travellers and those otherwise known as “bolters” not only will it give you peace of mind you have hold of them with a little bit of luck all the walking will tire them out on the plane!
Research before you go – most airports have play areas for little ones, great for something to do to pass the boring hours waiting to board.
singapore airport
Plane spot – it’s an exciting and new experience for younger ones. Some like it more than others but “wow look at the planes” should at least kill 5 minutes for you.
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There’s always coffee – a caffeine injection for you before you fly may just take the edge off.


You get to board first, normally, with young children. While some say wait until the last minute to use up any extra energy our policy is get on and get contained!

You have more chance of stowing your hand baggage above your seat and you can take your time getting the kids settled.

Jumpers on, then off, then on, then off. Shoes off. Toy for take off ready. Lollipops ready.

By the time we sink in our seats most people are on and settled despite the fact we got on first.



The final hurdle – you’ve made it! The flight! Whatever happens from here on in, you’re only a few hours from your final destination.

I find it best to adopt a prepare for the worst hope for the best attitude. Assuming that there will be no sleep from anyone means we adopt a day flight strategy.


Window seats are a godsend. Looking out of the window during take off and landing occupies most little people, if you have plane obsessed little people even more so. This time round the Big One told us that he could see petrol trucks and the whole cast of Disney’s Planes out of his window. Oh to be three again….


When you book your flights make sure that you request a child’s meal; geared with children in mind, fun packaging and most importantly served before the main meal service comes round which gives you a chance to help them eat before yours arrives.

And, hopefully, filling them up so they don’t pinch yours.


Just know at some point there will be crying, baby, toddler, pre-schooler, child, you…. Tears will be shed, but they will also be quickly forgotten.

Remember, you’re going on holiday, you’re going on holiday, you’re going on holiday.

Bodily Fluids……

Accidents happen, wee, poo, sick. It’s all part and parcel of being a parent. So it stands to reason that it also happens 40,000ft in the air.

When you haven’t followed your own advice and packed a spare top.

Or worn a cardigan that can at least be buttoned up to the neck.

And the Baby covers you in projectile vomit.

Not speaking from personal experience or anything but lets just say I’ve made space for a few changes of clothes in my hand luggage for the Manchester-Barbados leg….

Finally, there’s always wine

Or alcohol of your choice available on board. Because, let’s face it, you’re on holiday after all!

Happy holidays for anyone else who are as stupid as us also busy taking their children round the world.

As Dr. Seuss says

You have brains in your head
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself any direction you choose

And I want my boys to choose the whole world.

this post was written in collaboration with the travelbags travel with kids campaign



  1. January 9, 2016 / 11:43 am

    Great post! Travelling with little ones is definitely worth the pain 🙂

  2. January 10, 2016 / 12:27 pm

    Great tips – and I’m a bit jealous of the monster bag! I totally agree that however bad the flight (and while I plan for the worse, it’s not always so bad), eventually it will be over and the holiday starts!
    Cathy (MummyTravels) recently posted…Exploring St John’s and historic AntiguaMy Profile

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