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Travelling with Toddlers & Children on Long-Haul Flights: A Recipe For Success


Author: Guillermo

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Even adults can find air travel an exhausting, unpleasant or boring experience, so it should be no surprise that many children struggle with it too. In this post, we suggest some tips to not only ease the stress of air travel, but to transform it into a fun, fulfilling and educational experience for everyone.

Despite the cliché of worn-out parents dealing with naughty children on a plane, there are many good reasons to travel with kids. New experiences stimulate your child’s development, being outdoors can improve their concentration, blood pressure, stress and cholesterol. Moreover a family holiday is the perfect opportunity for everyone to reconnect away from boring, repetitive everyday routines.

(Photo via Marco Giumelli)

Ready, Set, Go

For many children unexpected, new experiences can be daunting. Many adults find air travel exhausting and intimidating, so it should be no surprise that some children can find the experience overwhelming. One way to combat this is by properly preparing your child for the flight.

There are a number of things you can do to help your child prepare for air travel: 

  • Keep surprises to a minimum - create a travel itinerary with the child so the timetable won’t surprise them on the day. Include all elements of the journey – from leaving the house to getting to the airport.
  • Lookup the type of plane you will be flying in.
  • Look at a map to show your child where you will be flying from and to.
  • Allow them to be involved in the packing process, and allow them to bring a comfort toy or blanker.

Readying your child for the flying experience means they are more positive and excited about flying. Getting out the map and researching the plane will turn it into an educational experience.

Moreover, ensuring they have a packed day leading up to the flight can help ensure they’ll sleep during the flight.

Kids Luggage

Make travelling more fun and reduce your burden by getting the kids involved. Kids luggage, such as the Trunki, is one good way to do that. Trunkis are like suitcases in fancy dress – some look like tigers, others like rodeo horses. You can get Hello Kitty Trunkis or Trunkis shaped like fire engines or New York taxis. 

Kids luggage is a good way to get kids to take ownership of their belongings and perhaps even get involved in the packing process. Trunkis double-up as child seating when you’re waiting in line, and come with a pull strap so you or your child can pull the luggage along the concourse.

BedBox go a step further and offer a way to transform an airline seat into a child’s bed so they can sleep on the plane.

Kids Carry On

No matter how smoothly your journey may be going, never forget you’re only one delay away from a disaster. Prepare for the unexpected by allowing your child carry-on luggage. This means that if you end up delayed there will be toys or other things to keep your child amused while you wait.

Snacks and Refreshment

Airport or airplane food is not renowned for being particularly reasonably priced or nutritional and depending on your child you may have trouble finding something they like. Bring familiar snacks that don’t require refrigeration and can withstand being crushed in a bag. Be sure to check local customs law so you don’t bring any food items that you can’t travel with.

It may be tempting to give children sweets and sugary snacks for the journey to keep them happy and settled, but that will only work for a short period of time. Fruit, popcorn and yogurt make good chocolate and sweet alternatives.

One Parent In Charge

This might not work for everyone, but frequently one boss is better than two. Taking turns to look after your children means one parent can take a break, recharge and relax. It also makes sense for one person to be in charge of packing or booking hotels and transfers. Sometimes sharing responsibilities can mean neither party take full responsibility for anything.

Where To Sit

Many families on long haul flights choose bulkhead seats; seats behind a partition instead of other seats. This means there may be more room for kids to play and other passengers cannot recline their seats in your direction.

Let your child sit next to the window. It’s fascinating for children and you can play games with them recognising shapes in cloud formations.

In Conclusion

Travel broadens your child’s horizons and can bring the family closer together. Nothing helps people feel a sense of appreciation for their own everyday life than getting away from it all for a week or two. Travelling with children can be a challenge, but it’s worth it.

Another way to alleviate the stress of a long journey is to grab a cabin at a YOTEL airport hotel, currently located at London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Paris CDG and Amsterdam Schiphol. Get a good night’s sleep, take a nap or just get some quiet time at the airport with YOTELAIR.

Author: Guillermo

Guillermo is our YOTELAIR Gatwick hotel manager.

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