Travelling with kids can be stressful especially when you're stuck on a long flight where their normal energetic movements are limited. However, flying with kids can also be fun and exciting especially when you plan ahead to pack some bits and pieces that will keep them entertained for the journey and make it a bit more enjoyable for all the family.
1. DVD Player or iPad (or equivalent). When you're flying long haul the plane will often come equipped with an inflight entertainment system. However, for little eyes and easy use, DVD players or tablets are really handy and can provide literally hours of entertainment. Just pack your child's favourite DVD's or load up your tablet with games and programs.
Keep your kids entertained whilst in the air
2. Snacks. Whilst the airline will generally supply an infant meal (make sure your request one), it is good to have some snacks up you sleeve (ahem, not literally), ones that are familiar to your child. A hungry child is invariably not a happy one, so having a few things on hand that your child likes to eat will keep hunger at bay and also kill some time whilst they tuck in.
3. Toys. Space is limited when flying, so it's useful for your child to have their own bag and to pack it with some cheap and cheerful toys that you can bring out throughout the flight. We stocked up at the $2 shop and at Kmart and just had pocket sized toys that our toddler could play with when we were eating our dinner, or for when I was feeding our baby son. Top choices are cheap toy cars, binoculars, dinosaurs, plastic animals, dolls to dress up, colouring in, stickers and puzzles.
A collection of inexpensive toys will prove so valuable.
4. Books. It's great to pack some reading material especially if your journey includes a night time element where you'd like your child to relax before shut eye time. For the day time, books and activity sticker books are a valuable asset for when electronic devices (your trusted DVD player) cannot be used such as when it is turbulent, and during take off and landing. On a recent flight with our toddler, we had sourced an activity sticker based book for just $2 and this kept him entertained for well over 40 minutes. It doesn't need to be expensive.
Look out for books that offer an activity as well for extra entertainment value
5. Some basic essentials: Other handy basics include baby wipes, a drink, a change of clothing and any comforter that they still enjoy.
Other tips for flying with a toddler include introducing them to the flight crew as this will generally ensure that they remember your child and this can prove handy if you need their help en-route (particularly if you are a single parent traveller). It's also a good time killer and nice idea to take your child on a walking tour of the plane. It shows them the layout of the plane, and stops them from getting cabin fever stuck in their seat.
Most importantly, remember that even with the best laid plans, and the best packed travel bag, your toddler might still throw a wobbly, boredom could totally set in but as with most things, all good (and bad) things do come to an end and the plane journey will eventually conclude.