Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Travel Tips for International Flights with Kids

International long-haul air travel with babies and small children can be really intimidating. But it doesn't have to be. I consulted with a few of the many expat mamas I'm lucky enough to call friends and assembled a list of tips and tricks to make international flying as painless as possible.

If your airport has a play area (best of all an outdoor play area), spend as much time there as possible before heading to the gate. It's good for children to move and get fresh air before being trapped inside an airline seat and breathing recycled air for ten hours! - Lindsey
Limit their TV the week before so that when you fly they're DESPERATE and will watch TV for 12 hours and leave you in peace! - Philippa

If they are old enough, children's noise-limiting headphones. Lifesaver! - Karen

Don't even try to limit their TV time. - Tina

Load up the iPad and Kindle with new books, games, TV shows and movies. - Jessica
Spare clothes. Someone is going to pee, puke, or spill an entire glass of orange juice on themselves. - Charlotte

Extra clothes for yourself, too. At least a shirt. - Tina
If you're traveling with a child who's under two, fork over the extra cash and buy them their own seat, then bring their car seat. It allows you to have your hands free and help your kids - and even eat! - Sally
Try to be okay with the fact that your child will probably have a meltdown, followed by a long sleep. - Johanna

For really long flights, do the whole bedtime routine: pajamas, brush teeth, read books, blankies and stuffed animals. Sometimes they sleep, sometimes it just calms them down. - Jessica
We load up Coco's child-sized Hello Kitty roller bag with her headphonesDjeco stickers, a high quality sketchbook, reusable sticker books, snacks like pouches and bars, and a bottle for water. She loves having her own suitcase and feeling independent in the airport. Unpacking and repacking the items is also loads of fun. - Lindsey

If you have a layover in Heathrow, the children's magazine section is awesome! Not to mention the candy aisle. Stock up for the long leg and then plan on magazines and snacks, then the meal, then movies or sleeping. - Kate

Magnetic games. Bubbles. Play dough. - Ariane  (Coco is obsessed with these. Also these.)

The bassinet is a godsend even if you don't use it for the baby, but for the masses of STUFF that you need when you travel with a baby! And to store meals to eat when you have a spare hand, etc.
- Johanna

Always breastfeed during take off and landing and on-demand. Travel with your babies when they're small and sleep a lot. It's actually the easiest time! - Kate

Even though it's huge, the Boppy pillow will save your neck and shoulders when you wind up with a baby sleeping in your arms for hours on end! - Lindsey

Do you take long-haul international flights with your children and babies? What works for you? And what hasn't worked?! ;) xo


  1. Lindsey,
    this is such a great list! I'll save it for our upcoming travels and will share it with my readers. And thank you for linking back to me :-)

    1. Thanks for helping out, Tina! I'm thinking of you as you get ready for the big move. xoxo

  2. We did it once with 6 month old twins. I agree; the bassinet is totally worth it! We upgraded our seats, too, because then we wouldn't have anyone in the seat between us....a godsend. Also, always breast or bottle feed during takeoff and landing so that they can pop their ears. I agree about the play areas, as well, and would add that more US airports need to be child friendly! ;)

    1. We've lucked out a few times and gotten a free seat when there is space on the plane. It's the best!! And I agree about more play areas - particularly outside. Nasty indoor play areas give me the heebie-jeebies. Yes, I just said heebie-jeebies!! ;)

  3. Umm... how amazing is that airport playground?! Is that in Zurich? I don't think it was there when we lived in Zurich, but then again we didn't have kids at the time so I didn't look out for playgrounds ;)

    1. Zurich is the best. That playground is on the observation deck, so not obvious unless you know about it. It's not something you pass by on the way to the gates. You have to pay an entry fee, of course. And go through security as it's on the observation deck. But it's completely worth it and they give you a free coloring book per child. Woohoo!

    2. Ooh... next time we go to Zurich we'll have to keep that in mind :)

  4. Love the gorgeous pictures! Great tips, too! Another blogger just posted one as well just the other day. Must be the time!
    Our son was almost 2 when we first flew from ZRH to SFO. He did amazingly well. Loved the gummy bears and the Cars movie :-)

  5. Great tips and photos! I love the playground at Zurich airpot, isn't it awesome! Have you been to the playroom they have as well? It has some toys, fooseball table and a super large changing table as well!

  6. Thank you so much for including me on your post Lindsey! I absolutely love these pictures. I still have not been to the observation area of the Zurich airport. I think that's a blog post in itself! Take care!

  7. I just flew solo to Germany with my almost 5yo and almost 3yo - what worked really well was that each had a backpack with "surprises"- one contained snacks/food (gummi bears, chocolate, apple slices... ), the other the 'entertainment' (like coloring book, stickers, ...) -
    I already knew that after a long night flight neither would want to carry their backpack in the morning, so I attached a carabiner to my carry-on bag to be prepared and boy, was I right. The flight went SUPER (they slept, no tantrums etc), but on our descent my daughter got sick and threw up, while my son had a panic attack and peed on the seat! Here's my last tip: befriend the flight attendants right away, you might need their help in the end :-)

  8. Thanks for the tips

  9. I always choose a night flight when traveling with kids. This seriously helps even if we departure time is after normal sleep time. Depending on the flight, we put our tiniest tot to bed at normal time and wake them up when it is literally time to walk out the door. This means kids generally has enough energy to get them through the journey to the airport, check in and finally to after take off.

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