In my opinion, flying with kids is a lot like childbirth. I anticipated it for months, it was long, there was a lot of screaming, little to no sleep, and when I finally had enough of the torture, I opted for the drugs wine. But, just like childbirth, the overwhelming joy of the arrival made me forget how brutal the experience actually was and once I stepped off that plane, I had a huge sense of relief and said to my husband “I could totally do that again”.

That being said, I always try to make the experience as painless as possible by doing a lot of preparation before the big day. So here are my tips on how to survive those long travel days. 

Choose Your Flight Wisely

One thing that I always do before I book a flight is research the airline. As exciting as it may be to find a round-trip ticket to the other side of the world for $500, it won’t be so exciting once you are hit with extra fees to check a stroller or car seat, or you sit down to find that there is barely any room for your little ones to stretch out. 

Did you know that some airlines even offer face-painting and magic tricks? These little things can make a long flight bearable and dare I say it, maybe even enjoyable. 

Choose Your Seats Wisely

When choosing the spot where you’ll be stuck for 24 hours, try to go for the bulkhead seats. This will give you more room to spread out and your little ones will have their own area to play on the floor. Also, on long-haul flights many airlines even offer bassinets in the bulkhead. Imagine your little baby sleeping alone in a bed, giving you the freedom to enjoy a movie, eat a meal or catch some zzz’s yourself. Sounds peaceful, right? Well it can happen! Just make sure you call the airline once you book and request a bassinet seat. 

If you’re not lucky enough to get the bulkhead, in my experience the next best thing is buying their own seat, ideally by the window. Luckily, we have found that a lot of international flights do not charge full price for an infant so it didn’t completely blow our budget and I can not imagine what our 24 hour flight would have been like if our one year old had to sit on our laps. At least with his own seat I could lay down a blanket and create some resemblance of a bed. This leads me to my next tip. 

Purchase an Inflatable Foot Rest

This is something that really comes in handy on long flights. Once you’re up in the air, blow that bad boy up and BAM, your baby has a bed that perfectly fits their tiny body where they can go fast to sleep (hopefully). And if you are lucky like I was, your baby will leave some space where you can snuggle up next to them. 

These are a game changer for older kids, as well! 

You can buy one like this on Amazon.

The Comforts of Home

It is hard enough as an adult to decide what to pack for yourself when traveling but it is even harder when your kids have certain things that they just can’t live without. At home, our oldest has about 10 stuffed animals that she sleeps with every night. In her perfect world, all 10 of them would have their own suitcase and come with us all over the world. Obviously we weren’t going to pay for an extra suitcase so the months leading up to the trip we transitioned her to sleep with only her favorite and now “Chocolatey” is the lucky one that gets to see the world. 

So Chocolatey and our youngest’s Kitty are always in a carry-on and when they come out, the kids know that it’s time to sleep. 

Dollar Store Shopping Spree

Before you head to the airport, make a pit stop at the Dollar Store. Purchase toys (quiet ones), coloring and activity books, stickers, basically anything that you think will keep your child entertained for a few minutes. As soon as you leave the store, pack them away and don’t let your kids see them until you are on the plane. 

The best thing about buying all these things from the Dollar Store is that if something gets lost, broken or “mistakenly” left behind, it is not the end of the world. 

Snacks, Snacks and more Snacks

This might be the most important tip, you can never have too many snacks! My kids love to eat and they would snack all day if we allowed it. While we may not allow it at home, on a plane we encourage it. Anything that keeps them from screaming is fair game! And if you are on one of those planes that doesn’t cater to your kid’s taste-buds, you will have plenty of backups options. 

Here’s a list of a few of our favorite airplane snacks.

  • Cheerios
  • Raisins
  • String Cheese
  • Trail Mix
  • Cereal Bars
  • Pre-cut PB&J
  • Baby Puffs
  • Bite Size Cookies
  • Applesauce Pouches

Get Organized

You know all those snacks and toys that you just bought? Don’t just throw them all in your carry-on and call it day. Instead, separate your snacks into ziploc bags or space saving containers. Take the toys out of their packaging and put them all in their own bag. The space in your carry-on is precious, make sure you are able to utilize every inch of it. 

Another way I like to stay organized is by keeping a few diapers and a small bag of wipes in a large ziploc. That way, when I need to rush to the bathroom before the whole cabin smells the wrath that is our son, I can quickly pull it out without having to search through my whole luggage. In fact, once I board the plane, I will put the bag in the seat pocket for even easier access!

Here are some other ways to stay organized.

  • Download movies and apps to the kid’s tablets.
  • Put toys away before you take another one out.
  • Bring a bag for garbage. There is nothing worse than having a tray full of food containers in front of you while you wait for the flight attendants to come around and collect the garbage, especially when you have a one year old who likes to grab EVERYTHING. 
  • If you have a formula-fed baby, divvy it out beforehand. Buy one of these so that you can quickly make a bottle before baby gets hangry.
  • VERY IMPORTANT: Make a carry-on checklist! You are bound to forget something if you don’t.


Last but certainly not least, try to relax. I know I know, definitely easier said than done and I tend to catch myself constantly anticipating the next melt-down which means I can’t enjoy the moments when everyone is happy. 

Do whatever it is that will take your mind elsewhere, whether it is enjoying a glass of wine, reading a favorite book or watching a movie. By letting that anxiety go and appreciating those few and far between moments, I find that the flight seems to go much faster. 

So those are my tips for surviving a long flight with little kids! If you are reading this, you probably have an upcoming flight that you are preparing for. Don’t worry, you will get through it, everything will be okay and just keep reminding yourself that you will most likely never have to see those passengers who rolled their eyes when they saw your family step onto the plane ever again!


About Author

We are your typical American family who decided life is too short to live in one place.

You might also enjoy:

1 Comment

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *