Being an Australian traveller you just expect that you will be in transit for a long time. For us, there is the added bonus of living 3 hours away from the International Airport in Melbourne. With a limited number of family members to drive us, our 4 suitcases and 4 backpacks to the airport, we also have to factor getting to the airport parking in plenty of time for Long Haul Flights with Kids from Australia
On our 2015 trip, our time from front door to destination in Krakow, Poland was a whopping 44 hours and I can tell you by the end of it, we felt every single hour. There was just so much that had to be done and remembered…we also had two extremely tired little girls by the time we got to our destination
People are always asking me what we do to try and keep them happy during our transit on long-haul flights from Australia. In all honestly sometimes we nail it and we cruise along like champions and then there are other times I am lost for thoughts and words. I can guarantee that they will keep you on your toes for your trip but here are some ideas for what to take on long-haul flights, car trips and even a short plane ride.
The long travel Car Ride to the airport
As I have said our first leg is a car ride to the airport. We have had morning flights for the last three trips and have flown out at 10 am. So we have a few things that we like to do to get the car trip underway!
Mark and I have kept the girls asleep for as long as possible in their own beds before transferring them to the car for the first part of our long haul flight from Australia.
They stay in their pj’s for the car ride and they both have their travel blanket in the car. I love their travel blankets and I picked them up from our local Kmart from the discount box. They are a blanket that can also be used as a dressing gown if need be and I find they are great in the car to keep the girls warm and snug while they sleep.
The night before flights with kids I have also packed a light snack as by the time they are put in the car they are hard to get back to sleep once the journey has started! It normally has yoghurt (the squeezy ones that should make no mess) fruit and rice crackers. After about an hour they both normally fall back to sleep for a while.
They have their slippers on and some socks to keep them warm in the car. I try to get some slippers that have a flexible rubber bottom on them. They are still lightweight but are great for when they are on the plane and want to walk around too.
I have a bag of the clothes that the girls will wear once reaching the airport car parking in the car and take them inside to have a freshen up and get changed into. I find this easier as then I am not rummaging around in their luggage to get a change of clothes out for them. It also leaves room in their backpack for another change of clothes and the pj’s so they can wear them on the overnight leg of the journey. I then put the old pj’s into a bag and put them into their backpack and roll up the blankets to be put on their bags like a swag. By this stage, they are both pretty happy and have not had to use their electronic devices as we try to save them from the airport.
Waiting In Line To Check In for Long Haul Flights with Kids from Australia
We have found that no matter what age you are travelling with kids they get impatient while we are in line to check our bags. I would love to wait by myself while Mark takes the girls off but with 4 suitcases and 4 backpacks, it is somewhat impossible to deal with yourself. So we try:
Chatting with some of the people around you. I started chatting to a little one in a pram last time we were in line as they were getting really upset and this took the pressure off their parents so they started talking to our girls instead! While it only lasted about 15 minutes it was 15 minutes less we had to hear the same thing. It then bought in other people around us and before we knew it we were chatting life stories!
⇒ Check out a great range of options for long-haul travel kids luggage
For some of the wait, we let them sit on the luggage on the trolleys. I know this is a big no-no but by this stage, they are getting to the point where they contemplating an epic meltdown and there is nothing I can do to stop it.
The last resort is a colouring book. They are relatively easy to balance on the luggage and they can colour to their heart’s content. It really is one of the easiest things to bring when travelling with kids
Sitting At The Airport – Long haul flights with kids
Our girls get bored very quickly at the airport. This is when we usually try and find a place for them to sit quietly and play their devices or we try to get a place where they can see things going on. The line up to check in the luggage can be the longest time, especially with a very impatient youngest child!
- I find those play areas are hard to come by until you have checked your luggage and gone through customs in Australia. Once through passport control, we try to find a play area where we are able to see the girls and sit ourselves to re-organise everything we have just had to pull out at passport control.
Mark will normally go for a walk around with the girls to watch planes come and go and they love that for a while. Because we are going to spend so much time with each other on the plane this is really the only time we try to separate the girls for a while and give them some space.
We sit and have something to eat. It may just be a little snack or even a treat but it wastes some more time.
We have a look at all the duty-free shops and they pick some souvenirs that they can take to give to friends. It costs a small fortune but they love it and it normally takes them a good 20 minutes of wandering before they get the perfect gift.
As much as I spy can get boring in any situation we find Air Spy much more fun. You have to see how many different airlines are around or taking off or different uniforms that are walking through the airport. Then you can talk about where they are from and maybe where they are going.
On the Plane – Long haul flight essentials
This is where it gets hairy for us. That tiny little seat is painful for the shortest of times but when you know you have hours in it, it adds to the pain. We have been so lucky that we have all been sitting together as four across the middle or two and two. My number 1 long haul flight essentials is to have a neoprene laptop case with everything the girls will need in it. I get that straight out of their backpack and sit the kids down. It has a lollypop, book, tablet and anything else they may need. The good thing that even though the girls are getting older we are still invited to get on the plane after the families with younger children and I can tell you we are always grateful for the invitation.
We have been fortunate with all the carriers we have gone on that they have had brilliant kids tv and movie channels. There has never been ‘nothing’ to watch! This makes flights with kids so much easier
Until we are in the air this is where the devices get the most use.
⇒ Check out a range of flight pillows for long-haul flights
I try to keep the colouring packs that they give out intact as there are other short flights where there is no children’s entertainment available for them and they are brilliant for then.
We normally get their blanket and pillow out on this flight as well to let them get comfortable if they need to rest and it helps them settle into their little space better.
We have tried cards before but some other passengers may not like the noise that goes on with it especially if someone is cheating!
- Kids Earphones are also great as they can just listen to music on their tablet or watch a movie on there if there is no entertainment.
- I find that it is rare that carriers don’t have some sort of activity for children so if you are booking a flight you really need to make sure you book anything they offer for kids.
- For more information on flying with a baby check out this article
On A Stop-Over – flying with your child
It seems whenever we have a stopover it is measured in hours and hours and hours…we are very lucky though as they have been in the same airport all 4 times (I am slightly scared this time though as they are small stopovers and measured in minutes!) So we have been able to get better over time.
Researching the airport and what they provide for families before you go is a brilliant idea. Some are great and are very family orientated but if they aren’t you will want to be prepared as best you can. Also checking if the airport is under any reno’s is a good idea too. We thought that we had our 6-hour stop-over sorted at Helsinki only to get there and have all the places we had planned to go out of action We try to do these things on the stopover:
We have had a stopover at Changi Airport so we have made use of the outdoor swimming pool to waste some time. Showers were included with this so we were then able to get the girls into their pj’s and ready for bed on the next leg where they would hopefully sleep
Play areas are a great way to get them tired before I start the bedtime ‘routine’
The Koi pond is just magnificent…if you are visiting Changi. My girls could have stayed there for hours before heading over to the butterfly house.
We try to get to the gate and settle there well before our flight is even ready. I find this helps as the girls are starting to get tired and grumpy. They can then take off their shoes and put on their slippers and really get comfy.
Just before we board I get them another snack and a drink that will tie them over as they rarely want to eat at this stage. I then take them to brush their teeth and by that stage, we are ready to board.
You might like this article we wrote on Flying with kids on Qatar Airways
These great products will keep your kids entertained on Long Haul Flights with Kids from Australia
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