Long haul travel with teenagers – expert tips for surviving and thriving

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What exactly is long haul travel? People will have different ideas about what they think is considered long haul travel with teenagers. If you search the Internet, you will find a definition that says long-haul travel is anywhere between 6–12 hours. How do you fancy being stuck sitting next to your teenagers for up to 12 hours?

Consider this, families travelling from Australia, such as us flying to Europe will have what is considered 2 long haul flights back to back to reach their destination. Usually 6–8 hours to a destination in Asia, and then 11–13 hours onwards to their European destination.

That is a long time to be sitting in a plane with a teenager who could be used to being outdoors or in their bedrooms.

Our plane in Frankfurt waiting to depart for Australia on a long-haul flight

Best long haul flights for teenagers tips

There are some things you can control, some things you can’t control, some things you can do to make it easier, and sometimes you just need to suck it up when it comes to long haul flying with teenagers. In this article on long haul travel with teens, we look at a few things associated with this type of travel with teenagers.

Full-fare vs. budget travel

I highly recommend booking long-haul flights with full-fare airlines that prioritise passenger comfort. These airlines often offer a variety of in-flight entertainment options, including movies, TV shows, and games, which can help keep teenagers entertained throughout the flight.

While it is tempting and sometimes cheaper to book with a budget airline to get to your destination, there may be other costs involved. Many people try not to pay to sit together, and for some, this may not be an issue especially if you are comfortable not sitting with your teenagers on a long-haul flight.

Budget Airlines will charge you for seat selection. We see in many family travel forums people not paying for seat selection and then having issues with wanting people to switch seats to accommodate them once they have boarded.

This starts everyone off on the wrong foot and there are so many people now paying for certain seats you may not get anyone to accommodate you.

A teenager walking through the Frankfurt Airport with  a backpack on her back. She is dressed in comfortable  clothes and is walking next to a long window with plenty of sunlight on the floor towards gate A3-A4. long haul travel with teenagers
A teenager boarding a flight at Prague airport.

We have had this happen to us on a flight, and it was very uncomfortable for us for the rest of the flight. We did not want to swap with the young woman, so she could sit with her boyfriend, as we had paid for the seats, so we could all sit together as a family.

The girls were younger at this stage, but again, I wouldn’t swap if we had paid for our seats anyway. Some airlines offer extra legroom or more comfortable seats at an additional cost, which can be especially helpful for longer flights.

Overall, choosing a full-fare airline with comfortable seating and in-flight entertainment options can help ensure that teenagers have an enjoyable and comfortable flight. This is one of the best ways to ensure long haul travel with teenagers gets off on the right foot.

Budget travel: 30+ realistic and easy budget travel with teens hacks

Overnight flights with teens

In addition, some airlines offer overnight flights, which can be beneficial for teenagers who need to maintain their regular sleep schedule. By sleeping on the plane, teenagers can arrive at their destination feeling rested and ready to explore.

When booking long-haul flights for teenagers, it’s also essential to consider the airline’s seating options. While no one is ever comfortable sleeping on a plane, there are some things that you can purchase to help alleviate some of the issues with long haul travel with teenagers.

Eye masks, neck pillows and a travel blanket are great ideas to get a little more comfortable or to help you sleep as well.

How to prepare a teenager for a long-haul flight

I recommend preparing teenagers for long-haul flights by discussing the flight itinerary and setting expectations. It’s important to explain to teenagers what to expect during the flight, including the length of the flight, in-flight entertainment options, and meals.

Be prepared with things to do on a plane with teens

This can help alleviate any anxiety or uncertainty about the journey. To ensure that teenagers are comfortable during the flight, encourage them to wear comfortable clothing and to pack a small carry-on bag with essentials like headphones, books, and snacks.

Talk it out

It’s also a good idea to discuss strategies for coping with common issues that can arise during long-haul travel with teenager flights, such as jet lag, dehydration, and motion sickness.

Get them involved

Lastly, try to involve teenagers in the planning process for the trip, allowing them to have some input on flight times and seating arrangements. By involving teenagers in the planning process and preparing them for the flight, you can help ensure that they have a comfortable and enjoyable journey.

More travel tips with teens? All the best travel essentials for teens

How to deal with teenager anxiety on long haul flights

As a father of a daughter who suffers from anxiety, I recommend dealing with teenagers’ anxiety on long-haul flights by taking a proactive approach. Firstly, being prepared and informed is important so teenagers know what to expect during the flight.

Talk to your teenagers straight up and let them know what to expect about flight duration, in-flight entertainment options, meals, and possible turbulence.

Relaxing music or other calming activities, such as reading or meditation, can also help teenagers manage their anxiety. Additionally, some teenagers may benefit from medication prescribed by a doctor to help alleviate anxiety symptoms.

Being reassured and having someone to talk to during the flight can also benefit teenagers experiencing anxiety. Encourage them to communicate their feelings and concerns, and offer support and reassurance when having feelings of anxiety.

Down near the back of the plane, there is always some space where you can stretch your legs on long haul travel with teenagers.

Here are some simple exercises and stretches that are particularly effective for teenagers during a long flight

Ankle Circles: Lift one foot off the floor and rotate the ankle in circles. Do 10 circles in one direction and then switch to the other direction. Repeat with the other foot.

Seated Twists: Sit up straight with feet flat on the floor. Place one hand on the opposite knee and gently twist your upper body towards that side. Hold for a few seconds and then switch to the other side.

Shoulder Rolls: Roll your shoulders forward in a circular motion, then roll them backward. Repeat the motion several times to relieve tension in the shoulders.

Neck Stretches: Slowly tilt your head to one side, bringing your ear towards your shoulder. Hold for a few seconds and then switch to the other side. Next, gently lower your chin to your chest to stretch the back of the neck.

Seated Forward Bend: Sit on the edge of your seat with feet flat on the floor. Slowly bend forward from the hips, reaching your hands towards your feet or the floor. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and then return to an upright position.

Quad Stretches: While standing, hold onto the back of your seat for support. Bend one knee and bring your foot towards your buttocks, holding the ankle with your hand. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and then switch to the other leg.

Finally, distraction techniques, such as playing games or watching movies, can be useful in diverting attention away from coping with teenage mood swings on long haul flights.

By utilising these strategies and being proactive in dealing with teenage anxiety, travelling families can help ensure that everyone has a comfortable and enjoyable flight.

Expert advice: Buy the best and most durable suitcase for teens with our top guide

How to make long haul flights with teenagers more comfortable

Start by understanding that long-haul flights with teenagers can be challenging. However, with some careful planning, you can make the long haul travel with teenagers experience more comfortable for everyone involved.

One of the most important things to consider is ensuring that your teenagers have everything they need to stay comfortable and entertained throughout the flight.

Teenagers’ long-haul travel essentials

Long haul flight travel essentials might include items such as a neck pillow, eye mask, face washer, toothbrush, and comfortable clothes. These small items can make a big difference in terms of helping your teenagers feel relaxed and refreshed during the flight.

Bringing things like a portable Nintendo Switch gaming system, Amazon Kindle with books loaded or the latest tablet from Apple or Samsung will not hurt either.

Kids today have short attention spans and need multiple devices and options to keep them stimulated. These suggestions provide Long-haul travel activities for teens.

Make sure you have a backpack from one of the leading brands such as Pacsafe, Tortuga or Alpaka. These companies make bags with heaps of room and pockets to fit everything,

Noise cancelling headphones

Another essential item to consider in your long-haul travel kit is noise-reducing headphones. Teenagers often enjoy listening to music, watching movies, or playing games on their devices during flights, and noise-reducing headphones can help block out any distractions and create a more peaceful environment.

Best noise-reducing headphonesHeadphone featuresRatingBuy here
Bose QuietComfort 45Wireless, high fidelity audio, quiet & aware modes, up to 22 hours of battery life4.6/5BUY
Soundcore by Anker Q20iWireless, hybrid active noise cancelling, 40-hour long battery life and fast charging, app for EQ customization4.6/5BUY
Sennheiser HD 450SEActive noise cancellation, 30-hour battery life with USB-C fast charging, intuitive controls, Sennheiser App controls4.2/5BUY
Sony ZX110NCWired connection, noise reducing, affordable option, flexible design4.3/5BUY
Samsung Galaxy Buds2Active noise reduction, comfortable, low profile design, Microphone4.5/5BUY
JBL Tune 230NC TWS True Wireless In-EarPure bass sound, active noise cancelling with Smart Ambient, up to 40 hours of battery life, water-resistant & sweatproof4.3/5BUY

A comfortable travel outfitTeenagers’ long-haul travel essentials

When travelling with teenagers on long-haul flights, it is crucial to think about their comfort and entertainment needs. Your long haul flight outfit should be more comfortable than fashionable, more baggy than tight, as you will need to sit in it for long hours.

By bringing items such as neck pillows, eye masks, face washers, toothbrushes, comfortable clothes, and noise-reducing headphones, you can help to create a more relaxing and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

These tips for flying with teenagers on long-haul flights can only help. You can never really have too many things to do on a long flight.

Meal times for long haul travel with teenagers

Eating while on holiday with teenagers can be a very stressful event, especially if they have special dietary needs or specific items they are unable to have.

There is nothing worse than having a limited menu or limited options for food, and you will not get another place with limited food than a plane!

We really try to eat something at the airport before our long-haul travel with teenagers even begins. This at least gets something in their tummies before the flight and it is usually something they are familiar with too.

We also try to pack some items in small bags for them to have as an emergency during the flight. Another great thing to consider is calling the airline and talking through your dietary needs long before your flight leaves. The more time you can give the airline the better.

Many airlines will have vegetarian options and gluten-free meals available for long haul travel with teenagers and you can order them at booking as well.

Reviewed and approved: The best Pacsafe bags for teenagers

Take off and landing tips for long haul travel with teenagers

One of our daughters has trouble with her ears and they take forever to pop once we are taking off and landing. We pack a small ziplock bag with a small packet of tissues, a chubby-chup and some chewing gum that we have in the seat pocket for her to use soon as she needs to.

We have also had her eat an apple on take-off as it was recommended to us by a flight attendant once and that worked really well too.

Know your layover airport

As all of our long haul travel with teenagers vacations usually include a layover at an airport we try to know the airport a little bit before we land. This helps us know what facilities the airport has and what we can do there while we are waiting for our connection.

We have tried most times on long haul journeys with teenagers to find the airport gym to have a shower there. It freshens us up, we can change clothes if we need to and gets us ready for the next leg of the journey.

*Last trip to Europe, we actually got a lounge pass for the first time. It was a great way to spend the 5 hours we had at the airport. We all had a shower, brushed our teeth, had some food and sat in some comfortable chairs with fast internet before getting on the next leg.

Quick checklist for long haul travel with teenagers

Why do I feel qualified to write about long-haul travel with teenagers?

Living in Australia, every flight I have ever taken overseas with my two teenage daughters has been a long haul. Flights to Europe in 20218, 2017, 2019, and 2023, flights to Bali in 2022 and Vietnam in 2023 are all long haul travel with teenagers.

I have two daughters, and we have been flying long haul as a family since we bought our 10-month-old on a flight from Australia to Europe. One of our daughters suffers from anxiety which gives me an insight into teenage behaviour on long-haul flights.

We hope this article from us here at Wyld FamilyTravel has helped you feel more comfortable about your first long-haul flight with teenagers or given you some extra ideas on how the survive and thrive on your next long haul trip with teenagers.

Use our Travel with Teenagers Destination Guides from all over the world for your next family vacation inspiration to make your family vacations with teens epic.

For more amazing ideas on where to holiday in Europe, click through to our Destination Guide for more brilliant inspiration.

More long haul travel with teens inspiration

Author bio:

Father, husband, traveller, and chief destination manager here at Wyld Family Travel. When Mark is not discussing travel or planning travel, you will find him working in disability support. Mark is a family travel advocate, having travelled to over 45 countries with his kids from 10 months to their teenage years. You will find his work here and on other popular websites.

Having a beer in Pilsen Czech
Mark Wyld

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