How to Survive a Long-Haul Flight with a Toddler

two happy kids playing with a toy during flight. family traveling together by plane
Two happy kids playing with a toy during flight. Family traveling together by plane. Vacation, travel, airline, service concept

Are you planning a family vacation to a far-flung destination such as Australia or Thailand and are already dreading the flight with a toddler in tow?

Long-haul flights can be one of the most stressful occurrences for any parent with a young child, how on earth are you supposed to keep a toddler happy for the duration for a long period in a confined space?

Although a long-haul flight with a toddler is unlikely to ever be an enjoyable experience, you can make it a little bit more manageable with the top tips below.

Don’t board the plane too early

Although lots of airlines enable families with young children to board the plane first so that they can get everything on board and get settled, this is not always the best idea when you are traveling with a toddler.

A long-haul flight such as the one that’s needed to discover Australia is already a long time for a young child to have to stay in one place, so why make it even longer by boarding the plane early?

Only take one cabin bag for the whole family

The last thing you want when you’re trying to get a toddler on and off a plane is a lot of hand luggage to lug about. Therefore, it’s a much better idea to only take one cabin bag on the plane, ideally a rucksack so that you have your hands free, and only pack the essentials such as nappies, wipes, formula, etc.

If this doesn’t seem like a lot of space, remember that you don’t need to pack any entertainment for yourself such as a book or magazine, as you won’t have time to read them!

Pack lots of healthy snacks

Yes, you can buy food on the plane, but this can be expensive, and you can’t be sure that they’ll have anything that your toddler wants to eat. Instead, make sure that you pack plenty of healthy snacks to keep their tummies full and their fingers occupied. Try to avoid any snacks that are too messy or filled with sugar as these are a recipe for disaster and will cause more harm than good.  

Allow as much screen time as they want

Although you may limit your toddler’s screen time when you’re at home, a long-haul flight is not the time or the place to enforce this rule. If they have a favorite show or movie that they can watch time and time again without getting bored, download it and let them watch it to their heart’s content.

Remember, when you’re on vacation, they’ll be so preoccupied with all the new things to see and do that watching TV will be the last thing on their mind.

Make friends with the cabin crew

When you first board your flight, make the effort to speak to the cabin crew as you’re highly likely to need something from them during the course of your flight. If you’re lucky, they may even take your little one off your hands for a few precious minutes so you can go to the toilet or have something to eat.

It can also be a good idea when booking family Australian holidays or another long-haul destination to actively look for an airline that’s known for being welcoming toward children.

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