Jump to content

Menu

HELP: need advice/tips for international flight w/ young children


SorrelZG
 Share

Recommended Posts

It's 6hrs, 13-14, another 3-4 from there. Four children, seven years down to two-and-a-half. Two adults. Oldest has prior experience. The youngest still in diapers.

 

Besides a lot of prayer, what sage advice do you have for getting through this without us or other passengers utterly losing it?

 

Links to any related past threads appreciated. My search didn't turn up much besides someone complaining about parents with a young child that moved around a lot and made noise and had to have his diaper changed right near her. Thankfully the responses assured me that there are merciful and compassionate people out there but otherwise it wasn't hope inspiring. :-/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For the older ones, I tend to relax our family rule about electronic devices and let them watch movies/play the inflight games. If you have an iPad, you could keep them going for awhile.

 

For the younger one, a scribbling pad and coloring pencils. I also milked the inflight magazine for all it's worth, lol, by making up stories about the pictures. But this probably depends on what your dc likes. Avoid toys with small, multiple pieces that will get lost.

 

ETA - Here's a thread, from Berkeley Parents Network, with toy suggestions.

http://parents.berkeley.edu/advice/going/long-flights.html

 

 

I'd also keep an eye to make sure they stay hydrated and sleep/rest when they turn off the cabin lights.

 

Bring a change of clothes especially for the younger ones who may spill liquids/food or have accidents.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've only taken the older 2 international... besides the usual..lots of little toys etc to pull out, my one thing is this: take a change of clothes for both adults!

You never know what could happen, little one gets sick all over you, diaper leaks on your lap because plane is taxing,etc and you can't get up to change them... (ask me how i know).

Take a stroller (2 cheap umbrella ones) for lay overs if you have any little ones that will get tired walking, but be clear you want it back when you disembark, DO NOT let them check it or you won't see it until your final destination.

Since you will check luggage, minimize carry on and only take the NEEDS. 7 might be old enough to care for their own backpack, make sure it has nothing that cannot be replaced if forgotten on a flight,

Older ones may be entertained by the on board tv (this would be the one time to let them watch without much limits).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Change of clothes for everyone.

24 hours worth of diapers - more than you think you'll need

Plastic trash bags for diapers, trash, wet things, etc.

iPad, DVD player, Kindle, electronics (with headphones/earbuds). All "rules" go out the window when we fly.

Small surprise toys for everyone for when they start to lose it

A partial roll of paper towels (for all sorts of reasons)

Carry on water. Dehydration is awful.

Cups for everyone - sippies for the littles

Blankets/sweaters for all. It's cold up in the air

 

This website/blog has been invaluable to me: http://flyingwithchildren.blogspot.com/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For us, taking lots of stuff for the kids to do hasn't really worked. But that's partly because all our international flights have been moves where we haven't shipped anything, so we take as much luggage as possible, both checked and carry-on. I really don't want to deal with more stuff on the plane. We skip the stroller and let the littlest one ride on the luggage. In my perfect world, I would check one bag each and have each person take their own carry-on with stuff they need on the airplane. That would be so much more manageable. Also, make sure everyone is very diligent about checking for items that they care about so they don't get left on the plane.

 

How long are your layovers? That can make a huge difference too. I've found that the first leg is exciting for the littlest ones and the hardest to get through, but after that they're getting sleepy and hopefully ready to take a break. I make liberal use of the screen if there's one available. We've had good luck with audiobooks with some children, but not all.

 

Definitely take extra clothes for both you and the children. It's such a long time on the plane, in the airport, getting to and from the airport, that it's likely that someone will need to change their clothes at some point. If you care how you look at the end, you'll definitely want something else to put on.

 

The 13-14 hour flight may well be the easiest because you can sort of settle in for a while. And I've found that there are often families on those flights and people are gerenally patient with each other. It's getting off that long, long middle leg and still facing another hours-long flight that about does me in. But I still remember one beautiful flight where my children fell asleep before we even took off on that last leg and didn't wake up till we landed.

 

Are your seating assignments good? If we can be in our own space, it really helps to reduce the annoyance for other passengers.

 

Good luck. You'll need it. But you'll get through it.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm cheap, but I bought the in-flight entertainment as well as letting them have their DS's and books.

 

On the way home last week, I taught the next unit of Singapore math. Ha ha. Riveting. I guess that wouldn't work for the one in diapers, though. :).

 

Sit close to the toilet (I know...) and convince your kids to not wait until the last minute to go. Make everyone go before you board if at all possible.

 

No sage advice, really. Just don't sweat it. I have only been on a few such flights, but luckily my girls out-performed my expectations. As for the poor soul sitting in front of Mr. Kickseat: maybe she has kids; and if not, at least you'll never have to see her again.

 

Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It has been a long while since we did a similar trip, but in 2005 we flew home from Kazahkstan with our newly adopted boys, one aged 4 and one just less than a year old. Our travel partners had the best system for diaper packing.

 

-get several gallon sized ziplocks. In each one, put 1 diaper, a travel pack of wipes (or a disposable washcloth), a throw away bib, a disposable spoon, disposable changing pad, and a snack. Make one for every 3 hours of travel time. I would probably include a change of clothes for the child in every third bag. Believe me, having everything in one ziplock to change a diaper was so much better than digging through a carry on looking for all that nonsense. With a formula fed infant I also included a travel sleeve of formula and one disposable bottle liner in each zip lock as well as a baby cereal in a ziplock baggie with liquids to be added on the plane.

 

-I would have a separate ziplock with sippy cups and lids (a few of them) so they are clean and all in one place for drinks. Sucking out of a bottle or sippy cup helps the ears on take off and landing as well.

 

-we flew on two 747s and were in business class, not sure if this would work in coach or not. On our return Germany-Washington, DC flight, we booked the three across seats that had a wall right in front of them. Our 4 year old needed a seat. What was great was we spread out a blanket on the floor in front of us and the baby (and let's be honest, the 4 year old) could lay there, move around a bit there, etc. Maybe younger children (who don't need the leg room) can do something similar in coach. The stewardesses all commented how that was the most clever thing they had ever seen anyone do (another adopting family had told us to do this so I can't take credit).

 

-I would relax my rules and let all sorts of electronics be used by my kids. When we went to Hawaii five years ago, we bought DSs, and new movies to be played on our laptop. We did at least one movie on each leg. Books on tape or something may be good for the olders. For the younger, I would buy a few new toys (think Dollar Store type stuff) to pull out when all else seems to fail. Sticker books and stickers may be worthwhile, too. Never underestimate the power of the airplane-provided barf bag either. Once we explained to the kids what they were for, they had great fun making vomit noises, pretending to throw up in the bag, then handing it off to mom and dad (or each other). You can also use crayons and stickers to decorate it and make a puppet.....

 

-I'm sure I'll get flamed, but here it goes - benedryl.

 

Are you a member of any frequent flier program or airline club? You may be entitled to use of their premier lounges at the airports. If you can pay for a day ticket, it may be really beneficial. They have free snacks and drinks (including grown up drinks), comfy seats, private bathrooms (Frankfurt, Germany United club has private bathrooms and showers that are cleaned up after each use), etc.

 

Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do the ziploc bag thing even when I don't travel via airplane. For each twin I keep a complete change per baggie. when little I kept at least 2 complete "sets" in my bag at all times and I still keep 1 for each person in the car when we are out for "emergencies". Although for the olders I use the "jumbo" hefty bags.

 

I bought those take n toss sippy cups for traveling and leave the ones with little parts at home.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I traveled heaps internationally when my dc were littlies. Some things that made things run smoothly were:

 

---if you want them to sleep, put them in their PJs. My dc wore polarfleece PJs on the leg that I wanted them to sleep most of the way.

---Pack individual gallon-size ziplocs with a complete change of clothes for each leg of the journey for each person & label them (i.e. Tommy---LAX-SYD) Dirty clothes go in the ziploc that the clean clothes came out of. Pack a washcloth as well in each bag to help refresh when you change.

---Make a polarfleece poncho for the kids to wear inflight. I made one for the kids & me as you can not guarrantee getting a blanket. I let each dc choose a 2m piece of polarfleece & I cut a slit for their head. No sewing necessary. Dd cut a fringe on the bottom of hers. Ponchos are better than a blanket as they can wear them off the plane if chilly. They can buckle their seatbelt on top of the poncho & the stewardess won't need to wake you to see that they are buckled in & ponchos don't fall off when youa re asleep.

---Pack plenty of individual snacks (i.e. granola bars, mini pks of cookies & crackers, mini boxes of cereal, etc.) When traveling internationally don't pack homemade or fresh foods for any but the first leg of the journey as you'll not be able to take them off the first plane.

---We traveled before MP3s, iPods, etc. But if I was traveling today with little ones I would load a device with audio stories for them to listen to. I used to take story cassettes & cds + a walkman& headphones. Colored pencils, colorbooks, a sketch book, cards, travel games, etc. were all helpful in the days before iPods & DSs.

---On my last trip in 2008 ds#2 was 10. I printed out the entertainment guide for each arline we were flying with & highlighted the movies that he could choose from. I crossed out the movies that were not appropriate. I saved disagreements on the plane.

---I always ordered children's meals for my ds when they were young enough. The food choices were more child friendly & more importantly their food was delivered first, so that I could get them settled & fed before my meal arrived.

---Plan to spend time walking the isles during the 12-14 hour flight with each dc. We once had a journey that included a 10 hours flight, an hour and a half lay-over, followed by a 14 hour flight. I always told my dc that I was proud when after every flight at least one person commented on my dc's good behaviour. Half way through the 14 hour flight ds#2 (7yo at the time) asked me when someone was going to notice that he was being good. :001_rolleyes: Well when we deplaned, at least 5 people conplimented the children. Of course I had other more difficult flights like the one that dd (14mo at the time) screamed for the first 5 hours of a transcontinental fight. When she finally passed out exausted the 2yo twins next to us woke up & screamed for the final hour of the flight. :o

 

HTH,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I used to do the Ziplock trick too - change of clothes in each - old goes in, new comes out. I really should go back to that.

 

For diapers, pull your supply from a newly opened package of disposables and immediately put them in Ziplocks with wipes and plastic grocery bags for the dirties. Compress the Ziplocks and seal them right away. They take less space that way.

 

I sometimes bring extra toys that I can use to smooth the way for an in-flight playdate with another passenger child. Doesn't always work, but sometimes. Same with snacks - I'd pack individually wrapped snacks that could be used to share with other passengers. Moms won't accept opened snacks (would you?), but sealed/wrapped snacks are ok.

 

Stickers are always popular.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great advice has already been given but I want to add to pack fresh fruit. I know it gets thrown out at the end but too many sugary/salty snacks get icky. We take 4 oranges and 4 apples. They are thirst quenching.

 

We have always just gotten adult meals for all. We have been known to get one of each and mom eats what everyone else refuses to.;) If we ask really nice they serve our kids before full meal service starts. That way they get the full set of choices

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i flew 21 hours this past october with my newly adopted (as in 2 weeks since we had met) 5 year old son who also has Down Syndrome. Take a bunch of snacks, and ask your doctor about benadryl. My doc gave me permission to use a MUCH higher dose than is listed on the bottle. I didn't end up using even half of what she said i could, bc he didn't like the taste of it, but it was enough to mellow him out. Toys help and so do movies :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Extra ziplick bags come in handy for all types of things--dirty clothes, extra snacks, the torn crayon box, etc.

 

We put snacks in plastic canning jars made for the freezer. The contents don't get crushed. The container can be used for a cup or bowl if needed and they stack together when they are empty.

 

I would take a cup with a lid even for the 7-year old. Even a little bit of turbulence can result in a spill with those plastic cups. If you are concerned about food, pack a few instant oatmeal packs; you can always get hot water.

 

I have one who gets hyper rather than sleepy with Benadryl--not a good thing to learn on an international flight.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank-you for the Benadryl warning. We'll certainly test first if we decide to use it. I'm having nightmarish visions ....

 

Benadryl did work for me on the return journey when dd was a toddler. It was what the doctor recommended when I asked what I could use to help her sleep as our journey included three 6 hour flights + one 90 minute flight. She usually was ok for the first 2 long flights, but the last one was really hard on us both, especially as dh usually was not able to travel the same time as us. I tended to be over prepared as I always traveled with the kids alone, with no other adult help.

 

Also, someone in the posts above recommended getting bulkhead seats. Those seats do give you a bit more leg room, but you have no fold down tray. Instead the tray folds out of the arm of the seat & is a pain if you are trying to use it with a dc in a car seat. Also, the arms don't lift up to give a bit more room. And I have never seen anyone allowed to let children play or lie on the floor since dd was a tiny babe. In bulkhead seats all carry-ons have to be stowed in the overhead lockers, so it's really a pain if you want to get something out of your bags. JMHO

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also most bulkheads are emergency exits and last time i flew, kids under 13, i think, were not allowed to sit there. Now if you can get the middle seats that are right behind those dividers those are the best. But those are where the bassinets usually are , so if someone is on board woth a baby less than 1 they will get those seats fir

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now that I have more time to respond... Our trip back to the states last summer looked like this:

 

We had one piece of checked luggage per person that we checked at the curb.

 

We had one backpack per person that we carried on. Each of us wore our own back pack except dd and we hung hers on the stroller.

 

We took a compact stroller as it is much easier to push her than try to carry her or hope her little legs can manage the long airport walks.

 

I pushed the stroller and dh carried the car seat.

 

We went back and forth on the car seat since NO ONE uses a car seat here but we took it and it was the BEST decision ever. She slept so well and ate well in it and sat and watched movies in it, etc.

 

In each backpack we had a change of clothes, toiletries, snacks for each person and an iPad (with headphones) loaded with movies, kindle books, Blues Clues, fun games, etc. It kept them busy the whole time. We charged them at each airport stop (make sure you have a universal adapter). Some of our airplanes even had a place to charge them right in the seat.

 

Also the bulkhead seat idea does not work any more. As mentioned, they don't let your kids sleep or play on the floor any more and they are usually exit rows. Plus the loss of under seat storage would be a huge pain as we were using our backpacks a lot!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We've traveled internationally with 5 children (5months-8years the first time) over the last 17 years--long before ipads and other electronics--on flights that took 24-36 hours door-to-door. The things that stand out most in my mind:

 

1. The children loved getting their "kids" meal. Just let the airline know early. And they do get served first.

 

2. In my opinion, there is no lack of food on international flights--we never brought snacks. BUT, we would get very, very thirsty. We often asked for two drinks when offered: water+ xxxx (juice, soda, coffee, milk). Also, on layovers, be prepared with cups/bottles to fill from drinking fountains--buying juice packs for everyone might be quite expensive.

 

3. Use the InFlight onboard magazine to get a feel for the airport on layover. Some (Amsterdam stands out in my mind) have a children's playground.

 

4. I sucked it up and kept the children occupied on longer layovers (remember, no electronics way back when) with Mother May I, Simon Says, and other quiet games ("I spy", "Alphabet game" (you know, Grandma packed her bag with: an apple. repeat, but say "apple, and a banana)) and hand-motion games ("Three little Monkeys jumping on the bed").

 

5. Readers got a new book (for them--I might have bought it through a Friends of the Library sale) for each leg of the flight. After finishing a book, they'd swap.

 

6. On some layovers, since we've always had a read-aloud going (still do, with only the youngest (dd17) at home,) I'd read from our read-aloud. With the kids gathered around, I wasn't any louder than a typical conversation....

 

I actually have fond memories of flying with my then-young kiddoes!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes

 

The row of seats right in front of the bathrooms in the middle are also good because nobody is in front of you.

 

Oh okay .. I was presuming it was the middle that was meant as I know that no young children are allowed in the side rows right by the emergency exits. I thought the middle did have trays (out of the wall) but I haven't paid specific attention so perhaps I'm imagining it and they did also come out of the arms.

 

There are six of us so I'm was thinking/hoping that we would get two rows, one behind the other, and the littles could sit in the row behind so that if they are kicking seats it's only their sibblings that are suffering for it. The olders have enough self control to not be doing it. If we were infront of a wall as well, that would work too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I feel like a total dunce .. is the bulkhead that row of seats near the emergency exits and bathroom?

Bulkhead seats are the ones near the emergency exits (not necessarily bathrooms--depends on plane).

 

You won't be able to sit in Emergency rows--the occupants must be able to help others in an emergency. Also, because airlines are now into nickel-and-diming, many charge extra for those seats because of the extra legroom.

 

There are, on SOME planes--the ones with seats in the middle (so 3 seats, aisle, 4 seats, aisle, 3 seats)--the four middle seats by a bulkhead often have a bassinet and families traveling with tiny babies get assigned there. They do have more legroom, but no fold down tray--it comes up from the side. Other seats in that 4 seat section often have armrests that fold completely UP, so kids can lean over, cuddle with you.

 

IMO, more important than the bulkhead (which is nice but chances are not good that you will get them), is to think about how you want your seats: stretched out in a row (xxxx xx), or in two rows one behind the other (xxx, repeat right behind) OR two rows back to back plus the two seats across the aisle. (xx x, repeat right behind).

 

There are advantages and disadvantages to all these arrangements: ease of reaching everybody, some kids not with a parent, four seats on aisle (easier to get up for the bathroom).

 

And just so you hear a good story: When my youngest two were 3 and 5, they sat on their own across from the aisle with us--they had a GREAT time. I still laugh because we were flying from London to LA direct and the sun traveled with us. I suggested several times they go to sleep because it was close to midnight (London time). My three year old, ever the logical one, looked out at the bright shining sun and scolded me: "MOM! It's not even NIGHT time." (She finally did conk out 30 minutes later when we played a quiet game that involved closing eyes!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I've heard that they are not allowed there, but we have had those seats in the past and nobody said anything.

 

And I don't know what the trick is to reserve seats, but we have had situations where we weren't allowed to reserve seats and were not assigned seats until the flight. Most airlines seated us together. We ended up with some bozo airlines that didn't. Yes, one even tried to sit our baby alone. This was Iberia (avoid Iberia). We actually had to argue with them to fix it!

 

I will first look it up on a map. :D

 

We were able to preselect seats on our previous flight. Some we couldn't because the seats they had open for preselection did not allow for us to preselect three together but when we got there and electronically checked in, we were issued three seats together. I don't know if they just had some available for preselection and not all, or what, but that was a relief.

 

I don't know if it's like this with all airlines but every flight we took in or out of Asia moved us to the head of lines because we had a child with us. I was SO glad we chose to take our firstborn with us. :laugh: They also gave him a toy on every flight - most of which unfortunately had small pieces that were not conducive to playing with in an airplane but it was a nice thought.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My oldest went with his dad last year and he got spoiled on the filght. They doted on him, he got dr. Suess books, puppets(nice hand puppets), backpack, etc. All the snacks he wanted ( cookies, ice cream). He was the only kid on both flights I think. Highly recommend Emirates for kids.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I don't know if it's like this with all airlines but every flight we took in or out of Asia moved us to the head of lines because we had a child with us. I was SO glad we chose to take our firstborn with us. :laugh: They also gave him a toy on every flight - most of which unfortunately had small pieces that were not conducive to playing with in an airplane but it was a nice thought.

 

I love flying in Asia with kids for that reason, at least on local airlines. My husband would put our smallest child on his shoulders in China and it moved things right along.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok, yeah, I'm only telling you the negative. I've flown about 15 times to Germany and overall had almost no problems. The two things I mentioned were the worst things that happened. And really they weren't terrible and they worked out in the end.

 

(I have to stop being so pessimistic!)

 

Meh .. you're funny. Not in a slapstick kind of way, obviously. :D

 

 

(Hoping that didnt come across as an offensive, "I'm laughing at you.")

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another suggestion is to try not to get connecting flights too close together. An hour in between is NEVER enough time if you have a family. We learned that the hard way. : / We ran for all we were worth and didn't make the connecting flight. And can you believe the b*tch who we spoke to at the customer service asked if we ran to make the flight? I wanted to tear her a new one. The flight before had been delayed on top of it. We had about 10 minutes to run the length of an extremely large airport and get through security. It just wasn't happening. So then we ended up waiting 5 hours for another flight.

 

Not to scare you! Just telling you stuff I wish I had known!

 

If you are connecting through SYD (Sydney Australia) you want at least 3 hours because you have to go through immigration & customs, even if you are just transiting to another international flight. For most other airports I've found the recommended times for transiting listed on their websites to be correct. If you need to change terminals in an airport, allow an extra hour beyond that listed on the website. JMHO

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh I missed the layover comment first time round. Definitely something we're considering.

 

Another thing we are considering is just the airports themselves. When we went with DS we caught the international flight in NYC and that meant a lot of up and down escalators and/or ramps and/or elevators plus the train, all with a bunch of luggage and a hyperactive child. We will not be going through there by choice again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I avoid NYC like the plague. Chicago is ok, as is Dallas. Went through Dulles (Washington DC) a lot pre-kid, only once with kid, but it was ok too.

 

(I keep stalking this thread because we travel internationally a lot and I'm always looking for new tips, and reminders of old ones, like the Ziplocks.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We took all 5 kids to Paris in May when my youngest was 2.

 

We bought a few seasons of Sesame Street for the iPad and a bunch of new games.

 

She sat in her carseat with her headphones on the entire trip there and back without making a peep.

 

The flight attendants complimented us on "being prepared".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh I missed the layover comment first time round. Definitely something we're considering.

 

Another thing we are considering is just the airports themselves. When we went with DS we caught the international flight in NYC and that meant a lot of up and down escalators and/or ramps and/or elevators plus the train, all with a bunch of luggage and a hyperactive child. We will not be going through there by choice again.

 

 

I've been through a few airports in my time flying internationally. Of the major international airports I've been through here is some info. This doesn't include the many tiny 1-2 gate international airports in the middle of no where. :p

 

Airports I really liked:

Singapore (SIN) ---great service. When we were there, they even lent us a free stroller for our lay-over time. Showers/hotel available in the airport, so no going through immigration/customs necessary if you don't want to leave the airport.

Seoul, Korea (ICN) ---Showers/hotel available in the airport, so no going through immigration/customs necessary if you don't want to leave the airport

San Francisco (SFO) ---so much nicer than LAX IMHO

 

Airports I avoid if at all possible:

Sydney, Australia (SYD) ---having to go through immigration / customs even when just transiting to another international flight is a PAIN & has caused many to miss their connecting flight. Airport closes, so no option of overnighting in the airport.

LA (LAX) ---I avoid if at all possible

Newark (EWR) ---It's been a few years, but I didn't like EWR much for some reason

 

 

 

Overall, I have found the major Asian airports & airlines to be so much nicer to travel through when compared to those in America. If I have the option I try to fly through Asia. Often it has worked out cheaper, but a few more hours longer. The service is great both in the airports & on the plane.

 

JMHO,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another suggestion is to try not to get connecting flights too close together. An hour in between is NEVER enough time if you have a family. We learned that the hard way. : / We ran for all we were worth and didn't make the connecting flight.

 

WendyK - was it Frankfurt? It was our transit stop from Stockholm to the US, and it wasn't just the 1h interval but the fact they had to stop each US-bound passenger and enter some paperwork that almost made us miss our flight.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In regards to layovers... I agree. Go for a longer one. You need it to get out, stretch your legs, move around, clear your head. When we came home last summer it was 7 hours from here to Tokyo then 13 hours from Tokyo to Detroit with only a 1 hour layover in between.

 

It was BRUTAL.

 

On the way back we had a 6 hour layover in Hong Kong and it was lovely! We ate at a restaurant, shopped, let the kids run around at the play area, etc.

 

You have to go through immigration in Tokyo too but they are pretty fast.

 

Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific are FANTASTIC airlines!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I ran Heathrow with a five year old last week. It was awful.

 

Definitely get at least a two hour layover. I prefer three hours, especially in Europe where they make you go through security multiple times. Never been to Asia so I don't know what it is like over there.

 

And if you don't need a laptop, leave it at home. It's a royal pain to pull it out at Every. Single. Security. Checkpoint. You can do so much with an iPad these days that I'm never traveling with a laptop again if I can help it!

 

(I had a rotten trip last week, still trying to see the humor in it but it's going to be a long time coming.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We've lived in Germany (our younger two were born there) for 5 years and Hawaii for 3, so we've flown overseas quite a bit, although not nearly as many actual hours on a plane as you're talking.

 

Things that help us:

Let them know what's coming. Explain the loud noise they will hear from the engines just before the plane takes off, etc.

 

Get the kids up super-early (like 4 am for a 9:00 flight). Feed them a heavy breakfast. Give them dramamine just before getting on the plane. Dramamine makes them sleepy and helps with any potential airsickness/motion sickness (one of mine gets motion sick and one gets airsick). They will usually sleep the first 4-5 hours of the flight when we do this. Also, give them gum or a candy that creates a lot of saliva (like Starburst) for when the plane is taking off. This encourages them to swallow and helps their ears pop.

 

Our flying with little kids back and forth from Germany was in the days before so much technology. Non-electronic hits (at various ages) have been things like laceboards, paper doll sticker books, origami, snacks, those color your own puzzle packs, card games, dot-to-dot, wikki stix, stockmar or triangular crayons that won't roll.

 

I agree with others that you'll want some water. Those carts don't come around quite often enough, imo.

 

Which airport we go through is going to depend on the time of year. I usually avoid LAX too, but in February? I'd choose LAX over San Francisco or Denver because you're likely to get delayed due to weather in the latter two at certain times of the year.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Those are all good suggestions. I wanted to ad that another thing I did was make a "golden phone ticket" that I made that allowed them to use my phone to play with or watch something. We don't have iPads or any other screen thing for them. It had a certain amount of time and it worked really well because they had to wait and decide when would be best to use it and they got to play with it all by themselves.

 

Also, I pakes individual bags (huge ziplocks) with new books, activities, snacks for each flight, so it was something new each time. Like my son got a little Lego thing on one flight to put together, a daughter got a small bead kit, stuff like that. Also, I put snacks in the bags that they don't normally get, but like, like Cheetos (I also put little wet wipes in their bags).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you have kids who are sound-sensitive (or maybe even if not), the kids' ear protectors (DD's are Pelnor Kids) are wonderful-DD puts hers on before she even enters the plane. The nice thing about those is that if she wants to do something on my iPad that requires sound, she can put the ear buds inside the ear protectors (they don't even have to go in her ears), and both block out the plane noise and hear the iPad better. We got hers from an OT, but you can buy them online. We've never done a flight more than across the USA, but I think that they'd be worth the bag space for longer flights even for kids WITHOUT sensory issues.

 

If you have kids who have had tubes in the past, or have tubes now, Earplanes can be worth the cost. They help equalize pressure, and if you have recently healed over tubes incisions, or pulling scar tissue, or the tube is clogged with wax, it hurts a LOT more (according to DH, who has now had tubes on one side pretty much continuously for about 25 years) than an ear that has never had that surgery. Earplanes help a lot.

 

One thing that has saved us on long train trips with electronics-figure out in advance how you're going to charge the darned things! If you can get a seat that lets you plug in and recharge in transit (or just run from their power), it's worth it to pay a little extra to do so. Even on domestic flights, I've not had much luck recharging on layovers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One thing I like to do is make a small notebook (usually in an A5 clearfile) with info for me. Included is:

---an iteniry that I type up with flight #, departure/arrival times & airports, flight duration, assigned seats, & any meals provided

---a chart listing important info of everyone in our family (i.e. birthdate, passport numbers, etc.) makes filling out the arrival cards much easier when I don't need to juggle 9 passports at the end of a 14 hour flight.

---a detailed packing list for each carry-on & checked bag with any foods highlighted (makes going through customs much easier)

---a print-out of each airport we will be in + any important info (i.e. location of playgrounds, showers, etc.)

---a print-out of any hotel reservations

---I add our baggage claim tickets when we check in + any reciepts we need to keep for any reason.

 

I, also, put our passports in a ziploc bag (one bag for US passports, one bag for NZ passports) for ease of finding in my carry-on.

 

***Wear comfortable clothing. If you need to be dressed up when you arrive, you can always change before you exit the arrival area. you want to be comfortable, especially on any flights longer than 6 hours. Wear cartigans instead of pull-overs if possible & pull-on shoes, not tie shoes. Make sure everyone, including very young children, have footwear. I have been on a plane delayed because a toddler did not have footwear. Even carrying the child was not an acceptable reason for no footwear. My dc liked the LLBean polarfleece slippers for footwear on the plane. We always change from shoes to slippers when we get on the plane.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We are in the middle of what turned into a 15 hour travel day with a 4 & 7 year old.

All the little things people are mentioning make a big difference.

 

Here are my top picks:

1. Empty water bottle (sports type) for each kid with a carabeener Clip.

2. Small backpack they can each carry. Not jammed, but with a few new things.

3. Loose rules on screens.

4. Blind eye toward usual OCD nature toward touching public things (this may just be a reminder forme) but bring a vat of hand sanitizer.

5. We brought our own blankets with hoods that fold into a ball for each kid and it helped a lot. Airplanes are randomly freezing or hot, which my 4yob in particular has trouble with when he's exhausted.

6. If you, like me, tend to hurry- leave that part if yourself in your checked bag

7. If you can avoid sitting anywhere near the bathrooms, DO! We had a guy lose his lunch on the way there today and I am soooooo grateful we were not in the danger zone. Plus, it really bugs me to have people standing over my personal space.

 

Happy trails!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oooh, ooooh, can I answer??!! Yesterday we made our 8th international flight with 3 children under the age of 5, in the past 12 months! Not counting a few short domestic flights this year and all the flying before this year...

 

Anyway, some things I haven't seen mentioned yet:

- My ears really hurt during descent. Our kids don't seem as sensitive to it as I am, but I always plan for this. I offer babies nursing or a sippy cup, and I give older kids candy that needs to be chewed. Our recent discovery is that Pez dispensers work great for this! Buy each kid a new Pez dispenser, fill it with candy and let them eat it during descent. With any luck, they will also turn them into toys and you'll have entertained kids, with no sticky or melting candy. Then confiscate the dispensers until the descent of the next flight, when you refill them.

- I think the hardest part of a long flight is the very end: no electronics, inflight entertainment turned off, no using tray table (to color or whatever), everyone is tired of sitting. I plan for this by having one or two toy options that I save for this time. One good option is silly putty (doesn't need a tray table).

- When we start a flight, I don't give out toys until I need to. If kids can be entertained for 30 minutes by playing with their seat belt, looking at the window, looking at the safety card or inflight magazine, etc, great!

- Our flights go much smoother when I carefully pack carry-ons for in-flight access. You want most of your carry-ons in the overhead bin instead of taking up your space, but you don't want to be getting up to get stuff out any more than you have to. So, with your kids ages, I would have my middle two wear a backpack (telling them how important their backpacks are for your family and how proud you are that they are big enough to help) and plan to keep those smaller backpacks under the seats in front of you (plural you). Fill with: toys for the flight, sippy cups/water bottles (one for each kid), snacks, coloring stuff, etc. Not just for them but for everyone. I'd have the 7 year old responsible for a larger carry-on (like a rolling suitcase) that I'd plan to put in the overhead bin, and I'd have that contain things I hoped to not have to access, like a change of clothes for everyone but the youngest, and extra diapers. Then I'd have a diaper bag that I planned to keep under the seat in front of me, with things I needed FOR THAT FLIGHT, diapers, wipes, change of clothes for the youngest, toiletries like chapstick, etc. Then during my layover, I'd do any adjusting I needed to, like re-stock the diaper stash in the diaper bag, exchange dirty clothes for clean ones, etc.

- I know you said the youngest was in diapers. I don't know how much you trust the pottying skills of the next-youngest, but I would consider pull-ups in light of: 1) we had one kid who was intimidated by the tiny airplane bathroom and especially by its loud flushing and she just refused to go 2) there are lots of times when an urgent potty need is really inconvenient (like being in line for security checks) and 3) hopefully, he/she will fall asleep at some point....

- I have to make sure I get fiber to eat every day, so I appreciate why a pp suggested taking along fruit (I don't mind airplane food, but fresh it is usually not). BUT I really cannot imagine wrangling 4 kids on a flight and keeping fresh fruit from being squished!! What I prefer is packing DRIED fruit (raisins, dried apricots, maybe prunes) and for our most recent 14 hour flight (with a domestic flight and layover before that), I packed a quart-size ziploc bag full of baby carrots and another full of celery sticks. Worked great.

Honestly, it sounds like you will be tired at the end, and ready to quit traveling, but it doesn't sound that bad to me! Your kids are all old enough to get their own seat and old enough to understand simple instructions and explanations, but young enough they will probably be really excited and have a great time! Play it up like the big adventure it is:)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...