Surviving long haul holidays with kids

Whether you’re flying with a baby to see family or travelling with teens, these timeworn travel tips are your safest bet to help ensure happy travels.

Holidays with kids can be great, but flying long haul with children in tow can be a bit of a challenge, to say the least. Planning, communication and a bag of tricks are essential to make it to your destination without the whole plane glaring at you. Survive the journey with these long haul flight tips.

Make a battle plan (with the kids)

Pack everything you need, including snacks, drinks (refillable bottles so you can empty them if instructed by security), books, games, iPads, and back-up chargers for devices. Get the kids involved with the plan so they feel a sense of ownership and responsibility. Explain the journey ahead from check-in to touch down, get them excited about the trip and let them pick some things to take in their carry-on.

Schedule sleeps

Your little ones are going to be sitting in a seat with 24-hour access to TV and games, so sleep will be the farthest thing from their minds. If you don’t set boundaries from the outset, you’ll be arguing with an overtired six-year-old on his third Pixar movie.

Try to get into the rhythm of the flight: have a meal, watch a movie, then sleep time (and, no, putting your head down for two minutes doesn’t count). Stick to your guns. Parenting on a plane is about as public as it gets, but if you cave on the rests the whole flight will be a disaster. Trying to book a night flight also helps.

Take some familiar things

For a first-time flyer, something familiar can be very soothing in all the noise of flight. If your children are prone to homesickness, a favourite blanket or bear is an ideal travel companion, even for older kids. Pack something that calms them down and you’ll be thankful later on.

Be prepared

It may seem that you pack way too much for holidays with kids, however being prepared may mean the difference between a minor annoyance and a full scale health drama.

Check that you can take any necessary medications in your carry-on luggage, because if one of your children’s famous “fevers from nowhere” hits at 30,000 feet, you need to be prepared. Same goes for Ventolin and an EpiPen for children with asthma or allergies – don’t assume all aircraft have these on board. You’ll also need to make sure you have the right level of travel insurance just in case something does go awry.

Back-up snacks

Airline meal times are pretty inflexible and you know how kids are when they get “hangry”, so make sure you have plenty of snacks on hand to keep hunger at bay.

Prepare to get messy

Pack wet wipes. Lots and lots of wet wipes. Kids make a mess so make sure you have something to clean them up, and a full change of clothes for each kid in your hand luggage. If you’re travelling with a baby you need even more gear but never under pack for mess management, because a damp or dirty child is a grumpy child.

Take a hike

On bigger planes, stretch the legs of your little ones by taking them for a wander. For older kids who don’t need supervision, make sure they wear shoes to the toilet, as aircraft floors are full of bacteria (and wet, dirty socks are very unpleasant).

Break up the journey

For travel between Europe and Australia, consider a night or two stopover rather than pushing on through. Whether you’re travelling with a baby or your teens, the break will be good for everyone and it’s a good opportunity to explore a new city.

Need passport photos or travel insurance? Before you travel with kids get organised with our travel essentials.