Nine survival tactics for overseas flights with kids

By Monica McInnes

With overseas travel more affordable and accessible for families, it’s easy to daydream about your next adventure. But if the very thought of a long-haul flight leaves you weak at the knees, make your imaginary holiday a reality with these nine top tips for surviving any overseas flight with your rugrats.

1. Choose the right flight
Before booking, make sure you choose the right flight. Cheap deals are enticing but can often mean waking your sleeping three-year old at 1am to catch a 5am flight. Or maybe you have an eight-hour stopover in an airport – hot tip, kids aren’t at their best waiting in airport terminals.

2. Check out what’s at the airport
If you’re lucky enough to be transiting through the likes of Singapore’s Changi Airport, you may actually want to embrace that long layover. Look for airports with indoor play areas for kids, or airport hotels inside the terminal, or if the city centre or tourist attractions are close to the airport and public transport is reliable consider an outside excursion.

3. Pack a change of clothes – for everyone!
We always have a change of clothes for kids, but we rarely think to pack a change of clothes for us. Cue seatbelt sign ding and you’re ready for take off. Next minute your child is sick mid-air and their lunch ends up in your lap. It’s happened to me! Learn from my mistake.

4. Fantastic plastic
Plastic bags are your friend – pack a few into your carry-on – including some ziplock bags. They can store soiled clothes, dirty nappies, open packets of food you don’t want spilt throughout your bag, and keep valuables waterproof. You get the picture.

5. Chargers – for all devices
Inevitably every device you have will die at the same time and all hell will break loose if they aren’t fully charged come your next flight. Not all airlines feature in-seat USB chargers – especially if you are flying on the cheap. Pack enough chargers for your devices – you won’t regret it.

6. Hand sanitiser is your best friend!
Seriously – this little bottle of gold not only sanitises hands after a visit to the toilet that has no hand soap, but it can also be used to wipe down your tray table, arm rests, and even toilet seats. Throw in a couple of bottles and thank me later.

7. Healthy snacks
Unless you want a sugar-high kid on board, consider healthy options that are individually wrapped like muesli bars, small packets of dried fruit or nuts, and rice crackers. Limit chewy lollies for the descent to help kids equalise their ears. And don’t forget a bottle of water for each traveller – hydration is key for long-haul flights.

8. Pack for comfort
If you’re flying a budget airline – chances are they won’t have pillows or blankets on board. If you want to get some shut-eye, pack a travel pillow and warm clothes to help you and your little ones get some sleep mid-air.

9. Load up the devices
Many budget airlines don’t have on-board entertainment, so before arriving at the airport, install apps that don’t need WiFi and load up on movies to keep the kids entertained. If you’re travelling a little more upmarket, your carrier may provide access to the in-flight entertainment through an app, so make sure you download it at home first.

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