My Top 6 Tips for flying Long Haul with Kids

Monday, 23 November 2015

After returning back to Northern Ireland from the US back in August, I thought I'd be grounded for a while - until the idea of Thanksgiving loomed closer and closer I couldn't help but start to think about an American Thanksgiving. Last year I put together a pretty nice Ex-Pat Thanksgiving and had planned to do the same this year, but after checking out some flight prices and finding really good options, I couldn't help but plan one last trip to the States this year! Now that my little traveller is over the age of 2, international travel has changed just a little bit. There are ups and downs to no longer having a "lap child" - the upside they have their own seat!! The downside - you pay for it! There are however a few things we've learned along the way to make our trip a little more comfortable! 


1. Children's Tickets - Some (not all airlines) offer children's prices for very young children on International tickets only. For us, it worked out to be a $100+ savings! You cannot however book these online - they will need to be booked over the phone with your airline. 

2. Children's Meals - Meals are typically only served on international flights, so if you're taking one be sure and request a child's meal for your little one. We were able to do this online and I was impressed with the meal. Firstly, it will arrive before the adult meals so I was able to help Miss P without trying to balance my own tray simultaneously. Second, the selection was great! Chicken nuggets with boiled carrots and greens, a kid-friendly salad, crackers, cheese and dessert! 

Tip - bring your own sippie-cup and ask the flight attendants to refill it when they offer drinks, just to avoid any spillage during the flight. 

3. Seats - whenever possible, make sure you grab seats for yourself and your family in advance of your trip. Usually, you can do this online, but if you don't see what you're looking for, give the airline a call and let them know that you're travelling with a small child/children and that you need seats together. They will always accommodate seats when flying with little ones, if not in advance of your flight, then at check in/gate, but I prefer knowing my options in advance. Whenever possible, I like to put Miss P at the window - she can look out and see plenty, and by keeping her away from the aisle, any dropped items, thrown items (!!), etc. are out of the way. She can even stand up between me and the window and she's somewhat "contained" in that space, which is helpful, especially when you're on your own with little ones. 

Tips and Tricks for Traveling with babies and young children - follow along at @awayweego
Miss P Enjoying Elsa for the 10th Time
4. Frequent Flyer Accounts - now that your little one is old enough to have their own seat, they're old enough to collect and cash in on those miles!! Sign your child up for a frequent flyer number as soon as they turn two. You may need to provide some extra information to do so, rather than applying online, for the child's protection, but the miles are worth it, especially now that you'll be purchasing one more ticket. Accruing miles can help offset the cost of further flights down the road, upgrades, etc. Every little bit helps! 

5. Children's Items - Even though you no longer have an infant, doesn't mean your little one doesn't still require special items to fly with. Delta for example allows in addition to the normal baggage allowance a free child's item to be checked, such as a stroller or car seat. Since Wawa ended up purchasing her own car seat for our house we no longer have to drag that back in forth, but it's nice to know the option is there. Even though Miss P is very independent, I still bring along a stroller to be gate checked. Airports are big places and it will speed along the process if you bring along a stroller or carrier to move around the airport. Unfortunately, P has outgrown her carrier, so stroller it is! Don't forget to pre-board for some extra time to break down the stroller, stash your carry ons, etc. 

6. Potty-Trained Toddlers - Miss P was out of her diapers at about 26 months (yay!) but she's still a little person and there are times when travelling that make it difficult to get to the potty in time. In addition to travelling with back up clothes for her (in case of spills, accidents, etc.) I prefer to keep her in a pull up for flights. You never know if unplanned turbulence or even a service cart blocking the bathroom will delay your visit - so in case of accidents, I do use a pull up when we fly, and bring a few extras just in case. P actually did splendid and told me each time she had to go, but we did have an incident when the service cart blocked our way to the bathroom for TWENTY minutes! The pull-up saved us from having a massive accident...

All in all, we had a very comfortable flight with Miss P. She has travelled enough that she knows there are certain rules that we follow - such as staying in our seat while the seat belt sign is illuminated, and that we use "inside voices" while on board, so she's pretty comfortable with flying in general. The entertainment systems on international flights are also a great tool for us! P loooooves movies, and for her to have her choice of kids movies is a big win for her! (Even if all she managed to watch was Frozen on repeat for 7 hours...) It keeps her happy and entertained.

What are your best tips for flying with a little one?

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