About to fly long haul with a baby or kids? Our family travel hacks for kids will help you breathe easy, mama
For most of us, the thought of traveling on planes with small kids is enough to induce little bouts of internal hysteria. How will you cope (often on your own!)? How will you keep your kids still, in their seats and most of all quiet? Have you downloaded all these educational apps for your kids? We can’t promise to solve all your travel problems but with this handy guide to family travel hacks for kids compiled by real jet-setter mamas – why yes the answer is not just an iPad! – we hope we can at least bring you some calm before your trip!
Check out our gallery for all our travel essentials for kids!
Why I love it: On multiple occasions when our daughter was in the “too young to watch videos” stage, you would’ve found my husband and me up in the wee hours before a morning flight blearily stringing Cheerios onto a length of thread. It was SO worth it, though, because it kept her little hands occupied for nearly an hour at a time while also satisfying a snack craving in a not-entirely-unhealthy way. The longer, the better (and I highly suggest making a few for the flight there and back)!
Age: Good for any age
Why I love it: I generally starve my kids of screen time in pursuit of the low media child. This practice goes completely out the window when we travel — we load the ipad with all the best apps (yes the kids have to share one #siblingrivalry) and they can binge watch to their heart’s content until they eventually pass out from the exertion. Cue mama wine time.
Why I love it: What better way to get excited about a trip abroad than to read about the exciting places you are off to? Lonely Planet Kids are a fave with my kids. Brain Teasers (ages 5-8) is packed with number and logic puzzles to challenge little minds in a fun travel-themed way. This is a great one when they need a break from watching the screen on the plane. My Holiday Scrapbook consists of 40 pages + two sticker sheets (ages 5-8 but good for preschoolers too) and is a colourful way of bringing holidays back home where kids can collect and store mementos from their travels. Also in the series: My Holiday Drawing Book and My Family Travel Map (ages 8-12) a giant unfolding continent map which kids can personalize to mark their family’s travels. Smiggle also does great activity books for sketching and doodling plus any sticker books work a treat. Psst! CLICK HERE for Free Lonely Planet PDF Activity Sheets!
Why I love it: My kids used to get sick after every long haul flight and if there’s anything worse then starting a holiday with massively jet lagged kids its starting a holiday with massively jet lagged kids who are sick. The last few times we have traveled I have wiped down every surface of our seats, tray table, remote control and armrests and amazingly the kids were sniffle-free. You do get odd looks but that’s a small price to pay in my eyes.
Age: Baby to 18 months
Why I love it: Does your baby or toddler love pulling stuff out of boxes or baskets? (Is the sky blue?) Another hit when my daughter was about 1, the scarf-in-a-box kept her occupied for big chunks of time, plus it’s portable and mess-free! As a bonus it’s great for working on fine motor skills. I actually cut a hole in the bottom of the box, then strung a few scarves together in one long loop so we never had to bother with repacking the box!
Age: Good for 0-5 years
Why I love it: Although my son is old enough not to have to wear nappies during the day he still wears nappies at night. When flying, especially for long haul flights allowing him to wear nappies allows him to sleep through the night and saves me having to take him to the toilet endless times.
Age: From age 3 and up
Why I love it: Packing their own rucksack is a ritual in our family (but I usually do a double check and take half of it out). First thing chucked in is their squishy travel pillow which doubles up as their cuddly toy for the trip. When they get on the plane, my kids change into PJs for their night flight and slip their travel pillows around their necks ready for take-off.
Why we love it: For the little ones with little attention span, having a variety of snacks on hand is a must. Favourites include cut up fruit, blueberries, cucumber sticks, yogurt sachets and finger foods (cheerios, homemade biscuits, puffs). If you keep the snacks in little compartments (Daiso has a huge range), then accessing the snacks becomes entertainment in itself.
Why we love it: If your kids are glued to the screen for the entire trip there will be a meltdown at some point, so it’s helpful to have activities planned to break up screen time and give their eyes a rest. Hopefully kids will sleep. For the time in between pack a few new toys (Daiso stocks cheap $2 toys). Wrap them up for extra entertainment – figuring out how to unwrap the paper will kill a good 5 extra minutes – bonus!
Lead image sourced via Huffpost
Cheerios necklace image from Besos Alina sourced via Pinterest
Babies with iPad image by Jelleke Vanooteghem via Unsplash
Antibacterial wipes image from Reader’s Digest
Scarf-in-a-box image left: Bhinderer
Diaper bag image from @lilijadeco
Snacks image by My Frugal Adventures
Colouring image by Kidsplay via YouTube
Sheet mask image by Chrissy Teigen via InStyle