5 things to keep children happy on a long flight
Personally, I love relaxing on airplanes – reading, watching movies and being served by others. Since having kids, this hasn’t happened, as their primary aim appears to be to make sure I serve them and don’t get to relax!
I am just back from a holiday with my husband and two daughters (aged 4 and 6) to Thailand. We had an amazing trip, despite the daunting 23 hour journey, which included three flights and two stop overs (each way). Before leaving, lots of people gave me sound advice (and sometimes not so sound – like drugging my children with herbal remedies to put them to sleep for the journey!) on how to make the journey as pleasant as possible. Since our flights went really well, I thought I’d pass on some of the advice and bring it down to ‘5 things to keep children happy on a long flight’
Before I go into detail about the 5 things that helped make our journey so pleasant, I want to highlight 4 things:
- I had already paid for the flights, so anything we brought had to be cheap or free! I didn’t want to pay a fortune on top of what I’d already paid!
- I didn’t want to be loaded down with lots of extra large items. What I brought for my daughters went into their hand luggage which they carried. If I’d put in heavy items, they would have grumbled about the weight and my hubby and I would have been left carrying their bags too.
- My children are 4 and 6. I think what I’ve chosen would suit children approx. 3 to 8 years old. Maybe I’ll do a bit of research over the next few weeks and write a blog with ideas of what to pack when flying with babies and toddlers and another one for older children.
- I wanted everything to be ‘new’ to my child so that there was a novelty/discovery element that would help occupy them for longer than a toy or book they had already played with/read.
Ok, here goes – the top five things that kept my daughters entertained on our long flight were:
1. A Magazine
It’s kinda become tradition in our family now, that when we fly, we move through the airport as quickly as possible and then when we reach our departure area, we spend the remaining time before boarding in WH Smyths, choosing a magazine each. This not only puts in airport time, but the girls love getting a new magazine which they spend the flight reading and doing the puzzles/crafts in. Most children’s magazines these days come with a few plastic toys too.
2. A New Toy/Craft
Take the time before you leave to choose a new toy or craft that would be suitable to play with on a flight. Before leaving, I got my children to look through the pocket money toys page on my website and choose one item each. My four year old choose Melissa and Doug Scratch Art. It was a great choice for her as she hasn’t mastered colouring within the lines yet, and the scratch art comes with stencils which means that you use the stylus to scratch within the stencil and you have a gorgeous (neat) picture at the end. There’s 4 pages in the pack, so I encouraged her to keep two for the return journey. This was hard for her, as she loved doing it so much, she just wanted to keep going!
My older daughter choose a mini box of Mosaic Stickers. There’s 5 creations to make in this box, so these kept her busy during the flight and she gave the completed ones out as gifts to hotel staff and friends she made while away. The stickers are raised so she managed to peel them and stick them without any help from us.
Another popular item that people regularly buy from me for holidays are Water Colouring Books. I stock the Water Magic Unicorns and the Water Magic Farm. These are both mess free re-usable books which young children love.
3. A Book
Before leaving, I ordered a few books from the Library which I knew my girls would enjoy. It’s easy and inexpensive to order specific books and worth the effort.
4. A Workbook/Colouring Book
Since we were taking our girls out of school/pre-school, I was feeling a bit guilty that their education would suffer! I packed an Alphabet Sticker book and a Wipe Clean Numbers Book which they loved working on during the flights and on holidays.
5. In-flight Entertainment
Our middle flight (which was over 11 hours long) had in-flight entertainment, which the girls loved. There was a huge selection of films and programmes and we asked the flight attendants to ‘child lock’ the girl’s screens so, if we fell asleep, they didn’t wander onto a programme or film that wasn’t suitable for them. Although this is brilliant, don’t rely on it too heavily. My husband’s one was broken for one of the flights and the flight was full, so he had to do without. The girls were also given a pencil case, with 4 colouring pencils, some stickers and some puzzles by the Airline.
When planning your holiday, we put a lot of time into researching the area, hotel etc and not a lot of time goes into planning the flight. However, if you can start and finish your holiday well, it makes for a brilliant holiday. If your kids are happy on the airplane, parents tend to be happy too. Bored children can make a flight unpleasant and stressful, so spend a little longer planning for the flight and I think you’ll find it’s worth it.
Overall, our flights went really well. I hope if you are travelling with children this summer, that this blog might help alleviate any worry you have about long flights. I’d also love to hear what you bring to keep your children happy on the flights, so please comment below and we can all benefit from each other’s experiences.