Top 8 Tips on Surviving Long-Haul Flights with Toddlers

Updated: Jan 17, 2019

Summer time is always the best season to travel with babies and toddlers. As both my husband and I have relatives living in North America, every year we try to make it back to visit them at least once or twice. This year, we made our trip back during the Easter holidays. It was our first ever air trip with Karson on a long haul flight (12 hours each way) to Vancouver and we were also dropping by San Francisco in between. Our parents and friends called us “crazy” for taking a toddler on such a long trip. But we determined to make it and we managed to survive the flight without major complications.

So hereby, I would like to share with you my top 8 flying tips.

1. Must bring a stroller We were originally using a large stroller for our everyday travel at home. However, the large stroller was too bulky and difficult to stow. So instead, we decided to purchase a lightweight and collapsible stroller for our trip and I must say, the money on the stroller was worth spent. Not only were we able to handle our bags while caring for Karson, we were also able to take the stroller right up to the aircraft door. It saved us a lot of hassle and avoided issues like “run-away” baby.

2. Book a red eye flight I was blaming my husband at first for booking a “red-eye flight” (flight that leaves after 9 p.m.). However, it ended up being the best choice ever. As soon as we lifted up in the air, Karson was yawning and ready for bed. We were very lucky that he managed to sleep for 10 out of the 12 hours on our fight over to Vancouver, which made our ride so much easier!

3. Arrange for a bulkhead seat The bulkhead seats are the first row seats of a section. When you make reservations for your flight you have to make a special request for these seats. These seats are given on a first come first serve basis. By means, if you make your request earlier, you have a higher chance to get them. Most airlines also offer bassinet cot on request. So do remember to do your bookings for travel early.

4. Bring a blanket and pillow for your little one It has been researched and told by many that airplanes are the most unhygienic places to be in. Despite sanitizing and washing of the pillows and blankets, I still feel uncomfortable letting my little one use them. So we brought his from home. He was able to keep warm at all times in his little blanket both on the plane and in the airport. They were also necessities to help him sleep through the ride.

5. Fill up water bottle/s Filled water bottles are essentials on a plane ride with your toddler. When it comes to lifting up and landing, water is a very handy depressurizer. I was told by multiple moms to have Karson drink water when the plane is lifting and landing. It helped a lot as he didn’t fuss at all during those moments.

6. Keep milk handy This is what every parent should know and be aware of at all times.

7. Prepare on flight entertainment Besides lots of toys, books and snacks, I recommend i-pad or any tablet. I am not a fan of letting my son play with any electronic devices/gadgets, but a long-haul flight is an exception. These devices play magic as they are a multiple entertainment platform. Remember to download all game apps, clips and movies beforehand.

8. Bring a pair of fitted headphones Both my husband and I did a bit of research before we purchased Karson’s headphones. The on-flight complimentary headphones would definitely not fit toddlers and maybe even kids. So it is a must to bring your own. We purchased ours at BOSE. Besides the sound quality, we wanted to make sure that the headphones were light and small enough to fit Karson’s little head.

Our parents and friends called us “crazy” for taking a toddler on such a long trip. But we determined to make it and we managed to survive the flight without major complications.

I hope that these 8 survival tips can help make your long-haul flight easier. One last thing before I end this, remember to sleep well the night before and be mentally prepared for a long ride with red eyes. Even though your little may be able to sleep, they may not be sleeping as well as they usually would a home. So you will expect to be serving them the whole night or at least 2/3 of the night.