10 Tips for Flying Internationally With Kids (From Moms Who've Been There)

As Cora and I prepare to make the voyage across the sea to Spain and see Orlando play in the FIBA World Cup for Mexico, I can’t help but start to feel that anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach.  It happens every time we’re about to fly, whether it’s to Indiana or Mexico.  We’ve got the routine pretty much down: one bag for activities, one bag for food.  Change of clothes. Water in a sippy cup, be prepared to have it tested by TSA. I’ve even written about our experiences flying when Cora was an infant, and as a toddler.  A transatlantic flight, however, is a whole new level of travel madness for us.  The Charlotte to Madrid leg along is going to be 8 straight hours cooped up on a packed plane, not to mention we’ll be way back in coach because I refuse to pay for extra leg room for my 2 year old.

Being the Type A personality that I am, I’ve started crowd sourcing, researching, and pinterest-ing my life away in an effort to feel as prepared as possible for our impending trip.  I’ve had a lot of amazing mom friends, blogger friends, and random articles provide tid bits that I will definitely be incorporating in to our strategy.  Flying with children is not for the faint of heart period,  but being in the air for the better part of 24 hours with tiny people who are occasionally difficult to reason with is possibly only for the mentally unstable.  Thus, here are the 10 best tips and tricks specifically for long-haul, international flights that I’ve been able to gather thus far:

  1. If you’ll be flying during regular sleeping hours, let them fly in their pajamas. They’ll be more comfortable – Stacy, Kids Stuff World
  2. Order the special diet meals, notably the kosher one, because they wrap the servings individually to avoid contamination. This way if you are unable to finish eating you can save it quickly when they come to get the trays and snack when you need to. – Susie, Free Rose Studio
  3. I always ask if they could get me an extra seat. It only works if the flight is not full. – Bridget
  4. We individually wrap little presents. Craft supplies like coloring and even glue stick and Pom poms use some time. Post it’s can go anywhere and come off easily. I learned a lot of drawing games, draw a picture have them finish it, draw a picture as a ticket for them…lots of imaginative play. – Anna, Hippie Mama, PhD
  5. Pack balloons for long waits in transit and hotel rooms – balloon tennis is fun and doesn’t take any room in your luggage! – Laine, via Planning with Kids
  6. I brought a bag of candy (could be anything your child loves but doesn’t get often) I was able to pass out slowly at take off/landing to keep my toddler sitting and buckled since she couldn’t be in my lap (and loudly let everyone know she didn’t want to). – Katie, Texas Tigers
  7. So it takes a lot of work helping them be okay so extra stuff for you is good too. Those special snacks to get YOU through a little rough patch. Some essential oils to help you both relax.- Anna, Hippie Mama, PhD
  8. The larger jet planes for international flights have bassinets for infants for those seated behind the bathroom walls or service area walls. But know that those seats are always the first to go. So call and reserve those seats first. – Tiffany, Simply Modern Mom
  9. Definitely book into a hotel during stopover if you have more than a couple of hours, it makes such a difference. – Janice, via Planning with Kids
  10. It is finite and you will get through. – Anna, Hippie Mama, PhD

That last one from my friend Anna is probably my favorite. It is finite.  20 years from now we will only remember the fantastic time we had in Spain, and maybe just briefly the flights it took to get there.  Although my mother does still tell the story of one disastrous flight to California where my sister threw up all over the back of the plane.  Knock on wood Cora doesn’t suddenly decide to inherit that flair for the dramatic.  8 hours is not long in the grand scheme of things, I’ll have help, and Cora has never failed to surprise me with her maturity when it comes to traveling.  Kids are resilient, aren’t we told that on a daily basis?  Me, on the other hand, I’ll be taking Anna’s advice and packing a few little treats for myself as well.  Maybe I’ll even download Magic Mike on the iPad for when Cora’s asleep. 😉  Let me know if you have any advice to add to the list!



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