The Globehunters Guide to Flying with Children

POSTED BY Mavy | May 8, 2017
Label: Travel Tips

If you are currently planning your next big trip, you’ve probably given plenty of thought to which destinations you’d love to visit this year. But what about the process of getting there? Sometimes with all the excitement of the end destination in mind, this important part of the preparation doesn’t get enough thought. Holidays are an amazing opportunity to relax with your family. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of daily life is a wonderful break, but it does come with a few of its own challenges. Children and babies can be tricky to travel with, and at every age, there are new challenges. So how can you keep your children happy and entertained, keep your own stress levels to a minimum, and ensure that other passengers are not disturbed? Flying with children doesn’t need to be a nightmare, and we’re here to help you make it go as smoothly as possible. We reached out to leading airlines, travel experts, parents and bloggers to ask for their expert advice on how to make flying with children as easy as possible for everybody, and we’ve got some great tips to share with you. Keep reading to find out what advice they had to offer! You just might spot something you hadn’t thought of, or learn something you didn’t know.  


Paul Cruttenden, Marketing & Digital Sales Manager for Cathay Pacific UK told us…

In the days before you set off on your journey, explain to younger children where you’re going, what to expect (from queuing through to security, and then when on board), and perhaps choose a couple of books to bring this to life further to ensure they’re excited rather than nervous about the trip. Anticipate their needs – for example, if they’re young, make sure you have some handy snacks on hand just in case they get tetchy at border control queues. If they’re a bit older, ensure you have any handheld devices charged with their favourite programmes/movies uploaded so that you can easily distract them when boredom kicks in.   No matter their age, avoid heavy meals before travelling and choose tasty but nutritious foods – this will help them sleep better when en-route to your destination. Comfort is everything; if you’re flying overnight, make sure you’ve got some snuggly clothing that they can change into and consider cosy socks to keep warm – and don’t forget that all-important favourite cuddly toy or blanket that makes them feel secure at night. Take a pack of cards in your hand luggage and remind yourself of the rules for family favourite games to keep everyone happy. Colouring books and pencils are also good to have to hand. Always remember having some boiled sweets to hand in case their ears pop when taking off or landing. Drink plenty of water before, during and after the flight to ensure they’re hydrated enough. If you’re travelling long haul, consider the time of arrival and how this might impact sleep of little ones. Make sure you factor this in to avoid the grouch factor!

Virgin Atlantic told us…

Forward Food Thinking: Ensure your little ones receive a children’s meal onboard by ordering one online 48 hours in advance. The meals offer food specifically designed to appeal to children. Examples include: Pasta Bolognese with dinosaur pasta, yoghurt tubes, bags of fresh fruit and vegetables, Mini Cheddars, raisins, jam sandwiches Goodies Galore: We provide kids packs for all children that are collected when you board. The waterproof bag contains a child-sized eye mask printed with either star-shaped sunglasses, Kanye West-style shutter shades, goggles or snorkels, warm socks with a trainer or sandal design, a rainbow pen and a Lonely Planet Travel Journal. You’re not alone! - Speak to our crew once onboard as they can provide all parents travelling with children with a plastic bag - we know they generate a lot of rubbish. They can also provide you with emergency essentials in the event you run out, such as nappies, jars of baby food, plastic spoons and straws!  Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment: We have a superb selection of the latest child-friendly movies, a dedicated TV channel and games suitable for all ages. Surprise, Surprise: A top tip is to bring a couple of new toys/books onboard that can be wrapped and opened at pre-selected times. Sky High Exercising: When it’s safe to do so, it's fine for children to walk up and down the aircraft during the flight to stretch their little legs. Time to Snooze: To make flights comfortable for your baby (and peaceful for you), Virgin Atlantic have specially designed in-flight cots which you can pre-book free of charge. You can also bring your own child car seat to fit in your child’s seat as long as it meets safety standards. Children travelling alone: If your child is travelling without you, don’t worry, Virgin Atlantic offers a dedicated service for unaccompanied minors aged between 5 and 15.

Hawaiian Airlines told us…

Jetlag - Encourage the kids to move their legs once you arrive at your destination. It resets blood flow and reduces swelling. Packing - Keep chargers, snacks, games, etc. organised in different Ziploc bags. This makes for less clutter and protects against spills. Navigating the airport - To survive a layover with little ones, most airport hotels have day rooms for a fraction of the nightly rate. Money-saving tips - For an inexpensive and healthy meal, put oatmeal + your favorite toppings in a plastic bag and add hot water.  

Bloggers and travel experts

Jo / / Although my children are older now - my youngest is 14 years old - the same principles still seem to apply when it comes to travelling with children! Boredom and hunger are the two main culprits with my kids, so organisation is key. I always get them to download a few films or TV shows in advance and to make sure they have other things to do with them too, like a good book or some magazines. I’ll make sure I pack a good supply of snacks and drinks, plus I top up my Starbucks app - travelling with teens seem to involve a lot more fancy iced drinks than when you’re with toddlers!

Charlotte / / We've flown over 20 times with our 3-year-old (and more recently with our seven month old as well) - short haul and long haul. I think my top tips for entertaining children are as follows: An iPad loaded up with their favourite programmes and games (Duplo ones are great and free!). A must-have gadget is a good strong case and decent headphones with noise reduction to protect their little ears. A new sticker book (Usborne have some great ones!), some new colours and a new book. The novelty of new toys can save the day! For younger children, I won't travel without a set of plastic links. You can use them to connect toys to aeroplane tables etc. It means toys can't get thrown!! Things to pack: Snacks, snacks and snacks! Our personal favourites are fruit pouches (great for the little ones’ ears when taking off and landing). Avoid the banana based ones though they cause delays at security! Calpol and Nurofen sachets - just in case! Dummy on a clip. Can't be dropped. For getting little ones to sleep when on a plane: A Trunki travel pillow. Children can struggle to sleep sitting up so this really helps by supporting their neck. I think when travelling with children you have to ease off on routines. It's near on impossible to keep the up, especially when flying, so relax and get back on schedule when you've arrived and settled in.

Zoe Holland / / I always pack the children their own little rucksack...something they can carry themselves so they can feel independent. I pack novel items such as colouring books, pens, small Lego packs, sticker books, and a reading book. Nothing too fussy or with too many pieces. I prepare fiddly item like the logo with their own plastic container for when the packaging gets destroyed. I'd include a few snacks like yoghurt raisins and Pom bears in pots. Nothing that can melt or too squishy. I avoid drinks due to airport restrictions and the risk of them leaking. I also pack a small pack of baby wipes and a small purse with some holiday money. The children love being responsible for their own belongings and it avoids the constant requests for items from my own luggage. Depending on the length of the flight the children might also bring along a cuddly item that can double as a pillow like the flip a zoo characters. A friend and bedding in one!

Claire / / Give yourself plenty of time at the airport. Nappy explosions, or in our most recent experience of flying with toddlers, nose bleeds, are bound to happen in the minutes before you board. Also, don’t rush to the gate. Let other passengers stand in line. Entertaining kids with books, stickers and iPads is easier to do when you're not in a slow moving queue. 

Fritha / / Always pack an activity, whether it’s a colouring book or a pack of playing cards. Flying, and especially flying long distances can be hard for little ones, so distractions are key!

Donna / / Give your children their own bag to take on the flight full of simple activities - sticker books, colouring and small toys as well as their favourite snacks. This is great for keeping them occupied during the flight without having to rely on TV or tablets.

Jen Walshaw / / I have a child that gets anxious going new places due to being on the autism spectrum, so for us, it is key to show images of where we are going. We print out a map and images of our destination and the airport.  We try to keep things as familiar as possible, so if we need new clothes we buy them and get him to wear them. 

Colleen Lanin

Founder/Editor of / I recommend booking a seat for your baby or toddler, even though children under the age of two fly free. Not only is this the safer option, but also it gives your family more room to spread out and relax on the plane. The FAA agrees. On their site, it says, “FAA strongly urges parents and guardians to secure children in an appropriate restraint based on weight and size. Keeping a child in a CRS (child restraint system) is the smart and right thing to do.” Gate check your stroller. Passengers traveling with a stroller (or extra car seat) are allowed to check child gear at the gate at no extra charge. Simply tell the gate attendant that you need a gate check tag. Attach the tag to your stroller and deposit it at the bottom of the jetway. Strollers must be folded before you board the plane. Gatechecked items will typically be waiting for you at the same spot when you disembark at your destination. Bring double the necessities on board. That means bringing double the formula, diapers and wipes if traveling with a baby or toddler and doubling the snacks, toys and books that you think you’ll need when traveling with bigger children. Flight delays can stretch your travel time by hours and you need to be prepared. Never rely on the airline to provide food and drinks for your brood. You never know when a bout of turbulence will keep the flight crew buckled, or if they’ll run out of that last cheese plate before they reach your row. Rather than dreading flying with your child, try to look at your flight as an opportunity to spend uninterrupted quality time together playing games, reading books and talking.

Zena Goldman / / I would like to urge all parents to start travelling with children. Get on a plane sooner rather than later as it really isn’t as hard as you think it’s going to be. Get off to a relaxed start and let the kids turn up to the airport in their pyjamas. Kids can totally rock their onesies at the departure gate and it saves you worrying about getting them up and ready before a trip. We often scoop our kids straight out of bed and put them straight in the car as it keeps stresses with tired kids in tow to a minimum.

Deborah Patrick / / For travelling with kids, a busy bag full of distractions is always welcomed with us. The kids love them. They could include tablets, little pouches of Lego, colouring books, a gaming console (Nintendo DSi etc.), snacks {prevents the hangry-ness!} etc.

Jann Fujimoto / Minimize the number of connections to your destination.  This reduces the chance of delays and cancellations, and the number of times your child's ears are subject to the pressure changes within the air cabin. If your children are in diapers, are toilet training or are prone to spitting up, then pack an extra set of clothes for your child (and yourself) in zippered sandwich bags.  This will allow you to easily grab the clean clothes and contain the dirty clothes after changing. Pack new and novel items like colouring books for in-flight entertainment.  If you have a tablet or smartphone, then download some new or new apps for the flight. If you do have connecting flights, study the airport beforehand and look for children play areas so everyone can burn off some steam between flights.

Max Robinson, WeSwap Euros / / The only thing worse than a child kicking and screaming on a plane is a parent doing nothing about it. A great way for a parent to make the trip a bit more bearable for everyone around them is if they actually acknowledge their discomfort, and offer them something to help them cope a bit better. You could start by handing notes out to those around you just to let them know that your child may disturb them, then you could even offer ear plugs or something fun like sweets as a token of appreciation for their understanding. It's a small gesture but can make a huge difference. 

Leighann Marquiss / Practice at home Taking kids on a plane where they are expected to be strapped in for hours at a time and be mindful of others around them is a skill that should be practiced before leaving on your trip. For preschooler and under, you can practice by having them sit in a booster seat at the table and doing quiet activities like coloring, playing with small toys, and of course, eating. Be prepared for anything For plane rides, I pack each child an individual backpack with quiet activities like coloring books, sticker mosaics or sticker books, card games (my toddlers love taking the cards out and putting them back in), play-doh, glow necklaces, and snacks.  Older kids can take small lego sets, books, and drawing supplies. I try to buy a few new things they haven't seen before, so that there's the thrill of a surprise and not the same old toys they play with at home.

Richard Daniel Curtis, aka The Kid Calmer Prepare them for expectations - so many times I see children told off for not following the invisible rules they've never been taught (for example being quiet in a bank) Let them take things to occupy themselves - books, wordsearches, tablets are all great for this Interact with them - plan to play games together, so their alone time is broken up with time playing or chatting with you

Child Seat Safety “Once you’ve checked you can use your car seat on holiday, you may need to take it on a flight with you. Transporting any seat on a flight is possible, most airlines will allow you to place a car seat onto a flight in the hold for free, similar to a pushchair. However, do check before you arrive as some may make a charge or will state a weight limit and we all know how heavy these seats can be. Just also make sure you label it clearly with your details, protect it well and wrap it up securely. Don’t throw this packaging away as you’ll need it for the return journey. Some car seats are approved by airlines – this sounds great; however, you’ll have to pay for the seat to put it on so if your infant carrier is going in the cabin with you be prepared to pay for a seat as well. There are seats which are airline approved, because they fit quickly and easily into an airline seat, so preventing any time delay of boarding or disembarking of other passengers. Car seats won’t protect your child like they do in a car if the plane was to crash or suffer severe turbulence.  This is obvious when you consider that there’s no ISOFIX points or lap and diagonal seat belts on a plane.”  


We hope this guide has given you some new ideas on how to make your next family holiday run that little bit more smoothly. Don’t forget to check out our great deals on cheap flights here at Globehunters if you feel ready to take to the skies armed with all the knowledge you need to make your next flight enjoyable for everybody!!

Call to book 0208 9444 555