Surviving Long Flights and Roads Trips With Kids

Road trips,  lengthly flights, packed amusement parks and shopping malls with big sales, they are on top of the list of places you would least like to be with bored or cranky children. 

Lets talk about road trips and flights today and work on those others another time. I've been lucky enough to do both several times with argumentative siblings and small kids of my own. On one occasion my one and a half year old cried about not being able to get up and walk around on a plane for about 40 minutes until he fell asleep crying. I got mean stares and comments all around but the flight attendants wouldn't let us get up with him and we were stuck. There is always going to be situations like those that will be impossible to prepare for or get through completely unscathed. Wether you are traveling alone or with children, in a car or on a plane, there are a couple of great things you can do to prepare and try to make it a bit more bearable. 

1) Bring along snacks that everyone likes. I like to make a list a couple of weeks to a big trip with snack ideas for everyone who will be on it. My kids love string cheese and corn pops so those are at the top of my list every time. Most airlines will allow you to bring in whatever closed packaged foods you'd like so you don't have to spend a fortune buying expensive snacks in the airport and in flight especially when your kid wants his apple slices and he wants them NOW. 

For a long car ride 5 hours or more you'll need meal type foods like sandwiches, macaroni in a container, my kids eat things like chicken fingers and meat balls at room temperature so those get packed in the cooler along with deli meat, sliced cheese, juice boxes, water bottles, tomatoes, cucumber slices, pickles etc. and don't forget a small candy bag when things get really tricky, There's not much a lolly pop can't fix. Passing a little something to the front for the person behind the wheel is always appreciated as well. 

2) Pack toys, games and activities. A fully charged iPad packed with games, music and videos that work offline will always be a good choice for most kids. Game boy/ Nintendo ds handheld games are also a good idea. If electronic games aren't an option, coloring books in a bag with crayons, markers and color pencils will be very appreciated by the bored kids. Books to read to them or for them to read to themselves if they can may take space in a carry on bag but they're good to have on hand even once you've reached your destination so don't leave them behind. Scan through your playroom before heading out for a trip and see which of your childrens' favorite toys are small enough and easy to pack while not being too tiny to roll under the seat and disappear. We took battle ship in the car with us on our most recent 20 hour road trip and my 7 year old was thrilled to have it when he got bored of playing electronic games.

3) Items that are important for comfort and sleepy time. Does your child have that particular blanket, sippy cup, pacifier, stuffed animal, bottle, rag that they like to hold on in order to relax or hold onto during nap time? This is the very first item you should pack when planning a trip. Too often an item like this gets left behind and it's the one thing that would easily calm an uneasy child on an airplane or in a car. In a situation where you're stuck in your seats in turbulence or the seatbelt sign is on, something to keep your childs mind off of having to sit and possibly even help them take a nap will be what you want to have on hand. 

4) Dress comfortably and bring jackets, sweaters, blankets. In a car or airplane you may not have too much control of the temperature. Planes often tend to be really cold. Keep a light blanket with you and have your child dress in lightweight long pants and long sleeves with a light sweater or jacket. I like to plan road trips so that we do most of the driving at night if possible as my kids sleep well on car rides. I dress them in their pajamas and they go to sleep for the night like that. Then once we are closer to our destination I dress them in their clothes. Sometimes we arrive the next night and in that case I just let them stay in their pajamas. Making sure your kid is not too hot or cold will really effect their mood in many cases so be sure to be prepared with layers where necessary even if your heading somewhere tropical. 

5) Make stops to walk around. Or on a plane: get up and walk up and down the aisles with your kid when allowed.  We try to minimize stops for using the bathroom and changing diapers but when we do stop I always make sure to take my kids out and stretch our feet for as long as we can before getting back into the car again. This is really important on those long trips. Getting fresh air and seeing anything aside from the car interior will really help a fussy kid relax a bit. 

On an airplane, ask a steward/stewardess or flight attendant if your unsure and then get up and walk up and down the aisles to calm a fussy child. It's a lot better then sitting in your seat and trying everything when all they want to do is get up and walk. You can also plan ahead and ask for one window seat and one aisle seat for you and your spouse so that your child can look out the window and then get a slight change of scenery at the aisle when they get bored and easily access the aisle to take a quick walk or use the bathroom when needed too. 

Those are all my tips for surviving long flights and road trips with kids. Keep in mind that no matter what anyone tells you, you know your kids best. Plan a week in ahead of time by writing lists and scanning the playroom, grocery shopping and then finally packing the things you know will work best for your family. Traveling can be tough enough as it is, so cut some stress by planning ahead and bringing all the things your family will appreciate most. 

Do you have traveling tips for long rides with kids? Let us know, we can all use as many ideas as possible! 

This post was not sponsored.

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