Adults often dread long flights for international travel, but it’s even worse if you have to manage small children. My husband grew up overseas and slept all the way through his first 12-hour flight at three months old. Not all parents are that lucky, but there are several things you can do to cope.
If possible, arrange your itinerary to avoid a layover. The process is much smoother if you can settle into one plane instead of having to get out, navigate an airport, and settle in all over again. If you can’t manage a direct flight, ensure your layover is at least two hours to give you all time to get through the airport, even if your first flight was a little late.
Bring Their Favorites
Small children like the familiar, and they are more likely to enjoy traveling if they have some of their favorite items right there with them. For example, make sure they have blankets or stuffed animals from home to help them sleep. In addition, let each child bring along some toys and snack items to keep them happy during those times when they are awake.
Pack Extra Clothes
Especially if you are traveling with a baby, at least one change of clothes is essential so you don’t have an uncomfortable flight holding a baby with clothes covered in something unpleasant. In addition, pack a spare shirt of your own so you can change too if something goes horribly wrong.
Consider Jet Lag
Kids have a harder time adjusting to time zone changes than adults because they get moodier when they are tired. Therefore, consider getting a prescription for sleeping medicine to help them adjust. In addition, consider the local time at your destination for several hours before you arrive and encourage the kids to sleep or wake up as appropriate.
Rather than being stressed and uptight as you travel, take a deep breath and relax. Play with your kids, make silly faces, and entertain them with their favorite games. If you’re stressed, they will be too. But if you’re relaxed enjoying yourself, they are more likely to do well.
Planning ahead for all stages of the trip before you go will help you survive. If you do all the right things and the trip is still going horribly, just count down until it’s over. It’s a lot easier to manage if you remember that the chaos will end at a definite point in time!