Top Tips For Surviving a Flight With a Young Child

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Last Updated on December 4, 2021 by Suzy

I can actually share top tips for surviving a flight with a young child because we did it. We survived two, yes two, OVER four-hour flights with our 3.5-year-old boy. Just before we went on our last holiday I wrote a post about our previous flights with him and our nightmare last flight when he had the Mother of all tantrums on board. You can read all about the flight from hell here.

I am sure that learning from previous flights helped in making these two flights easier. My main piece of advice that we took to heart was ‘Make sure your flights fit with your toddler’s schedule’ and ‘Don’t expect to sit back and relax with a glass of wine. They need entertaining – even with an iPad in tow’.

Initially, we didn’t book a return flight. Why? Well because it didn’t arrive in the UK until nearly midnight. Disturbing our child when he should be asleep would not work for us. So we did something a little crazy and actually booked a return flight to a different airport than the one we flew from. Then begged my Mum to pick us up from there.

Tip 1 – As above – make sure you fly when they are either likely to nap or are the most alert and happy in the day. Try not to fly too early or too late. Disruption of routine when flying is not to be recommended. Naps are only something we can dream about so for us the flight had to allow little routine disruption.

Tip 2 – Arrive with lots of time to spare – The best thing you can do for them is to not be stressed. If you arrive with plenty of time to spare you don’t have to panic at any point that you are going to miss the flight. Happy parents = happy child.

Don’t worry about filling in time at the airport. It’s mostly all new to them so they will be happy to wander and see the shops and planes. On the flight there we even had time for a leisurely lunch.

Tip 3 –  Little person’s own bag – He was given this bag as a birthday present and it is great. It is small enough for the second bag allowance on Ryanair, we packed a wealth of things into it. I am convinced the bag added to the excitement as having a bag of his own is only something he normally has for nursery.

Just look at everything we packed into it….there was even room for one of his favourite soft toys! We packed in sticker books, colouring books, CBeebies magazine (these are great, especially the Friends one), 2 long story books, his camera and some small toys.

Tip 4 – Pack something that is much loved. Be it a soft toy, dummy and a bottle. Whatever they love the most make sure you have it for the plane.

Tip 5 – Let them have the window seat. It’s a constant source of entertainment

Tip 6 – Draw things out a little. Don’t do everything at once. They usually come quite soon with the refreshments trolley. So we avoided getting anything other than his soft toy out before then. On the flight back we ordered food and got Jamie the kid’s meal deal. For 8.50e they can have chicken nuggets and chips, a fruit shoot and a Ryanair activity bag.

The activity bag was actually quite good (see pic below). And so we move on to…

Tip 7 – Activities – We coloured for AGES, stuck stickers onto various things, read his books and completed some more learning activities in his CBeebies magazine. We can spend at least an hour going through the Friends magazine by CBeebies. It’s packed full of activities….learning, colouring etc.

Tip 7 – If they do/can play on a tablet set some ground rules first. We explained many times beforehand that he would be allowed on it for an hour and we would let him know when there are 10 minutes, 5 minutes and 1 minute to go. Then he must hand it back with no fuss.

This luckily worked. In fact, he was happy to get back to his colouring. We also saved it until later on in the flight. I must share a post soon for our top preschool apps. At the moment he is loving CBeebies Playtime Island. He plays the Furchester hotel game ‘wrong’ which sends him into fits of giggles.

I hope this will help you on your next travel adventure. I am sure with these tips in mind you could even manage an 8-hour flight. We are certainly now considering one as there were things we didn’t even get out of the bag. Let alone headphones for watching some downloaded TV.

Most of all make it fun. When Jamie was asked by his teacher what he liked the most he said ‘The aeroplane’. I had to laugh! For some helpful tips for your first holiday abroad with kids why not check out this very useful post by Passports and Adventures?

16 thoughts on “Top Tips For Surviving a Flight With a Young Child”

  1. We’ve yet to go on a plane with our 3 year old, however I would implement a lot of these tips when we do venture into flying transport. We’ve been on a long journey via coach requiring a change also, and the journey was much better than I expected. Keeping as close to routine as possible helped as did having a window seat.

    Great list + tips! #TwinklyTuesday

  2. Wow, that’s really impressive and reassuring! I’m not keen on flying myself, so of course we’ve never tackled a long flight with the kids. We’ve only flown a handful of times and only once with a very small child. Last time we flew, the kids were aged 15, 13 and 10 and the older two sat and read the Financial Times they’d picked up in the airport! I was gobsmacked!

  3. We did a long haul when my son was 10 months and then didn’t attempt flights for a few years (we weren’t put off by that long haul though, but cash was short). We did do some long train journeys though (7 hours) and the only way to survive was lots of light and small activities to take along. We didn’t have a tablet then, so it was the only way really.

  4. I’ve done loads of flights with my two kids from them being babies and I agree with having a good bag of tricks to dip into with new toys and books and drag it all out – not give it all at once! Another good tip is to let them run off steam in the airport before boarding – seek out a play area for them – if they can get the running and jumping around done before the flight – it helps!!

  5. Stickers are lifesavers on planes aren’t they? My nanny friend used to wrap silly things up and have a present bag for kids she travelled with – I was never that organised but sounded ace!

  6. Brilliant tips! It sounds like your son really enjoyed the flight and that’s really something for a little one – even the adults get bored of just sitting there after so long!
    Thanks for linking up to #BloggerClubUK πŸ™‚

  7. These are really great tips! I have to say we’ve never ever had any issues with flying with kids but I know a lot of parents struggle so much. I think choosing the right flight time (if possible) is absolutely crucial, we’ve also flown back to a different airport to ensure the flight time was right, and I would also add your own positive mental attitude is essential. Only last week I flew on my own with a 5 year old and a 8 month old, and despite a lot of dramas with luggage, security and nearly missing our flight, I remained calm and collected, and my boys were absolute angels throughout the entire journey. x


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