How to survive a Long haul flight with a toddler

long haul flight with a toddler

The thought of flying with a baby is daunting. Flying with toddler is just plain terrifying for some.

Last week, we embarked on our first long haul flight as a family since H was born. There was lots and lots of waiting around…

Although our experience did not turn out so nightmarish, flying with a toddler was an interesting experience to say the least. Why? Because it reminds you that your plans should always include the unexpected.

I had my activities and snacks lined up for our 18 hour journey but things still didn’t go as smoothly. H caught some virus and had bouts of vomiting whilst sitting on our lap. By the middle of the first flight, he had fever and sore throat and just did not have the appetite to eat anything. Saying that, he still had energy to walk around and play and some of the activities that I prepared for him still came handy like stickers and play dough.  

It was the worst place for him to fall ill. Thankfully though we had little to zero tantrums throughout. Here are some tips that helped me survive our first long haul flight with a toddler.   

Be hands-free

Get a backpack and aim to be totally hands-free! A good-sized backpack that can fit the essentials (i.e. nappies, snacks, etc.) Toddlers will run around (at the airport and inside the aeroplane) and it is good to have your hands free to catch them from hurting themselves. 

Plan Carry-on luggage contents

It is good to know where the toys, nappies, snack and milk supplies are because toddlers do not like to wait. Infant paracetamol and a change of clothes came in handy too in our case!


I tried offering a range of activities but stickers and the magnetic drawing board worked best for us. He is at the stage of learning his shapes and so the drawing board was a good educational tool to reinforce his new knowledge of shapes. 

Pre-flight activities

Here I’m talking about preparing the toddler. H has always been a fan of planes and so he was very interested in seeing it up close. We helped him understand that we will be getting on the plane and we’ll be sitting, eating and sleeping in the plane until we get to our place of destination. 

Take turns 

We initially decided to split our time looking after H (i.e. first/second half of the first/second flight). This did not work as running after H got very tiring very quickly and so we found we needed a break more frequently.  So if you are travelling with another adult or a partner, do agree to take turns, but I would avoid deciding the timeframe in advance.  

In the end, the plane journey is only a small part of your holiday so no matter how stressful the journey is try to let go of this feeling as soon as your plane lands at your destination. Family adventure awaits!

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