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Flying with young children: 5 TIPS for a relaxed flight

In five weeks we’ll be on a plane again on our way to a sunny destination! I can’t wait! When we flew to Thailand back when Lotte was 7 months old and Floris was 2 years old, people often asked us: “Are you flying that far with young children? What are you putting yourself up to? It will be horrible…”All I thought was: “Huh? Why?” Our kids rather enjoy flying. They’ve been taking long flights since they were 7 months old so perhaps they’ve gotten used to it, but I think people should be able to fly with young children nonetheless. As a result I’m sharing my 5 best tips for flying with young children so you and your kids can enjoy a relaxed flight.

5 Tips for flying with young children


1# Preparation

Yes indeed! And I’m not talking about your own preparations but preparing your child. Alright, that might be tricky with babies but from the age of 1 I’ve been reading books about flying to my children. The books are about two main characters named Pilot Ollie and Pilot Polly. Your kids will learn a lot about flying, what needs to be done before the plane can take-of, who needs to do what and so on. Secondly we also visit Schiphol sometimes before we leave on holiday to check out the planes on the panoramic terrace. I tell the kids we are going to fly very high in the sky and that we are to sit put for a while but that it’s going to be a lot of fun. In addition, when the kids are a bit older you can talk more about fun stuff to do on the plane.

#2 Entertainment

That brings us to tip 2 for flying with young children: entertainment! This is different for each age of course. For babies I would bring a few rattles and perhaps a little book to read from. For the older kids there is lots of choice :). Floris is 4 years old now so I can ask him what he would like to take aboard.

When we flew to the States last year I bought Floris (then 3 years old) and Lotte (then 2 years old) both 10 small presents. We had to fly for 18 hours, with one stopover. Every hour or so they were allowed to open 1 present from their backpack. They both slept a portion of the flight too so the amount of presents was just right. What did I put in their backpacks? A rice waffle, a biscuit, a toy car, a block note with pen, pieces of apple, a mini Spiderman etc. Because everything was wrapped the picking and unpacking made it very exciting. They would play with the present straight away and it got us through the flight quite happily. Finally, the iPad works fine for our kids too. We’ve downloaded Dutch series on it as well as films and lots of games from drawing to puzzles.

3# Food

Floris and Lotte are fussy eaters so I’d rather not take any chances with them with the food on the plane. There is nothing worse than a pair of hungry children stuck in a metal tube of 6 meters wide and 70 meters long. So what do I take aboard? Sandwiches with a substance that doesn’t leave any stains or can get spoiled. So no chocolate or pate but peanut butter for instance. Or I just give them dry bread rolls (the kids enjoy them), raisin bread, egg cake or gingerbread. I also take vegetables and fruit: slices of cucumber, small carrots and pieces of apple. Check this out for more airplane snacks for kids inspiration.

If they do eat the food on the plane then that’s lucky but if they don’t, no harm is done and the tummies stay full. Did you know you’re allowed to take loads of food on a plane for babies? Vegetable and fruit snacks, milk powder and even water. We used to take a bottle of cold water and a thermos can of warm water so we could make a bottle at any time and avoid waiting until the flight attendant would have time to make a bottle while the kids might be crying.

4# Night flight

For us this was the golden tip! To fly at night as much as possible. I can say our kids are pretty darn busy. They just have to move a lot or they get extremely cranky. So flying by night is the perfect solution!

If we have a choice we prefer to fly early in the evening or at the end of the afternoon. That way we can have dinner at Schiphol airport. Also the kids can run around and play a bit at one of the many playgrounds Schiphol has to offer and once aboard it’s just a short matter of time until we get to brushing their teeth and telling them it’s bedtime. When the kids are young they can sleep comfortably in a chair on the plane, while from ages 2 and up you can buy all kinds of gadgets to transform the chair into a bed. Sweet dreams!

#5 Relax!

Perhaps the most important tip of all… relax! Flying with young children might seem like a big challenge to most parents who would like to travel, but when you start your trip all scared and anxious and board the plane that way your kids will notice, no matter their age. And it won’t help them calm down either. Just relax and go with the flow… What’s the worst that can happen? Will your child really be screaming for 18 hours straight? Aside from the fact that he or she will most likely fall asleep from exhaustion after 2 hours, the chances of this happening are pretty slim. So what if it does happen? Bring earplugs and some liquorice and pass some around to the people around you. Finally, just visit your “happy place” and sit it out… 😉 As soon as you relax your kids will too.

Flying with young children is surely doable! Do you have the best tips? Leave some in the comments, I’m very curious!


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