Long haul flight tips: Keeping kids entertained

This guest post written by freelance writer Ross Fraser.

Traveling with children on a flight particularly if it’s a long-haul flight, can be somewhat tiresome especially if the child or children you are taking are quite young. While easily entertained in a larger space, the restricted space and length of time involved can prove to be quite a challenge.

Long haul flight tips:

To help you meet this challenge and make the journey as relaxed and smooth as possible for you, the kids, and everyone else, a little forward planning can help enormously. If you can, choose a night flight as this will encourage your children to sleep for at least some of the journey. Remember a space that you have to sit in may well be enough for a smaller child to curl up in if provided with a blanket and pillow so they can make their own cozy nest.

Check out what the various airlines flying to your required destination offer in terms of child provision in advance. Do they provide sky-cots, pre-allocated seating, special meals, children’s entertainment on personal screens, dedicated flight attendants etc.?  All these things can help you a lot in maintaining a stress-free journey with your child.

Pick your airline carefully: flying Alaska Airlines for the domestic leg of our flight is our top choice, as they have great international partners to get us the rest of the way, and are the most accommodating in customer service that we’ve found.

If possible, splurge on flight itineraries that require as few legs and layovers as possible, and leave strollers at home; most international airports rent these to arriving parents.

Pre-flight planning on your part can help too. Make sure you carry lots of supplies in your hand luggage, not just for the flight itself, but also enough for any delays that might occur. Things to include are diapers, wipes, a spare change of clothing, snacks, pacifiers, and comforters. All these should be very easily accessible on the flight so that you can remain comfortable while providing for your little one.  Think about what you could take that they enjoy doing seated–coloring books, puzzles, small toys, and reading books are all good options. For older kids, hand-held consoles, books, and music players are a great idea but do make sure to include plenty of batteries and headphones too!

Initially on a flight, especially a first flight, the excitement of just being on a plane and looking at everything that’s going on can be interesting enough to amuse kids, so don’t be too quick off the mark to start the entertainment process. When this starts to wear off, it’s time to bring out your arsenal of tricks to keep them occupied, or if the airline provides a children’s entertainment pack, this would be the time to ask your flight attendant for this.

Noise cancelling headphones or over-ear headphones can help kids feel more relaxed and ready for sleep, even if these items are uncomfortable when they actually trying settle in. Neck pillows can also be a good idea, as well as ensuring everying is drinking plenty of water.

A few other tips that can help are to bring candies to suck on, or a drink they can suck through a straw as this can help a small child’s ears to pop after take off. Decongestants can be useful to help younger children with sleep as the dry atmosphere on a plane can make this worse than normal for many people. Your doctor can recommend the best brands and dose for your child. Small snacks like dried fruit, chocolate raisins and other easy to eat nibbles often go down well and help pass the time; they’re also quite good if you do need to resort to bribery too.

Worried about jet lag in kids? Get our top tips on combatting jet lag.

Hopefully a bit of clever planning in advance will make your journey as pleasant and smooth as possible for you and your children, so you’ll arrive at your destination feeling fresh and ready for anything.

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.




  1. What great tips! I have a friend who has done this alone and has shared some of her tips here: http://www.lovebabylovetravel.com/flying-solo-with-my-baby/

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