How to prepare for a long haul flight with kids

Traveling with the kids has become second nature to us. We have taken them on short flights with us together and solo since they were infants. Nothing that we had done up to this point, could have prepared us mentally for the 10 hour long haul flight that we took with them from Atlanta to Hawaii.

As you could imagine, I had a lot of anxiety going on leading up to this trip. Besides worrying about how I would keep our 2 and 8 year olds quiet and entertained on a plane for 10 hours, I had a list of 98 items to pack for a family of 4, for 10 days. Argh!!!!!!

Lets back it up and break it down to what helped me survive the planning and packing process and what got us through the flight comfortably with no tears.

1). Get organized. I love to use an app called “Any List“. It is an app that allows you to quickly create organized lists and share them with your family members or friends. I created a shopping list of snacks and quiet toys for my husband to get for the kids. I was able to share the list with him and see which items he crossed off of the list while he was shopping. I also created a travel list of things that I needed to pack for each person. This list can be shared with anyone going on the trip as a way to remind them to bring their passport, travel documents, and other important items for the trip as well.

2). We wanted to limit the amount of checked bags for the flight, not just for economical reasons, but we were traveling with a party of 9. If everyone has two checked bags plus a carryon, our luggage would need its on car. We did not have time for that! I shared a suitcase with my 2 year old, my husband checked one bag, my son checked one bag, we all had book bags and we had one roll on suitcase that we put pillows, extra snacks, electronics and a snap on potty seat in (more on that later). I tried packing cubes for the first time and I was pleasantly surprised. When I got them in the mail I had my doubts. I got a 7 Piece set for $19 on amazon that included 2 large cubes, 1 medium cube, 1 small cube, a laundry bag, shoe bag and a toiletry bag. By the time I got done packing, I had 10 days worth of clothes, swimsuits, coverups, undergarments, toiletries and shoes packed and put away in those cubes for me and my 2 year old. *The clothes were thin and for warm weather. You will not be able to fit that many cold weather garments into the cubes.

3). We are packed and ready to go! So we flew Delta out of Atlanta and we normally just park at the airport’s park and ride lot and take the shuttle over to the terminal. Here is a huge tip that will make your life so much easier when flying with kids and a lot of luggage. Use the “Park and Fly Plus” airport parking service on Camp Creek Parkway. If you are flying Delta, you can park your car there and also check your luggage in at the same time! It is so awesome. Just drive your car right up to their customer service door, unload your bags, check them in, park your car, get on the shuttle and they drive you to the Delta terminal. If you have AAA, you receive a discount and it is $10 per day to park. We hopped off of the shuttle and walked right up to the “Clear” line to walk through security.

4). I am enrolled in TSA Pre- Check as well as Clear. “Clear” speeds you through the check in process once you get to the airport and allows you to bypass standing in the security line. Clear scans your eyes or your fingerprint to identify you and move you through the line. Kids under the age of 17 are always granted access through the line with you and you may add up to two family members to your service for $50 per year. Delta sky miles members may enroll for $99 per year. I am in the airport an average of 10 months out of the year, so the cost is worth it for me. We all made it through airport security on a Friday morning, during the Thanksgiving travel week in under 10 minutes.

5). We travel with a booster seat for Rian if we are not renting a car, and we use our lightweight travel stroller so that we can get around the airport and other attractions a little quicker. Whenever you gate check these items, it is best to have them covered from the elements under the plane. This process was explained to me once by a ticketing agent. She described how rats often ran through the bottom of planes, our luggage is dragged through dirt and water and we should cover all items. I got a gate check bag for Rian’s stroller and car seat for under $10 on amazon. Both were delivered within one day.

6). So we are on the plane… I made sure that we used the potty before we got on. Even though Rian is fully potty trained, I still put a pull up on her for the long flight. She is particular about the bathrooms that she uses and I wanted to be prepared. The bathrooms on the planes are tight and kinda gross, so I brought our soft potty seat and plenty of clorox wipes. The seat fit easily into our carryon and I was able to pull it out with no problem when she had to go to the bathroom. There were a lot of kids movies to choose from on the plane, but you don’t ever want to depend on that. If your toddler is like mine, she has a favorite movie that she can watch over and over again. Rian’s movie is “Trolls”. I downloaded the Trolls movie, along with a few more onto her iPad from netflix so that she could watch it in airplane mode. I also got her some plush trolls headphones to go with the theme.

7). You cannot depend on the plane snacks. I had each child’s backpack loaded with their favorite snacks, activity pads, coloring books and crayons. Each child also had a small blanket and a travel neck pillow. My husband and son sat together in a different area of the plane and my mom sat on the row behind us. This arrangement worked out great because just like any other siblings, these two fuss and fight. Out of sight out of mind and we had peace for 10 hours. We were all so excited that we hardly slept. Rian napped for about two hours, but she was comfortable. I used the Air Good Travel Pillow for kids and she was able to lay flat in the seat like she would have if she were in bed.

We survived the flight and it was not nearly as bad as we thought it would be, especially since we flew during the day. I hope that my travel hacks have helped and have given you the courage to drag your kids across the globe to experience the beauty of God’s green earth!

Here are a few photos from our first day in Hawaii.

I am looking forward to tagging along with my husband on his work trip this weekend and having some “adults only” time with him. It has been a while since I have written blog post about my travels and I have a lot to catch up on. I promise to talk about my experience on all of the different islands in Hawaii, family friendly excursions, cruising versus staying on the island and my trips to Peru and the Blue Lagoon for my birthday.