20 hours in the air with a 12 month old and a 4 year old - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 08-08-2010, 03:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What would you pack?

We're flying to Hong Kong in 3.5 weeks. It'll be a 3-4 hour flight, a 2 hour layover, then a 16 hour flight. We've never flown with kids. What would you pack in carry ons?

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#2 of 21 Old 08-08-2010, 08:43 AM
 
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We've traveled and lived abroad with dd since she was 5 mos., but that's such a broad question, it's hard to answer. Do you mean what to pack to keep them occupied or what to pack for more practical purposes? I'll try to share a bit of what's worked for us.

For carry-on, bring things that you know will occupy them during awake hours. Make sure you have plenty of disposable diapers for the younger, as there can be delays. Make sure you bring some snacks and water (can be purchased for an arm and a leg after security). Changes of clothes for everyone, including yourself.

The older can probably be occupied mostly by the in-flight video and books. We limit screen time at home, but when traveling, throw out the rule book. The younger will have to be occupied the entire awake time. Plan around whether or not you'll be sleeping on the flight (I'm assuming at least some for both pan-pacific flights). New toys are nice, but realize that they won't occupy them the whole time (they will quickly get bored) and some of the old favorite toys might be a better choice. At 1 year, dd was REALLY difficult to keep occupied on a 13 hour flight. At 4, 5, 6, it was a breeze, as she could read or be read to. She's 8 now and we're headed to Italy this fall and I figure books and videos will keep her content.

I'd concentrate more on what to bring for the little one than for the older one. If the older one is reading, that would help. The little one should have a carry-on allocation, but if you can keep the carry-ons to the minimum, it really will make life easier. The last thing you want to be doing is lugging a bunch of stuff in addition to managing the kids.

Good luck and have fun!

Also... if I could just offer one other piece of advice. When they bring meals, they bring out the special diet meals first. That means if you choose a vegetarian meal, for example, you will have time to eat before the general meal service starts. If one of the adults orders the special meal, it will free you up to help with the kids during general meal service because you'll have finished eating and be able to have your tray table free. Also... the kid's meals are atrocious. If you care at all about your child's bowels, beware the child's special meal.
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#3 of 21 Old 08-08-2010, 09:43 AM
 
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For the 4 year old a pack of pipe cleaners can become a lot of things - little people, animals, letters, and it's light and if it's not working can be thrown out.

12 months is a bit tougher (although I'm glad you're going!) and sadly I think the best toy will be you (songs and finger games and reading and all that). I found a silk scarf was good for sort of peekaboo games and twisting around and that kind of thing. A small roll of tape was minutes of entertainment sticking it around (and forbidden at home). Touch and feel books.

What are the favourite toys at home?

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#4 of 21 Old 08-08-2010, 09:46 AM
 
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The first thing I'd pack would be ear drops and ear plugs. After that, toys, books/vidoes or a laptop if you have one. Crayons, paper, other non-messy craft stuff, paintbrushes and construction paper so they can 'paint' with a little water.. Their favorite snacks, soft booties or socks. And a lot of patience and support for you. Have a great flight!

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#5 of 21 Old 08-08-2010, 10:09 AM
 
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Adding on to previous advice: For the 16 hour flight, consider bringing jammies for the kids to change into for the 'night' part of the flight. ime, it helps with transitioning between time zones, plus it is always easier to rest & relax in comfy clothes. For really long flights (12+hours) I also always bring a set of comfy, stretchy pants & shirt to change into during the flight. I change back into 'day clothes' before we land, or in the toilets in the airport just before we go through customs.

Also, ime, keep the craft type stuff to a minimum. Paper, some coloured pencils- nothing that can't be discarded after a long flight. Space is limited & you will have wiggly baby on your lap anyway.

Have a pack of gummi bears or little lollies on hand. You can offer these as incentives to your older child for reaching X milestone in the flight (distance, waiting until the drinks trolley arrives, every half an hour, etc.). Sounds terrible, I know, but this is really valuable when you have a long way to go & you are trapped with a small cranky child on a plane....

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#6 of 21 Old 08-08-2010, 10:23 AM
 
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Also, in my experience the vegetarian meals are dreadful, so don't order one of those just for early service. If you are vegetarian, plan to supplement the meals- seriously.

Our last international flight DD decided to go for the vegetarian option since she only likes very particular cuts of meat & won't eat non-free range stuff. Well, when the vegetarian vs. non-veg option came & she decided that rice and vegetables didn't count as a tasty meal........ guess who got to eat the unrecognisable veggies & rice?? And guess who ate the non-free range chicken??

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#7 of 21 Old 08-08-2010, 10:43 AM
 
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Originally Posted by aussiemum View Post
Also, in my experience the vegetarian meals are dreadful, so don't order one of those just for early service. If you are vegetarian, plan to supplement the meals- seriously.

Our last international flight DD decided to go for the vegetarian option since she only likes very particular cuts of meat & won't eat non-free range stuff. Well, when the vegetarian vs. non-veg option came & she decided that rice and vegetables didn't count as a tasty meal........ guess who got to eat the unrecognisable veggies & rice?? And guess who ate the non-free range chicken??
Wow! I've never felt that the vegetarian meals are dreadful. I get the vegetarian meal, although I am very much an omnivore, and I've always really enjoyed the meals... for airline food. I'm not a picky eater, but we eat almost 100% scratch at home and the vegetarian meals have consistently (and I'm talking over 30 flights in the past 10 years alone) been good compared to the regular fare. I probably wouldn't order it for my child, no... but for an adult, I think it's a pretty good option. We fly European carriers, so perhaps that might make a difference.

Any way you cut it, OP, figure out a plan so that both parents are not eating at the same time as the little ones (and I assume the 1 year old is not going to be eating the airline food, anyway, so that means your 4 yo.) to save yourself some headache. And I still stand by the special meals (except for the child's meals) as being a good option, in my own experience.
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#8 of 21 Old 08-08-2010, 10:48 AM
 
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We did a hour flight, then a layover of 3 or 4 hours then a 15 hour flight to India when DS was 18 months old. We did only have one though. Things that helped, lollipops, my iPod, DS loved watching videos on it, and since he would not sleep, he slept maybe 2 hours total on the flight, it was a life saver. We also brought small cars, some crayons and paper, and window clings. He really enjoyed the window clings, though only for a short period of time, since he was so little.

We also brought tons of snacks, which was nice in the middle of the night when he wasn't sleeping the flight had no snacks out and he wanted something to eat. We brought a ton of Just Tomato dried fruit, which worked great since he is a fruit kid. We also brought some other snacks he liked, like trail mix and such that had protein in them. It was also really useful since the breakfast they served was horrible, the dinner was decent, but the breakfast was really bad! So having something to eat that we all liked was nice.

Honestly I won't bring too much, a few books, a few art supplies, a few toys I know my kid likes, an iPod or other video player if I let them watch videos, and snacks. Make sure everything you bring is something you don't care if you lose as well. I think we only lost one car, but since they were brought specifically for the trip it wasn't a big deal. If it has been an important toy to DS it would have been a huge issue on the other hand.

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#9 of 21 Old 08-08-2010, 11:06 AM
 
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Oh the joys of flying....definitely brng a stroller for your 4 year old and carrier for the 1 year old, or better yet, a double if you got it. You can check it in on the plane. Makes for those rushed long walks and waits so much better with kids...believe me. For on the plane, i wouldnt bring too much...but definitely ear drops/plugs, tylenol or somekind of pain reliever for both children, you never know if their ears are going to kill the, change of clothes for improtu vomit sessions, change of socks. I second the pjs transition idea, works well. For the baby, if you can find somewhere where there is an extra seat, sit there. Extra seat is GREAT for jumping up and down baby on to wear them out. My babe liked to also play on the floor underneath me, not much room but you can throw the blanket out and some toys treat it like cave, they think its cool. For the 4 yo, tv, books and crayons maybe stickers should be ok. Lots of snacks, packs lots of food......kids who are bored like to eat. alot.

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#10 of 21 Old 08-08-2010, 11:52 AM
 
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I agree with protein snacks. Sesame sticks, string cheese, babybel cheese, cheerios, dried fruit. granola bars. nuts. And I always splurge on pringles!

I would not bring any candy or sugar snacks. It is hard enough for kids to sit still without amping them up first!

Bring 2 bags of new toys that can get lost, one for each kid. On our first trip I wrapped and doled them out and it was a nightmare. Now I just give them the whole bag when we get to our seats. Dollar store activities. I'm totally stealing the scotch tape idea above!! One thing my kids loved was groucho marx glasses from the dollar store. You know the ones with the big nose and mustache? Hilarious to them and other passengers.
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#11 of 21 Old 08-08-2010, 03:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all of the ideas and advice so far. I hadn't considered ear plugs at all. Should I get them for the kids?? And we've never used ear drops either. Any specific suggestions? I think I have some Hylands ones in a kit.

A bit more info... DD1 will be a brand new 4 year old. She's very spirited and gets pretty wild and hyper when bored, over tired, hungry, etc. She has lots of trouble turning off her mind and body to fall asleep. She is not reading independently, though she loves books. She practically never watches movies/tv (she watched a movie 2 months ago) and is easily frightened by standard Disney movies. I'm definitely looking for ideas for her, and LOTS of them.

DD2 is more easy going, so I've been less worried about her. I'm pretty confident she'll nurse and nap well in arms. Her favorite toys at home are instruments - drums, maraccass, egg shakers, rattles, tamborines, etc. She also really likes blocks - banging them together and against different things to make different sounds, knocking down towers, and taking them out/putting them in. She's not yet into books, though I'll bring some favorites.

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#12 of 21 Old 08-08-2010, 08:23 PM
 
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We were given ear drops from DD's pediatrician. I am sure the Hyland's drops will be fine, as long as they are for pain. The ear plugs we found in One Step Ahead, we used them as a backup in case the drops and feeding didn't work.

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#13 of 21 Old 08-09-2010, 12:01 AM
 
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You're getting lots of good advice. We went to Europe with a 4 year old and a 4 month old, so not as far, but far enough. We've just done it again with a 2 year old and a 6 year old.

Someone told me to plan 3x as many diapers as you think you'll need. I think that's a good bet because you never know about delays, etc. I would also go for the stroller/carrier combo or a double stroller.

Bring lots of food. Even with a 2 year old and a 6 year old and really tasty food, they refused to eat almost anything from the airline. I think they were sort of overwhelmed with new-ness. Our 6 year old reads well now, thank goodness, but I would consider a mini-DVD player for a 4 year old. At least one of our in-flight movies was not appropriate for kids and another was totally boring for them. If your 4 year old is freaked by Disney, try Little Bear, Pooh, and Richard Scarry. For the one year old, I would consider a new book or two with many many flaps. Flaps are your friends!

The airlines we've flown have been wonderful for kids and have had lots of little presents for them even, little puzzles and games, a hat, a badge, etc. Both kids loved the stuff the airline passed out for the flight: ear plugs, those eye shades, mini toothbrush, mini toothpaste. They didn't use the stuff (except for the eye shades) but they loved looking at it.

Random idea - at four, our DS was fascinated by a small pocket calculator. We found one smaller than a deck of cards with hands and feet and a face at Staples for about $5. Never took it on a plane, but he played with it forever.

Our big kid is seriously into Star Wars so we got both kids some Star Wars Galactic Heroes figures. The 2 year old also got a small playmobil set with a person, a flower, and some animals. She loves playing with little "guys" so this was a big favorite on the trip.

Good luck and have fun!
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#14 of 21 Old 08-09-2010, 09:55 AM
 
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I don't know how long you guys will be traveling, but we used a lot of Scholastic DVDs from the library, and the girls loved them. They are very gentle re-tellings fo classic stories.

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#15 of 21 Old 08-10-2010, 10:26 AM
 
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Originally Posted by velochic
Wow! I've never felt that the vegetarian meals are dreadful. I get the vegetarian meal, although I am very much an omnivore, and I've always really enjoyed the meals...
Fair enough. I've eaten bad vegetarian on planes a number of times, so I'm sure that colours my opinion. I think the worst was probably about 13 years ago, when I was vegetarian and ended up taking two long-haul flights in a row where vegetarian meals meant cheese, biscuits, a bit of fruit, a bread roll & some coffee! I was pregnant at the time & have to admit, that experience put me off vegetarian plane meals for a while.

Most recently, my DD decided to order vegetarian meals on our US-Australia flights (Air China, via Taipei). The vegetarian dinner was mostly comprised of mushrooms (although DD will eat just about anything, she can't deal with lots of mushies), & breakfast was a rice patty based version of the meat meal. Guess who got to eat the mushrooms & rice?? It was okay, just not what I had expected.

OP- I think you have got some great advice here with regards to packing for the plane trip. A change of clothes is crucial so make sure that is in your carry-on. But don't overpack & make sure it's easy to carry your carry-on baggage & manage the kids at the same time.

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#16 of 21 Old 08-10-2010, 12:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by aussiemum View Post
Fair enough. I've eaten bad vegetarian on planes a number of times, so I'm sure that colours my opinion.
My worst was a dry pita with some lettuce stuffed in it. Seriously, that was the whole meal. Not even any dressing. Thank goodness, I had some trail mix in my carry-on!

Anyway, I will be watching this thread for ideas, too. We have a 14+ hour flight with our 6 and 3 year olds coming up in a few weeks. The last time we made the trip, our eldest was 1 1/2, and it has taken this long to get up the nerve to try it again, so you can guess how it went.
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#17 of 21 Old 08-10-2010, 12:54 PM
 
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Everytime that we have flown, I have made a point of introducing ourselves to the stewards.

I have told him/her that I will do my best to keep our children happy, quiet and out of the way.

That goes a long way IMO over the course of the flight...on numerous occasions, when traveling solo, I have asked a steward to hold/sit with one of my children while I attended the other, or went to the washroom myself.

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#18 of 21 Old 08-10-2010, 01:38 PM
 
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It sounds like movies with scary or complex themes are a little overwhelming to your DD. If you're not completely opposed to movies for her maybe something targeted at a younger age like Baby Einstein or Blues Clues might be more appropriate for her. They are gentle and not at all scary. I find that kids are more receptive to watching movies that are very familiar to them. I'd let her watch the movies several times before you leave to get her acquainted with them.

If you do decide to bring crayons triangular ones are a good idea. Round things like to roll and airplanes are cramped and have way too many hiding places for little crayons. You could even make something like this if you have the time.

When I flew with my 2 1/2 year old DD we went to the toy store and I let her pick out a new toy (I think it was a My Little Pony with hats or something). It sat on top of the refrigerator for a week where she could see it but not touch it. She ended up playing with it for an hour on the plane just because she was so excited to finally have it.

I completely second/third? the extra diaper suggestion. We were on the last leg of a flight and had used our last diaper when my son pooped. I had to take off the diaper, wipe off as much poop as I could and put it back on him. It was horrible!

lather, rinse, repeat
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#19 of 21 Old 08-10-2010, 01:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by aussiemum View Post
Fair enough. I've eaten bad vegetarian on planes a number of times, so I'm sure that colours my opinion. I think the worst was probably about 13 years ago, when I was vegetarian and ended up taking two long-haul flights in a row where vegetarian meals meant cheese, biscuits, a bit of fruit, a bread roll & some coffee! I was pregnant at the time & have to admit, that experience put me off vegetarian plane meals for a while.

Most recently, my DD decided to order vegetarian meals on our US-Australia flights (Air China, via Taipei). The vegetarian dinner was mostly comprised of mushrooms (although DD will eat just about anything, she can't deal with lots of mushies), & breakfast was a rice patty based version of the meat meal. Guess who got to eat the mushrooms & rice?? It was okay, just not what I had expected.

Yeah, that doesn't sound very appetizing. I'd probably feel the same as you if I experienced that.

My dh gets the diabetic meals and those are usually pretty good. I was just saying that staggering meals so you're not all eating at the same time is a good game plan. It doesn't have to be vegetarian, per se, just one the special meals. Or perhaps the flight attendant would be willing to just bring one of the standard meals later, after everyone has been served.
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#20 of 21 Old 08-10-2010, 01:42 PM
 
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We were on the last leg of a flight and had used our last diaper when my son pooped. I had to take off the diaper, wipe off as much poop as I could and put it back on him. It was horrible!
the worst poops *ALWAYS* happen in the airplane
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#21 of 21 Old 08-13-2010, 10:02 AM
 
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Originally Posted by velochic View Post
... staggering meals so you're not all eating at the same time is a good game plan. It doesn't have to be vegetarian, per se, just one the special meals. Or perhaps the flight attendant would be willing to just bring one of the standard meals later, after everyone has been served.
Excellent point, often flight attendants are happy to serve the kids their meals first if that makes it easier for you. We've done that before, I forgot about that!

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