Packing Right (and Light) For That Long Flight With Your Children

Are you taking your young children on a long plane trip? Here is a list of essential items to bring in your carry-on, and some items you may as well leave at home. We have taken our young children across the Pacific Ocean a few times now, as well as from Northern Canada to the Southern States, and what we have found might save your family a little bit of whining, crying, and also aching arms! The biggest mistake that we have made (repeatedly) when packing to go on a long trip, has been to pack way too much in our carry-on bags! While it’s nice to have an assortment of activities, we have found that taking several heavy carry-on bags from plane to plane, and hauling them around the airport, keeping an eye on them while waiting for flights, etc. is more trouble than it is worth! So, here is our ESSENTIAL list of items to bring on your next long flight, as well as a few ways to save yourself from over-packing. Our family’s #1 item to bring on a long flight has got to be a portable DVD player, and a few DVD’s (out of their cases). It was definitely the best investment we made before we made the long trek from Canada to New Zealand! Although it wasn’t much use for travelling with our baby, it was definitely the best item we could have brought for the toddler and older children! If you decide to purchase one, make sure the battery life will be good for a couple of movies, or else purchase a second battery because you won’t be able to recharge during the flight, or probably at the airport either!

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 Having said that, the in-flight movies are getting quite good these days on some of the longer flights, so you could possibly even get away without the DVD player, if your specific flight will be showing a couple of movies that would interest your children. Contact your airline to find out what movies will be playing on your flights. We also bought a Nintendo DS and some games from an online auction site before our flight. These portable gaming systems are small, light, and great for school-aged children. Here are some other items that we found very useful: -Light snacks that take long to eat. We did bring some candy and lollipops, but we also tried to bring healthier snacks, such as granola bars and boxes of dried fruit. You don’t need to bring a lot of snacks, as they should get some snacks on the flight (once again, something to check into). We also made sure that we had snacks for the times when we would have a long layover at the airport.-Chewing gum, for take off and landing. Chewing, or drinking for little ones, really does help for those painful ears that sometimes happen when flying. If you’re not sure how your child will react, we also suggest bringing along acetaminophen or ibuprofen, in case of really painful ears. With our son, we discovered he needed some Tylenol about an hour before landing, or else he experienced a lot of pain in his ears on landing.-A couple of light books, especially “touchy” books for babies. What we have found, though, is that when we bring books, the older kids are rarely, if at all, interested in reading on the flights. We suggest you leave most books behind, or in your packed luggage for reading at your destination. With older children and long layovers, though, a book to read in the airport can be helpful.-Headphones, for your portable DVD player. Some flights offer movies, but you have to buy or rent the headphones, so if you have your own sets, you can save on that expense.  -Crayons, coloring book, drawing paper. Instead of bringing entire books, bring a light folder with a couple sheets of coloring pages, blank paper, etc. Bringing fewer books really helps with lightening your load.-When we have travelled with a baby, we tried to bring along a few small, light things that baby would enjoy chewing on, or grabbing, crinkling, shaking, etc. We just looked around the house for some items that she didn’t normally play with, but that would probably be novel and interesting (and safe) for a baby, such as a set of measuring spoons. Other Carry-on tips: Don’t STUFF your carry-on bags! It’s so much easier to find what you are looking for while squished in your little airplane “cubicle” if your bags have some room left in them for digging around.

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Make sure your carry-on bags either have wheels, or a comfortable shoulder strap. For your regular luggage, we highly recommend bringing several snacks from your local grocery store, such as granola bars, fruit bars, etc. (take them out of the boxes) If you’re allowed an extra suitcase, you may as well bring those items along. They will save you money in your hotel room, and on your family excursions throughout your trip. Or, you can check out if there are any grocery stores near where you are staying, so that you can purchase these types of items there (and diapers if needed, etc.) As a great alternative to packing several suitcases of snacks and diapers and more, you could use the services of a company like “Babies Travel Lite” – http://www.babiestravellite.com. They will ship all baby items, snacks, and much more, ahead of time to your destination, so that you don’t have to pack and lug them along with you – you find them waiting for you at your hotel. They can even ship items home for you after your vacation. Packing is sometimes one of the most difficult things about going on vacation – trying to decide what to take, and what to leave at home. We hope that you have found some useful tips for packing to go on a vacation with children, and wish you a fabulous family holiday!