How to make travelling with children less of a nightmare

June 22, 2017 Published by

When we think of a nightmare journey, travelling with a screaming child on an eight hour flight is certainly one that comes to mind.

Families have a pretty bad reputation when it comes to aeroplane etiquette. In a survey of 1,019 American holidaymakers [1], 59 per cent said that inattentive parents were the most infuriating to travel with, coming second only to rear seat kickers (61 per cent).

Just over half (53 per cent) said they found themselves annoyed by loud children – and it’s likely that the parents wanted some peace and quiet too!

You can’t guarantee that your child will be a little angel when on a plane; it can be a challenge for young children to sit still and stay quiet for any amount of time. But a bit of preparation can help distract them from boredom and perhaps make travelling a little easier on parents:

What to pack

Lady Packing Suitcase


  • Children hate the sensation of their ears popping. Take a lollipop or a sippy cup for them to use when landing to help with the change in pressure – we like the no-spill Little Litecup, which also has a built in night light that’s perfect for comforting your child during the holiday too.
  • Take some snacks with you, but avoid smelly food or anything that will result in a sugar rush. Wet wipes are handy for catching sticky fingers.
  • Buy some new small toys and reveal one every so often (but not if they start misbehaving, otherwise they’ll soon learn this is a great trick to get more toys!). Playmobil’s Animal Bags are small and versatile, while you can use Finger Puppet Story Sets from Fiesta Crafts to distract your child with their favourite fairytale. Don’t wrap the toys though, as security might need to check them.
  • A new book or two can beat the boredom. Busy Airport is perfect for this – your child will love comparing the pictures to the things they have seen while boarding the plane.
  • A few sticker books are ideal and don’t require pencils or crayons, which can often end up rolling under seats. Travel Aquadoodle mats are great too because they only need one pen, that works with ordinary tap water.
  • A mobile device can be a lifesaver, so consider bringing one loaded with a new app or two (make sure it works without Wi-Fi) and a film for them to watch. Don’t forget headphones! If it’s a long flight, make a plan for managing screen time too.


On the journey



  • Before boarding the plane, get your youngster to burn off some energy. You can use a game of Simon Says to get them hopping, skipping and jumping around the airport.
  • Once on the plane, have your child sit cross-legged – this helps to discourage rear seat kicking.
  • If your child gets restless, take them for a walk up and down the aisle – but don’t let them start running around.
  • Make sure they keep to their space – their neighbour doesn’t want blankets and crisps all over them.
  • If you’re distracting them with a song or rhyme, try to speak softly.
  • Lead by example and demonstrate how to be respectful towards other passengers.

Flying with children is no easy feat, so if it’s not a necessary trip (like visiting family) you might want to think about choosing a holiday closer to home.

“Long haul flights with young children can be stressful for parents, If the aim of the journey is for some time away to relax, parents might want to consider the impact of the journey on their overall enjoyment of the holiday.” says Dr Amanda Gummer


Photo Credits:

Lady Packing Suitcase by Highways England

Baby on Plane by Eugenio Wilman

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This post was written by Anna Taylor

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