Prepare to be Entertained
Pack something to watch. Most flights will have in-flight movies, but your choices will be limited. You might want to bring your own tablet, or laptop loaded with a few movies that you know you will enjoy. Movies that you love and want to watch again or new movies that you have been dying to see — or both.
Pack something to read. Here again is where a tablet, or even your phone or laptop, shines! Make sure you have downloaded some books to read. I recommend more than one book, just in case you get bored of one, or finish it!
Pack something to listen to. If popping in your noise-cancelling headphones and zoning out to your favorite music is your thing, make sure you have all your favorite tunes loaded on your device. Maybe even some new songs to keep things interesting.
Podcasts are another great option for audio entertainment. There is a podcast for every single interest out there. You can be entertained, or educated or both. And bonus — podcasts take up less space and use less battery than movies — so load ‘em up!
Prepare to be Rested
In order to rest, most people need to be able to block out light and noise. A good eye mask and a pair of noise-cancelling headphones or simple ear plugs are a must. Most airlines provide these sorts of amenities on overnight and long flights, but why chance it. Especially if you are picky about the style, I recommend packing your own.
You also might want to bring your own travel pillow. Travel pillows have come a long way since the only option U-shaped inflatable neck pillow. From luxury down jackets that convert to neck pillows to scarves that hold your head up while you sleep, there is an option for everyone.
Prepare to Have Happy Kids
Traveling with young children adds an entire additional layer of complication to your travel plans. But, with a little extra preparation the entire family can still enjoy the journey of getting there.
You might want to seriously consider breaking up a long haul flight with a 2-3 day rest and recover stay somewhere. Shorter travel days mean kids (and parents) aren’t likely to get as exhausted, making everyone more susceptible to melt-downs and even sickness. Also, adding another destination adds more excitement and adventure to your trip.
Consider kid-friendly versions of all the preparations we have already covered, in addition to a few extra tips and tricks for keeping them healthy and happy.
In addition to bringing a few of their favorite things that you are certain they find entertaining, it’s always a good idea to bring a few new surprises to entertain the kids on a plane. Even the act of opening new gifts itself is entertainment! Think engaging toys - such as new coloring books and art supplies, new games, new books, etc. A mix of things you can enjoy with them, and that they can do alone for when you need a break.
Checklist for happy kids (and parents):
Check your stroller at the gate. If your flight happens to be delayed, your child(ren) will have a comfortable (and confined) place to rest.
Pack plenty of your child’s favorite (healthy) foods. There are few things worse than a hungry child, besides one that is amped up on sugar, or coming down off a sugar high. Think protein and complex carbohydrates to keep their bellies full and their mood calm.
Make sure they get the wiggles out before they get on the plane. Take advantage of all the space in the airport and run around. Kids need to move their bodies to burn off energy, and hopefully they will be ready to sleep when you get in the air.
Be prepared to combat the change in air pressure on takeoff and landing with a bottle (or breast) for babies and chewing gum or hard candy for those old enough for it.
I know, I know, all the experts tell us to avoid too much screen time for our children, but having a few movies or electronic games available on your tablet can mean the difference between misery and joy on a long-haul flight. Go ahead and make an exception here and indulge in some electronic baby-sitting for a few hours.
Pack a clean outfit (or two) in your carry-on, as well as plenty of wipes to clean up all the messes kids (and adults) often make.
And lastly remember: this won't last forever. An unpleasant, uncomfortable long-haul flight might seem like a never-ending nightmare, but it will be over at some point, and the rewards of an amazing trip with be well-worth the relatively short time spent on the plane to get there.
With the proper planning, your seemingly daunting long-haul flight can be a manageable beginning to the vacation of a lifetime. When you're ready to get started planning, I'm here to help. I look forward to helping you turn "someday" into "remember when".
Lisa is the travel loving, animal adoring, Mickey Mouse hugging owner of Dreams Delivered Travel.