Travelling long haul with kids?

Posted by Emma on January 10, 2013

A sneak peek in my carry-on...

This year will be the seventh year I have travelled long haul to get my ski fix, with a growing family, from as far away as Sydney, Australia, and more recently Singapore. I will soon be boarding a plane with my four children ages 12, 10, 8 and 5, and heading to Park City.

 As I pack, I have been reflecting on the changes I've made over the years in what I now carry on-board to get through the sometimes 24 hours of flying and airport time. Obviously, as my children have grown older, the things I MUST pack have thankfully changed. NO MORE NAPPIES! YAY!  But some things stay the same no matter what the age or make-up of your family. Without further ado, here are my top 5 rules for packing carry-on luggage:

  1. Less is more. I have gone from being the woman you see struggling down the aisle of the airplane with what looks like a hundred bags hanging off every possible limb, to being the woman who carries one bag plus my laptop. My kids share a backpack, keeping our total carry-on to 4 pieces. Of course, you have to pack your childrens must-have comforters dummies, ruggies, iPods etc. But bear in mind that less bags to carry means less bags to scan, less bags to leave at LAX McDonalds, less bags to repack for the return trip...
  2. Leave your jackets out. See rule 1. The only extra clothes I pack for the flight are spare long-sleeved t-shirts for us all and this is more for the likely event that the kids spill their dinner than for warmth. In my experience, US airports are well heated, and I make sure all of our warm jackets are packed at the top of a suitcase that I can easily access upon arrival at our final destination.
  3. Don't forget your electronic chargers and adapters. I usually try to minimise my children's screen time EXCEPT when we are flying! There is nothing worse than arriving at LAX and having to wait 4 hours for your connecting flight with no power left in your gadgets. Everyone is usually pretty tired and there is only so much you can look at and eat in those hours. Find a power outlet, charge em up and keep the peace.
  4. Stock up on snacks. I do like to pay attention to my kids' diet but I make exceptions when we are travelling. If there is a healthy option I will go for it however I always pack snacks and sweets in my carry-on. The only thing worse than tired and grumpy children is tired, grumpy and hungry children.
  5. First aid. I always pack some form of medicine for the kids, just in case, but dont forget the 100ml limit. Also dont forget your toothpaste! Nothing beats the feeling of fresh clean teeth when you smile at the immigration officer at LAX after 20 hours on board.

 If you are embarking on a long haul flight with your children this year, things may get a little testy at some point. At times like this I think how much worse it would have been BEFORE inflight entertainment and that usually makes me feel a whole lot happier. Good luck and safe travels!


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