International Flight Must-Haves For Toddlers

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back in May, our family went on a very spontaneous trip to Korea.  it was honestly the most fun vacation we have ever been on.  one for the books.  here’s an account of our flight below and how I got rocked on the flight.  I thought I was SUPER prepared and well…Toddler tantrums and time differences can really throw you for a loop.  The last two trips to Hawaii went so well I never expected C to be so naughty on this flight.  The big difference was the length of time that we were flying, the fact that C wanted to only watch youtube kids (we didn’t have wifi), AND that C wanted none of the snacks that i had brought.  Awesome.

On the way TO Korea, we took a red eye.  Perfect right?  C sleeps 10 hours, the flight is about 12.  I’ve only got to prepare 2 hours worth of activities.  Unfortunately, I didn’t expect C to sleep as soon as we got into the plane and then only sleep for 6 hours.  While everyone else was settling in and eating their first meal on the flight (which was about 1 hour in) C was PASSED OUT.  Then when C woke up, the whole airplane was fast asleep (like total darkness and silence).  From 6 hours in until about the 10th hour, C was CRAY.  GF doesn’t understand how to whisper.  She screamed for snacks, she screamed out colors when watching videos, she kept jumping and laughing on the seats… it was HARD.  She wasn’t naughty, but it was so hard to get her to quiet down since she didn’t understand that the whole plane was in quiet mode.  She had a couple of cray cray crying meltdowns around hours 9-10 and then Mike literally rocked her to sleep in .5 seconds.  UGH  I suffered for four hours and Mike got her to sleep in .5 seconds.  WTHHH.

Then on the way back, C didn’t take her nap b/c we wanted her to take it on the plane.  Bad idea.  She had a MELTDOWN on the flight and it was so bad that the flight attendant came over and gave her a sticker book.  A sticker book that C threw aside.  SIGH.

Anyway…after a week long trip to Korea where C and I were mainly alone + the two flights that we were alone (Mike was on a different floor), here are my tips on traveling with a little one on 10+ hour flights.

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  1. A backpack for Mom–this is a must for the flight and your trip.  Having a fancy purse is great, but not practical if you’re running after your babe and exploring a new city.  On the plane I keep my important documents (our passports, itinerary, wallet, computer), a change of clothes for myself, makeup, and a few essentials for C in the small pockets (like wipes).  The purpose for this backpack is to have everything I need in one place~ these things are not replaceable.  I can lose all my suitcases but not this one bag.  Pictured above are the two I really love.img_4405
  2. A duffle bag for each toddler–so this sounds like a lot but I swear there’s a reason behind it.  One entire bag is filled with essentials JUST for her.  Busy Bags, snacks, diapers, a change of clothes, wipes, medicine, drinks, blankets, etc.  This entire bag is to keep C busy and hold things she will need for the flight only.  (also be prepared for delayed flights so bring a few extra diapers!)  NOW the important part about this… If you get the right size bag, it will fit underneath the seat in front of you during take off and landing.  BUT ALSO be used as extra leg room for your little one to use as a foot rest or even extra bed space.  This is kind of hard to describe but I brought three bags to fit under three seats (we had an extra seat next to us that I knew would be empty).  So during the flight I propped the three bags up so that it was even to two of the seats and put the airplane blankets down to smooth out the surface.  Once they were down (three in total), it was soft and comfy like one flat bed.  The plane gives you little pillows for international flights and I used two out of three to even our areas that were lumpy for C.  It sounds like a lot of effort but on a long flight, this even surface gives C more space to play, a wide bed to roll around when she’s sleeping, AND it gives me a place to lay down next to her during a long flight.  One huge tip for us was booking a window seat and an aisle seat on a three seat row in the middle/back of the plane.  People hate middle seats and if they do book it, it tends to be at the front of the plane.  We were in Row 37 and 45 on our flights and always had the middle seat free.  That extra space is CLUTCH on long flights.  With that extra space C didn’t need to walk up and down the aisles like the other kids.  She had her own little play area with toys, electronics, and bed.download-1
  3. Electronics up the WAZOO–ipad, iPhone, extra chargers, ear phones, back up ear phones, game boy, kindle…freaking WHATEVER will keep your little one from bouncing off the walls and screaming down the aisles.  LOL  International flights all have a plug and a USB port for you to charge everything but I’ve totally been on flights where mine has been broken.  SOOO just make sure you have a back up and you know where the back ups are.  EEEK.
  4. Snacks for days–NEW snacks is what I learned.  BAD sugary snacks you normally never give your baby.  I brought like 70% snacks I knew she would like and was screwed when she didn’t want a single one of them (THE ENTIRE TRIP).  So the new snacks I bought along the way killed it with her and held her attention like no other.  One thing that I will never forget from this trip is that new, sugar snacks are the way to go for long flights.  I know that it’s not ideal for your baby BUT you have to remember that other people are sharing the flight with you.  It’s for the benefit of those around you.
  5. Comforts from home (like a blankie)–c has a favorite sheep blanket that she calls “baa baa”.  I didn’t want to bring it b/c she loves it so much, but mike felt differently.  He thought it would help soothe her to sleep and make her feel comfortable in new spaces.  He was totally right.  This “baa baa” was SOO important to her on the trip.  She held it everywhere and always looked for it when falling asleep.
  6. Comfortable Clothes + Shoes for both of you–The flight is LONG.  You’re definitely going to have a booger or snack or piece of food wiped on you.
  7. Use the extra time you get to set up your area–Families always get to go on before the rest of the crowd.  Take the extra time to get 2-3 busy bags out and store them in the pockets in front of you, get wipes at the ready, have electronics in an easy to spot place, and let your little one explore.
  8. Humor + a Positive Attitude–The flight is going to be CRAY.  Just expect it.  Expect that nothing will go your way, nothing will go as planned, and well… shit happens.  It’s ok if your baby has a tantrum, it’s ok if your baby can’t sleep.  The flight isn’t forever.  Just try to make the best of it and think of back up options for your little one.  For instance, I had lollipops in my bag for tantrums, there are goofy songs that ALWAYS make c laugh, and she loves a good chapstick.  And when all of that doesn’t work~ take a walk.  A little change of scenery will quiet a fussy baby and give them something to look at.img_9120

I hope these tips that I learned from my trip help you mamas and families out there!! xoxo

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