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20 Hacks and Must-Haves When Traveling With Children on an International Flight

Here are 20 must-haves when traveling with children on an international flight during the holidays. You know your children better than anyone else so hopefully you know the secrets to keeping your children quiet, occupied, and calm during an international flight.

Start with the question, “How do I keep my child preoccupied while I get stuff done at home?” The answers you come up with also apply in this situation but with one big difference. While a child throwing a tantrum at home causes little to no anxiety in you, the same situation on an airplane can be extremely painful & stressful so yes, it is ok to bend your own rules a little and do everything possible including bribery, to keep your child occupied and quiet. Here are the 20 hacks to have ready in your arsenal.

1. An iPad (or similar) with games preloaded.

2. An iPad or laptop with movies preloaded.

3. Earbuds for kids.

* Yes, your fellow passengers CAN hear what your child is listening to and it’s annoying and rude to think we don’t care or cannot hear it.

4. Coloring book, game book, or homework depending on age.

5. Books for you to read to them or for them to read on their own if they can read

* (download children Audible books from Amazon)

6. A journal for them to write in (if old enough to write) or this could be a fun parent-child activity.

7. Good old fashioned playing cards

8. Melatonin can work magic.

* Try it to help expedite naps or calm your screamer down if necessary.

9. Benadryl for Children (no alcohol) to help take naps or calm down if necessary

* Only a small amount in order to get through airport security.

10. Child’s favorite 1 or 2 stuffed animal(s) or whatever they find comfort with when they sleep.

11. Child’s favorite pillow/blanket

12. A few snacks

* Try to stay away from sugary snacks. Sugar makes kids hyper.

13. Gum and hard candy to help with ear pressure pain.

14. Wet Wipes or a few paper towels for accidental spills

15. One extra set/change of clothes for spills/accidents.

16. Facial Tissue

17. Empty water bottle (fill it up after you pass through security)

18. A set of rules to review

a) Be considerate of others.

b) You are NOT the only person on the plane.

c) Never, EVER EVER kick the seat in front of you.

d) Seat Belt buckled at all times unless permission is given to unbuckle

e) No running up/down aisle

f) No standing in aisle

g) No screaming

h) No arguing/fighting with your sibling.

* Work it out. Mom or dad will be judge/jury without an appeals opportunity for all disputes if we have to get involved.

i) Play nice with each other.

* Share and be respectful of each other even when there is a disagreement. If mom/dad cannot figure out who is at fault for an issue, then you’re both at fault and both face consequences.

j) Do not speak with strangers (or walk off with a stranger.)

k) If your tummy begins to hurt, and you think you might vomit, notify Mommy/Daddy IMMEDIATELY!

19) 30 minutes before landing, all items are put away. Look out the window.

20) You (the kids) are responsible for all your stuff.

a) Mom/dad cannot take inventory of EVERYTHING. Anything left behind on the plane is considered lost forever (although my son once left his DS on the plane and he remembered ten minutes after deplaning. He got lucky. The gate agent had the DS.


And parents….please, PLEASE attend to your crying or screaming child. You are NOT alone in a bubble. We all hear her crying or screaming until YOU stop the madness. Nobody else can or will do it, not even the flight attendants. Many of your fellow passengers have raised kids, been in your situation, and we get it that flying with children can be challenging and they don’t always behave. They can be screamers and energetic cryers but the excuse, “kids will be kids” does NOT apply when you are sitting in an enclosed tube, for hours, sharing the same space with 200 other people with nowhere to go for relief. Make the madness stop! And yes, we empathize when your prince or princess is crying because there is pain in their ear due to change in cabin pressure. This is when I recommend the gum, Melatonin or Children’s Benadryl, 45 minutes prior to landing.

(I remember being on a two hour flight with a screaming child about ten rows behind me, crying for the entire flight non-stop until she finally stopped crying… as the plane was landing. What were the parents doing? Probably wearing noise cancelling headphones, tuned out, listening to calming classical music. It’s not happening if you can’t hear it, right?)



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