Whatever the mode of transport, traveling with children is often no picnic. The long-haul flight (five hours or more) offers up a special brand of hell, a smorgasbord of meltdowns, impromptu maladies and indiscriminate peevishness. I don’t blame them. Being caged like the class gerbil for hours can be tedious. They can’t seem to help upchucking on you, and whining. A carefully plotted parental playbook can help.
As a parent and travel writer who has crisscrossed the globe with her children for nearly a decade, I can confirm that keeping the whining at bay is just one part of the defensive strategy. Protecting your family against germs — we’ve had too many flight-induced illnesses to count — and preparing for multiple meals and snacks, not to mention all of the gear that must be schlepped, make up the offense. By anticipating the wild-card scenarios that can unfold at 32,000 feet, parents can exert some control over a topsy-turvy situation.
Food and Drink
It’s a mistake to assume that your flight will provide meals and snacks, even an international one. Preparing for the lowest rung of service means that lackluster offerings will have less of an impact on your family’s well-being. So, plot your nourishment carefully.
Put child-size servings in convenient flip-top snack cups like Oxo Tot or Skip Hop. For older children and adults, bring two meals — well-wrapped sandwiches or entrees in Tupperware (with your own plastic utensils). Have a cache of easy-to-transport snacks (granola bars, nuts and dried fruit, single serving chips, squeezable apple sauce, grapes, carrots and cheese sticks). Put all of these items inside a gallon-size zip-lock bag to stay organized and contain spillage.