In about a month we are headed to our YWAM base in Paris to start our 6 month overseas mission trip!! If you haven’t read our story, read it here. It’s exciting and stressful all at the same time (as things usually are when you have two toddlers). I have been preparing for the trip, as well as the flight for weeks. We will be flying for 11 HOURS with TWO toddlers. It’s going to be a blast. Below I have outlined what I will be bringing, as well as some tips on how to survive an international flight with kids.
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What To Bring On An International Flight
For the Kids:
Carseats are a must for plane rides more than two hours in my book. I will always pay the extra money for my kids to have their own seats so they can be buckled into their carseats. First, it is way safer for them, especially on a long flight where turbulence is highly likely. Second, it gives them a comfy place to sleep. I know it’s a pain and a lot of extra work to bring a carseat, but I think it’s worth it.
I have tried every carseat it feels like. For infants, I have used a Graco Snugride and an UppaBaby Mesa. Either one would work fine in an airplane. Most infant carseats fit easily in a plane. For convertible carseats, I have had a Chicco Nextfit Zip, Diono Radian 3RXT, Maxi-Cosi Pria All-in-1, Safety 1st Guide 65, and the Cosco Scenera Next Deluxe.
Last time we flew, we used our Chicco Nextfit Zip for our toddler. I loved it because it was comfortable for him to sleep in. My husband hated it though because it was extremely heavy to carry through the airport and plane. After the trip, we discovered this rolling/carrying bag for it, which definitely would have made our life easier!
Be aware that airplane seats are typically between 16-17 inches wide. Most carseats are wider than that. If you choose to bring a large carseat (like the Chicco Nextfit Zip or Maxi Cosi Pria) whoever is sitting next to the carseat will be giving up some of their space.
It’s the price you must pay to have your kids safe and comfortable. Classic parent life.
This time I am planning on taking two Cosco Scenera Deluxes. They are very slim (17 inches wide) and light (10 pounds). Keep in mind the rear facing installation is very laid back for this carseat, so I am planning on installing it forward facing for both of my kids. The Cosco Scenera Deluxe is not very cushiony, it is just fabric pulled over plastic (no foam). For that reason I bought a thick cushiony pad to put into each carseat so my kids are more comfortable on the long flight.
One thing I would suggest to bring if your kid sits forward facing is a neck pillow. Airplane seats are pretty straight up, which often causes their heads to fall forward while they sleep.
My top choice for flying would definitely be the Safety 1st Guide 65. It is slim (18.5 inches wide), light (14 pounds), but it is still decently cushiony. I only personally chose the Cosco Scenera Deluxe because we will be carrying our carseats (along with a lot of other luggage and two kids) around a lot and the extra pounds would make it tough for me.
I always travel on a plane with a backpack. I do the same with my kids. It is the easiest way to keep all of their things together. In their own separate backpacks I pack toys, entertainment, extra clothes, blanket, empty water bottle, wipes, snacks, and diapers (if needed).
Here are some of the backpacks I have used for them:
As I mentioned above, I ALWAYS bring entertainment.
Here are a few suggestions for a 1-4 year old:
- Amazon Kids Kindle Fire (& charger)
- Color Wonder coloring books (so no crayon accidents on the plane)
- Magnetic coloring books (travel size)
- Water coloring books
- Kids headphones
- Window Clings (Gel Reusable stickers for the window)
- Soft Toys (I say soft because if they throw them it won’t hurt someone)
Last time we flew, we took our huge UPPAbaby Vista double stroller. It’s an amazing stroller to have to put all your stuff and kids in as you go through the airport, but it’s a pain to break down and put into a stroller bag before you board the plane. This time (now that our kids are both walking) we have opted to bring two small strollers rather than one large one. We have a Delta Children Clutch, which is hard to find in stock anywhere! We also have a GB Pockit Stroller. Both strollers are extremely light and fold small enough to fit in an overhead bin.
Don’t forget if you are planning to bring a stroller that doesn’t fold up small enough to store as a carry-on bring a stroller bag. You don’t HAVE to put your stroller in a bag if you gate check it, but it helps protect your stroller from damage or getting dirty. I have the J.L. Childress gate check stroller bag, and it fits my UPPAbaby Vista with both attachments.
Baby carriers are always a good idea, even if you only use them to get on and off the plane. It is highly likely your stroller will not fit down the aisle of the airplane. Using a baby carrier allows you to carry your baby, as well as all your carry on items.
We have a 3 year old and a 1 ½ year old, so we bring two carriers. For our 1 ½ year old we use the Ergo 360 and for our 3 year old we use the LILLEbaby toddler carrier. I love the LILLEbaby because it is specifically for toddlers so it is sturdier than the infant baby carriers. It can be used to carry your toddler on your front, your back, or your side.
For the adults:
Personally, I would suggest packing everything into a reasonable sized backpack so your hands are free to carry your kids or your kid’s stuff.I typically pack my purse in my checked bag and put everything I need in my backpack. In my backpack I bring my wallet, passport, glasses, empty hydroflask, blanket, extra clothes, hand sanitizer, laptop, Ipad, pen, journal, headphones, charger cord, portable charger, and snacks.
I love the Herschel backpacks, but this time we opted to bring anti-theft bags. We wanted to have our attention focused on keeping the kids safe and not needing to worry about our bags. I linked our bags below! I have the light blue one, and Tommy has the dark gray.
That’s it! The less you have to carry with kids the better.
International Flight With Kids – Tips
- Make the flight during your kid’s naptime.
- If they are under 5, strap them in a carseat during the flight.
- Bring TONS of snacks.
- Bring lots of entertainment for them (soft toys, Ipad, headphones, coloring books, sticker books, etc)
- Bring NEW toys that you can surprise them with.
- Bring extra clothes for everyone! Kids are messy. You don’t want to be traveling for 20 hours in a dirty stained shirt.
- Try to get a window seat for them if possible. Kids love to look out the window, and it helps them not to get scared during takeoff and landing.
- Take advantage of boarding early. It seems counterintuitive to have kids waiting on the plane longer than necessary, but trust me it is much easier (and less stressful) to get carseats and kids all set up without a hundred people around you.
Still have questions? Check out my blog post on 10 Secret Tips For Flying With a Baby for more tips on surviving plane flights with kids. Leave me a comment below if there’s anything else you would like to know!