5 Must-Haves for Long-Haul Flights with Kids: Our Product Recommendations
We are putting all our travel knowledge to the test as we prepare to move to Japan. As a family with kids, we understand the importance of being well-prepared for any travel situation, especially during long-haul flights. Here are our top product recommendations to make long-haul flights with kids more comfortable and enjoyable. From entertainment to comfort, we’ve got you covered.
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1. Carry-On Bag
When it comes to traveling with kids, packing the right gear can make all the difference in the world. One essential item for any family traveling on a long-haul flight is a carry-on bag for each child. Not only do these bags give kids a sense of independence, but they also provide a convenient place to store all of their travel essentials. A backpack is a great option for kids’ carry-on bags as it leaves their hands free, while a tote bag with long handles is perfect for adults who prefer to carry their items over their shoulders.
For kids, I love the Kanken Backpack from Fjallraven. It is durable, lightweight, and has plenty of space for all the travel essentials. Its simple design and range of fun colors also make it a popular choice. There is a mini that fits kids’ backs better. We used this for years with our little ones, but be warned, it will not fit a larger tablet.
The Kah & Kee Travel Backpack is perfect for adults on the go. I love how spacious and comfortable it is, with plenty of pockets to keep all my travel essentials organized. It also has a variety of ways to carry the bag, which is key when traveling with kids
Another favorite of mine is the LL Bean Boat and Tote (Medium or Large) with a zip top and long handles. This is an excellent option for parents who need a spacious carry-on bag. It’s durable, well-made, and can fit all of your essentials, making it an ideal choice for long-haul flights. Plus, the zip-top ensures your belongings stay secure, while the long handles make it easy to carry over your shoulder.
- I love these CICIMELON Pencil Case Bags, which are perfect for containing all the art supplies.
- These mesh bags keep things organized, clip them onto the bag and let me see what is inside of them.
- This is my go-to electronics organizer. It holds what I need for the flight for the whole family and is nice and slim.
Hip packs are a popular choice for travelers because they offer convenience and versatility. They allow you to keep your essentials like a passport, wallet, phone, and camera close at hand without the bulk of a backpack. In addition, they are great for activities like hiking or sightseeing where you need to keep your hands free. Two of my favorite brands for travel hip packs are Cotopaxi for a small option and the Sipsey Wilder Ranger for an option that will hold it all.
2. Non- Electronic Entertainment
When it comes to filling up these bags, there are a few key items that can help keep kids entertained and comfortable during a long flight. Consider your child’s hobbies and interests and pack accordingly to keep them entertained during the long flight – if they like coloring, pack some coloring books, if they enjoy reading, bring along their favorite books. They are unlikely to take up a new activity on a long haul flight.
Here are a few whole family favorites:
- Notebook – Every kid should have a blank notebook for drawing, writing, crumpling or whatever.
- Deck of Cards – Endless options
- Cinco Linko – Cinco Linko is a compact and portable game where you try to get 5 in a row. It’s magnetic and stores easily for travel
- Exploding Kittens 2 Player – A 2-player version of this game that is easy to learn and perfect for travel. The goal of the game is to avoid drawing the exploding kitten card and be the last player standing.
- Purple Cow Magnetic Games – We are partial to chess as it is a family favorite, but there are several to choose from.
- Wicki Sticks – Wikki Sticks are a great travel companion because they are mess-free, reusable, and versatile – we love to use these bendable sticks to create 3D sculptures and play games, all without leaving any residue behind.
- Kindle Kids – A Kindle is essential for any age group on a long-haul flight It allows for easy access to an unlimited number of books, magazines, and games in a compact and lightweight device.
- LCD Writing Tablet – The LCD Writing Tablet is a great screen-free option for kids to doodle, write, and play games on long flights. Little ones can just scribble.
Here are a few of my favorites for babies and toddlers:
- Stickers & Paper
- Painters Tape – kids can stick it and unstick it over and over
- Melissa and Doug Water Wow
- Miniature Figurines. We are partial to these Bluey ones.
- Dimple Didgits are like popp-its for toddlers and our kids were big fans.
- Sticker Activity Books. I love this one for its variety of activities and we went through so many Usborne sticker books when the kids were little because they are just the best.
Here are a few of my favorites for little kids.
- And So the Adventure Begins – This guided travel journal for younger kids provides fun prompts to help them document their adventures and plenty of space for a drawing.
- Paint by Sticker Kids – There are lots of great sticker books out there, these are our favorites both for size and durability. Plus sticker pages easily detach for easy use.
- Travel Spirograph
- Travel Tanograms
- My First Bananagrams
Here are a few of my favorites for big kids.
- Clever Fox Travel Journal – This travel journal for older kids is a great way for them to capture their experiences and memories while on the go. (Plus writing practice)
- How to Draw Books – If your kids love to doodle they will love to learn how to draw new things. These books lay flat and are pages are perforated if you have multiple kids using the same book.
- Paint by Sticker – larger, more complicated designs for older kids and adults.
- Rubik’s Cube – Working on solving the Rubix cube is a great travel activity and keeps their hands busy. We are also partial to this more high-tech option that connects to the iPad.
- Summer Brain Quest Workbooks – My kids love these and I feel good about it when they are using them.
When it comes to surviving a long-haul flight with kids, electronics can be a lifesaver. Don’t worry about regulating screen time during a flight, as the goal is to keep everyone comfortable and entertained. Bring along your kid’s favorite devices like the Nintendo Switch, iPad, and Kindle. With a variety of games, movies, and books at their fingertips, the flight will fly by (pun intended) and everyone will arrive at their destination feeling relaxed and happy.
- You can never have too many charging cords. Since we are an apple family I love this colorful variety pack.
- I also like this ihome slim so we can easily charge up at the airport before we board.
It’s worth noting that while many larger airplanes have plugs, we always bring an extra battery pack to ensure our devices stay charged throughout the flight.
- The Veektomx comes with built-in cords and an LED display.
- This amazon kids portable charger is great to stash in the kids bag to keep their devices charged.
Headphones are a must-have accessory. Not only do they allow your child to listen to their favorite music or watch their favorite movies without disturbing other passengers, but they can also help block out the constant noise of the plane. For younger kids, wired headphones can be a good option as they are usually less expensive and less likely to break or get lost. However, for older kids, Bluetooth headphones are a great option as they allow for more mobility and freedom to move around the cabin without getting tangled up in cords.
My favorite headphones for the kids are made by LilGadgets. They offer a variety of wired and wireless options, including the Connect+ Pro (wired/fold) and the Untangled Pro (Bluetooth & wired). The Connect+ Pro and Untangled Pro models also come with SharePort technology, allowing multiple headphones to connect to the same device, perfect for families with multiple children. Additionally, Lil Gadgets offers a one-year warranty on all their products, giving parents peace of mind when investing in a pair of headphones for their kids.
We have also had good luck with iclever Kids Bluetooth headphones which are cheaper and can be plugged in or use Bluetooth.
If you have really little kids you can’t beat the cozy over-ear headphones.
There are also a few headphone accessories to consider for the plane. If your airplane has TV screens you’ll need to be able to plug your headphones into the jacks.
- Air-Fly – The AirFly allows you to connect your wireless headphones to wired headphone jacks.
- Extra Headphone Cords – this is our #1 item that breaks on trips.
4. Neck Pillow
When it comes to surviving a long-haul flight with kids, a neck pillow can be a game changer. Not only do they help adults catch some much-needed rest, but they can also encourage kids to settle in and relax. Our favorite neck pillows for kids are the ones that come in fun animal designs and include eye shades, like these ones we found on Amazon. Not only are they cute and engaging, but they also help block out any distractions and make it easier for the little ones to doze off.
As for me, I’m partial to the Trtl pillow. It is an innovative neck pillow that offers 360-degree support, making it perfect for long flights or car rides. Despite its unconventional appearance, it’s a comfortable and effective way to get some rest while traveling
When it comes to traveling with kids, packing the right snacks can make a huge difference in keeping them happy and entertained. Not only do snacks provide nourishment during long flights, but they can also help pass the time and prevent crankiness. One fun way to pack snacks is to use bento boxes or snack containers with different compartments, allowing for a variety of snacks and easy portion control. Another idea is to involve kids in the packing process by letting them choose their own snacks and helping them pack them in their own backpacks or carry-on. Some great snack ideas include fruit slices, granola bars, trail mix, cheese sticks, popcorn, and crackers. Skip the highly processed food as it is easy to come by in the airport and aboard the plane
Here are a few of our favorite snack boxes for the airplane:
- We love this snackle box as a fun way to pack a variety of fun snacks.
- This snack tower also packs easily.
- This lightweight bento box also works great.
Bringing your own water bottle to the airport is a great way to save money and reduce waste. Many airports have water bottle filling stations, so you can easily refill your bottle before boarding your flight. Plus, having your own bottle means you don’t have to rely on single-use plastic cups or bottles, which can add up quickly and harm the environment.
You probably already have a reusable water bottle at home you can use. If you are in the market for a new one we like the Takeya Insulated Bottle for the airplane. I also love the small Nalgene bottles because they fit anywhere so they are perfect for travel or a long-haul flight where bottles are left out on the plane for refills.
Being prepared with the right gear can make all the difference on a long-haul flight, especially when traveling with kids. From comfortable neck pillows to engaging toys and snacks, there are many ways to make the journey more enjoyable. However, everyone’s travel style is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. So, feel free to share your own favorite items and travel hacks in the comments below and help make the next flight a little bit easier for everyone!
If you’re looking for more tips and advice on flying with kids, be sure to check out my blog post “Flying with Kids: Survival Tips“. In this post, I share some of my tried and true tips for making long flights with kids a little easier. From packing the right snacks to bringing along entertainment and games, there’s plenty of advice to help you and your little ones have a stress-free flight.