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3.5 year old and almost 2 year old on looooong plane trip

Melbourne, Australia
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3.5 year old and almost 2 year old on looooong plane trip

Does anyone have any brilliant (or even moderately successful) suggestions for things to keep a 3.5 year old and an almost 2 year old busy and happy on a flight from Australia to Nova Scotia (30+ hours)?

I'll take any advice you have!



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for Seattle, Family Travel
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1. Re: 3.5 year old and almost 2 year old on looooong plane trip

Expect the best ~ Plan for the Worst!

You best know your children, their behavior, and what works to manage, comfort them in less than perfect settings. Make sure you have a full bag of necessities and "tricks". And,while most flights go smoothly, leaving and arriving on-time, delays or changes do occur, and sometimes the connection details are the most stressful. I would also have a contingency plan if you get delayed or stuck, plenty diapers, clothes, etc. Make sure you contact your airline beforehand to let them know you are flying with kids, have seats assigned and any special perks.

~a stroller to gate check.

~extra clothes, diapers for both your children and an extra change of clothes for you

~shoes that are easy to get on/off

~things that have dual duty; ie baby blanket or shawl

~plastic bags, preferably ziploc type to contain diapers and other nasties. The crew and passengers will thank you.

~disposable wipes

~sippy type or leak-proof cups

~plenty of familiar snacks. This is not the time to try new foods. I like small things that aren't too filling, so that you can use them more than once. For example, cheerios type cereal, raisins, cheese sticks, granola bars or granola bites, bananas etc. Avoid sugary, messy items or things that melt (chocolate!) or leak. Carry a few single serving powdered drink mixes that you can add to water, if your kids like those.

~order children's meals. Be aware, however that your children may not like/eat them.

~make sure the kids drink plenty of water/liquids

~ include several things to manage ear pain, esp on descent - lollipops, pacifers, sippy cups, etc.

~the entertainment systems are great, but make sure your kids know how to use headphones and bring your own pair that they are comfortable with and have used before - for example some of the in the ear type that the airlines give away just don't work with many children. An over the ear , child sized headphone is the best

~a comfort item for each of your children. Pack away an extra comfort item in case one gets lost.

~Your 3.5 year old, in particular, should help pack his "flight" bag. Resist the urge to bring every "favorite". He/she should be able to carry this. Have some new and unfamiliar toys to bring out when needed.

~do not medicate your children to facilitate sleep. Lots of info avail on this subject, unfortunately, the use of meds for this purpose can backfire badly.

~do, however make sure you have doses of children's meds or necessary prescriptions (ie; Tylenol) should you need them.T

~Of course you will want to try and get some rest too, but resist the urge to medicate yourself or indulge in adult beverages. When the kids are awake, you too, need to be alert and functional.

~There are two schools of thought on early boarding, and most airlines will give priority boarding to families. Know that on international flights you will board almost an hour prior to departure, which for me added another long hour to the adventure. Consider sending one adult ahead to stow the carry-ons, set up the seats, while the other let the other parent remain in the boarding area with the children, use the bathrooms one last time, etc.

In general, if flying coach, I would urge you to try and book one of the bulk-head seats in the middle. Some airlines tend to save those for families with children. On recent flights, I observed several families who were able to let their child both sleep and play in that extra bulk-head space and the flight attendants were most accommodating. The downside to the bulkhead seats, is I believe the armrests are fixed, so, for your children, you won't be able to let them stretch out. Some families prefer entire middle section, where you can raise the seat arms and let the children stretch out across you. The downside to that, is kids, being kids, may tend to kick/bump the passengers in the seats ahead of them, which can earn you lots of dirty looks.

Rarotonga, Cook...
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for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland
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2. Re: 3.5 year old and almost 2 year old on looooong plane trip

Hi planetjag,

Booking the most suitable area in the aircraft with sufficient legroom for children to play on the floor is key. As IslandGirl points out, this is usually immediately behind the bulk-head. Take a bag with familiar toys and activities. If there is insufficient room for the children to stretch out to sleep, consider having one adult in your party relocate for part of the journey so that children can stretch out with the other parent/adult. If the aircraft has plenty of empty seats, no problem to relocate inflight anyway.

Be mindful that children may experience some effect on their hearing during landing especially. The natural tendency is to whimper or scream which helps to clear the ear canal. Provide comfort and accept that this event is temporary, therefore some outlet for the pain and distress is beneficial for developing children.

Keep the fluids up, children dehydrate much more readily than adults. Frequent toileting will be required, and is a chance for children to stretch their legs too. All the times I have travelled, Ive experienced children providing a useful diversion for other passengers on long journeys. Which means you'll many meet people on the flight (depending on time of travel of course). May not work quite so well for those flights departing Oz late at night to cross the Pacific in dark.

The aircrew will do everything they can to support your journey - Im talking about QANTAS & Air NZ here - I dont know much about other airlines from a parent trvelling with young ones perspective. Happy travels.

Charlotte, North...
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3. Re: 3.5 year old and almost 2 year old on looooong plane trip

It may not work for every child, but at least for the older one, have a conversation about what to expect and how to behave on an airplane. My standard plan is get to the airport with plenty of time to check in and get through security. This can be stressful for adults, and kids will catch on. It also can make adults, ok maybe just me, act in a stressed manner towards the kids, which does not facilitate a happy trip. It also allows for time to eat and walk before the trip. Pack carefully because you will have to carry your bags through a couple of airports. Do not overlook that you may be carrying a child through an airport or 2.

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4. Re: 3.5 year old and almost 2 year old on looooong plane trip

I don't know anything about your flights, but when my daughter was that age, I booked longer layovers so there would be time for her to run around and eat in the airport. I agree with most of the above recommendations as well.

Melbourne, Australia
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5. Re: 3.5 year old and almost 2 year old on looooong plane trip

Thanks for all the responses. Some really good points that I hadn't thought about.

I'm looking forward to a great trip, but it will certainly be a different kind of adventure with the kids.


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6. Re: 3.5 year old and almost 2 year old on looooong plane trip

My son is now 7. However, we have had some long flights to Mexico via the long way due to having frequent flyer miles. The one tip I can offer is to have some new toys for your children on the plane. I typically will go to the Dollar store and find some interesting things such as a mini etch a sketch, mini doodle pad with pen (theplastic kind where you wipe off the board), stickers, coloring books. I don't even show my son until we are on the plane. A $10 investment well worth it for a long plane trip.

Mountain View...
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7. Re: 3.5 year old and almost 2 year old on looooong plane trip

My kids are now 8 & 10 but when they were little I begged my mom's group for suggestions and got a ton of great ideas. The main thing is to have a bag of tricks so you can pull one out every 1530 minutes so there is something new to entertain them.

Here is the list of ideas:

1. Crayons and coloring books

2. Travel sized Magna Doodle (about $6)

3. Small plastic trucks or airplanes

4. Playing cards or flash cards

5. Colorforms - For those of you who don't know what colorforms are they are sort of like stickers but made out of plastic so are reusable over and over.

6. Stickers or Sticker Activity Books - One brand is by Dover Little Activity Books

and are $1. They have a scene on the inside of the cover, and then about 30 stickers that can be placed on the scene.

7. Small Lego or Duplo sets

8. Lift the flap books, I Spy books, or other fun books like ones with zippers and velcro

9. Small stuffed animals - like beanie babies.

10. McDonalds Happy Meal toys

11. Play Dough – the mini ones are great, with plastic cookie cutters

12. Party favors – save them up from birthday parties, or even beg them from friends

13. Small plastic animals

14. Fruitloops & string/shoelaces to make necklaces

15. Lollipops

16. Other "Art" supplies like markers, stampers, paper, safety scissors (can be used to cut airline magazine, etc)

17. Paper doll books

18. Small Color Wonder books

19. post it notes to decorate seat in front of child, window, etc.

20. Pipe cleaners to bend into any shape they want

21. Large beads with rope to string them on—shapes are best, because round ones may roll away

22. Little plastic people and cars

23. Book called DK Toddler's Book of Fun Things to Do

24. Pinwheels

25. Bubbles in non-spillable containers

26. Plastic easter eggs filled with snacks

27. Bendable/poseable people or animals

28. Binoculars – to look around and out the window

29. Paint with water books

30. Find-it sticker books – it is a book with hidden pictures and then stickers of what you are supposed to find, when you find the “broom” (or whatever) you put the sticker of the broom over the hidden picture of the broom.

31. Finger puppets

32. One and 2 cent stamps and blank envelopes

33. Bandaids – to stick anywhere – maybe decorate Daddy?

34. Tape – to tape your artwork up? Maybe painters tape to decorate with?

35. Yarn – also to decorate with

36. Matchbox construction trucks (bulldozer, dump truck) and cheerios or raisins to push around and load

37. A Zen or Buddha Board (bring an assortment of brushes to add to the fun)

38. DVD player or iphone/ipod touch to play child appropriate movies (the plane isn’t going to have a ton of Barney, Wiggles, Disney, etc.

And of course – tons and tons of snacks. The more fun the better. Individual items are great… those little packages of pretzel sticks and peanut butter, 100 calorie packs of oreo’s or other treats, small candy bars, fruit snacks, etc. etc.

I actually wrapped anything that I bought specially for the trip in birthday wrapping paper to keep it a secret and to make it a bigger deal.

Do NOT forget to save things for the return trip. We were on a plane to/from Hawaii with a family with 3 little kids. On the way there they entertained their children with lots of fun things, but on the way back the kids were complaining “I’m bored with that – isn’t there anything else” because they had let the kids open everything on the way to Hawaii and play with everything while they were there.

Make sure you have kids medicines to bring on board – we got 100 thank you’s when we were on a flight and another passenger had a sick child who cried and cried, and the passenger had no motrin/Tylenol. We shared ours and the child fell asleep 15 minutes later and slept for 5 hours. Last resort: Benedryl (see your doctor for dosage to make a toddler sleep. I was opposed to using it, but brought it along just in case. Turned out at one point she was so miserable I decided it was kinder to use it than to not use it, and I was glad I had it along.

8. Re: 3.5 year old and almost 2 year old on looooong plane trip

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