Long Haul Flights With Young Kids: Packing List and Last Thoughts (Part 4)
If you are just joining the Long Haul Airplane Travel with Young Kids series, please start first by reading planning flights and jet lag (part 1), what to pack carry-on and in-flight meals (part 2) as well as getting kids to sleep on the plane and gear (part 3). This final installment on Long Haul Air Travel With Young Kids will discuss business class seating, my packing list, and some random last thoughts.
We had the privilege of flying long haul in Cathay Pacific business class in February. Since she turned two, my daughter has enjoyed the Cathay Pacific business class pods complete with a special Disney-themed kids menu, Disney Channel on demand, plenty of space for stuffed animals and pockets to shove toys into. It’s not a bad way to travel.
Speaking of business class here’s some seating advice if you’re lucky enough to have your choice of airplane seats. If the seats in business class are in a “v” formation (seen above), kids are better off in the first row (or bulkhead) by the window. If only one parent is traveling, he or she should take the aisle seat directly across from the child. This seat has the best line of sight into your little traveler’s pod, though it’s not perfect.
This seating arrangement is counter-intuitive, as you would assume the airplane window seat next to your little traveler would be better. It’s not because the partition makes it hard to see down into your child’s “pod” without standing up. Also, if you need to help your child with something, it’s more bothersome to the other passengers to get up out of the window seat and make a u-turn into your child’s pod. With the aisle seat, you can just duck in and out and no one will really notice. Remember, in this “v” formation there is one seat against the window, then two in the aisle that face in opposite directions (back-to-back, basically), then another window seat. Four seats total are in a business class row. I am taking the photo above from my pod across the aisle.
If two parents are traveling, take these seats and then the second adult should take the window seat next to the child’s seat. You can see what I mean on SeatGuru, where you can check the seating configuration by airline and airplane. It’s a great website. It’s also worth a call to the airline to double check where you should sit.
I had a few other afterthoughts that I’ll mention before I get into my long-haul flight packing list.
Warming bottles or food: Do test the temperature as flight attendants are busy or may not have babies at home. I’ve had a few scalding-hot bottles redelivered, but it doesn’t upset me as the flight attendants are doing their best. Just be mindful.
Sippy Cups: If you can, remember to very slightly unscrew the tops before take-off and landing. The change in cabin air pressure can sometimes cause the liquid to start squirting up everywhere. This happens with my daughter’s Nuby straw cups. If I don’t unscrew the top and the straw is flipped down, when I flip the straw back up, juice squirts everywhere with force. It can be a total mess. Or, if I’m holding the cup, I just slightly squeeze the straw open to relieve the pressure as we’re ascending or descending.
Strollers: If you happen to have a Bugaboo Cameleon or Frog that rides in that big nice transport case, be aware that it might be considered over-sized baggage. I had no idea. I’ve never had to pay any extra money, however, check with your airline before flying. At LAX, the stroller bag has to be picked up at a special side area that’s not the regular baggage carousel. This can be a pain because my bags usually come off first and then I’m stuck there with a tired kid waiting for the stroller. Over-sized bags can take a while and sometimes they are just unnervingly laying there for anyone to take.
I check a cheaper stroller at the gate (note that you can’t check big strollers there anyway). I’ve heard stories about strollers getting broken when checking at the gate. Mine have always been totally fine. It’s also always helpful if you have stroller hooks to carry your bags through the airport. Unless they Velcro or are securely on, I would take them and anything similar off your stroller before checking it at the gate because this sort of thing is likely to get lost.
Packing: To get everything to fit in my carry-on bags, I use gallon size Ziploc bags to pack diapers, clothes, and more. I then squeeze all the excess air out to get the clothes and diapers to compact as tightly as possible. This really helps organize so stuff isn’t flying all around your carry-on. Diapers go in one Ziploc bag, my clothes in another, etc. The bags also double as dirty clothes holders too if your little traveler spills orange juice or whatever and needs to change clothes.
Diaper Cream: If you are traveling with a sitting baby or toddler I would highly suggest that you apply as much of this as you feel comfortable with. I’ve had some really terrible diaper rash emerge after long-haul plane flights. It’s a lot of sitting.
Packing List For Flying Long Haul With Kids
Yours will probably be a little different, but here’s my packing list aside from passports, tickets, cell phones, and similar.
My packing list:
1. Change of dark-colored clothes (I like Gap Body long-sleeved T-shirts because they fold tightly and a pair of nice, not bulky soft cotton pants. I go comfy. Remember, no drawstring pants!)
2. Toothbrush and toiletries (If flying business or first class, these are likely provided for you.)
3. Socks (These are usually provided in business or first class.)
5. Moisturizer and lip balm
6. Saline nasal spray
7. Eye re-wetting drops
8. Extra contact lenses and solution (If you wear lenses on the plane, they can dry up in your eyes or get really irritated with the recirculated air.)
9. Afrin or some kind of decongestant (I have trouble with the dry cabin air sometimes.)
10. Gum (This helps with the pressure and helps hide any breath sins.)
11. Antibacterial wipes, spray and/or gel
12. Nail file
13. Surprise gifts for my daughter when she gets fussy (see Part 2)
14. Ergo carrier or sling when she was very little and I wanted to hold her and keep my arms from cramping (The sling was invaluable on the plane during the early years.)
Numbers 1-12 plus a few of my daughter’s items fit conveniently into a small makeup bag that I keep within reach at all times.
My daughter’s packing list:
1. 3-5 changes of clothing for a transpacific flight
2. 3 pairs of socks (She loses socks all the time on the plane.)
3. DVD player, external battery, and DVDs or these days an iPad
4. Whatever small, lightweight toys she happens to be into
5. WASHABLE Crayons and paper OR even better, Crayola Color Wonder products that don’t make a mess because the color only appears on the special Color Wonder paper, which is perfect for the airplane (The last thing you need to be doing is scrubbing the walls of the aircraft).
6. Cloths to clean up whatever mess (It never hurts to have a few extra.)
7. Diaper disposal sacks, wipes and more diapers than I’ll ever use
8. Diaper cream
9. Changing pad (like the Skip Hop)
10. Infant Tylenol
11. Snacks (bring a ton)
12. Toothbrush and toothpaste (No matter what class you’re flying, they don’t have kid toothbrushes typically)
I also wrote a post about how I try to get my skin back to normal after a long haul flight. I also have written a number of posts related to flying with kids since this post was originally published.
The most important thing you can remember as a parent is that you will survive. Seriously. I know how stressful it can be in the days leading up to the first few flights. I was so worried, but as I already mentioned, I eventually got to a point where I enjoyed the long haul flights and have no problem hopping on a plane to go anywhere in the world with my daughter.
If anything else comes to mind, I’ll update these posts. That’s it for now. Happy travels and thanks for reading!!!
Here are links to the rest of the series:
Long Haul Flights with Young Kids, Part 1: Planning Your Flight and Jet Lag
Long Haul Flights with Young Kids, Part 2: What to Pack Carry-on and In-flight Meals
Long Haul Flights with Young Kids, Part 3: Getting Little Traveler to Sleep on the Plane and Gear
Long Haul Flighs with Young Kids, Part 4: Packing List and Final Thoughts