Vacation is all about fun and relaxation, but first you have to get there. Your flight should be stress-free, but if it is several hours long, it could be quite the task to entertain your kids. An overnight flight may be the solution to your problem. With a little planning, your flight can be a relaxing start to your family vacation. Here are my top 10 tips for taking an overnight flight with kids.
1. BE COMFY: Buttons can be your worst enemy on an overnight flight. My girls love to dress in yoga pants, a soft T-shirt, and a big sweatshirt. They also wear fluffy socks and a pair of sneakers they can take off during the flight. Layers are always a safe bet, since the temperature in planes can be unpredictable.
2. SNACKS: Vacation mentality starts at the airport, and you can often become careless about what you put in your body. You may regret this as soon as turbulence hits and their stomach starts doing summersaults. Make healthy snack choices and avoid sugar or heavy carbs. It’s important to stay hydrated during a flight, but try to veer your children towards water and away from soda or juice.
3. MOVIES: If your kids can’t fall asleep, it’s good to have movies on hand for distraction. I usually load some onto our iPad and phone, in case of emergencies. A good tool to have is a portable charger in case their battery dies mid-movie. ITunes movies are great to load because they are available for 24 hours after you press play.
4. TIMING IS EVERYTHING: For me, the perfect time to board an overnight flight is around 8:00. This allows time to play before going to sleep.
5. DINNER: This can get tricky. Overnight flights can often serve food late at night, after kids have fallen asleep. However, I’ve learned from experience that hungry kids don’t sleep. I like to have something on hand in case they get hungry, but if they are still awake I’ll let them have the plane meal instead.
6. GET COZY: My girls have a light, soft throw they call their “plane blanket,” which they bring on long flights. It can be used as a blanket for sleeping or to drape over their shoulders to get comfy. They also have neck pillows, which allow them to not have to lean on me for the entire flight.
7. DARKNESS: If your child needs complete darkness, eye masks can be the solution. Most times you won’t need them because on overnight flights, planes create a sleep inducing environment by turning the lights off and having the shades drawn. However, in the morning the lights come on quickly and eye masks may allow kids to sleep a little longer.
8. ART: If kids can’t sleep, you may want them to do a quiet activity instead of using electronics. I like to bring coloring books, markers, and crayons. You may also want to bring a pad of blank paper so they can get creative.
9. GAMES: Another quiet activity kids can do are simple games like activity books, sticker books, and small toys. Make sure they bring toys they can play with on their own or they’ll be bothering you or a sibling to play with them. Also, make sure it is something they can play with silently so they don’t disturb people trying to sleep near them.
10. STICK TO ROUTINE: Before your kids settle in for the night you may want to try to replicate their night routine. Bring them to the bathroom and have them brush their teeth and wash their face. Bring a book, or download one, to read them a bedtime story. Settle them down by “tucking them in” with their blanket and make sure to fit in some snuggle time.