Flying Transatlantic with a 3 yr Old

FullSizeRender-20If I am honest the thought of going translantic with a 3 year old brings me out in a cold sweat! But that’s exactly what we did on our seven hour flight to Canada. Monkey had flown previously to Turkey just before his second birthday which went remarkably well. However now he is three and exerting his independence I did wonder how it would go! Running up to the holiday I had very little time to do any research but I did manage to prepare a few things. Below is how we got through it relatively unscathed!

1. Time of flight – when booking our flights we specifically chose a late afternoon flight out. Avoiding a nap during the day meant that Monkey would un-doublty sleep at some point on the plane. Now I appreciate that its not always possible to time your flights or you may not want to as it eats into precious vacation time. However for us it worked as he slept for a good couple of hours curled up on our laps. It also helped with him adjusting to the time difference the other end. In fact he faired better than all of the adults.

IMG_33962. Something to do at the airport – knowing we would have about two hours to kill at the airport worried me. I had visions of him running off and getting lost. Flying out of T5 meant that paying to get into a lounge wasn’t an option. Slightly unimpressed with BA at this point. So Instead I brought an Usbourne Airport Sticker Book. At three he’s a little young for it it, but it still proved a good distractor. Unlike other sticker books it has pictures of all the things you may see at an airport such as planes landing, taking off, wind socks etc… So we hunted for the items and if he found them, then he could find the corresponding sticker. It has 60 stickers in total and you wouldn’t be able to find all the items in a large commercial airport, but it kept him entertained on and off for about an hour. What little boy doesn’t like plane spotting.

FullSizeRender-213. Getting around the airport – I never truly valued the use of Monkey’s Trunki until this trip. Not only did he enjoy pulling it himself which meant we didn’t need to carry his baggage all the time as well as our own. It really did provide a quick way of getting to the gate on time. Now he’s that bit older we can confidently pull him along. At the other end there as quite a walk to the car which would normally have meant Hubby having him on his shoulders. Again he was happy to be pulled along on the Trunki requesting to go faster, which in our opinion is much better than needing to carry him.

4. Get on the plane first – This sounds really obvious, but to me it wasn’t as last time we flew with Monkey we were travelling Thomas Cook. This meant that every second passenger was a child, so there was no priority. However this time flying to Toronto, which is generally not a holiday designation for kids we were actually invited to board before the other. We were really lucky to get on the plane first as it meant we could get settled and have everything to hand. The flight was full so it was invaluable to make sure the bags were close by etc.

IMG_34215. Kids Headphones – Many airlines provide headphones for transatlantic flights, but they are normally too bigs for little heads. We invested in some from Amazon for just under £10 and they were worth every penny. It meant while our plane was delayed for an the hour sitting on the runway Monkey happily watched Pingu, Thomas and Mike The Knight – thank you BA for turning on the entertainment system. But if they hadn’t he would have been able to watch his tablet without disturbing anyone else.

IMG_34406. Order a Kids Meal – we brought a child’s plane ticket which in my head would naturally mean that they would get a kids meal…wrong. With BA you need to book the meal. I am glad we did as I was very impressed with it.

Chicken gougions with mash and peas, the chicken was very tender and not dried out at all, they also provided a sachet of ketchup to go with them. Plus fresh fruit, roll & butter, raisins, yogurt, cheese portion, water, Ribena and some white chocolate buttons. I am tempted to order one for myself next time!

IMG_33827. Snacks – I made up a snack box for Monkey to have on the flight. There was far too much and he didn’t eat it all. But it did provide some entertainment. Be aware though that some things you may not be able to take into the country you are flying to – generally fruits and nuts can be a bit of an issue. Ours included – mini cheddars, rice cakes, fruit winders, cereals, popcorn, cashew nuts, walnuts, raisins, marshmallows, chocolate buttons, chocolate ladybirds and a fruit bar.

8. Monkey’s Tablet – We had downloaded some new apps onto his Hudl2 which I had packed as a backup . Also thinking ahead we were attending a wedding while away so may need something to keep him engrossed quietly if needed. I have written a separate post about the apps here.

9.Entertainment – I was really worried about having enough ‘stuff’ with us to keep Monkey entertained! To be honest I probably went a little overboard, and in the end we only played with a few of the items on the plane. I wrapped each one of the items up to add to the fun and they are not all new, some of the items are just things which we haven’t played with for a while. This meant that the perception was they were new which then will hold his interest for longer.

  • Carryall dries board and crayons
  • Kids Uno game – Thomas version
  • Lollies for the plane to help with popping ears
  • A set of lego – he’s too young really for lego but he loves getting involved in making new items so I brought a couple of vehicles from the city range so he could put them together with daddy
  • Play dough with some plastic cutters and a rolling pin
  • 1000 things to spot book – this series is great and also helps with number recognition, he never gets bored of them and has favourites he does over and over again
  • Sticker book for the terminal
  • Sticker book for the plane – monkey is ‘Planes Fire & Rescue’ mad and it seemed quite apt!
  • Lift the flap book – the one we took was See Inside Your Body by Usbourne, it has over 50 flaps and since Monkey had developed a fascination with poo (courtesy of nursery) I thought it good he started to understand the workings of the human body.
  • A couple of presents from Nannie – one turned out to be a magnetic game! Which caused me a few issues at security, so I would not recommend taking them, although he did enjoy playing farms.

Flying with a 3yr Old   Flying with a 3yr Old

The play dough was a great hit, he played with it for over an hour, so if you don’t share my paranoia and were only to take one thing I would recommend that it was play dough. Because he loved it so it did mean that we did not have time to try out many of the other things, however I am not complaining and would much prefer a stress free flight with a little extra hand luggage!

What do you take with you to entertain your little ones when flying?

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Domesticated Momster
The Twinkle DiariesMy Travel Monkey

46 Comments

  1. memybooksandi

    Great tips! When we went to Florida a couple of years ago ours were 7 and 10 so quite a bit older but we still filled their hand luggage with activities and it made the flight go smoothly. We’re actually planning on another visit when E will be around 3 years old so I’ll definitely keep your advice in mind, especially the Trunki for travelling around the airport!!

  2. Cheryl @ ReimerandRuby

    Great tips here! The last time we flew with the kids was when we went to Philippines and that was around 24hrs flight with 3 stop overs. However, I was a bit prepared then so there was never really an issue. But I like your idea of preparing a snacks for them in a tray, for sure kids would have so much fun picking and eating those food. Thanks for sharing! #BabyBrainMonday

  3. nightwisprav3n

    I remember when I took my oldest on a plane at about that age and we had everything ready except for one thing that we did not anticipate happening. He was newly potty trained and when his dad took him into the public bathrooms, he screamed so loud everyone in the immediate area surrounding the bathroom could hear him. It was an awful trip because he was so terrified of the bathroom and just as terrified of the one on the plane. He’s since grown out of that but wow! That was something. Great post! Thanks for sharing! visiting from #babybrainmonday

  4. Becky, Cuddle Fairy

    Well done on your successful flight! I love the snack box – it’s brilliant. Monkey’s Trunki looks fabulous for the airport. Great to bring all the things to entertain on the plane too. Really helpful tips here #BabyBrainMonday x

  5. Harps

    I am so grateful for this post! Although Arj will be 15 months, this is a super helpful post for when we fly to Bali/Singapore at the end of October. I love the entertainment ideas, the snack box idea and also the Trunki. Do you think ARj would be too young for one? Thanks for linking up to #BabyBrainMonday x

    1. BattleMum

      Harps, BattleKid has a trunki and loves it. We haven’t used it travelling yet but he runs it around upstairs by the horns and has started riding on it. If you’re getting one for Arjun, get it soon and let him play with it before you go. X

    2. mudpiefridays

      Oh wow I hope you have a fabulous time 🙂 I noticed a difference when we took Monkey just before 2 and then this last time – he could definitely hold on better and we could go faster!! I guess you could try one out at home first 🙂 xx

  6. smilingawayfoodallergies

    This is a great post! Thank you for sharing such great tips! While we have not flown yet with my son, I know that the day will come and will definitely remember these tips. #momsterslink

  7. Sara Handy Herbs

    Gosh – you were so well organised!! I would be very surprised if you were not successful. I love the Trunki! I never took mine on a plane when they were tiny – having 4 meant we couldn’t really afford it. We were fairly organised for long car journeys but not as organised as you! #busydoinglife

  8. Catherine (@pushingthemoon)

    Wow, you were brilliantly organised! There are some fantastic tips here – we have no plans to go on a plane with our kiddies just yet, but my niece is taking her daughter on her first flight soon so I will give her the link to this post, I know she will find it so helpful! xxx #busydoinglife

  9. DomesticatedMomster

    I have not ventured on a plane with any of my minis yet. The expense alone is something that prevents it. Luckily all our immediate family lives driving distance. These are great tips though if I ever do decide to venture 😉 thank you for sharing them with #momsterslink and so sorry I am late with commenting.

  10. Marta - Learningescapes

    Our first transatlantic flight was to Toronto too: my daughter was 2 and a half and her bother just 4 – it went well but it did take some planning! Love the idea of the big headphones: we hadn’t thought of that and my son hated the small one supplied – tip noted for the next flight!

  11. mytravelmonkey

    Really fantastic tips. Kids are pretty good on long flights – I think more so than some give them credit for. You just have to be prepared. I am a big fan of ordering the kids meals – they make such a difference. We also get big headphones perfect for drowning out the noise. We also spent hours doing sticker mosaics. Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes

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  13. Educating Roversi

    Found this post through your Travelling with a Baby post! It’s made me feel a little calmer as I’ve mentally ticked off everything on your list that we have. As I said on your previous post – I’d not even thought of PlayDoh – I’ll definitely be packing it! That storage box for snacks is brilliant. I went buying snacks yesterday, definitely have too much! ? thanks for such a helpful post!

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