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24hr flight with a 4 and 3 year old - advice on how to keep them occupied!

(22 Posts)
JustCallMeMrsTeabag Tue 20-Sep-11 06:36:59

Flying on my own (already cursing myself for being so utterly, utterly stupid to even consider doing this) with DS (4.8) and DD (3.3), direct flight from Oz to UK.

Apart from sleeping drugs, please can anyone offer advice on what I should take to keep them occupied during the flight.

I want to travel as light as possible, as it's me that will end up carrying everything, so I was thinking of getting them a small backpack each with sticker books, activity packs etc. Their attention span is still pretty short, so I need to get new 'stuff' that I can introduce when they get bored.

I was also thinking of buying them Leapsters or a portable DVD player - not sure what would be best.

Any advice welcomed!

Fisharefriendsnotfood Tue 20-Sep-11 06:43:58

How about getting a couple of nintendo ds second hand on eBay. Let them practice before you go. You can pick up the older models pretty cheap mow.

< tries to resist urge to tell you you are insane grin>

SeoraeMaeul Tue 20-Sep-11 06:44:46

Which airline? Most have very good films on long haul so my advice is don't cart the DVD player especially if you are alone. Can leapfrogs be silenced? I've got kids 5 and 2.5 and even I'd be grumpy if I had to listen to someone else's leapfrog!
My two love flap books like Osbourne, a bit heavy but last a long time esp if new and they have to open all the flaps. Also think about food, mine aren't normally very fussy but they hate airplane food. I still get the kids meals for the juice, fruit and chocolate but also take lots of snacks. Don't worry about 24 hours of snacks and TV and you will survive!
Finally also think about your plans for the first few days - jet lag is a killer. Sometimes they'll be fine and other times it will wipe them out.

Good luck and remember you will never see any of the other passengers again grin

JustCallMeMrsTeabag Tue 20-Sep-11 07:14:11

Lol, thanks for the above - I get the distinct impression you are both very glad it isn't you doing this!

Great idea about looking on ebay, and I hadn't even thought about noise from a Leapster. Mind you, compared to the racket that two bored kids make, it's probably preferable!

Thank you both!

CoteDAzur Tue 20-Sep-11 07:17:35

Games and video on iPad and/or iPhone.


DVD player & cartoons

Lots of snacks. Prefer those that take a long time to eat, like lollipops.

JustCallMeMrsTeabag Tue 20-Sep-11 07:17:52

SeoraeMaeul, we're flying BA so expecting there is a decent kids channel. I'll check on their website a bit closer to the time. However, I want back-up just incase their in-flight entertainment system crashes!

SeoraeMaeul Tue 20-Sep-11 07:23:04

Totally understand but just remember two sets of earphones and a connector! 1 DVD player, 2 kids equals tears esp towards the end.
Seriously though if it happened I would appeal to stewardess and nearby passengers to be moved. Most sane people would rather two small children were in front of a screen for that flight

Grumpla Tue 20-Sep-11 07:39:47

Silent toys are a must. Your kids will make enough noise as it is, expecting fellow passengers to endure irritating bleeps as well will totally wipe out any residual goodwill which you will NEED if you want to be able to wee / stand up without meltdown occurring!

If at all possible, pack spare clothes (even if just a soft pair of PJs.) in case of accidents. Assume both of yours are out of nappies but perhaps some of those mats in case of wee / drink disasters? And lots of wipes! Keeping the stickiness / sweatiness to a minimum will help.

Are they both happy wearing headphones? Practice if not!

Lots of new toys is a great idea but make sure you avoid anything with small easily droppable pieces! New books definitely a good idea.

Talk to your airline about borrowing a buggy for transfers? If you have two very tired children being able to stick one of them in a pushchair might make a big difference. Etihad provide these at the gate at Abu dhabi and Singapore I think. In act if you haven't already booked flight I can definitely recommend them they were incredibly helpful when we flew with our DS.

Sachets of calpol are useful for sore ears etc! Bear in mind you need to jettison all fruit, raisins etc before you go through customs in Oz or a very nice man with a sniffer dog will tell you off grin

Flying out in the evening meant our son slept for most of the first flight. We flew back in the morning and he stayed awake for pretty much the whole 28 hours.... Just saying...

Good luck. You will definitely need it!

mymumdom Tue 20-Sep-11 07:56:23

Been there done this. From UK to NZ though, DH joined us over there for the return journey.
My advice is here
Good Luck.

JustCallMeMrsTeabag Tue 20-Sep-11 07:56:47

Thanks Grumpla, lots of good advice to think about.

DS is still in nappies! blush Planning to start toilet-training next month as we move into Spring here, but had thought to keep her in nappies for the flight as easier to change a nappy than endless trips to the loo. Taking the kids to the loo for a poo on a 24hr flight is making me break out in a cold sweat just thinking about it!

JustCallMeMrsTeabag Tue 20-Sep-11 08:07:34

OMG, mymumdom, I've just read your blog entry. shock. I can laugh (nervously) because, thank god, it hasn't happened to me. Mind you, DS can throw the most incredible tantrums I have ever seen, as well as shouting 'Poo. Bum. Boob.' at the top of her voice. That would just be great on a flight.

Anyway, I'm sure my flight will be so much easier than yours! hmm

ripstheirthroatoutliveupstairs Tue 20-Sep-11 09:51:56

If it's a night flight, change them into nightwear and try to keep to the same waking sleeping times you normally would.
I did once try to sedate my DD on a night flight from Muscat to London. The paediatrician who prescribed it advised me to try it before I gave it to her because <5% of people react in an opposing way.
Guess which % my DD fell into? She spent at least 8 of the 9 hours marching up and down the aisle of the plane, as we were making our approach into Heathrow, she fell asleep.

CroissantNeuf Tue 20-Sep-11 10:08:34

Reusable sticker books (try Amazon or toy shops like The Entertainer)
Magic slate type boards (like this sort of thing)
Silly things like this stretchy man are always a big hit with our DC for times like flying. Also V cheap and small!

In fact Hawkins Bazaar might come up with a few little distractions.

Oh, and food...lots and lots of snacks

ICantFindAFreeNickName Tue 20-Sep-11 10:38:25

DP & I did the same trip who was 3. This is what worked for us.
We changed him into comfy pj's / tracksuit as soon as we got on the plane. Remember spare clothes for yourself. as any accidents / spills will probably end up over you as well.
We took loads of cheap new toys that we wrapped up in brown paper and we gave him a one every hour or so. Sticker books, puzzle books, card games, connect 4 etc. Think Wilko's, Poundshop, BookPeople etc - the cheap plastic games that you don't normally buy. We intended to leave most of it is Oz, but he liked the books so much we ended up brining them back with us. You do need to remember to pick up a few bits for the return journey.
We also bought him a nice scrapbook & a great pencil case from Disney that had pencils, scissors (not allowed now) glue, tape etc. He spent a long time doing the cover & 1st pages of his holiday scrap book on the plane. Including tearing the airline magazine to shreds to get pictures of planes, but it kept him quiet. He stuck postcards / tickets etc in it troughout our trip, so has a great reminder of the holiday.
I would not bother with the dvd player myself, but I think the DS idea is brilliant, especially for your son. Although you can get some really simple games for younger children as well. Try ebay or pre-owned games in Game, Gamestation etc. They are great to whip out whenever you are in a queue.
If you have a iphone, shuffle etc, audio books might be a good idea, although I think most airlines have them as part of their entertainment package anyway.
I think that you have to accept that you will be making lots of visits to the toilets, as most kids seem to love doing that for some reason. It does also give you all a chance to stretch your legs a bit.

Stickwithit Tue 20-Sep-11 10:47:46

I can't improve on the advice regarding entertainment but just wanted to add that even though DS (4.5) is very reliably toilet trained we do pop him in pull ups for a flight.

There are times when you cannot use the toilet (taking off, landing, turbulence, queues etc.) and if this coincides with a need to 'go' this can cause a problem. I find using pullups means one less thing to worry about. I still take him to the toilet whenever he needs to go if I can (which as ICantFind said is very frequently as for some reason the toilet seems fun).

I draw aeroplane pictures on them and call them his travelling pants.

I hope it goes well.

JustCallMeMrsTeabag Tue 20-Sep-11 13:17:39

Thanks to everyone for their advice and suggestions. I've got some great idea's from you all, and am feeling slightly less daunted about how to keep them occupied for such a long flight. I am going to be bloody knackered at the end of the trip!

Thanks everyone!

hillyhilly Tue 20-Sep-11 13:22:59

I would also get them their own backpacks with wheels that they can trundle along, my kids have had these since 3 and it gives them something to hang onto in the airport and you can fit so much in. That way they tend to have their own bag with entertainment and spare clothes leaving me in charge of the snacks, wipes and everything else.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 20-Sep-11 15:12:32

Mrs T,

BA tend to close access to the washrooms/toilets 20 minutes before landing.

Look at BA's website re childrens channels; childrens programming tends to be quite limited in terms of content and can be generally more suitable for older children.

JustCallMeMrsTeabag Wed 21-Sep-11 03:06:40

Thanks Attila, that's worth knowing.

Quick question to all: if you were travelling alone, would you consider using reins on a younger child? I am just thinking about trying to keep my eyes on two of them, especially when getting through Immigration, and then at Heathrow waiting for bags etc.

savoycabbage Wed 21-Sep-11 03:27:28

I did this flight on my own when my dc were 2 and 5 and again when they were 7 and 4. The first time I had too much stuff. You have to be able to manage all your bags on your own. The only help I got was getting off the plane.

I had a buggy and I couldn't push it and pull the wheelie hand luggage.

An iPhone is great as you can have loads of different things on it. I took sticker books and things but they only played with them for a short time.

Both times mine wore pj's and those fleece suits and slippers. Matching suits so I could see them easily in the airports.

Sometimes the flights have cartoon/cbeebies but sometimes just movies. My youngest was too young for the movies the first time.

I made no attempt to keep them to any sort of schedule. I just let them watch as much tv as they want until they're so tired that they are begging for sleep!

ticklebug74 Wed 21-Sep-11 23:05:04

Done this trip a few times as well. Easy to say 'Dont stress' because you will and I get all hot and bothered just thinking about it but the fact of the matter is you will survive it!

* Where's wally books take up loads of time. (I have seen Hello Kitty ones and moshi monsters too)
* Crayola do these colour wonder pens and books which are not at all messy. * Sticker books.
* Snap/cards.
* I spy -which we play with colours as it is easier for younger children.
* I have made up bingo style sheets in the past with various items on it the kids have to tick off when they see them. Works well for the transit if it is a particularly long one.

Give each DC a backpack with their things in it and some snacks and take a wheely bag with all your changes of clothes. Dont forget to take a spare change for you too. Warm socks for the kids and crocs or similar work well for easy on and off.

Lots of snacks but hold off on the sweets & chocolates and use them as bribery for good behaviour or for completing a task.

Good luck,

Sandgroper Thu 29-Sep-11 22:38:47


I have done this trip UK to Oz on my own a few times with DS's.

If you want reins (and your child doesn't like them like mine) I bought a fab monkey backpack and the tail was the reins part. We got ours in Walmart about 4 years ago on a trip to the US but I have since seen them in the UK. Was invaluable with my then 18 month old DD, as they lost our buggy between Dubai and Oz so grateful I had it to keep him from running away (immigration, baggage collection).

As our arrival was 2 am in the morning and he was wide awake after a 24 hour journey. I made the mistake of giving him Medised on the flight and he only slept for 2 hours in a 19 hour flight. I was 4 months pregnant at the time and had dreadful morning sickness (more like all day sickness) and thought it was the solution (had tried it once at home with no problems)... It was like he had drunks loads of Redbull and was buzzing about, NEVER EVER again, have never used it since.

Though yours are older so a bit more controllable.

Some fab suggestions from other MN'ers. Guess the best way to look at it is a means to an end and hopefully you will have willing grandparents at the other end to meet you and take care of you all.

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