Long haul flight with 3 year old – any tips?

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    We will be travelling to Australia later this year and wondering if anyone has any tips on hours to travel (morning or evening, given stops in London and again about 13 hours later) . Should we stop for an overnighter after the first leg of the journey or not? We know the 23 hour flight is going to disrupt our 3 year old for a few days but any advice that might lessen the upheaval would be greatly appreciated.


    Hi Woodford,

    I’ve had many clients with children travel to Australia over the years and most seem to opt for night-time flights in the hope that the children will sleep for some of the flight. Airlines dim their lights during these times too and do all possible to make the long trip as comfortable as possible.

    A stopover can be a personal choice, some people want to get the flights over with as quickly as possible and opt for flight connections all the way through whilst other like the idea of breaking the journey to recharge the batteries ahead of the onward flight.

    The main thing is to try and keep the youngsters happy so time should be taken to ensure you choose a child friendly airline with good seat pitch so you have some extra space and possibly TV entertainment on the back of each seat which show kiddie programmes.

    It’s wise also to choose some appropriate in flight toys – a selection of small toys and puzzles (avoiding anything with small pieces that can get lost) and some colouring books and crayons so as they have some variety and are less inclined to get bored too quickly.

    It’s advisable to avoid noisy toys too – they may be good fun at home but on a long flights may prove a little annoying after a while to other passengers.

    If you’d like me to check availability and costs for you for specific dates don’t hesitate to contact me.

    Kindest regards,


    I use a rule of thumb that there should be one pocket money sized toy per hour. I gathereda lot of my own kids things and wrapped them in paper with ribbon as well as getting some new things from ELC in the pocket money stand. Put them all in a plastic bag and let the child pick one each hour.

    Night time flights are brilliant as they do pop off eventually. I always give my kids some Phenergan just before dinner so that after dinner they are relaxed enough to pop off to sleep. It’s really unfair to keep a kid up for that long of a flight and I have found Phenergan gives them that little nudge they need to fall asleep on a strange, noisy airplane. Just make sure you do a test run prior to the real flight as it can make some kids hyper!

    I have hauled all the colouring books, playdough, etc and found that the best thing in the world is an ipod/phone. With the apps and videos combined with the inflight entertainment, it makes your onboard luggage load a lot easier! Bring lots of kids food as plane food is not the best. Be sure you let the airline know you need a kid meal that usually has a goody bag 😉

    Just take it one hour at a time and remember that you are not the first person to travel long haul with a kid so if they act up it’s nothing new and the staff are surprisingly helpful 😉


    Caligal, that’s really good advice about wrapping up the toys, so simple but so clever!!

    Good advice Paula about no small parts – the last thing you want to be doing on a plane is getting down on your hands and knees looking for bits off toys 😆

    Magnetic toys could be a good idea – some board games can be bought for travelling and the pieces won’t fall down because they are magnetic.

    Good luck with the flights.


    Thanks everyone for all your great ideas. We’re really looking forward to our trip and feel well armed with your tips. Thanks again!

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