I recently travelled back to the UK on my own, to visit my family. Since then, a few people keep asking me about how I entertained my 2.5 year old. I admit, I probably spent between $50 and $100 on new things to entertain my toddler during our flight which is probably a little ridiculous but I thought necessary! Actually, it was probably a fair bit more if you add on the Apps and Films/TV shows I downloaded!
Firstly – I would suggest doing the flight straight through unless you need or want to have a stopover…what I didn’t bank on was the jet lag in Asia (i.e. 4am wake ups when my toddler thought it was 7am) which I think is almost worse than the 9-11 hours time difference in Europe, as it’s a smaller gap to adjust to…you don’t want to be adjusting to jet lag twice on the way to your destination if you can help it.
I also took night flights where possible, and I found that the children slept well if we got on an evening flight (provided they were already adjusted to the time zone of where we were departing from).
With jet lag, I advise only giving them 1.5hrs nap when you get to Europe (at some point during the day) before putting them to bed as close to their normal bedtime as possible (in the new timezone). I was also told that sleep deprivation and sunlight are also a good way to minimise jet lag, and that is true (because they will hopefully go to bed very tired and sleep well rather than wake randomly).
Secondly, I decided to do it alone but two pairs of hands would have made the trip much easier, no doubt about it!
Thirdly, take a spare pair of clothes for all travellers to account for weather changes/arriving at night when it’s cooler but also in case your child (like mine) was sick all over you!
Suggested entertainment (I bought some of these from Amazon.com fairly cheaply):
Cars – Big W sell die cast toy cars for $1 each and a car mat with 1 car for $8 – my toddler loved this and could play with it on the floor in front of our seats and with other kids. I noticed that Big W and Target do a range of $1 toys.
Crayola Color Bond Tote (pens only work on the paper provided, you can also buy Thomas & Friends themed books etc. Big W also sell this):
Play Doh – I don’t love having this out at home (!!), so was a big novelty for my toddler on the plane (I got this in Humphreys and paid about $20)
Haven’t seen these in Australia, but ordered Create a Town one from Amazon which took up an hour or so of my toddler’s attention…have seen that Melissa & Doug sell similar ones here, and girls might like the dress-up ones. They can be used again & again, and the pieces are magnetic.
I also got one of these Doodle boards for about $11 at Big W.
Lastly the iPad of course. I found that my toddler liked the movies (Cars, Madagascar, Toy Story) and his favourite TV show series (Peppa, Fireman Sam etc) more than the apps I also downloaded. I also bought some headphones for kids, but I am not sure they are needed as if the ipad is on quietly, noone can really hear it (even on the A380).
I was also told that a Slinky toy is another good thing for keeping toddlers entertained!
I kept some of the toys in my suitcase to bring out on different legs of the flight. To be honest, I only had one bad flight out of four when I ended up getting almost every toy I had out. The rest of the time, he enjoyed the ipad, the cars sticker books/magnetic scenes and the play doh mainly. Given that, I wouldn’t get all of the above but they are ideas for long haul trips!!
Good Luck – it’s not that bad…really…