1. Food, lots and lots of food! Bring things such as:
Tasty Sandwiches; make them a day or days before departure and freeze them. Put them in your hand luggage straight from the freezer and you’ll have fresh, non-mashed sandwiches in the plane!
Raisins or dried cranberries in a cup; these take a while to finish. (Love it!)
Breadsticks; eating these keeps them busy
Pieces of apple with some lime-juice sprinkled on top to keep them fresh.
Make sure to bring your own (empty) drinking bottle! The plastic cups in a plane will drop. Period. (Keep in mind that the pressure in the cabin can cause leakage of your drinking bottle after take-off. So, either put a full drinking bottle in a separate bag or bring an empty one and let the cabin crew fill it up for you)
Cookies & Candy as a last resort; never start with these! There is no way back afterwards 😉
2. Toys, not regular toys you would use at home, but very small items that you (or your child) are not too emotionally attached to. You will probably lose toys during the flight. Especially when traveling with more than one child it is simply impossible to keep everything tidy and organized on their seat. The last thing you want is crawling through the isle at the end of your flight to search for toys. So, think of small puzzles, a small bag of Duplo blocks and I bought plenty of small games like these.
3. Handicraft items. All the kids had their own backpack filled with plenty of pencils, a small notebook, a pencil sharpener, colouring books, stickers and I even bought them envelopes so that they could send letters to each other during the flight. I basically bought the whole local handicraft store.
4. Reading books. Not for yourself of course! Trust me, you will not be able to sit back, relax and read a book!
5. Muslin clothes. Small ones to use during or after drinking, eating and bring a large one to use as a sheet or blanket for sleeping.
6. Stokke Jet BedBox. I truly believe this item can be a lifesaver if your child needs a bed to sleep in. It is a light box that you can take on most flights as a carry-on (check with your airline before departure). The box unfolds as a comfortable bed to be used on your childs’ seat. We took three(!!) BedBoxes on our flight to Sint Maarten. And although we LOVED the bedboxes during the flights, I must admit we HATED them before departure and after arrival. Obviously we already had our hands full with five kids and having to carry three extra hand luggage items is just too much. So, my advice would be, when you are planning on traveling with more than two toddlers, don’t bring these BedBoxes. However, when traveling with one toddler and a baby for instance, I would highly recommend buying one!
7. Child-friendly headphones; the headphones you will receive during the flight are seriously horrible for young children. They don’t fit and the last thing you want to be doing during the whole flight is holding on to the headphones of your child. We used the POGS Headphones and we loved the colours and the design of those. A huge advantage of these headphones is that you can connect up to three POGS headphones to one device in case you want your children to watch something on a tablet.
8. Make sure your child wears easy clothes and shoes! Basic jeans or trainers, a t-shirt and a cardigan will be perfect. Dresses, skirts, tights and complicated tops might look good, but are horrible when going to the filthy toilets in the cabin. Shoes without laces are perfect. Obviously your child will take off his/her shoes the whole time (that’s what children do, right?). Taking them off is easy, but putting them back on, however, is very time consuming. And you do want your child to wear shoes when visiting the toilets! Bring an extra set of clothes for your child AND for yourself. Another thing to keep in mind is that the temperature in the cabin might drop during the flight so make sure to bring something warm to wear too!
9. A small bottle of disinfectant spray to use on hands and on toilet seats. I know, I might come across as an obsessive cleaner, but I find public toilets and small children a horrible match! Toilet seats in planes are the worst if you ask me. Gross!
10. Very simple: bring two plastic bags. You will need one to toss away all your trash (which is a lot during a long haul flight). You don’t want to constantly bother the cabin crew with all your trash. You will need another plastic bag for wet/dirty clothes.