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Family Travel | Flying with kids

Nov 9, 2018
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Seeing the world, visiting new places, meeting friends and doing it as a family! This has always been a priority to us. That’s why we’ve been traveling with our girls since they were young. Part of traveling includes flights, stop overs, trains, taxi’s and shuttles. One of the most asked questions we get; “How do you survive an international flights with 3 kids?”

It’s not impossible, it gets easier every time and with our tips on flying with kids you’re sure to be planning your next vacation abroad soon.

The secret is packing the perfect AIRPLANE BAG

Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

Start with the best “bag”, a Trunki.

Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

We bought Eliana a Trunki 4 years ago and have used it multiple times while traveling locally as well as internationally. Lia definitely needed her own and when Ava is old enough she’ll get one too. It’s simply the BEST travel accessory for kids.

Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

Reasons we love it so:

  • It’s a suitcase on wheels! STURDY enough to be ridden on or pulled along. We never have issues when it comes to the girls carrying their Trunkies. They can’t wait to ride them solo and while dashing in between connecting flights they know to grab on to the horns, lifting their little legs and holding on tight as we tow them to where we need to be. It’s FUN and provides so much laughter, I wish I could have one.
  • They come in a huge VARIETY of cute designs with exciting sticker accessories that give little ones the opportunity to “bedazzle” their new travel companion, making them feel involved in the vacation planning and packing.
  • 8 LITERS might not sound like much, but I’m always amazed to see how much we can pack into our Trunki. Each one includes all of the girl’s onboard essentials, entertainment, toys, books, snacks, clothes and a bunch of extras mentioned below. It’s also the perfect little suitcase for a weekend away and has a small internal pocket great for hiding a few surprises or smaller treasures.
  • Made from DURABLE, high-quality plastic. Eliana’s Trunki has been tried and tested and still looks brand new.
  • They are super LIGHTWEIGHT and easy to carry thanks to the carry handle and adjustable shoulder strap. The strap can also be unclipped making it easy to pull your Trunki along.
  • With its LOCKABLE CATCHES and handy key all your dearest belonging are kept safe and secure. And don’t worry about losing the key… Trunki cleverly added it to the tow strap making sure it wont disappear.

Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

Every little traveler needs a Trunki and you can buy your own by visiting Trunki SA here.

Prepare for the worst beforehand…
  • Airport are daunting and kids (like us) can get nervous, overly excited and overstimulated (especially younger ones) before flying. Rescue Remedy (available in tablets or a mouth spray) definitely calms everyone down. We start giving these a few hours before take-off. You can get yours from any pharmacy or grocery store.

Our eldest struggles with ear ache during departure and descent. It only started recently but thankfully we received some good advice and remedies that help elevate the pain.

  • Otitis can be given in small doses from 3 days before your planned trip as well as before and during the flight.
  • Have a lollipop and earplugs ready. Clicks sell wax ones, perfectly adjustable for baby and toddler ears.
  • If non of the above work, ask the flight attendant for paper cups with damp tissue paper at the bottom. Hold one over each ears until the plane comes to a complete standstill. If you know your little one is prone to ear ache, do this before the pain starts.

Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

Expect the unexpected.
  • Little immune systems can be more vulnerable to germs so we prepare by boosting our girl’s with a multivitamin or two. Echinaforce Junior and Organo 1 are two that we trust.
  • Including Panado syrup and Iliadin nose spray (just in case of a stuffy nose) is a good idea too. You never know when a fever might strike.

Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

  • When Ava (our youngest) gets uncomfortable or starts feeling a little ill, Viburcol works wonders, just remember the KY as well.

Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

Keep the littles entertained.

All mamas know to pack extra bits and bops, sure to keep their kiddies happy and busy. We have a few crowd pleasers that does the trick time and time again…

Our rule of thumb on calculating the amount of activities needed:

Duration of flight ÷ 2 = activities needed

A 10 hour flight would therefor need 5 activities. Also remember to consider ways to keep the kids happy while waiting for flight boarding to open. It might not sound like much but remember the kids need to sleep too and by choosing wisely and a variety to share, much isn’t needed.

  • Melissa & Dough has the best sticker books and their paint with water art set keeps Eliana busy for hours.
  • I found some other cute craft activities (for cheap) online at The Kid Zone. If you don’t know The Kid Zone, check them out, they have incredible savings and speedy delivery.
  • The girls also really enjoy their Thomas & Friends Funny Face Sticker Books and the Bumper Activity Book.

Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

  • NEVER underestimate a good old fashion notebook and fun stationary.

Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

  • Small toys (easy to play with anywhere) are fantastic for imaginary or role play. The girls are big Shaun the Sheep fans and enjoy Shopkins at the moment too.

Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

For our next trip I’m including the Oogi family from MOLUK. Since getting these the girls haven’t been able to put them down.

REMEMBER: Shop online at Straight Zigzag, use the discount code JUSTAMAMMA at checkout to get 10% off your 1st purchase (valid till November 23rd).

Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

Include the basics.

Pack a smaller “toiletry” bag for every child that include the basics:

  • A tooth brush and toothpaste to freshen up.
  • Hairpins, clips, ties and a brush.
  • Tissues.
  • Delicious snacks. The Kiddylicious range includes a good variety of tasty treats, individually packaged for easy portion control and self feeding. Read more about the range here and see what they offer.
  • Water, in our trusty PURA stainless steel water bottles. Find a complete list of Pura Stockist by clicking HERE.

Two items that most might miss include:

Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

More on the Smitty.

Obviously there will be no bathing or showering and everyone feels dirty after all that time in the airport and on the plane…

After discovering the Smitty cleaning mitt I knew it had to be added to our airplane (and diaper bag) must-haves.

Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

Available for mom, dad and the kids. Simply dampen the mitten with warm water and keep it in it’s plastic travel bag, sealed. Ready to be used after mealtime, a snack or simply for a good wipe down.

Made from the softest, highly absorbing, anti-bacterial fabric it cleans 99% of bacteria without any soap needed. It’s machine washable and only needs to be replace after 2 months of regular use and retails online at for only R189 (excluding delivery).

Since getting ours, we actually don’t go anywhere without our Smitty baby mitten and using it has cut our wet wipe usage in half. Making it eco-friendly and money saving!

Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

Prepare for bedtime.

Flying internationally is sure to include bedtime so why not make it feel familiar?

  • Bring along a kids sleeping bag. Our girls only get to sleep in theirs when we travel and actually can’t wait for us to give them the go-ahead after the in-flight dinner.
  • Also, let them choose their own fun airplane pillow. Miniso currently stock cute Pink Panther ones that the girls are sure to adore for many years to come.
  • Don’t forget your little one’s favourite teddy or sleeping buddy.


Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

  • Dress them in comfy pyjamas. It’s after all time for bed. Bring socks and slipper too, because the ones provided by the airlines never seems to fit properly.

Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

Our onboard bedtime routine is always the same:

  1. Watch a short movie or cartoons while enjoying dinner.
  2. Brush our teeth and get dressed for bedtime.
  3. Get your “sleep zone” ready. One of the girls usually sleeps on the floor (by our feet), while the other can stretch out over 2 seats. When flying with a baby you can request the bassinet but unfortunately Ava was a little big for it so spent most of the time sleeping in my arms or in our Ubuntu Baba Baby carrier.
  4. Read a bedtime story.
  5. Good night kisses.

Keeping things as close to the usual home routine as possible works like a charm and has gotten the girls to sleep for the majority of the flight every time we have traveled. In fact, during our most recent trip we needed to wake them up for breakfast.

Enjoying a good, full night’s sleep helps a lot and will have your little jetsetters ready to explore their new destination.

Remember the treats.

Waiting to check-in, waiting for dinner and drinks, waiting in line to use the bathroom. Having to be confined to a small space for a long period of time… It really is a challenge for anyone so don’t be afraid to pack a treat / reward. The Biona Organic gummies are made with organic fruit concentrate and sweetened with raw cane sugar. It has no artificial flavouring or colouring or preservatives. They are delicious too (and even vegan friendly). I keep a pack or two close-by for emergencies or “melt-down” control. We buy our online from Faithful to Nature.


Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

Include an extra set of clothes.

After a long flight everyone feels a little “yucky” and something small like a fresh outfit makes a difference especially if it’s something your little ones enjoys wearing. Include new underwear (and socks if needed) as well as something warm – you never know what your arrival destination’s weather might be like.

I like tying it all together in a neat bundle, easy to access. (Also, if it falls out, nothing gets lost).

Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

Important extras

  • Choose your flight carefully. The later the better. Our favourite time to fly is 21:00. It sounds late but remember, you’ll need to check in 3 hours earlier, giving you enough time to have dinner, change the kids into their pj’s and be ready for the flight.
  • If possible, make use of airport lounges, they are a lifesaver.
  • Have your baby carrier at hand. We couldn’t have navigated the airport and customs without it. As mentioned above, we can’t do without our Ubuntu Baba carriers. (Read more about them here.)
  • When traveling with small kids you automatically become a priority passenger able to board first, giving you enough time to settle the kids in the airplane before departure. Upon arrival in Europe and America you can use the “fast lane” at customs too, meaning less time spent waiting in lines.
  • Remember yourself too, The Oolala Collection has the best his and hers Mini SkinESSENTIALS jetsetter kits. All the essentials in small, travel size quantities – airport aproved. Nothing like a good face wash and moisturiser to give you a boost of energy after a long flight.

Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

Lastly, STAY CALM.

Your flight might be delayed or even canceled, luggage gets lost, if you are a big family like ours you might not be seated together while flying (all has happened to us). No matter what, try to stay calm. Take some Rescue remedy if need be, laugh about the situation and know everything will be okay because if you stay happy and calm, the kids will also be happy and calm.Flying with kids, Family Travel | Flying with kids

That’s our top tips…

Be sure to pin this post for December holidays and please be sure to share your own flight tips in the comment section below.

Safe travels to you and yours.

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  • Reply Melissa Javan (@melissa_nel) Nov 9, 2018 at 9:29 am

    I love, love this list. It’s so extensive. I’m definitely getting a sticker book or something stickers for our girl. We have a long car trip from Joburg to Cape Town soon.

    • Reply Mari-Louise Nov 10, 2018 at 4:39 am

      Thank you Melissa, stickers are always a hit. Please let me know how the trip goes. We haven’t done too many road trips (especially not that far) as a family but maybe it’s time. It will definitely be a little different to flying seeing as the sleep situation an d going to the bathroom might be more of a challenge. I do however know leaving super early helps. x

  • Reply Khadija Fakir Nov 9, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    Wow. What a great post. Including everything. Thise gummies sound yumm… I must give it a try.
    I want to know the smitty mitten, you wet it and keep it, doesn’t it smell damp when you go to use it? (like how wet clothes kept in a pole would smell).
    Great article, everything covered.

  • Reply Sierra Nov 9, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Yes to packing the perfect airplane bag! I love these suggestions and how cute are those ride on bags?! Sierra Beautifully Candid

    • Reply Mari-Louise Nov 10, 2018 at 4:36 am

      It makes all the difference Sierra and YES, you don’t get any better than the Trunki.x

  • Reply Megan Nov 9, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    Loved this post my friend! Haven’t done any international flights with Oli and Soph yet. So handy, thank you xxx

    • Reply Mari-Louise Nov 10, 2018 at 4:35 am

      Thank you! It really just takes some planning and a lot of laughs. x

  • Reply Julia Nov 9, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    Amazing tips! I can’t wait to implement these ideas when we travel next month. Thank you!

    • Reply Mari-Louise Nov 10, 2018 at 4:34 am

      Thank you Julia. Good luck getting everything done and please let me know how it goes.

  • Reply Sthi Shobowale Nov 20, 2018 at 9:31 am

    Great post! i can attest to the Trunki being an awesome bag for kids..

    What i found worked on our last Europe trip was sharing airport info with our boys and showing them a map of where we would arrive and needed to be. it gave them a sense of bring part of the “parent navigation team” once we were on the ground. And once it was our turn to present passports, i gave them theirs to hand to the official. Just remember to put it straight away once it has been stamped!

    Travelling with kids can be challenging if you are not prepared and this list ensures preparedness! Thanks for sharing all your very useful tips.

    • Reply Mari-Louise Nov 21, 2018 at 2:19 pm

      Thank you Sthi and also for sharing the passport tip. I can imagine that was fun for them. Will try it with our girls next time we travel.

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