Taking a red-eye flight with kids isn’t ideal. Frankly, any red-eye flight isn’t ideal. If we are being real traveling with kids isn’t the height of entertainment either. Teleportation is ideal. Since our kids haven’t invented that yet, here are my tips and tricks for surviving a red-eye flight with kids.
The change from being a road warrior for work to traveling with your children is a big one. One day you are trying to fit everything into a carry-on and the next you have so much gear (strollers, car seats etc.) you are pushing the limits of the 50 lbs. checked luggage max. Given that adjustment, it took several years of it before I considered taking a red-eye flight with kids. If you are looking for a way to maximize your vacation and daylight hours at your destination taking a red-eye flight might be your best bet. I know that was a factor when I bit the bullet on my first trip. I also wanted to avoid driving for hours in the middle of the night, the alternative if I selected a daytime flight. Now that we have developed ways to make it bearable its always on the table when we travel East.
Top Tips for Taking a Redeye Flight with Kids
- Gear Up –bring light wraps or travel blankets, eyeshades, neck pillows, loveys, earplugs etc. This will mean more carry-on gear. Get over how annoying it will be that you have to lug it around once you get there. Comfort, and the ability to even consider sleeping for EVERYONE in your group is key.
- Carry-on Bag –It will need to be larger than your day bag. You may need one with wheels. Now is not the time to prove your strength when you land you will be depleted. The adrenaline of getting to your destination will only take you so far.
- Time the Flight Right – If you have the option pick a redeye as close to your kids normal bedtime. Here in California redeyes can start at 9pm or leave as late as midnight. If you pick one at midnight and try to get your kids to stay awake or try to wake them up to leave for the flight it can be pretty ugly. Staying up too late past their normal bedtime can bring on seriously bad moods or they may completely amp up and have a hard time sleeping on the plane. So if you child goes to bed at 7 or 8pm normally the 9pm flights are a better bet.
- Seating Arrangements – If at all possible limit contact with other passengers. I always want to avoid waking someone up to get your kid to the bathroom. If I am traveling alone with one kid I always try to look for seat configurations where there are two seats together no middle. If there are three of you get a whole row. If there are four of you unless there is a two by two seating set up go for one row of three and one seat across the aisle. If you are stuck in a spot where there is a stranger in your row, select the window and the middle it is much easier to sleep if you can lean against the window and make everyone in your party use the bathroom just before boarding.
- Distractions – As with daytime flights, when you take a redeye with kids you will want to be prepared if hunger or thirst strikes. If your little one can’t sleep (a horrifying thought I know) you’ll need things to keep them distracted, crayons, paper, games, books, etc. Try to avoid the screen the blue light that helps light up the phone and tablet apparently helps your brain stay awake.
- Coffee – Find a spot to get a giant cup of coffee once you land. Go there even before you pick up your bags. Grab something for the kids to eat. This will help everyone adjust to the time change.
What are your tips and tricks for taking a red-eye flight with kids?