River Thames
Destination Europe

Top Tips for surviving an early flight with kids

Posted on
October 30, 2019

When choosing flights, unless we are flying long haul, we tend to pick early morning flights so we can make the most of the destination we are flying to.

Flying early, however, can bring up some challenges, especially when flying with children.

Top Tips to surviving an early flight with kids


Get everything ready and packed the day before you are due to travel, that way you are not stressed in the morning, which the kids will sense and cause them to play up.

We also ensure the car is packed up the night before, so, with the exception of important documents and handbags, we can jump straight in the car and go.

Stay Overnight

Depending how close you live to the airport, you could choose to stay overnight the night before your flight so you get slightly longer in bed and have a shorter journey to the airport.

Many hotels offer combined rooms and airport parking offers to help you save money.

On our latest holiday we stayed in Travelodge, Gatwick and was surprised by how quiet and comfortable it was.

Take a bag for spare clothing and leave in the car so you don’t have to take it with you on holiday and get showered and dressed before waking the kids.

Use off-site Airport Parking

We use off-site parking such a Cophall or Purple Parking which allows you to park your car safely and then drives you on a minibus directly to the terminal.

Use the Family Lanes

Many airports have family lanes in security if you’re travelling with children or need additional assistance. These dedicated lanes give you extra time and help to get through security.

Make sure you have boarding passes and your passports ready and to hand in a plastic folder.

Going through airport security is probably one of the most stressful parts of travelling, so warn children that their possessions will have to be scanned and there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Apparently toys enjoy their x-ray adventures.

Kid Zones

Once upon a time we would have loved perusing all things duty free, these days it is all about finding the Kid Zone with soft play and TV to entertain the kids!!

If you must shop, leave them with your OH and enjoy a few minutes of peace!

Drinks and Snacks

Drinks and snacks are a brilliant way of distracting children. Remember that you are not allowed to take drinks through airport security, so bring an empty reusable bottle and fill up at one of the water stations on the other side.

Try to avoid sugary treats before a flight, pack cereal bars and savoury treats before you go.

Games and Toys

Pack your child’s rucksacks with interesting things to do: travel size games, crayons, colouring books, a favourite book or toy are the best.

Keep them with you, so they can be used both on and off the plane and during any transfers.

Get to your gate early

We always head to our gate as soon as it is announced, so we can check-in and be ready as soon as they start boarding.


Enjoy your flight

An early flight, also means an early start for the kids, so they very often fall asleep once you are in the air.

We also take iPads and ensure that they have items downloaded on BBC iPlayer and Netflix to watch during the flight.

Small Planet Airlines

Extra’s to take

I am really lucky that my kids enjoy flying, however turbulence can make them feel ill. Take a change of clothing, just in case, especially if they are very little!!

What time of day do you prefer to fly?

  1. Reply

    Nayna Kanabar

    October 30, 2019

    This is a useful post and I like all the tips you have shared. We too pack the car the night before so that it’s less stress full in the morning.

  2. Reply

    Mellissa Williams

    October 30, 2019

    We always stay at Gatwick or Heathrow the night before. I have to admit the last time we stayed at the Travelodge in Gatwick it was a long time ago and it wasn’t good but I can see it has massively improved and been refurbished. I would certainly stay there now!

  3. Reply

    Rebecca Smith

    October 31, 2019

    These are some great tips! I prefer to fly early morning so you can get some time to do some things when you get to your destination

  4. Reply

    Anne Fraser

    November 1, 2019

    I was never brave enough to fly when my children were young but your advice seems good. One of my boy’s had an asthma attack at Heathrow airport when we were meeting my husband. I was very impressed by the first aid facilities.

  5. Reply

    Melanie williams

    November 1, 2019

    There are some really good tips here. I think that the main thing is to be organised the night before and get some sleep x

  6. Reply

    Sarah Bailey

    November 1, 2019

    These sound like some great tips, I think it is so hard getting an early flight whatever your age, but of course more so for kids, so having tips to make it easier is a must.

  7. Reply

    Sarah | Boo Roo and Tigger Too

    November 1, 2019

    It’s such a juggle to get to the airport at the best of times. Staying over the night before and combining with parking is a great idea

  8. Reply

    This German Mama

    November 1, 2019

    They are so some really good tips. We fly frequently and I never thought about staying at an airport hotel. It’s so much easier with kids and more exciting for them too.

  9. Reply


    November 1, 2019

    I really liked early morning flights when my son was an infant and toddler. I found the early flights weren’t as crowded so even if i didn’t purchase a seat for my infant, the flight attendants would encourage me to bring his carseat on board and strap it into his own seat next to me! He would sleep so soundly. He’s 9 now and has always been a great flyer so any time works for us! Great tips!

  10. Reply

    Rhian westbury

    November 2, 2019

    Entertainment and food are important, not just for kids but adults. I do love staying at the airport the night before too it makes the morning go that bit smoother, especially if you have an earlyish flight x

  11. Reply


    November 2, 2019

    Super tips, these! It’s so frustrating that the budget flights are always at ridiculous times of the day.

  12. Reply

    Emma Raphael

    November 2, 2019

    I love an early flight, it always means they sleep on the plane and then you get the whole day wherever you are going too! Great tips! 🙂

  13. Reply


    November 2, 2019

    Absolutely brilliant and helpful tips! We always try to book a hotel near the airport a night before the flight, so it’s not a havoc on the day of the flight as the airport is more than 2 hours by drive from my home.

  14. Reply


    November 3, 2019

    This post is so useful for those travelling with kids! I imagine keeping them entertained in airports can be quite the challenge, especially if they’re tired! Staying overnight and catching morning flights is such a good idea.

  15. Reply

    Nichola - Globalmouse

    November 3, 2019

    Great tips, I prefer later flights if possible but early ones do make the most of the day. If we go early we always stay overnight, that really does help.

  16. Reply

    Stephanie Merry

    November 4, 2019

    I much prefer staying overnight if I have an early flight. Nothing worse than having to get up extra early just to make the drive down. Especially if you’re travelling with kids! x

Leave a Reply


Are we nearly there yet? is a new online blog run by me, Kara Guppy, and is named as such thanks to my daughter Eliza who always asks that very question when we are less than 5 minutes up the road heading off on our adventures. You may know me from my other family blog chelseamamma.co.uk