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I took one of the world's longest flights with 2 toddlers. Here's what got me through it.

Family posing for photo on plane
The author and her family flew over 18 hours from Los Angeles to Singapore.Courtesy of the author
  • My family was traveling to Cambodia and I chose a flight from Los Angeles to Singapore.

  • It was over 17 hours long and the third longest flight.

  • My kids were 3 and 1, and I got a bassinet for the youngest one.

"You're a masochist!" another dad exclaimed during our daughters' playdate when I told him our flight itinerary.

I'll admit that it sounded bad — the first leg of our family trip to Cambodia consisted of an almost 18-hour flight from Los Angeles to Singapore. At one time, it was the world's third-longest flight, and we'd be doing it with a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old with a lap ticket.

I was terrified. But did I have a few tricks up my, er, carry-on to get us through? Definitely.

Here's how we survived the flight and the almost 14-hour return as well.

I picked the best airline

Crazy as it sounds, I actually chose the LA-Singapore route over others that consisted of shorter first connecting flights.

I did so because Singapore Airlines consistently ranks among the world's best airlines. I knew the on-time departure, excellent customer service, and endless snacks would make the experience much easier.

I booked early for a bassinet

Like many long-haul flights, ours offered a bassinet for our child under 2. Though I was iffy as to whether he'd actually sleep in it, I still made sure to book early enough to reserve one.

That's because the rows in which bassinets can be hung happen to be the best seats in economy — typically the first row (meaning faster deplaning and no reclining front neighbors) and with nearly double the legroom. At 5'10", I was fully able to extend my legs to the wall in front of me.

Woman and toddlers in plane
The author booked a seat with a bassinet for the extra space.Courtesy of the author

Plus, that extra bit of space came in handy for the toys, snacks, and diaper bag.

I packed a tablet and headphones and gave unlimited screen time

If there's a time and place for unlimited screen time, a long-haul flight is it. For my almost 4-year-old, I packed her tablet and Bluetooth headphones and let her go wild.

In-flight entertainment for kids can be hit-or-miss, so I wanted to be prepared with some of her favorites. While she actually loved Singapore Airlines' offerings, I'm glad we brought the headphones — we used them to secure the adult-sized airline-provided earpods, which otherwise slipped off.

Snacks, snacks, all the snacks

I'm generally of the belief that you cannot overpack toddler snacks. Dried fruit, Cheerios, puffs, cheddar bunnies, Cerebelly bars — we were prepared.

Many long-haul flights offer a snack cart, and Singapore Airlines' was particularly robust. While my daughter loved the instant noodles and puffy pastries, my son wanted to stick to his tried-and-trues. I'm glad we had both.

I loaded the snacks in a 7-day pill container

Shortly before leaving on our trip, an Australian mom friend familiar with long flights tipped me off to this simple hack. The opening and closing of compartments added an extra level of engagement, lengthening the time they spent occupied eating. Plus it was great fine motor practice. While it did take a few minutes to load the snacks, I found it paid off.

I packed painter's tape

I initially packed blue painter's tape based on an Instagram video I saw: tear little pieces and stick them around the windows and seat backs at different levels as a mess-free way to engage your younger toddler.

Baby on flight
The author brought tape to keep her youngest child entertainedCourtesy of the author

We also ended up using the tape to erect a makeshift blackout curtain over the bassinet, helping my son fall asleep while the cabin lights were on. And once we landed, we used the tape to cover electrical outlets and secure the minibar shut in our hotel rooms.

Melatonin

Melatonin is the Ozempic of parenting: a heck of a lot of folks are doing it, but no one's talking. Some folks use it nightly, while others fear its unstudied long-term effects and the recent rise in overdoses.

We don't use the popular sleep aid at home, but found that, amid the distractions and unfamiliarity of the airplane, it was the gentle extra nudge to sleep our kids needed. It also helped tremendously to navigate the first few days of jetlag. Of course, we consulted our pediatrician first, who gave us the go-ahead for short-term administering.

Read the original article on Business Insider