Flying To Japan With Kids

This post is sponsored by Jetstar and Nuffnang.

International travel with kids can seem daunting, especially if you have more kids than adults! But with a little good planning and preparation, family travel to destinations like Japan can be made easier and fun.

Attitude and expectations are key to a successful family holiday. You cannot expect to travel exactly the way you did before you had kids, but traveling with kids brings a different dimension. They see things we don’t, they find joy in the little things that we would overlook and they bring strangers to you that you would never have met.

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Embracing travel with kids with a positive attitude and relaxed attitude helps enormously. You cannot cram as many things into one day as you once would have and you will have an endless barrage of questions about all sorts of things, only some of which you will have answers to. But have fun with it, let the kids research the answers when they have a chance and remember what amazing things the kids will be learning by experiencing another culture first hand.

Here is how we planned and executed our flight to Japan with the kids.


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We had a 6.00am flight from Melbourne to Cairns, then Cairns to Osaka. As we woke the kids up so early we didn’t give them breakfast at home. Check in went smoothly and we headed to the departure lounge. I had made fresh rolls for the kids to have while waiting until we could board our Jetstar flight.

For the Melbourne to Cairns leg of the flight, snacks could be purchased on the flight, but with full bellies before they boarded the plane, the kids didn’t need refuelling until we landed in Cairns.

At the international departure lounge at Cairns, we made sure to refill the water bottles, top the kids up with another roll and get them to walk around and stretch their legs before the next flight.

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We also had the younger kids bring along some activities to keep them amused while waiting in departure lounges etc, simple things like:

  • Sticker books
  • Books to read
  • Colour by number sheets – I printed ours out from here
  • Mandalas to colour in – my daughter loves to colour these and we printed them from here
  • A word search we created together themed on our holiday to Japan


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The flight from Melbourne to Cairns is 3 hours 25 minutes. It went very quickly and when we arrived in Cairns it was delightfully warm.

We had made sure the kids had layered clothing so they could adjust to the contrast in weather conditions we were going to experience. As well as layered clothing we also spoke to the kids about choosing comfortable clothing, something they thought they would be able to sleep in comfortably on the plane.

Carry on luggage

We wanted to keep to a minimum the amount of carry on luggage we had. The more you take with you, the more there is to keep track of! We ended up taking the following:

  • Mr I’s Crumpler Bag – holding passports, other important documents and personal items
  • My work bag – holding Macbook Air, Samsung Note, iPad, iPhone, headphones and other personal affects.
  • Family back pack – this held water bottles, tissues, wipes, face washer and spare snacks.
  • Kids back pack 1 – shared by masters 14 and 12. Contained iPods, spare clothing and water bottle.
  • Kids back pack 2 – shared by miss 9 and masters 7 and 4. Contained iPods, spare clothing, activities and water bottles.


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Travelling with five kids, what luggage you take with you is important. While we won’t be buying huge amounts in Japan, the kids were all very generously given spending money by both set of grandparents, so they will be making purchases and we needed to plan to have room for them.

Each of us was allocated 20kg baggage and we chose to take along 5 suitcases of different sizes. None of the suitcases were completely full, so we would have space for new items on the way home.

Five suitcases was also a really manageable number for us. While the preschooler did indeed take responsibility for his small suitcase the majority of the time, we had flexibility for someone to take a rest or have spare hands when needed.

In flight comfort

When booking your flights with Jetstar, your base fare covers your seat only and I highly recommend adding the inflight comfort packs. The kids thought they were fantastic and they entertained them for quite a while as they investigated what they held.

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They each had a:

  • blanket
  • eye mask
  • neck cushion
  • ear plugs
  • socks
  • toothpaste and toothbrush
  • lip balm

The blankets are great for kids as it gives them a sense of comfort as they try to nod off to sleep. The littlest one looked so cute snuggled up asleep with his.

In flight meals

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The flight from Carins to Osaka is 7 hours and 50 minutes. While you can purchase meals on board, I highly recommend adding on meals when you purchase your flights with Jetstar. It is much better to know it is sorted and the kids will have a meal in flight.

We had been talking about Japanese cuisine prior to leaving so the kids were delighted when one of the meal choices was Teriyaki chicken, which they all chose and enjoyed.

In flight entertainment

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7 hours and 50 minutes can be a long time to entertain yourself on a plane when you are a kid, so the add on entertain packs were a huge hit with the kids. For my kids who have restricted access to tech devices, our more relaxed approach on the flight was exciting for the kids.

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They each had a Jetstar iPad which was loaded with movies, TV shows, music and magazines. What I loved about the entertainment pack was that as the iPad is a familiar device to the kids, they could operate them independently with ease – no need for parent intervention every time they wanted to change what they were watching or playing. They could choose to have the iPad standing up or lying flat and could adjust the volume to their personal preferences.

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With the kids entertained, I used my iPad to listen to music (Calvin Harris) as I finished up some work on the plane. Mr I watched more movies on the plane than he has watched in the last six months!

In flight health

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While we took a relaxed approach to the iPad use on the plane, we did ensure the kids didn’t over do it. Kids technology use in our family differs greatly amongst the kids. We have a couple that without limits would probably be constantly tied to a device, while the other three self regulate much better.

At certain points in the flight, we made them all turn off the iPads and get some rest. The cabin had been darkened, they had their blankets, neck cushions and masks to make themselves comfortable and get some sleep. Thankfully all of them did. While we were traveling during the day, the early start and the excitement of international travel would tire them out and I wanted them to arrive in Osaka not exhausted.

We also made sure they drank plenty of water and did get up occasionally to walk around. The seven of us were split into to two groups, one of three and one of four and they were in different parts of the plane. The short walk to check in with each other worked really well in getting them moving.

It is always worthwhile showing the kids what the bag in the front pocket is for, as you never no who may need it. For this flight it was poor miss 9 who needed to use it on the flight. Thankfully she was only sick the once and she was quick enough to not make any mess!

Prior experience at customs with kids, has taught me to make sure they arrive there fed and watered. Before we started making the descent for landing, we gave the kids some of our snacks and water and had them go to the toilet to freshen up with the comfort pack. This had them ready for next stage of our trip.


Always fill in your forms before you leave the plane! We do them as soon as we can on the plane, once the kids are settled. It is much better to take care of the boring bits when everyone is fresh. It isn’t fun to have to fill in seven forms when everyone is a little tired or over excited and you are in the customs area of a foreign airport!

Here is a short video {click through here if reading by email} highlighting our journey and first couple of days in the fabulous Japan!

The flight to Japan for us was a really great start to our holiday. Being prepared for it and making sure we had the right selections for our in flight experience meant that the flight just wasn’t about getting from Australia to Japan, it was part of the fun and has created great memories for the kids. And mum and dad came away from the experience completely unscarred!

You can read more about our trip to Japan here – Japan With Kids.

How do you approach international flights with kids?

Jetstar flies to Japan daily from Australia. Cairns to Tokyo daily and Cairns to Osaka 5 times a week. Gold Coast to Tokyo daily and Gold Coast to Osaka 3 times a week.

Jetstar also flies from Melbourne and Darwin to Tokyo 4 times a week.

To book visit