Having parents from opposite sides of the globe, flying was destined to be part of my daughter’s life. At 3 years of age, she’s got two passports, thousands of frequent flyer miles and has completed four return trips to the UK with many more ahead.
Adding a toddler to the mix changed everything I knew about flying. I quickly came up with a plan of action for survival when flying with toddlers that starts as soon as I book tickets. I’ve honed and toned my approach to the point I no longer feel sick to my stomach at the thought of travelling with a toddler (especially alone). You can fly with confidence and a toddler too, it just takes a little prior planning!
Here’s my top five tips for a hassle-free flight! (You’ll also find 15 extra quick tips at the bottom that add to the ease!)
1. Seat Selection
For me, this is by far one of THE most important things when flying, especially with young kids. As soon as my booking is confirmed I select seats as visualising where I’ll be on the aircraft helps me prepare. Although selection isn’t 100% guaranteed (except for possibly bassinet seats when travelling with an infant 0-2yrs) it’s usually a sure thing. If you’ve never set foot in an aeroplane before or are unfamiliar with seat configuration, jump onto a website such as www.seatguru.com and check out seat maps. Check your selection regularly via the airline website and as soon as you can check in online do it!
2. Vacuum Bags
I LOVE vacuum bags. With the air being rolled out, not sucked out I use them religiously in my checked in baggage and more recently in my carry on. I swear by them; perfect for storing change of clothes and spare nappies (if required) or whatever else can be rolled up! All this in a medium sized vacuum bag rolls up to very little, allowing for less fuss and more space in hand luggage with the small bags being useful for just nappies, bunny blankets or even small soft toys.
“I want a snack” is heard a lot in our house. This doesn’t stop when on a flight so I make sure I have a selection of snacks from home that I know my daughter likes; mostly crackers, muesli bars and when she was younger, food pouches (great for babies and young toddlers). I leave behind yoghurt, fruit and cheese due to possible customs restrictions and lack of a fridge! I keep them in a zipped pencil case which fits nicely in my carry-on bag and can be lifted out easily when needed. Sorted!
Thankfully airlines are switched on to children’s entertainment needs when it comes to international flights with movies, TV shows and games within arm’s reach the entire flight. Sometimes, however, kids just want their home comforts; my daughter’s is my tablet. It’s loaded with a few apps (useable without WiFi) and plenty of her favourite shows to keep her amused. Remember to take a charging cable as most international flights have a USB port next to your personal screen.
For non-screen entertainment have stickers, mini colouring books and pencils/crayons to help keep them occupied. I keep these in a sealable bag and slot it into hand luggage. Thin books or comics are great too, just think lightweight.
5. Don't Stress
This is easier said than done but getting worked up will do you no favours 40,000 ft in the air. Plenty fellow passengers have travelled with kids themselves and most are happy to help you out if needed. Sure, you’ll get evil looks and eye rolls from some people but you’ll learn to ignore that very quickly. As long as you’re not sitting back and letting your child run amuck then you’re doing OK. If all else fails just remember that after the flight, you won’t have to see your fellow passengers ever again.
If that’s not enough advice to ease your nervous mind, here’s more tried & tested hints to add to your flight check list that we at Mum Central have gathered from jet setting mums in the know:
6. Ask at check-in if it’s possible to have a spare seat beside you
7. Try and book night flights to increase chances of your child going to sleep
8. Travel light- One backpack (per person) and 1 big handbag
9. Forget the pram and use a baby carrier for babies or young toddlers
10. Make friends with the flight attendants- they are your best friends up there!
11. Drink lots of water to avoid headaches and dehydration (kids too!)
12. If you can afford it, pay for your infant (under 2) to have their own seat
13. Even if your child is too big for the bassinet, ask and you might still get a bassinet seat
14. Invest in a travel wallet to save rummaging for passports etc
15. Don’t be afraid to ask for help for anything at anytime
16. Put your little one in their PJs- loose, comfy and perfect for travel
17. Have some kids Panadol (100ml max) in your carry on just incase
18. Store hand luggage at your feet instead of overhead lockers, it’s a lot less hassle
19. Have a short stopover? Let kids burn off energy in the spacious airport!
20. Sleep when you can- the in-flight movies can wait!
I’m not going to lie, flying with toddlers and young children isn’t the easiest thing to do. However, be it you’re in need of a decent holiday or like me, it’s a frequent necessity, keep our useful travel tips in mind. Before you know it, you’ll have reached your destination and be wondering what you were worried about! Go in calm & prepared and just roll with it! Now pack your bags, fasten your seatbelt and enjoy your flight!