Travelling with kids
My drop in the ‘advice ocean’ for parents!
My husband and I, our 2 year old, and our 11 month old recently emigrated to Australia via a bit of travelling around South East Asia. This meant LOTS of long haul flying. We were trying to be budget savvy (Also known as ….tight!) so didn’t buy the baby his own seat. That’s right, long haul flights with a toddler, AND a baby on our laps. Genius!! My only saving grace was research. I did loads of research and was ready for all eventualities. Enjoy my tips and sneaky tricks!
Travel at Night.
Granted, I am a routine Nazi and the result is that my kids sleep. If your children are similar, I swear, flying at night is a breeze. I took a big pashmina to tuck into the seats above the children to block out the airplane lights (in hindsight, a DARK pashmina would have been better, Duh!) Turn the seat back TV’s OFF so that they aren’t distracting. Make sure you have their seatbelts in a handy spot so you can belt them up while sleeping in case it’s requested. Just as a head up, on one of the flights my toddler was woken by a food trolley to the head, so maybe keep an eye out for that little treat!
Pay the extra to get a flight that doesn’t land at 4am! Seriously. Think about how that will feel. If you don’t all get onto the local time schedule you are just asking for jetlag.
Buy a FlyTot
Buy a FlyTot This is nothing short of amazing. The Fly-Tot is an inflatable cushion that allows little ones to lay down flat on a regular, economy seat (It also works ok at Bulk Head seats) I’m not gonna lie, I was so jealous of the first class style travel my little girl enjoyed! She is very tall for a two year old but slept comfortably. Older/taller kids can still use it for a comfier sleep as they have way more space to snuggle up, regardless of the fact that they may not be able to lie flat. Thankfully I always hustled a spare seat for the baby (advice on how, below!) but at a push I reckon I could have lifted an armrest and lay both kids on it. We were emigrating to the other side of the world- Did we have a lot of luggage? Does Barbie shag Ken?! The FlyTot was light and compact and a major priority regardless of all the other crap I was trying to lug Down Under!
Check the rules regarding Bassinets on your flight.
Health & Safety rules are crazy strict in aviation. My 11 month old was too old for Thai Airlines bassinets and although online Forums said otherwise, the airline would not allow him to have one. He’s a tank, I should have known!
They will not let little ones have a nap on the floor. Back in the day when I was a kid and we flew all over the world that was our standard set up. Nowadays- not a bloody chance.
Bulk Head seats. That’s where the bassinets are and although you do get more leg room the arm rests generally do not lift up!! This means you can’t lie across the seats. Nightmare!
Check your airplanes seating configuration
Check your airplanes seating configuration at www.seatguru.com then give yourself the best chance of bagging a spare seat by choosing seats D.E and G for example. The airlines will fill that random seat last (However if your flight has a 3, 3, 3 seating configuration make sure you don’t leave the window or aisle seat spare as other passengers love those. In that case, choose seats A,C and D instead)
Chat up check in clerks, flight attendants, anyone you can! People are usually accommodating to families but make sure you’re clear on what you want. (For eg Bassinet, Bulk Head seats, Spare Seat)
Snacks that last!
Pack little snacks that last a while; such as lollipops. It keeps those little ratbags quiet, entertained, and is helpful for their ears during take off & landing. Make sure to get sugar free if you want them to sleep though!
Make up gift wrapped toys. Doesn’t have to be expensive- just something from the pound store. It kills some time and you can use it as an enticing bribery tool!
Fill a ziplock bag
Fill a ziplock bag with three or four spare nappies and baby wipes. You can put the ziplock bag into your seat pocket and it’s right there to hand. Going in and out of bags is a massive ball ache. If you wanted to go one step further you could send one parent onboard as soon as the flight starts boarding to ‘set up’ all your hand luggage. Meanwhile the other parent can be with the kids letting them run/crawl around and burn off the excess energy. If I’m honest, we never quite managed this seamless separation of parenting/organizational magic but it was a lovely dream.
If your children scream and cry; so what? You’re trying your best and sometimes kids are just bastards. DO NOT let people’s eye rolls or tuts get you down.
Most importantly- enjoy yourselves. If it all goes tits up and you’re all separated, the flight is delayed, and your angelic children decide to turn feral just breathe. You’re travelling. That’s a real privilege. If all else fails, ring for the drinks trolley!
Good Luck! X