That dreaded topic – taking a flight with a baby/toddler or even going on a long journey with a young child who doesn’t get why they have to be stuck in an area for a length of time, can be quite scary. Since we had our little princess we must have brought her on at least 10 plane journeys (short & long haul) and we’ve tried a few tricks to ease up the journey for her more so on us.
- First on my list is Medicine, very important! Calpol/Nurofen, probiotic powder (for the odd stomach upset), Benadryl for allergies and Dioralyte (all age-appropriate). So far I haven’t had any issues with them in my carry-on, I just have them ready at security gates together with the food items in her backpack. You never know what type of access you would have to buying medicine in a different country.
- Snacks are a must! My toddler especially loves her food and can get quite cranky if there’s nothing for her to nibble on. Oaty bars, fruit purees and raisins are a few examples (I try to avoid “added-sugar”); we also bring ready-made toddler milk for when we travel at night. She obviously does not eat them all but it’s good to have a few choices.
- Crayons, drawing pads, books and stickers have come in quite handy too. I bought these tiny travel stationery from Dealz, my impulse buying finally paid off.
- A backpack or a Trunki to stuff all the snacks, stationery and cuddly toy for the trip; it also gives the little one a sense of ownership “it’s mine mummy, not yours” she says so hilarious. We would get her a Trunki once we stop taking the stroller on our travels, can’t imagine lugging both in and about an airport. In case you were wondering what a Trunki is, it’s a hard-case bag with wheels created for kids to even ride on!
- Hand luggage = baby essentials i.e. diapers/pull ups, wipes, clothes, socks, shoes, vests, and cardigan just in case there’s a prolonged delay or whatever else might happen. It also means I get to carry my own handbag not a diaper bag.
- Next is to download new videos on her Samsung tablet – we discovered this by chance when she was 15 months old and we traveled to Tenerife, Spain. It was mid-day when we landed and hadn’t made any plans for that day so after running around the apartment we rented she got bored and with no cartoons showing on Spanish TV at that time we decided to play nursery rhymes on YouTube. So we bought wifi, downloaded the TubeMate app (play any YouTube through it and it gets saved on your device) life saver! Now we can’t do without it, we bring it anywhere we go to keep her company if she gets bored. This especially came in handy on our 6hr flight back from Tenerife to Dublin which had no in-flight screens. Introducing her to technology this young has its downside though, one is she wants the tablet all the time even when she’s around other children and at home; also she wants new videos all the time and prefers to be on YouTube herself searching for videos – I still wonder how she learnt to switch the wifi sign.
- Another obvious tip is to change the child’s diaper or toilet run before boarding. We learnt the hard way, not bad enough we were stuck on the runway for almost 2 hours but the fasten seat belt signs were on for most of the flight so her diaper had soaked through the seat by the time we got the chance to check.
- This brings me to my next tip, arrive early to the airport. My husband is one of those who like to arrive just as the plane is about to shut its doors (or he says a 14:45 flight is at 3pm like who else rounds up!) while I, on the other hand could arrive 3 hours early. I’m a nervous flyer so I like to avoid anything that could potentially make the anxiety worse; besides getting through security gates with a young child and all the tits bits you come along with can be a little stressful. So when we all have to travel I’m on top of the timings, seats booked, online check-in, security, etc. I have to admit I faltered once – we were to fly out to Budapest, Hungary and had stopped to have a bite at the terminal since we had time to spare; for some reason the time flew and we had to run to catch the flight. DH had it worse he had two small suitcases to run with while I ran with the stroller (the ‘good for jogging’ feature of the SilverCross Surf was put to test!) so I reached the boarding gate first where some people were arguing with the air crew phew!
- Another tip is to pay for your seats – means we get a stretch of seats (watch out for two-seat planes) where little madam gets enough space during sleepy time and a window seat to stare out at buildings, clouds, etc this keeps her occupied for a few minutes at a time. Best to book these seats during ticket purchase.
Sidenote: I read somewhere to bring earplugs to give anyone around your seats so your child/ren don’t disturb their peace. What’s the point when these flights will end up with kids of all sizes, even adults can be of nuisance. An aircraft is a tight space where everybody is within close proximity so please just try to endure the drama.
One thing that has definitely not worked is a travel pillow. We got a SkipHop travel pillow, the owl on the pillow freaked her out therefore I gave her my plain black travel pillow to use.
When all is said and done, a good walk up and down the aircraft does help. My daughter has tons of energy and is always ready to jump off a sofa or dash across a room so this little exercise goes a long way, most times though it ended up being a struggle because she’s never ready to go back to sit. We take turns to “stretch our legs” but as I mentioned earlier that I’m not a fan of flying so walking on a plane would not be my favourite thing to do and would rather stay strapped in my chair until the plane has reached terminal!
Last life-saver (no more I promise) is a play area at the airport. Did I mention Budapest is the most child-friendly city I’ve been to? It was such a relief to find this (below picture) at their airport on our return journey home. FYI Gatwick airport also has one, a carpeted area with a hanging TV
I hope you all enjoy my ups and downs of travelling with a little one, watch out for my next post!