Travelling with Children
Are you jetting off to a warmer climate for winter? Have little ones and nervous about the flight? Since my youngest was 8 weeks old we have taken three long haul flights a year! Long haul flights are hard enough on your own but add a little one into the mix and the thoughts of the flight could be dampening your holiday mood!
Fear not, a little preparation can make your flight easier. Find below suggestions that I have found make the trip a happy one!
- Let’s start with a baby – who sleeps, eats and poops!
- Most long-haul flights will have crib seats for children under 2 years. Check with your airline in advance and book these seats if they have them. This will free up your arms when they are sleeping.
- Entertaining a baby, well there’s not much you can do here, except have their bottle on hand or be ready to breastfeed and ensure you bring spare clothes for baby and for you! Those spit ups or leaks in the diaper can happen when you least expect it, so ensure you have a couple of changes of clothes, depending on how long your flight is, in your carry on. One time we flew from Calgary to Mazatlan, Mexico for a winter vacation with our then 13-month-old. My daughter had 3 overflows in her diaper and I used 3 outfits on that short 4.5-hour flight! Luckily 3 is the number of outfits I always carry with me on trips, I never had to use all 3 before that trip! Had she had a 4th overflow I’m not quite sure what I would have done!! Be prepared!! It’s better looking at it than for it, that’s my motto!! Ensure you take enough diapers with you for the journey and baby wipes is another must! If your little one sucks a pacifier, bring a couple with you in case one gets lost. It may be worth purchasing a pacifier ribbon and clip if you don’t already have one to ensure it doesn’t fall to the floor.
- Take a couple toys or books that will keep baby entertained when s/he is awake.
- If you find they are getting cranky, the back of the plane is usually a settler. It’s noisier back there and I always found it to settle my babies. Walk the aisle of the plane if you’re allowed. This might help soothe your baby and might even distract them by looking all around them.
- Now for the real challenge… a toddler!
- I always take a change of clothes for my toddler. One time we had just boarded the plane for a trip to Europe and were settling into our seats when I handed my toddler a snack and water bottle to have on hand. She opened the water bottle and spilt it all over herself! Outfit change number 1 and we hadn’t even left the tarmac!
- Baby wipes. I honestly don’t know what age my children will be when I stop using wipes! They are a must for travelling and not just for babies!
- Depending on the length of your trip you may want to consider taking a full-size pillow and blanket for them to sleep. I have tried smaller pillows/cushions and my daughter just couldn’t get comfortable. I now take a full-size pillow and it works much better. I always take a blanket for my children too. It’s something they are familiar with rather than using the one the airline gives you.
- A new thing we tried with our toddler on our last long haul flight last year was a hammock. Basically, it turned her seat into a bed. We always found when she fell asleep she would always slide off the seat so one of us would have to stay awake to ensure she didn’t fall off the seat. We found the hammock made her cozy and my then 18 month old slept in it at one stage too. Please ensure to do your research on it though because some airlines do not permit it for safety reasons. We travelled with British Airways last July and they allowed it. https://www.flylegsup.com/
- Entertainment – I never go on a trip without the following in my carry on:
- Stickers. Honestly, a toddler with a book of stickers is a happy toddler! Let them stick the stickers on your arm, your leg, your face, wherever they want to stick it on your body! And then have them take them back off and stick them into a book!
- Colouring, another great source of entertainment for your toddler. Make it last longer by colouring with them. They love when Mom & Dad get involved. Tip for the crayons – buy the triangular shaped crayons, they won’t roll off the tray table!
- Wrap toys in wrapping paper and have them unwrap them. For my last trip, I wrapped finger puppets, little dinosaur figurines for my son, Build-a-Scene kit from Michaels, a bracelet making kit for my daughter. Anything that is easy to carry and that your toddler is interested in. Remember to take a bag with you for the garbage!
- Snacks. Take snacks with you that they haven’t eaten in a while. This will be “new” to them and they will enjoy them and see it as a treat, rather than eating the same snacks they do every day. I always have jellies hidden in my carry on for those tricky moments! I find chocolate melts and makes a complete mess in general so jellies or fruit gummies are a good alternative. These can also be used for take off and landing to prevent their ears popping.
- Books. What child doesn’t love a story? Buy a new book and read to them. I like the books where they have to find objects or animals on the pages. Those can keep them very entertained!
- In this day and age, I think most children have some exposure to tv. Obviously, it is not recommended to sit your child in front of a tv all day long, however when travelling, taking an ipad or tablet with games or their favourite cartoon or movie on it can be a welcomed distraction if all else fails. You may want to consider child friendly head phones so as not to annoy the other passengers with Peppa Pig or Dora The Explorer ;)
For baby and toddler, airlines allow you bring a stroller to your gate – just check the airlines policy on the weight allowance of the stroller. When you get to your destination, your stroller will be waiting just outside the airplane door or close to it.
Remember, you are doing the best you can and you cannot predict how your little one is going to react or behave. If your little one is having a tough time on the flight, perhaps their ears are sore, or they just don’t like being confined on an airplane, take deep breaths and know many people around you have been in the same situation at some stage in their lives. Don’t stress yourself out. The more you remain calm the easier it will be to soothe your little one.
Do you have any tips on travelling with children? We’d love to hear from you – leave a comment below!