Flying with Children
Every time we travel I get loads of questions about how we fly with three kids. To be honest we've been travelling internationally since Charlie, our eldest was just weeks old, so by now we have hundreds of thousands of miles of experience behind us! That doesn’t mean we have all the answers, and don’t get me wrong, occasionally things do go wrong, but hopefully here are a few tips to make it a bit easier.
Ok, firstly, flying with kids can be a total nightmare I'm not going to lie, but by being prepared, you can save yourself at least a few of the headaches...
Starting it right. Think about the flights you are booking and plan all the potential travel problems around it, before you confirm those flights. Is a 10.30am Tuesday flight good for you? Sounds a good time, but if it's from an airport that requires travel to, it means you may be traveling through some rush hour. Is getting a leisurely train the night before and staying in a cheap airport hotel going to be less stressful? Maybe. What time will you arrive at your destination? Will it be too late to organise transport to a hotel? Will everyone be hangry? Does the flight require sleeping, short naps or a full sleep, are they are good sleeping outside their normal environment etc... I'm not saying I have the magic day/time to fly, what I AM saying is a stress free big person will help make a stress free flight for little people.*
Once you're all booked then its time to get excited!! Get planning, hotels, activities, outfits, meals out and more! Involve the kids in your plans where possible, if they see photos and videos of what you have planned they’ll be excited too, let them pick something - whether it’s a restaurant for dinner one night, a park, a toy shop, ice cream stop or whatever… you can remind them of that activity and talk about it on the flight to help them understand why they’re travelling.
But back to getting you there…
In flight entertainment. Now is not the time to be high and mighty with your tech free parenting. Download all the Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig, Frozen and whatever else is a current obsession. Purchase the headphones and forget about any guilt!
We use Amazon Prime and Disney Life, both require you download programs BEFORE you travel so don't forget that vital step! (I tell you this as someone who realised this, at an altitude of 30,000ft the hard way… devastating!) I also would recommend these backpacks from The Tipi, the size and activities were perfect for Georgia (3) and Eva (6) was interested in everything inside too! Previously we've bought standard colouring books which have proven to be too large for the tray tables and caused frustration, the roll out colouring in these is a great size. Pack mess free snacks, think YoYos, raisins, satsumas, dried fruit or granola bars and small biscuits, lollies are also a perfect take off and landing treat that takes them more than a minute to consume and helps their ears (the sucking means their ears won't suffer as much with the change in cabin pressure)
Remember to pack in your carry on a jumper or cardigan in case it gets chilly, a spare set of clothing for smaller travellers (and maybe one for you too if you have a small person prone to a ponami) spare pants and nappies. I never go anywhere without a giant muslin, it's a blanket, a breast feeding cover, a pram shied, a clean up cloth etc etc... and folds up to barely any space. Bring dog poo/nappy sacks for easy cleanup and don't forget your baby wipes and antibacterial gel!
Buggy vs. carrier. I say either or both?! It depends on the age and ability of your baby or child. whatever you decide have something, so you have somewhere safe to keep them if they are tired or need to not be running off. On our recent trip we brought this slim micralite and were so pleased with it, it had a huge under seat storage and easy one hand steering. I’ll have a proper review coming soon for you all! I’m also a huge fan of ergo baby carriers, and this one’s for travel.
Your first meal. Know where you’re going to eat when you arrive. Arriving somewhere new and then starting to google where to eat can be a disaster so plan ahead. Ask friends, the hotel, social media, the post man, whoever, for recommendations, look at online reviews, then book a family friendly restaurant, if needed. Travelling can be stressful so this is not the time to organise a posh dinner out when the kids are possibly hungry/tired/bored, think pizza, pasta and wine. Once you’ve decided, find another!! Back ups are essential, even if it’s knowing where the nearest food shop is to grab a hotel picnic, and spread out on the floor!
And finally I think the most important travel tip I can give you is to remember its JUST a flight. Even if the worst happens it’s just a flight. If they scream the whole time and upset everyone around them, remember, justa flight. It has a beginning and an end. On one of our first long haul flights we had a wonderful flight attendant who smiled warmly and reminded us that everyone on that flight has at least been a baby themselves at one stage if not had one of their own. Relax, be prepared and remember your destination, whether its visiting family across the world or popping off on a dream holiday, the flight is just a means to your end destination :)
Carry on Packing List:
Small bag, these double as inflight entertainment and are full of hours of entertainment, perfect for age 1+ to carry on their backs
Small handheld toys, scratch away colouring, matchbox cars, schleich animals are great. (With smaller children I love to wrap them individually and pull one out when you need a little moment of excitement!!)
iPad, charged and downloads complete
Headphones, over the head ones are much better for tiny heads
Nappies (even for a potty trained toddler - I think better safe then sorry)
Poo bags - for putting wet clothes in, wasted food and all sorts!
Giant muslins, these ones from Mama Owl are our favourite
Easy drinks bottle, with a foolproof antispilage lid, we carted this around everywhere this summer.
Spare clothes - that roll up small, think soft organic basics, leggings, long sleeve t-shirts, socks, cardigans or hoodies
Spare clothes for you, a light cardigan, spare t shirt
Baby/Toddler travel accessories, ie buggy/carrier if applicable
*I know flying abroad is a luxury, and flying a whole family abroad not an inexpensive exercise. However if means allow I would suggest paying for the best seats you can. Even premium economy gives you that little more space that can make all the difference