Recently we found ourselves flying with a toddler to attend two very important weddings. It was an incredibly long journey from York, England to Perth, Australia and it was made to feel even longer with a toddler in tow. Pre-baby we would have settled into our seats, watched endless movies and drunk copious amounts of wine to survive the flights. Nowadays we have to stay (relatively) sober and alert enough to tend to our toddler’s every need. Its definitely not ideal flying long haul and across multiple time zones with a toddler – everyone has asked how the flights were and my standard response is ‘it was okay.’ We survived, but it wasn’t great.
My personal recommendation would be to avoid flying this far with a young mobile child whom struggles to be entertained for more than 5 minutes if you can. A trip closer to home and in the same time zone will be far more enjoyable for the whole family. But obviously there are many reasons why you might need to, such as two epic weddings, so I have prepared a few tips to help you survive flying with a toddler should you find yourself in the same situation.
To be honest I will not venture anywhere without snacks at the moment. My child seems to be forever grazing and it can keep them quiet and entertained for a period of time. I opt for things like raisins / sultanas, pouches, rice cakes etc. There are plenty of packaged and relatively healthy options available to purchase these days (two of my fave brands are Kiddylicious and Ella’s Kitchen). I prepared several zip lock bags filled with various snack options so that Mackenzie could work her way through them as she wanted.
I would also suggest that if you are flying with a budget airline then it may be worth picking up a sandwich and bottle of water at the airport before you board – no one likes a hangry toddler!
TV / ELECTRONIC GAMES
I think we are all trying to limit screen time and electronics for our children as much as reasonably possible, however the reality is that electronics are their future and they are all OBSESSED with them. We pre-loaded our iPads with Mackenzie’s favorite show (The Wiggles, what else?) and let her watch it throughout the flight whenever she wanted. Towards the end of the flights she was so exhausted that not even this would entertain her, but it did work to some extent. Soon we will buy her an Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet which allows parents to manage and customize what your child has access to. They come with excellent ‘kid proof’ protection cases and are much cheaper than an iPad.
NEW TODDLER TOYS
I think it is important to have a collection of new plane toys for toddlers when travelling. My friends have also suggested wrapping each toy for your child to then unwrap during the flight, but I haven’t tested this theory yet.
At Mackenzie’s age she quite likes board books, stacking cups and TOMY Eggs. But you have to be careful not to get anything that is noisy or will make a mess as otherwise you might disturb the other passengers.
Take the stress out of finding new toys yourself with the travel packs from Keep Em Quiet. Choose the age range and gender and they will take care of the rest – our little frequent flyer loved it!
CHANGE OF OUTFIT
I always pack at least one change of outfit and ideally a couple if I have room. Mackenzie still travels in her Bonds Wondersuits as they are just so easy and comfortable. I also packed a change of outfit for myself and my husband, because with a little one in tow you never know what might happen.
I am probably stating the obvious but make sure you have plenty of nappies and wipes and any essentials (e.g. medicine) that you need for your child. If there are any delays or you are stranded somewhere then you want to ensure that you have what you need. Personally, I never go anywhere without some trusty infant paracetamol! So make sure to visit the online pharmacy here and stock up on the prescription medications that your family needs prior to departure.
At times it is easier said than done when you are trying to contend with a whinging or screaming child. But if you can keep your mind calm and just focus on them (rather than thinking about the champagne you wish you were drinking or getting some shut eye) then I personally find it much easier to deal with the situation. Expect the worst and then hope for the best!
MAINTAIN ROUTINE WHERE POSSIBLE
In our carry on luggage we packed a bottle, some pre-made formula and a sleeping bag. When it came time to sleep we went through our usual routine with Mackenzie before laying her down. Given it was past her bed time this seemed to work quite well for us and she slept for several hours, allowing us to also get some sleep.
MAKE LIFE EASY FOR YOURSELF
Book those business class seats, arrange meet and greet parking at the airport, book a chauffeur or travel at the most convenient time of the day even if it is a bit more expensive. I realize it is not always feasible that you have extra cash for these things with a young family, but if you can make your travel arrangements as easy as possible then the entire process will be more smooth and enjoyable.
So have a think about how you will get from your house to the final destination and how you can make the logistics as simple as possible. And if you plan far enough in advance then you can often find a good deal on flights, parking etc. I also find the less luggage you take, the better, and I have absolutely loved our new travel pram (Jet by Silvercross) which fits into the overhead locker – Mackenzie had a couple of solid naps in various airports and it was a blessing!
Good luck and safe travels – I hope these few simple tips will be helpful to you when flying with a toddler. I would love to hear how you have survived your long journeys with a young family or what upcoming trips you have planned – please leave a message in the comments section below. And if you enjoyed this post why don’t you take a look at my previous posts ‘5 Reasons why you should fly Business class with your Baby‘ and ‘6 Travel Essentials for your Baby‘.