Eeeek the excitement of the long awaited holiday, isn’t it such a joyful time, singing and dancing all the way to the airport! And then kaboom, the anxiety of 10 hour flight with a 16 month old suddenly kicks in. Let’s face it, a dash to the supermarket can be exasperating with children never mind a long haul flight. I’ve put together my top tips on what to pack and how to organise your little tribe for flying this summer, it not need be as stressful as you may think.
Pack clothes and lots of them in your hand luggage. Ensure your little one is comfortable and be prepared for the change in surroundings, spillages, accidents, change in temperature. I’d suggest having a run through of what you go through in a day at home with your little one, then double that, maybe even triple that. Choose clothes that have easy access for diaper changes and clothes that can be removed hassle free or can be layed up. Pack muslin squares, never under estimate the muslin square! Use as a bib, cloth, light cover, you can’t go wrong with them. For those little people still in sleeping bags, pack a sleep bag for onboard, I find these much more manageable than blankets and covers.
I don’t know about you ladies but I was once a girl whose handbag was quite frankly a blooming mess. The bigger the bag the more junk I’d carry around. Not great when carting around 3 cases, a pushchair and a 30 pound toddler. Invest in a changing bag, you will not regret it. These days I’m all for individual compartments, side pockets and easy access sections, it makes being organised easy. Quick nappy change before boarding, a good changing bag will give you access to a mat, wipes, nappy, nappy bags, and cream in just seconds(or whatever you need quick and easy access to). Have yourself a changing bag that does just that, no rummaging around what feels like a bottomless bag, that’s what you need. I highly recommend Pacapod for all your organisational needs, practical and the added bonus of being super stylish.
Like a doctors waiting room, I often think of the airport as a germ fest, hundreds of thousands of passengers passing through daily, it’s not the most hygienic of places. Pack hand sanitiser, sanitising wipes and baby wipes (plenty of baby wipes). This may not be top of the list for many but in my opinion you can never be too cautions when travelling with little ones.
Okay so we’re ready to board, hang fire, don’t be rushing to the front of the gate. I’d say use this time wisely, my little one doesn’t know patience, he doesn’t want to wait on 233 other passengers to take their seat (neither do I)! Take your time boarding, let the kids see the plane, make it as exciting as possible. Again my little one is amazed with anything I pay attention to, let them know the next few hours are going to be exciting. Now most airlines will call for those travelling with young children to board first, this is complimentary, feel free to get on and get settled but you don’t have to be first on the plane. Once onboard get comfortable. Be sure to pack pillows and sleeping aids for children. For long haul or overnight flights the JetKids Bed Box is a game changer. As it says on the tin, it’s a bed in a box. Similar to a Trunki only it has super powers. It expands out to allow your little one to stretch out for a good few hours sleep. Added bonus, it has reasonable storage space inside. Can we see an adult version soon Jetkids?
Lots of them. I’m not big on sweets for my little one but I do like to stock up on healthy snacks. Try snacking on longer lasting foods, for example, I peel the skin off an apple and let my little one chew away on it, it takes him ages to get through it. Also keep in mind how fussy those little people can be, plane food is naff at the best of times for us grown ups, it’s probably naff to our little people too. Pack finger sandwiches, pasta pots, oat bars and fruit. I also use snacks as a gage of time, like little milestones throughout the flight. Use them wisely and don’t be running low after the first hour and avoid cheesy wotsits at all costs. Keep in mind time zones and destination, chocolate buttons on landing in the middle of the night is never a good idea. UK airports allow milk over 100ml to be taken through security when travelling with babies, always check before you fly and remember you can stock up in most airports once through security.
Depending on which airline you’re travelling with, onboard movies and games are great for older children. I find at the toddler stage, my little one just wants to have his own iPad. Be organised, fully charge all devices, a good selection of downloaded shows and games and good fitting headphones. I done a bit of research into headphones for babies, my top pick are these ones from Amazon. I wouldn’t go spending crazy money on headphones, as long as they fit you can grab a pair for around £20. There are lots of great educational apps and many options for downloading shows and movies. I tend to head straight to the BBC iPlayer for Kids App, it allows me to download favourite shows for up to 2 weeks, that way we’re sure to know every single word to Post Man Pat by the end of the two weeks.
You Get What You Pay For
This may not work for every travel occasion but I would advise where possible to choose your airline wisely, some airlines do go that extra mile for the little people onboard. Now I don’t mean to cherry pick but through experience I’ve found Emirates, Qatar, Etihad, provide a service which makes being onboard an experience. Shop around when booking a holiday and if it happens to be a few pounds more expensive, I’d say that’s money well spent.
Now remember toddler tantrums will still happen and that’s okay. Try having chit chat with those around you before or during the flight, it may help relax you or may even prevent any awkward grumbles when your little one is swinging from the seat in front. My best advice, once onboard… relax. I often find my mood rubs off on my little one, if I’m stressing over something that may not even happen, I can guarantee he’s feeling that and no doubt about to act up on it. Look after yourself, get some rest while the kids sleep, drink plenty of water, or even just enjoy being seated for a few hours, (rare occasion for us parents). Preparation is key and if upon take off you suddenly remember that one thing you specifically meant to pack hasn’t been packed, just a little reminder, there are babies in every corner of the world, your are almost certain to get whatever you need once you arrive at your destination.
It’s the beginning of your holiday, enjoy the journey. Be prepared, get organised and go make lots of memories with your little tribe.
Happy holidays and safe travels.
I’ve listed some useful pages discussing flying with children below.