My husband and I have always had a love for traveling. In fact, I have been overseas at least once every year since I was 13! The travel bug isn't something you ever lose, so when we became parents our first thoughts were 'when will we travel?' as opposed to thinking that we could no longer see the world because traveling with kids was too scary.
Don't get me wrong, we were very hesitant. But our love for exploring (and the fact that my husband is from Scotland and his family still live there) meant we were eager to find a way to make family travel fun and exciting.
Since having our daughter, Ayla, we have traveled all over the world - Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Tasmania, Thailand, Scotland, London, Bath, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and soon we will venture to Spain, Italy and France - so we have developed some tips and tricks for surviving!
The first thing you need to do is accept that it might be a little uncomfortable, especially if you are doing a long haul flight. But in the scheme of things, it's only about 24 hours until you reach your destination.
We recently flew with our 2 kids, Ayla 2.5 and Reza 7 months, from Melbourne to London (with a very short 2 hour stop hour in Dubai) here are some of my tips/tricks/suggestions:
1. Don't stress - if you stress, your kids will feed off that energy. Just go with the flow
2. Be prepared but pack light - you do not want to be lugging heavy bags through airports and on the plane as well as babies and toddlers ...
* Pack spare outfits in plastic zip lock bags. This way they are easy to grab and safe from any spillages (always happens!)
* Pack enough nappies in case you are delayed.
* A coffee cup - If you are a coffee drinker (even though technically you should avoid caffeine on flights ... if you're a mum, you won't be sleeping so coffee will save you) take a keep cup! Hot cups of coffee on planes with kids is a dangerous mix. Having a keep cup means you can keep your coffee warm and keep yourself and your kids safe (you're welcome!)
* iPad & headphones for toddlers! Yes to screen time on planes! This saved our sanity and kept my daughter (2.5) happy and entertained. She has kids headphones from JBL. Make sure you download movies and cartoons that your child likes - also helps if you get delayed at the airport!
* SNACKS. It can be hard to know how much food to pack for the flight, but I always say pack more than you think you will need! Toddlers always drop things - and everyone gets hungry when they are bored. Avoid sugary foods though because that can lead to running up and down the aisle which no passenger likes! Most of our hand luggage was actually food, fruit and other healthy snacks I had prepared before we left. ** You are allowed one bottle of sealed water per baby/toddler (good to know)
* Activities - a great idea is to take some blu-tak and paddle pop sticks in a zip lock bag, great for toddlers, they can stick them all over their seat and it won't damage anything like stickers can.
3. A baby carrier / sling - Getting in and out and through airports with kids isn't easy, so I always use a carrier. We have never taken our pram to the gate, instead choosing to check it in as luggage. This means I carry Reza and my husband carriers Ayla. Most international airports do have prams/strollers that you can use for free or hire. The great thing about the baby carrier is that my kids always sleep in it - so once we are up in the air and it's time for them to sleep I put them in the carrier. It's also much easier for me because I can then sit down and not worry if I dose off because I know he is safe - any time my kids fall asleep in my arms I can't relax, it's also really uncomfortable.
- Babies under 10kg can use the bassinet (Reza is too big for it!) Just keep in mind that bulk-head seats are given on a first come first serve basis ... so if you are flying with a young baby and want to use the bassinet I suggest arriving at check-in early
4. Avoid painful air pressure - Feed your baby during take off and landing (or use a dummy or sugar-free lollypop) to help with the air pressure
5. Try to book flights that correspond with when your child sleeps - so for shorted flights, try to book then when you kids usually sleep. And for long haul flights, try to book night flights. Most kids will sleep on planes, if they are comfortable.
6. Have Fun - enjoy the moment and embrace the opportunity to show your kids the world!
7. Prepare for Jet Lag ... I'll write a post about that soon!