Having just returned from flying to the opposite side of the world with my 4 month old baby and my (almost) 3 year old toddler, accumulating over 50 hours of travel and over 6 seperate flights, I now think of myself as somewhat of an expert on the topic.
Before I left I did my due diligence and read everything I could find on traveling with young children. However, having now completed the journey I wanted to spread the word on some personal wisdoms I accrued that I had not previously heard anywhere else! ⠀
So here they are, the secret travel tips that will save your sanity when traveling long haul with a baby and a toddler!
TIP 1. Cut the queue.
As in ALL queues, everywhere, even the ones you’re not technically invited to cut. Skipping the queue is very possibly the only positive of flying with children.
There are often clear opportunities to skip the queue, like when they invite families requiring assistance to board the plane first or when there is an express lane for families through immigration. If that’s an option, than great! ⠀
However, even when you’re not specifically invited to skip the queue, that doesn’t mean you can’t! I have discovered that NO ONE refuses or begrudges an exhausted and harassed looking family (and trust me, if you’re travelling with a toddler and baby, you’re looking exhausted and harassed). ⠀
We used the priority lane to check in, we boarded the plane when they called for business class only and we used the staff lane to get through customs. Each time we were happily ushered through by staff and fellow passengers. This might sound a bit pushy, but I prefer to think of it as necessary assertiveness.
TIP 2. Bassinet seats are not always your best option.
When we flew the same journey a couple of years ago with our then 9 month old baby, the bassinet seats were great. Sure, my baby didn’t actually spend that much time IN the bassinet but it was great for storing all the crap you need when travelling with a baby. Plus the extra leg room was great!
However, when you’re travelling with a baby AND a toddler it gets a bit trickier. The bassinet seats are located at the front of each section of the plane. The tray tables and screens for these seats are located in the armrests of these chairs which means that the armrests can’t be folded up. We had envisioned that our toddler would lay across our laps to sleep during the flight but this proved impossible due to the fact that we were sitting in the bassinet seats. Our toddler, unable to get comfortable in his single seat, barely slept at all!
On our return journey we opted for the divide and conquer approach. I sat in the front row holding the baby and using the bassinet when I could, and my husband and toddler sat directly behind me. This way we were still able to operate as a team but everyone got a bit more rest.
TIP 3. Hold onto the pram for as long as humanly possible.
Best case scenario: you wheel that thing right on through the airport, down the linkway, until you hit the door of the plane and then (and only then) do you unload your overtired and overexcited toddler! And when you hop off the plane? Request that your pram be available to you the moment you exit the aircraft! ⠀
Sure, there are moments in the airport that you want your toddler to run around and get out as much energy as possible but, trust me, those moments do not include any of the following:⠀
A. Waiting in line to check in⠀
B. Waiting in line to go through security ⠀
C. Rushing through the airport to your gate⠀
D. Waiting in line to board the plane. ⠀
E. Waiting in line to get through customs⠀
F. Well, you get the picture …There is a LOT of lining up when traveling!
If not properly restrained in a pram your toddler will choose these moments to either go completely limp on the floor, refusing to hold your hand, or do an impressive impression of someone possessed, screaming in tongues and violently flailing all their limbs. And you can’t even pick them up and carry them because you’ve got the baby strapped to you in a carrier and you and your partner are already struggling to carry all the bags you need when travelling with children!
Airport staff might want you to check your pram in with your other luggage or hand it over at security but, if at all possible, fight to keep it with you. Try crying or throwing a tantrum to get your point across; your toddler and baby can help you with this.
TIP 4. Stash a few balloons in your carry-on luggage.
They are the perfect form of entertainment for the time periods in the airport when you actually want your toddler to run around and burn energy (e.g whilst waiting for your flight to begin boarding). They don’t take up much space in your luggage, they’re cheap, and toddlers NEVER bore of them. Plus they’re useful for keeping your child in your general vicinity as opposed to sprinting off across the other side of the airport!
Tip 5. Pack a mini nappy bag inside your carry-on luggage.
Do not underestimate the sheer amount of crap that you will have to pack in your carry-on luggage when traveling with a baby and a toddler! Think large volumes of nappies (for both baby and toddler), multiple spare changes of clothes for everyone (yes, poo explosions are inevitable), and a plethora of snacks and activities. The last thing you want is to have to rummage through your exploding-at-the-seams bags, desperately looking for the nappy change necessities.
Instead, pack a mini nappy bag that contains all the bare essentials and store it in an easy to access pocket of your carry-on bag. I filled a small packing cube with a pack of baby wipes, a few nappy disposal bags, 2 toddler nappies and 4 infant nappies. At each flight stopover (or sooner if required) I would restock the mini nappy bag from the supplies packed in the bulk of the bag.
Side note: If you happen to use the toilet on the plane whilst one of your kids is in the cubicle with you, be warned: the sound of a vacuum assisted toilet flushing will scare the shit out of babies and toddlers alike and result in a flood of tears.
Although, to be fair, plane toilets kind of scare the shit out of me too.
You may also like to read ONE (MOTHER) BORN EVERY MINUTE
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