I think one of the hardest parts of traveling with kids is getting from A to B with all the ‘stuff’ and keeping your sanity during the flight. Sure, once you are at the hotel lapping up the sun it’s easy to forget the horrid flight but many parents are too anxious to even contemplate traveling with their child let alone two and avoid travel altogether until their kids are older.
I’m not going to sugar coat travel and make out it’s easy, it’s not but here’s a few tips to make the flight more comfortable so you’re not ‘that mum on the plane’ with the kid who’s screaming down the plane.
First thing I’ll recommend is that you have a couple of wines before a long flight, seriously it brings you down a few notches and well it’s always after midday somewhere in the world right? That aside what I’ve found helpful to make a flight more comfortable is having access to a lounge. It’s relaxing and a lot of lounges have kids corners or play areas. My favorite lounge is the AMEX lounge in San Francisco airport; you get free access with your Amex platinum card and it means you can dump your kids in there to be as feral as they like without interrupting other customers (they are basically in big glass box). The upside of this is after 2 hours of going crazy and 2 hours of mum drinking cocktails, the kids are ready to sleep and mum is in a much better frame of mind.
Travel essetials on the flight, by age;
2 years and older: this group is the easiest as by 2 most kids would have mastered the ability of watching a screen for more than 2 minutes and will be entertained by iPads or airline entertainment. One tip is to always bring kids headphones. Generally airline headphones are only made for adults so it’s best to bring your own. On shorter flights make sure you have an iPad handy as some airlines fail to provide screens. Also load up your iPad with videos which can be watched offline, you want to be prepared.
In addition to screen time you want to have lots of snacks on hand; snack bars, fruit, lots of water and a few spare changes of clothes. I don’t know how many times my now 4 year old has vomited on a flight and I’ve been caught out thinking she’s too old. If you are in the awkward toilet training phase also opt for a diaper; you might think it’s regression by putting it on but having your 3 year old pee through the seat onto the passenger behind is NOT FUN. Trust me, don’t even attempt it.
1-2 years: quite possibly the age where your child turns into a travel demon. All they want to do is walk laps around the plane, scream for no reason and cannot be consoled. I understand why parents avoid travel st this age. My only tip is lots of activities (think Pinterest) and Hylands Baby- Calming Tablets. These have worked extremely well for me when flying. If you can afford a seat get one. Makes such s difference having space (especially on long flights) but if you have a chilled child you can definitely get away with a lap infant at this age.
6-12 months: this age can go either way. If you baby isn’t crawling or walking it’s easier but once they’ve mastered walking you’re into the 1-2 year category. Baby carrier when you need to walk laps and If you have an active kid a seat is always helpful. Airlines such as Air NZ have a skycouch which means you can lie down with your child, other airlines have bassinets available for 0-12 months but each airline has different weight and age requirements. We found Finair pretty good with bassinets and British Airways. If you manage to get a bassinet seat bring a muslin blanket or something similar along with some adhesive or blue tak. Put this over the bassinet so when the lights are on the baby isn’t woken up.
0-6 months: if you’re breastfeeding this can be an easy age however my son wasn’t as easy as my daughter at this age so be prepared either way. Breastfeeding as much as possible, especially during take off and 20 mins before landing. If you are bottle feeding having a flask of hot water so you can mix bottles during the flight or ask the air hostess for hot water. Note not all flights, especially short flights have boiling water so take your own just to be safe. (Yes you can take baby formula and hot water on flight) in the US they might just open it and take a swab.
The biggest thing I can suggest is just breath. In the scheme of thing the flight is only a short part of the trip. It might be painful at times but it’s a small price to pay for a great experience!