Eleven ways to make flying long haul with a toddler easy.
Eleven ways to make flying long haul with a toddler easy.
Recently I embarked on a four week trip to Australia.
Amazing I hear you say.
With a three year old.
Oh, that sounds hard work.
On my own.
Were you insane I hear you shout?!
Erm, slightly yes!
It’s something I wanted to do before I set up my new business and before my little one started school in September.
My little boy has travelled with us quite a bit on airplanes so he is used to the airport and getting on and off airplanes but he had never flown that far and neither had I for a long time. My previous experiences of flying to Australia included severe jet lag and taking a week to recover either end from the trip. All my Dad’s side of the family are Australian and live in Queensland so it was a trip to visit everyone and introduce them to my little boy who was by now, three years old.
Travelling on my own with my little boy was a completely new experience for me. I had always flown before with my husband so there were two pairs of hands which in theory is easier than one.
The main difficulty was carrying all the bags myself and my little boy at times. I’m a tiny 5ft 1 and my little boy is a heavy two and a half stone so carrying him and my luggage troubled me a little.
I bought a rucksack/backpack for the plane to put all our plane items in. My little boy had a small backpack to and we were good to go.
Here are eleven things I found really helpful to aid me travelling on my own:
1. Be organised.
I know that sounds a really obvious one but it really does pay off if you can be organised.
Know your schedule – flight times, stop times, connection times and expected arrival times and share them with your family and friends connected to your trip.
2. Take snacks/food for the plane
Take food with you. Lots of snacks and Ella’s pouches are ideal. If your child is over 2 years you are not allowed more than 100g though so bare that in mind. You can get mini bags of ritz crackers, rice cakes, bread sticks that are all great for travelling and don’t take up much room in your bag.
TOP TIP: Take an empty cup with a lid on it for drinks and ask the airline staff to fill it up for you.
3. Take activities to do that your child enjoys
Take things that your child enjoys that will keep them occupied.
My little one loves reading and this helps send him to sleep.
TOP TIP: Try to find pocket versions of books your little one loves as they are smaller and weigh less they are much easier to carry on flights.
4. Take a new child’s magazine
I took a couple of magazines that had activities in them to do that were great for doing together. They had games in, things to make and often little free toys which are always great to have as a new present.
5. Take your own child headphones
Take your own headphones for your little one but check first to see if they are compatible with the aircraft’s entertainment system. Look up your airline online to find out this information and check to see if they provide children headsets or not.
6. Sleep when your child sleeps.
This one is gold. If you try and stay awake when they sleep to get things done then you are only more sleep deprived and grouchy when they wake up. Nap when they do.
7. Take work you need to do on the flight
Take work you need to do on the flight. Make use of the inflight TV for your child and work away whilst they happily watch 3 hours of their favourite programmes without being asked to turn it off.
8. Download things before you go.
If you take an iPad make sure you download your content as no internet connection or wifi can leave you with a teary tantrum child when you least want it. Most parents probably already know this but I didn’t – you can’t download CBeebies out of the UK or channel five milkshake programs – so do it before you go!
9. Research the airports you are going to
Research the airports you are travelling to and find out what facilities they have available to you and your child.
10. Ask your airline for help
You can request help from the airline staff sometimes if you ask. I was told I didn’t qualify travelling on my own with a child but if you have more than one child you should or if you re travelling alone with a baby you most likely would to. Ask your travel agent for help with this or contact the airline.
11. Book an aisle seat in the middle of the plane.
Getting in and out of airline seats with an unknown person sat next you can be frustrating for all involved. If you can get two seats together on an aisle in the middle of the plane its much easier for you to access the toilet and get things out of the overhead locker as and when you need. There are two seats by the window at the back of the plane which you can pre-book if you’re super organised. TOP TIP: Don’t get the first set of two seats at the back of the plane because the connecting arm rest is fixed which isn’t great if you want your child to lay down to sleep.
My whole trip was actually more enjoyable flying with a three year old. The time went quicker. He was happy & I got some work done guilt free.
The hardest part was the transfer through the airports – Dubai was notoriously bad for this. Long queues through security were excruciatingly time consuming and not fun when your toddler decides to do a runner!
Singapore airport was amazing for things to do but I wish I had checked in somewhere to sleep and not visit the three soft plays at all three different terminals. I felt slightly sleep delusional by the time I got on the third leg of our trip.
Another little tip is have coins for the airport. I nearly cried when I arrived back to England and Birmingham airport wanted £2 coins for a baggage trolley and £1 coin for a buggy. Will power alone got me out of the baggage area with 2 suitcases, 2 lots of hand luggage, 1 toddler and 1 toddler sized kangaroo!
12. An extra tip – Have a support network either end.
Make sure you have family support either end to help you and your toddler recover from jet lag as it’s still a huge recovery process.
I hope these tips help you travel a little easier. If you would like to read anymore of my blogs you can find them at www.thepilatesphysio.co.uk where I write about my experiences of being a mum combined with my professional knowledge as a physiotherapist with a love of teaching Pilates to pregnant and post pregnancy ladies.
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