Does the thought of flying with kids seem too daunting?
To many, the work involved in flying with babies and toddlers feels like too much. For our family, however, it’s a part of our life. It’s a necessity because we have families living on opposite sides of the world – but also for the essential joy we get from travelling.
I’m not going to say it’s all a bed of roses, but for the long flights, I have some tips that will hopefully make it a little bit easier for you.
If you have a 24-hour trip and you have small children, I can’t recommend enough breaking up the journey with a layover. It can be just for the day or for overnight, but being able to take a break in between flights, and ensure everyone gets much-needed showers and sleep, makes a huge difference to your sanity and overall experience. We’ve done it both ways and we will never go back!
This might sound obvious, but when booking flights make sure to ask for the bulkhead to get a bassinet or extra leg room.
If we are driving at our destination, we always pack our booster and car seats (free to check in when travelling with small children). It’s more economical and although it’s more to carry, we find it’s worth the small trouble. We wrap our pram and car seats in big thick-plastic travel bags. Airlines such as Qantas provide them on international flights. Save them and reuse them on future flights. It saves your items from getting dirty and potentially damaged.
Once our boys were old enough, we bought them each a small pull bag at Kmart that they could pack themselves for the plane. Items such as: sleeping comfort item, a drink bottle, a few reading and activity books, small toys, head phones, and a few snacks. They love packing their bags and pulling them around in the airport.
A baby carrier is really useful for carrying around an infant hands-free.
In my bag I pack:
• Lots of snacks for everyone. Often, the kids don’t like the plane food (who does?!) and my bag of snacks comes in handy. It also helps to pass the time and keeps them busy. I pack trail mix, dried fruit, muesli bars, sultanas, homemade muffins, veggie sticks and fruit (to be consumed on the aircraft before landing), Baby Mum-Mums, cheese and crackers, cheerios, snack sizes of fruit in a cup or applesauce (such as the applesauce from Aldi with no added sugar). The important thing is for the snacks not to have too much salt or sugar!
• Water bottles and sippy cups, with extra water bottles purchased at the airport after security as some airlines don’t offer or sell bottled water (I have never enjoyed the taste of plane water!). I fill the kids’ water bottles up before the plane as well.
• A few extra activities the kids didn’t pack like play-dough, a card game such as Uno, a small new toy such as beading or a sticker/colouring book. Lego might seem like a good idea, but this can mean spending your flight rummaging between the seats for that missing piece!
• Change of clothes for each child including/especially socks and underwear (two sets for a baby/toddler) – accidents happen! Often I bring pajamas for the baby to make her feel more comfortable sleeping on an overnight flight.
• For an infant – I bring double to triple the number of nappies and wipes I expect I’ll need – one nappy for each hour is a good rule of thumb. The one time you don’t bring enough is the time they will need them! I pack a very small satchel nappy bag (I love my Babymel Change Station) with a change mat, nappies, wipes, and baggies which I can leave under the seat and easy to grab, with the extras in the overhead.
• Lots of dummies for the baby as they do go missing. A dummy strap is ideal for travelling, as well as other baby items such as bibs, bottles and milk if needed (flight attendants can warm it up), etc.
• Jumpers, blankets, small neck pillows, and socks to keep feet warm while sleeping
• iPads loaded up with kids TV and movies, phones, headphones, and a charger (portable battery recharger recommended)
• Headphones for yourself in case you get a blissful hour to yourself to watch a movie!
Always give yourself extra time when travelling with babies and young children. Everything takes longer. You’re travelling with so much stuff! We have had to repack our bags a few times to distribute weight, or wrap up our car seats and pram, carrying them to large item drop off, etc.
Be bold but not pushy – ask nicely if there are any empty seats on the plane and see if you can get seated next to one. They might be able to put a temporary hold on it. We have been able to get an extra seat for our lap-held baby a few times and it’s been a life-saver! You can use your capsule on the airplane if you have the extra seat, which is a God-send for overnight flights!
After security and before boarding the plane – walk, walk, walk! Let the kids run around and get as much exercise as possible. We don’t give any sugar before or on a long journey – it doesn’t help them to sit still.
Board the plane last! Sometimes we have one adult board the plane early so we can get fit everything into the overhead compartments, and the other adult stays with the kids so they can run around that little bit longer – anything to help them sit better on the plane.
On the Plane
If you have a toddler, especially between ages 1-2, you will be walking up and down the aisles a LOT.
For taking off and landing, make sure you get your baby sucking on a dummy or having a feed to help stabilize the pressure in their ears.
If you are travelling alone with an infant, the flight attendants will help you - whether it’s bringing you water, helping get items out of the overhead, or holding/watching your child while you use the toilet.
Hopefully baby and kids will all sleep if it’s an overnight flight!
Relax, it will be over soon!
If you are flying with a baby, toddler, or multiple young kids….before you get on the flight, tell yourself that the next 12 hours will not be pleasurable and it will be a lot of work, but the end result will be worth it! The memories you create with your family on holiday, especially in a different country, are ones with which you will carry forever.
Parenting, Travel, and Family Blog
Treads & Threads sells high quality, stylish and practical footwear for babies that stay on feet: Trumpette baby socks and Robeez Soft Soles shoes for babies and toddlers.
Blog articles focus on parenting, travel, and family, written by a Canadian mother of three living in Melbourne, Australia - owner of Treads & Threads.