As the holiday season approaches so does parental apprehension at the thought of flying with small children. I’ve already seen a few posts from mums on social media seeking advice so I’ve put together a few of my top tips.
As a family we love to travel, well maybe I should clarify, we love to holiday, the travel part is a means to an end. That coupled with the fact that we live in England and I’m originally from Ireland has led to us clocking up quite a few travel miles over the past two years. I’ve often flew on my own with Maisie so don’t let lone travel with a baby in tow put you off! As the old saying goes ‘Fail to prepare then prepare to fail!’
Pre Booking Advice
First of all, always, always book travel times around your child’s routine. You know your child’s temperament and mood so use this information when booking. Sometimes the price of a silly o’clock flight time can seem appealing but if you really want your day to be worth living it’s often best to pay a little extra. When it has came to booking package holidays in the past, we’ve ruled out entire countries as the flight times just didn’t suit! Also factor in the travel time to the airport, a 7.50am flight from Liverpool might sound ok but when you have to be at the airport an hour before and it’s a 2 hour drive, add on time to park the car and load the trolly and all of a sudden you’ve got a 4 o’clock wake up call! I find it’s best to fit travel times around naps, my ideal is that Maisie naps en route to the airport or home, or if it’s a longer flight then during the plane journey.
Secondly and also routine related is food and meals. Again use your child’s routine to plan these, I try to make sure Maisie eats at around the same time as she does at home and if you’re not sure that you’ll be somewhere with toddler friendly food then my advice would be to bring something. I’ve found it difficult to get relatively plain sandwiches at airports or on airplanes so I often bring one if I’m flying at lunch or tea time.
My next tip is also food related and that is snacks! Snacks, snacks and more snacks! Rice cakes, crackers, cheese, apples, bananas or whatever floats your little ones boat. Snacks will keep them distracted and from getting hangry. If you bring water or yoghurts, you will have to have these checked at security. Now that Maisie is older I tend to buy water at the airport to save time at security. Snacks are also really useful during landing and take-off for tiny ears. Maisie sometimes sucks on her dummy during this time and we’ve only ever had one bad flight with ear problems on landing.
I find it useful to bring plenty of distractions for the airport and the flight. I wouldn’t rely solely on the fact that your child will be watching what’s going on around them. I get Maisie to pack a little bag of her own but when packing remain conscious of the fact that you’ll probably be the one lugging all this gear around so try to pack lightly. I bring two small books or soft back ones, a sheet of stickers, a few crayons in a little poly bag and a small colouring book or few sheets of paper. I also bring a couple of Maisie’s small toys with movable parts and a few favourite toys, like her comforter and a doll. I would say that if your child is particularly attached to their comforter like Maisie is with her Sophie la Girafe then I recommend easing this away prior to going through security, this is something I’ve learned through bitter experience, Maisie never wants to put Sophie in the tray and I’ve had to pry it off her and deal with a screaming fit while trying to put my boots back on and grab all our belongings!
The Digital Nanny
Let’s not forget the well charged, cartoon and app loaded iPad or phone. This really will be your saving grace. I’ll say it again-well charged!
Give them a Heads Up
It will be helpful to describe whats happening and whats going to happen prior to the trip, this will get your little one excited about the trip but also put them at ease with the novelty of the situation. Try to use words they can understand. Maisie says ‘up in the sky’ and ‘fly like Buzz’ (Toy Story 2 reference) anytime I mention going on an airplane now. I repeat words and make it fun.
All of the above may sound like common sense but I recall scouring the web for tips on traveling with a baby in my early days and found that reading blogs such as my own really eased my worries.
Lastly and above all, enjoy it! Enjoy this novel experience with your little one and making new memories.