You live and learn! This is our current top ten of what to do when flying with small children – many of which have been learnt the hard way 😂
- Leave extra time for everything!
- Travel day = treat day
- Old toys disguised as gifts
- Kid on the lap? Bring a small pillow!
- One parent board early – the other (plus kids) as late as possible
- Keep the hands free
- Unlimited screen time
- Sleep when sleep is on offer
- Make use of floors
- Wear/bring comfortable clothes
With some more details:
1) Leave extra time for everything – lets face it; doing almost anything with kids takes time, and extra time will prevent that frantic “We’re-going-to-miss-the-flight” run through the airport – where you through clenched teeth try to manage passports, boarding passes, x-number of hand-luggage’s all while dragging along unwilling kids…
While this might be fun for onlookers it’s not one we wish to repeat 😂 It was following an episode like that (I have a tendency to be on the over positive side with time…) that we made a rule of being in the airport three hours before long haul and two for shorter flights.
2) Travel day = treat day – bring lots of snacks – a hangry (oh yes its a real thing) family member is not much fun and traveling can be dreary enough even without that, so travel day means treat day 😜 However, to avoid complete sugar rush we try add in some fresh fruit and veg. Think non sticky/non mushy; like carrot and cucumber sticks (that normally even the pickiest of kids will eat), or satsumas and apples – packed in small containers. Don’t forget a lolly for bigger kids for take of and landing to avoid hurting ears, and for babies that aren’t breastfeeding having a bottle at start of taxing and landing can save many a tears. But don’t wake a sleeping baby- they don’t feel the pressure in the sleep!
3) Old toys disguised as gifts – wrap up (newspaper works fine if you don’t have gift paper at home) some old toys (preferably not tiny things that you will spend hours picking up from the floor)Then on the flight there is the game of “which toy came with us?” And as by magic old toys can divert tantrums simply by using a bit of newspaper. Our four year old loves this and nowadays jumps up and down on the flight awaiting her first “gift” 🙂
4) Kid on the lap? Bring a small pillow! – gone are the days when all airlines offered pillows… And a small pillow can be a lifesaver – especially when travelling with an under-2 on your lap. Its of course great for sleepy heads but also for sharp armrests (especially when breastfeeding). I swear by the IKEA infant pillows, they are small, thin and cost next to nothing! As for travelling with infants something that is not on the list but a given is the bassinet seat – if you have a baby and its within the weight limits make sure to request it – they are needles to say fab!
5) One parent board early – the other (plus kids) as late as possible – while many airlines offer priority boarding for families this confines the kids to the airplane up to an hour extra.We find it much better letting the kids spend that hour outside of the plane – especially if you are lucky enough to be in an airport with dotted around playgrounds by the gates! To divide the parents (one boarding early) has two bonuses: 1) the kids can run around that extra time 2) the parent boarding early can set everything up so when the kids arrive all items are where they need to be – which saves a lot of hassle!! Great tip from Pamela’s blog!
6) Keep the hands free – before having kids I didn’t realise how many hands I would need. Using a carry sling for babies keeps both hand free, as does having a rucksack for the hand luggage. Another tip related to hand luggage is to pack similar things together so you don’t have to rummage through the whole bag to find that pesky thing you need that always seems to be on the bottom – a separate blog on hand luggage packing will follow!
7) Unlimited screen time – travel day means unlimited screen time for the Swelshies. If you want to apply the same rule make sure to download the kids favourite tv-shows in advance as well as some offline friendly games. But don’t forget headphones, it might be that your neighbour does not take an interest in a two hour Paw Patrol marathon 🙂 If you have an iphone the memories function (open photos and press the middle button) is nice for making little videos that the kids will appreciate. For tiny travellers I would be inclined to spend a few coins on something tailored for babies; I love Swedish Babyloonz TV and so does our seven month old, even the loudest of cries (normally) stops when she hears one of their songs.
8) Sleep when sleep is on offer – at home there are always must-do’s, but on a flight – not so many. And if you have an under-2 on the lap that falls asleep; make sure to catch some shut eye yourself. Otherwise you will probably spend ten minutes trying to select a movie, another ten to locate the earphones – all with shuffled movements to not awake the baby – and just as you get into the movie – guess what; baby is awake. A great tip related to this is night flights – if you are lucky the kids will sleep most of the flight, but pack entertainment for the opposite just to be on the safe side 🙂
9) Make use of floors – whenever and wherever. If you are traveling with a baby some belly time and a change of perspective can do wonders on their mood and burn of some energy 🙂
We always bring one or two sarongs to make sure there is something clean to put down and normally the big one joins the little one 🙂 As for on the flight a makeshift bed (using a small pillow and a sarong) on the floor can be both exciting and a godsend if you are travelling with an under-2 on the lap. Also make use of the aisles; walks up and down in between trolley service is always existing and you might even end up meeting friends!
10) Wear/bring comfortable clothes – Gareth and Leni before kids dressed up for travelling (within reason 😂) – but as parents you quickly come to realise that comfort outweighs fashion and for long haul we always bring along comfy clothes to change into on the flight. If you do manage to catch a bit of that precious sleep its far nicer to do so in a comfy pair of sweatpants than in jeans 🙂 Also a pair of warm socks can be nice as some long haul flights can be on the cold side.
That was all for now! Hope that you find some of these useful and if you have other tips that helped you during flights please let us know – we are very grateful to receive more!