Our flying with kids guide is back due to popular demand. A blow by blow manual to surviving your tyrants at 35,000 feet. This time our flying with kids guide is for the almost 3-year-olds but it doesn’t mean some of the basics won’t apply to you. You can also click here for our 4-6-month-old guide, 9-12 month old oh and less I forget the dreaded toddler.
Flying with kids
SLEEP I’m always nervous the day before I fly no matter how many flights I get. I worry about the packing, the taxi not turning up, Oscar being sick. You name it I worry about it! That’s why I try and limit the late nights a few days before travel. I can’t stress this enough, number one piece of advice is, get some sleep. Traveling is exhausting, travel with kids doubly so and nothing makes it worse than a short fuse.
KEEP IT REAL Even though Oscar has taken more flights than he’s had hot dinners (he hates hot food so technically this is not hard) we always talk about our travel day ahead. Kids, just like adults like to be informed. Telling your children what the day ahead will entail and what you expect from them is a great way to normalize the day. Sticking to your routine will help avoid any meltdowns and also make a long flight fly by. I know sorry I couldn’t resist I love a pun. On long haul flights we eat breakfast, we take our nap, we have mummy and Oscar time and read our bedtime books.
Flying with kids
MUM BAG For anyone who has read this blog before you might know I’m a fan of the “less is more” policy. I spent the first 6 months of baby travel with nappies, wipes, a baby carrier and a set of boobs. It’s hard to believe but as a single travel mum, this was the way forward I had both hands free.Our move to the western hemisphere has 100% made it harder to ignore some of the cool stuff that’s available I still try to keep paraphernalia to a minimum if nothing else just so I carry less. This is what I always have to hand
- A travel stroller/pram – We chose overhead locker size an essential when you land and have to walk 100 miles to luggage and passport control.
- A refillable water bottle – empty it before security, refill at the fountain before boarding.
- Snacks – nothing too messy. No chocolate and no crackers.
- Extra change of clothes and pyjamas – accidents happen, I find that they happen about ten times more on a plane :). The psychology of putting on pyjamas is also undeniable.
- A sense of humor and fun – bring it, bring your best, funniest mum on board that flight. Nobody gives you funny disapproving looks when you and your kiddos are laughing your asses off at your own jokes.
KIDS BAG Yes, we have an iPad, we do use it and it is a godsend but Oscar also gets involved with his own bag of fun. Our latest long haul flight was from Berlin to NYC a total of around 7 hours. We started getting ready a few weeks before. Oscar got to choose his own bag then we picked out cheap and cheerful items at various dollar stores. Oscar then packed his own bag the day before. He chooses his favorite books, small toys and favorite coloring pencils. By picking things he wanted rather than me I really noticed a difference. He really was entertained way longer. Winning items were:
- A dinosaur excavation kit. I think this killed a full hour.
- The claw hand. I think I enjoyed this the most.
- Melissa & Doug’s ” Water WoW”. Reveal secret pictures by water painting. 3 months later still a hit.
- A new backpack. The novelty of packing, unpacking and carrying his own bag still hasn’t worn off.
Flying with kids
“UP IN THE AIR”
One mistake I see lots of people make when traveling with kids is to constantly tell them to be quiet and behave. This is so hard when you’re three. You are supposed to be silly and energetic and curious. We always factor in some Oscar time at intervals in the journey, if we can we find a place to run around at the airport we play catch and sometimes this might just be running to the gate. I also make sure we get up when we are at cruising speed to walk around, investigate the plane and perhaps make some friends along the way. Nothing spells winning more than two three years old building lego together in relative harmony.
Once we land there is a tendency to think all the hard work is over but then there’s immigration. We recently visited the USA and spent 2 hours waiting in line. After an 8 hour flight I wanted to start crying, let alone Oscar. Still, this was not my first rodeo. I try to keep a secret weapon for these nightmares. Oscar loves Curious George so I always keep back one book or one season of his favorite cartoon on the iPad. With all the best will in the world and a million tricks up your sleeve, there still might be an unexpected hurdle but remember. Traveling with kids can be hilarious and unexpected and the reward is the amazing memory you will treasure together for years to come. They will not remember the new couch you bought when they were three. A little summary:
Flying with kids
Don’t forget your kids feel your energy. I know I go on about this but your positive mental attitude if your secret weapon, that and being prepared, see above. Of course, there are bumps in the road and no journey will ever be spent reading your magazine, downing 3 gin and tonics, crying through a rom-com and waking up with your mouth open. Get over it! Adjusting your expectations and realizing the entire journey start to finish will not be about you is key.
- Stay positive
- Plan for all eventualities
- Give yourself plenty of time
- Allow your kids to let off steam
- Roll with the punches
We would as always love to hear from you and any advice you might have to share with the travel mum community. Please feel free to comment below.