Tips, tricks and truths about travelling with a toddler – this has been a very popular subject and something I get asked a lot about and especially during our travels around California recently when we had our 20mth old daughter in tow. I’d like to help other parents or guardians of young children be prepared for the basic reality of a long haul flight and hopefully give them a chance to relax on their holiday.
“How did the 14 hour flight go?”
I’m not going to lie, it was pretty painful. From Sydney to LAX was 14 hours + travel to the airport (2hrs) + check in (30m) + boarding time (45m) all up I had to pack and plan enough food and entertainment for around 17 + hours.
We flew with United Airlines which don’t feed children nor offer any sort of family friendly facilities, this is something that didn’t really surprise me as it goes hand in hand with the budget prices we paid for the flights. Advice from mum of 3, Angela is “Phone and request a bulk head with a bassinet even for bigger babies, once asleep it’s great to put them down…I have had (this bulkhead attachment) with Qantas, Jetstar… but you have to pre-book it.”
The flight to LAX included lots of tears, tantrums and very little sleep for everyone on the plane. On the flight home we had people commenting on what an amazing jet setter our little girl was. The difference? The time we took off.
Flying to LA from Sydney we left at 1pm after a long 2hr trip to the airport, 1pm should have been nap time but no… there was no nap time that day. Things went from bad to worse when they turned all the cabin lights off and we were trying to coax her to sleep at around 4pm. We walked the isles trying to get her down but it was useless. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t get it to drink, so the saying goes and I am coming around to the idea that it is the same when it comes to getting your kid to sleep. You can only try and set the mood to make conditions perfect but the choice to close ones eyes and drift asleep is with them. Anyway, as you can imagine a dark vessel full of strangers with glowing tv monitors everywhere was certainly not perfect conditions. With just a wee 4 hours of the flight left to go she finally passed out with exhaustion.
Flying to Sydney from LA the flight took off at 10pm which is way, way, WAY past her usual bedtime of 7:30pm but we kept her up and occupied in the international terminal with new water books, magnet books and yes.. lollipops. By the time the flight was lifting off the tarmac our angel was going down for the big one. She woke once somewhere around 9 hours later and ate a little and played a little then she had another nap and was only just waking up when we were landing in Sydney.
Such different experiences to be had and the only difference was what time we took off, that and maybe by the end of the trip she was too tired to put up much fuss.
My Travel Essentials
- The thing I used every day and was so grateful to have was the Ergo Baby Carrier, I can’t talk for other brands as I have only had this one, and it’s all kinds of awesome. Not only does it distribute weight well, it looks good and it’s comfortable. It folds down to nothing and you can wear it on your front, your side or your back. You can get all sorts of extra’s like newborn wrap, teething pads and the backpack. Check them out at Ergobaby.com.au or try to pick one up second hand like I did as they are quite expensive to buy new.
- Staying at hotels and travelling long stretches at a time can be tricky when it comes to packing good, nutritious food, but with the Apple and Mint Insulated Lunch Bag it was easy to keep the food and milk fresh. It comes with a cooling panel that you freeze before slipping it into a rear panel to keep everything cool and fresh. It’s not bad on the eye either with a Scandi look in washable coated linen. It also boasts to be PVC free, BPA free, lead-free, non-toxi and earth safe. Check them out at appleandmint.com
- What I have been taking with us for big car trips, plane rides and visits is a hanging toiletry case full of toys, you know the ones that are made for travelling with all the compartments? Well I fill ours up with snacks, books, crayons, stickers, pipe cleaners and other small items and just opening and closing the sections is fun initially.
Tried and Tested by Travelling Parents
I asked the people in a post on our Facebook page for some tried and tested activities and their tips for travelling with their little ones and here they are.
- A puppet made out of a sick bag provides endless entertainment
- Apps on an ipad with noise cancelling earphones can be a saviour
- Tozzle is fab for toddlers, a puzzle game
- Colouring in books
- Carry as little as possible, it’s hard enough carrying your kid!
- Phone ahead or log in online and order the kids meal
- Take a straw or a sippy cup
- Sucking on something (water bottle, milk bottle, boobs, lolly pop) during take off and landing helps ears equalise
Lastly, don’t let your life stop because you have had a family, yes it can be a bit tricky and even a bit hellish at times (thank you United Airlines) but looking back at everything that was only 14 hours from a 3 week trip of a lifetime.
Thank and all the best for your next trip with the kid/s and I hope this article has helped give you some ideas.
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