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Flying With A Toddler: How to Manage Long Haul

I used to love flying. Airports were one of my favourite places. Oh the excitement, the adventure, the shear joy of watching back to back movies and tearing my way though a TBR list without a care in the world. There was a time I used to say I’d love to live in nice hotels and just travel around the world… and I meant it.

Isn’t it funny how a place you once loved can become a destination of utter dread. How for weeks prior to a trip you can stress yourself out so entirely, wondering how you will get through the experience. It’s the reality of traveling with kids.

Before Thor’s second birthday I’d already taken him on two twenty-six hour round trips to London, a trip from Perth to Brisbane and four trips from Brisbane to Sydney… by myself. To this end I figure I’m in a pretty good position to pass on some of my thoughts, findings and tips to anyone about to embark on a journey that’s making them all kinds of crazy… the long haul kind. Hope it helps! Feel free to share your tips too in the comments below!

The mindset:

  1. Try not to stress. This is easier said than done, but what I’ve found is this: People can be asses. Particularly on an enclosed aircraft. Give them the attention they deserve, ie zero, and you’ll have moved past the worst of it before you’ve even begun.

  2. Believe this: In addition to point one, people can also be bloody legends. There will often be at least one person on your trip you want to hug, because they have restored your faith in humanity. I can still recall each and every awesome human being I encountered on those flights and you know what… I maybe vaguely remember one of the dozen a-holes!

  3. Tell yourself you can do it! Tell yourself this whenever you’re unsure or starting to worry – particularly if you don’t have your partner with you. Whatever happens, just remember, you gave birth! You’ve got this.

The practical stuff:

Depending on how old your child is, there are ways to minimise his/her discomfort and boredom and give you a little downtime. I found traveling with a baby in arms much easier than with a toddler, as you can imagine, so here are my toddler tips:

  1. Buy a toy with buckles and clips and save it for the flight. Hours of fun for everyone. Click here to see the one I bought.

  2. Take an iPad and load up with age-appropriate games and movies. This is a no brainer. What isn’t a no brainer is baby headphones. My son wore mine, but I found out later you can buy them for toddlers, which would’ve helped a lot!

  3. Take pens and a pad, but either take quite a few or buy one where the pen is attached to the pad! Basically, stuff gets dropped into an abyss in which you’ll never find it again.

  4. Stickers… and a place to stick them. Enough said.

  5. Take snacks, but try to minimise the sugary kind. It’s very tempting to pump them with stuff you know they will love when it’s time to sit still and be quiet, but you won’t enjoy the resulting sugar-high madness on such an enclosed space. Fruit, fruit based snacks, plain crackers etc… you get the idea.

  6. Book them a seat. A lot of airlines let infants under two fly for free if they are on your lap. 26 hours on your lap? F-that!

  7. Ask for extra pillows and blankets. Always helpful when little ones want to lie down as you can try to create more comfort with layers.

  8. Gently massage the sides of your little one’s face, right by their ears during takeoff and landing. I found this really helped relieve any pressure.

Take it as it comes

Lastly, I want to highlight that I worked myself up a lot before these trips, but my little boy was actually an angel. I’d made it so much worse in my mind. Long haul trips can be tough for any adult so for a child to sit still and behave for such a long time is a lot to ask, but somehow he really did.

Remember, you’re not the first or the last to do it. Staff are always on hand to help and wherever you’re going it’s bound to be worth the effort.

Happy traveling!


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