The first time we travelled as a family our daughter was 5 months old and we travelled from the UK to Norway to introduce her to the rest of the tribe. I remember being very nervous about how the fight would go, and if she would cry or if her ears would hurt, or perhaps we would experience a poonami mid-flight (you know what I’m talking about). The distance between Norway and UK isn’t that far, but because my hometown is fairly remote shall we say, we often have a connecting flight at Oslo. And this was the case with our first family flight too.
We were lucky enough to travel with my husband’s parents, so there were multiple people to help out should it be necessary. I remember sitting down on the plane with her on my lap, and getting the first ever run-through of how to use an infant life vest. I hadn’t even though about that, and that made me even more anxious. Of course when you pop a child out you suddenly start worrying about absolutely everything, and you have probably imagined every worst possible scenarios in your head a hundred times. Of course I am going to have to know how to use the life vest, this is the time the plane is going to fall straight out of the sky for no apparent reason, plummeting down into certain death… I could almost picture the news broadcast. These are obviously mum-worries, the kind of useless worries mums have, but not dads. Even though I’m not a particularly nervous flyer, the anxiety has increased somewhat with children, and I have imagined every possible way of managing to hold on to child if the plane were to fall down. Anyway, i digress. Mum-worries will be another post.
I had planned my outfit the for the flight, so I could easily access the boob from each side, and I had a blanket with me and enough nappies to last an entire week in my hand luggage. The plane took off with my worries curbed and under control, and the baby firmly attached to the boob. She was happy being fed and didn’t really take notice of anything else. She eventually fell asleep as babies tend to do and our first ever flight was a success. I was so happy when we landed, we had made it to Norway! Just one more flight before we were home.
I boarded the second plane with slightly more confidence. 15 minutes before landing we were presented with a mighty poonami… The lights were turned off and we had to remain in our seats. I could feel it leaking through the sides of the nappy, and the wet patch crept higher and higher until it was all the way up her back. I remember getting a muslin out of the changing bag and wrapping her up a couple of times before we finally landed. At this point there was nothing else to do but laugh at the whole situation. As soon as the door was opened I pretty much ran out of the plane, leaving my husband behind to deal with the luggage etc. while i located the bathroom. I’m pretty sure I had to wash her in the sink. It was everywhere! But we had made it, and we had done it.
Since then i have travelled across several times alone with my daughter, and mostly it has been easy. Some times it has been challenging, mostly due to sheer amount of luggage for one adult to travel with, and a couple of times due to the stage between baby and toddlerhood. However difficult it might be, or might appear, the bottom line is it is so worth it. Travelling with your children is something you will alway appreciate, and even if the journey is a bit bumpy you will always get there.
Along the ride i have picked up some tips and tricks for a smoother journey, and i thought i would share them with you here.
- Carry your baby! Get yourself a decent carrier, the best one you can afford. You won’t regret it. Try out a few before deciding which one is best for you. Carrying your baby through the airport really makes it so much easier. And drop the fancy changing bag. What you need is a rucksack! If you have an older baby/toddler that sits comfortably in a stroller, considering bringing that instead of a big bulky pushchair (unless you really need it of course). You can take this all the way to the gate and check it in there.
- You don’t need as many nappies and changes in your hand luggage as you think. Be realistic, think about how many times you change your baby a day. Then bring a couple more for emergencies. But you probably don’t need 10 nappies for one child (however please take the length of your journey into consideration of course, we have only travelled within Europe).
- A spare t-shirt for yourself, you never know if you are going to get puked on. Or if a poonami occurs on your lap…
- A scarf can double as a blanket, don’t bother bringing a big blanket unless you’re travelling in the middle of the winter and you know its going to be freezing. But perhaps then consider dressing your child in something warmer? When it comes to hand luggage, less is more i have learnt.
- When the plane takes off, pop that boob/bottle/dummy in! Sucking/swallowing helps with potential ear issues and calms your baby.
- For toddlers, bring a whole lot of stickers with backs that they have to peel off themselves (or something equally small and fiddly). Every second they are occupied with something counts with a toddler…
- Snacks, lots of snacks. For everyone! If they won’t eat “proper food, they’ll probably slurp down a couple of Ella’s Kitchen pouches. You definitely don’t want a hungry (angry) child. And make sure you feed yourself too!
- Emergency surprise for toddler, something that you can magically provide when the going gets tough.
- Most importantly, prepare toddler ahead for what’s gonna happen. It’s so much easier if the toddler is excited about what’s gonna happen, and has been involved in planning the journey. Talk about planes, talk about how it feels when the plane takes off, ask them to find a small toy that they can pack with them. For us and our oldest daughter this has been so beneficial because she been prepared and involved. Toddlers get difficult when you change their routines, and if you suddenly spur a trip to the airport on them they may not find it as exciting as you do. Of course you can’t do this with babies, but in my experience the baby is pretty content being carried, fed and dry. And in flight i constantly feed. Any sign of distress and the boob is popped in.
- ALWAYS have a coin of whatever currency for the baggage trolly! Always.
Have you travelled with children? If so, what are your experiences? Perhaps you have something you want to add to the list?