Traveling with kids is awesome, but without sounding too negative, it is also hard work.
Over the past three years we have done numerous trips with Isabella (now 3.5 years) and since Cooper (10 months) has been born we’ve done two with two kids. We’ve made some rooky mistakes, and we’ve had some disaster flights. Such as when Isabella was 13 months old, tired, and needed to sleep, but wouldn’t on me. After screaming down the plane, she finally fell asleep on the floor of the plane by the cockpit toilets and exit. Thankfully the airline staff were amazing and let her sleep there – while we sat with her to ensure no one stepped on her. Now, that was stressful!
Top tips for traveling with kids.
Try to book seats with the bassinet for babies. We fly Wellington to Brisbane often which is Virgin Australia 737-800 which doesn’t have bassinets.
We are traveling long haul when Cooper is 14 months, we have booked him a seat and plan to take his car seat for him to sleep in overnight on the plane. I’ll blog more on that later in 2017 once I can comment.
Fly around sleep schedules. We have always opted for day/early morning flights for our Noosa holidays, as the kids would have a small nap on the plane, and then a long nap on the car ride from Brisbane to Noosa (1.5-2 hours).
Prepare your toddler my talking to them about what is happening and what is expected of them.
Ditch the nappy bag and opt for a backpack for handsfree juggling.
Pack your backpack with lots of large snaplock bags. Categorise your items, for example, a nappy change packet, toy packet, snacks, change of clothes, muslins etc. That way when you are digging around in the bag everything is contained and easy to find.
Brings me to my next tip. Purchase a buggy/stroller bag like this one here. Place the buggy, spare nappies, food and extras in the bag. We take enough nappies and food to get us through the next day only, knowing that we will get to a supermarket pretty promptly on arrival. Less things to take.
Food. Food. Food. Take lots of snacks on board. Take a variety of favourite snacks and new snacks for entertainment.
Treats/bribes. For the toddler, what really gets them going? For our girl it is Kinder surprise eggs and lollipops. Use them as bribes or positive re-enforcement.
iPad with a NEW movie, and noise cancelling headphones. We didn’t use the iPad on our most recent trip, but it has been known to be a life saver. Such as below, when Isabella was having a melt down, so she lay on the floor with the iPad only to promptly fall asleep… with it on her face.
Money. On Virgin Australia you can buy food. Take the time with your toddler to look at the menu, peruse, get them to say the names of all of the things, and then pick something to buy. Press the call button, give the toddler the money, and get the toddler to buy their snack. Again, a little experience that can buy you time.
Nappies. For wriggly babies, take both pull ups and normal nappies. Pull ups are great if they are wriggling in the bathroom change area.
Feeding cover. Feeding covers are great for on the plane, I would imagine even for bottle feeding Mum’s, as baby can sleep in the dark underneath the feeding cover without plane distractions. I got mine from Breastmates.
Prepare toys. Wrap up old and new toys in gift wrap to buy time. Look for little and light toys like these ones.
Change of clothes of the kids, and yourself. A tipped water will ruin your trip, a poo explosion, or, you may lose your luggage. Pack a spare pair of underwear and contact lenses if need for yourself also, as you can generally cope wearing the same clothes as yesterday.
Lastly, prepare yourself and your traveling companions mentally. Having a chat about a plan of attack is worthwhile. But then, completely forget about it and relax. The nature of traveling is that often things are out of your hands. A delayed flight, or an unexpected cancellation. Or, simply, your child does not do well on the flight. All of these things are better managed if you are relaxed and calm.
Have fun, it’s such a treat to get away as a family, I know we always return with a renewed family connection and the kids learn and develop with each trip.