We just got back from our first family holiday abroad. I’d been looking forward to this holiday for a year but the closer it got, the more I started to worry about spending 10 hours on a plane with a very active (and very vocal) toddler. It was the first time Ollie had ever been on a plane, and I was actually surprised by how quiet and well behaved he was! There were however, a few things we learnt along the way which made the return flight a lot smoother!
So, here are my tips for flying with toddlers:
Prepare them as much as you can
Spending hours on a plane can be boring for anyone. Imagine being a toddler, being confined to a small space and being asked not to make too much noise. Ollie is pretty noisy and energetic at the best of times, so I was really worried how this would go down!
One thing we did before our trip was try and explain what was going to happen to Ollie. He’s been fascinated with vehicles of all kinds for the past year and he loves it when he spots an aeroplane flying in the sky. So, we made a big deal of telling him we’d be flying on one in the run up to the holiday. We explained what was happening throughout check-in and security – he thought it was great that they were x-raying his panda!
Give them their own carry-on luggage
On most flights, kids are allowed a piece of carry on luggage, especially if you’re flying long haul. I bought Ollie a Trunki and it was SO perfect for our trip. I packed it full of stuff just for him – snacks, sticker books, colouring pages, toys and spare clothes. Not only did it free up my hand luggage for my own stuff, but he loved the fact he had something that was just for him. The fact that he could sit on it in the airport and we could pull him round was an added bonus! It was also great for bringing back fragile souvenirs as it has a hard case.
Pack plenty of snacks
If your toddler is anything like mine, they have a tendency to get hangry pretty quickly. All food and drinks were included on our flight, but Ollie is pretty fussy and basically refused every part of his inflight meal apart from the bread roll and cheese. I’d packed some pouches, and toddler friendly snacks which kept him going. It’s also really handy in case you get delayed, as it can save you a small fortune on airport prices!
I also took a sports bottle for Ollie which was really useful as drinks were served in open plastic cups – disaster waiting to happen with a toddler in a small space!
Make sure they’re comfy
It may sound simple but it can make a huge difference. Make sure the clothes they travel in are comfortable and pack some spares. Ollie travelled in joggers, a tshirt and jumper but I also packed his Paw Patrol onesie which was great to change him into when he got a bit sleepy. I also packed his favourite teddy in his Trunki, which helped him settle down enough to have a good snooze.
Take your own headphones
One thing we didn’t think about on the flight out was headphones to watch the in-flight entertainment. We used the free ones the airline provided, but it didn’t occur to me that they wouldn’t fit or stay in a toddler’s ears very well! We basically spent most of the flight holding them in for him, which was a great arm workout but not so good for relaxing! While we were in America, we picked up a pair of over the head, Paw Patrol headphones which were so much better.
Get organised and arrive early
When you’re travelling with kids there are so many things that can slow you down. Whether it’s them wanting food, dealing with a poonami or an epic tantrum, or even leaving their favourite toy somewhere and spending half an hour scouring duty free for it. If you can, try and get to the airport early to reduce your stress levels. We had a nightmare checking our luggage in just because the airline was really unorganised, but because we got there early, we had enough time to deal with it and not get too stressed!
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