We’re an expat family living overseas so our summer holidays (and many Christmas ones) involve long flights back home to the UK. On average, the journey door to door takes 24 hours. I have always hated the long flight back – however flying with young children (and at one point, three kids under 5) – things were taken to a whole new level.
However much I try to tell myself otherwise, travelling on long haul flights with kids IS NOT FUN! Not one minute of it. It’s stressful and exhausting and literally I have seen myself cry my way through it. There are ways however to make it bearable… and despite what Pinterest says, this is nothing to do with bags of pom-poms, homemade sensory games or anything else along those lines. Believe me, the last thing you need when your bag is already stretched to bursting is to add random ‘fun’ bags to the mix!
Put down the pom poms
To make flying with young children bearable, it’s vital to make things simple for yourself. For toddlers, go heavy on the snacks (keep sugar highs at a minimum though), buy them a cheap present or two for bribery (this ALWAYS works) and of course make sure your devices are charged with battery packs and chargers on standby.
Young babies don’t require much more than usual. They will sleep, eat, have a little cry, need changing and then go through it all again – for the entire flight. If they sleep in the bassinet, lucky you – but if not, they’ll sleep on you. I never travelled without my Ergobaby. Any baby carrier will do, as it will not only free your hands up, but will also allow you to nod off without the worry of dropping your little bundle of loveliness!
I’ve put together a list of the most essential items for travelling with babies, toddlers and young kids. You can find it here.
Tantrums and breakdowns
I’ve had my fair share of dramas on planes. Our kids, who are all seasoned travellers now, have had some of the most spectacular tantrums up in the air. I’ve hidden in toilets with them, cried my eyes out in despair and bribed my way through with the promise of literally anything they want! All while being covered in vomit, food, milk and anything else they’ve spilled over me.
However, we are now on the other side. Our kids are old enough to keep themselves entertained on the flight. Who wouldn’t? It’s literally uninterrupted iPad time, with an endless supply of snacks – never heard of at any other time in their daily life!
If your kids are happy and settled, you’ll have a much better flight. Do whatever you have to ensure as easy a journey as possible for you all. It’s only one day out of your life so it doesn’t do any harm to break your own rules.
Finally, as hard as it may be, try not to worry and take deep breaths. In your moments of deepest despair, look around and you may be surprised. There’s usually a fellow parent or two around, ready to share a sympathetic nod, a few words of encouragement or even a helping hand.
I’ve had some horrendous experiences and found myself in quite unbelievable circumstances when flying with young children. The minute you’re off that plane though, they become anecdotes. Funny little tales that one day you’ll be able to laugh (or not) at. I’ve been attacked, forgotten my luggage, lost my purse and almost been arrested in transit. Yet we’re all still here to tell the tales.