In April this year our family of four spent two weeks over seas in the US. Here’s five things we learnt about flying with kids.
1. Where do you sit!?
When we booked our flights to the US, we debated over whether it was worth paying the extra money to book the bassinet row. Our youngest was 15 months at the time, and I knew he probably wouldn’t sleep in the bassinet, but wanted the option to at least try it…. He spent a grand total of 45 minutes out of our total 36 hours of flight time, sleeping in the bassinet…. it turns out he likes to move in his sleep and there’s no room in the bassinets for an 11kg toddler! What being in the bassinet row DID do for us was provide some extra leg space, and more importantly floor space for him to move around on. He was able to play at our feet and move about a bit, and we had room to move when tending to both of our boys. It was a life saver!
2. What do you do!?
We don’t have an iPad, but we do have smart phones and we had loaded them with movies and apps for Mr 4 to keep him entertained on the flight…. I don’t think we even got them out of the bag! The novelty of the in flight entertainment and having his own personal screen was enough to keep him occupied. On the advice of our friend though, we did pack our own headphones, which I would highly recommend. Kids sized ones for the littlies too! For those who are too young or restless to sit and watch a movie though…. an iPad or tablet and a few new toys for them to play with will go a long way. Oh, and if you think you’re going to be able to watch a movie through…. think again 😉
3. What do you eat!?
Jet lag really affects kids and their eating. Mr 4 didn’t touch his in flight food and Mr 15 months also barely ate for the first week we were away… I wouldn’t push or get too stressed over the issue though, they will start eating normally again! What we did do was take a box full of snacks for the kids, both for on the plane and also to have when we got there. Food that’s familiar and we knew they would eat is great, keep a great stash on you the whole time because when travelling in an unknown place things have a great way of taking longer than expected! On a side note… if you are travelling with a child who has allergies, make sure you notify the airline at the time of booking, not only of the allergy but of how severe the allergy is AND notify your attendants at the gate.
4. What do you take?
Drinks: There are quite heavy restrictions placed on liquids for international flights, but, when travelling with an infant you are exempt from most of these.
Stroller/Pram: We were flying to the US and decided not to take our pram with us, and that we would pick up a cheap one when we got there. If I was flying anywhere else though, I would have taken it with me. You can keep your pram with you virtually until you step foot on to the aircraft, and if you’re lucky it will be waiting at the door for you when you step off the flight too. At some airports though, you will have to collect it with your luggage.
Warmth: Regardless of your ultimate destination, planes can get quite cold. While they do provide blankets on the plane if you’re a person that feels the cold, I’d recommend layering up! For you, and for the little ones!
5. What next!?
Rest! Allow yourself a day when you arrive to just be able to relax and take it slow! Don’t make big plans, and give the kids a chance to start adjusting. And, most of all… make sure you extend your holiday by a couple of days when you get home. Travelling with kids is hard work and incredible exhausting! Take a couple of days at home to take it easy and get back into routine and good sleeping habits. Jet lag was much kinder to our family on the way home than on the way over, but we pretty much all slept in the 1 room for the whole time we were away, which inevitably leads to some bad sleeping habits! Breaking those habits will all take time, and how long will obviously depend on the age and the child! Mr 4 was back to good in a few days… Mr 15 months took a bit longer!
But, wherever you’re off to – ENJOY!
Kathryn is a stay at home wife and mother to her loving husband and 2 beautiful boys. She is passionate about her family, as well as supporting and helping all those parents out there who are doing their best in this most challenging role in life. To see all of Kathryn’s articles, click here.