Long haul flight coming up?
Get ready with our travel tips for toddlers!
By Rebekah Smyth, Contributing Editor
Desperate to break free of that daily grind and to escape to that that overseas destination? Worried about that long haul flight it will take to get there? Our contributing editor, Rebekah Smyth has done it…and survived..! Read about her great travel tips for toddlers.
It’s a perilous mission you seek to undertake. Hazardous, onerous and difficult it will undoubtedly be. At times it may require Herculean effort. People will call you mad, and let’s face it, you probably are to even contemplate this endeavour. Yet, at all times, the uppermost thing in your mind MUST be your Prime Objective: getting your child to sleep.
Even while the ink is still drying on the e-tickets for your long-haul flight, consider joining the airline’s club. Thanks to modern security measures, you’ll be required to check-in at the airport about a gazillion hours before the flight’s scheduled departure. Therefore, a comfortable place with food, beverages, television, newspapers and Wi-Fi can be a godsend during the interminable wait for boarding to be called. Plus, if you have time between connecting flights, you can also have a shower to freshen up. Membership is often cheaper than an airport hotel room, so even if you use the club just a couple of times, it’s paid for itself.
Next comes seat selection, which is half the ballgame. If you don’t have the wherewithal to be up the pointy end of the plane, then you need to be smart about how you play this. You don’t want to be too close to the galley as it’s a certified nap killer. But you do need some proximity to the toilet, as an accident in a hermetically sealed fuselage will not endear you to your neighbours. Airlines charge hefty amounts to choose the most popular seats, such that you might as well have sold that kidney for the business class fare. So get in early and pick the best spots available for your needs that don’t attract a fee.
To save what’s left of your precarious sanity, pack an activity bag of things to amuse your cherub during the flight. Nobody wants their kid glued to Spongebob Squarepants for 15 hours, even if it is keeping them quiet. Small colouring books, crayons, little tubs of play dough, sticker books, story books and small toys can all be bought cheaply and easily stashed in carry-on. Dole them out at intervals along the trip. Warning: resist introducing something new while the last item is still doing the trick. You never know how quickly the next thing might lose its novelty value, and you want as much up your sleeve as possible.
Airsickness can be an issue for some youngsters. You may be a fan of The Exorcist, but no one needs a pint-sized re-enactment at 30,000 feet. Children’s remedies for motion sickness are available from pharmacies, some of which have the added benefit of inducing drowsiness. If you’re lucky, well-timed medication can mean an undisturbed meal and glass of wine or two for Mum and Dad. Win! Also consider some barley sugar for whippersnappers to suck during take off and landing in case the pressure causes sore ears.
Food is potentially a minefield with any toddler. If only I had a frequent flyer point for every time my munchkin begged for a particular food, only to insist she doesn’t like it the minute it’s served to her. Airlines offer children’s meals, so make sure you have them in your booking. You’ve got a much better chance of getting your child fed, and therefore to sleep, if they’re served something designed for their age-group. Even adventurous eaters may baulk at the national cuisine of the exotic airline you’re flying with, and hungry kids are whiny kids. Avoid whining at all costs.
Dress your kids in stretchy clothes with a few layers. Make sure they’re not too hot or cold to feel comfortable and therefore have something else to whine about. Clothes that are comfortable to sleep in are ideal. But also put pajamas in the carry on as changing into them can be a psychological aid in getting children to sleep. Also a paperback copy of a favourite bedtime story can work wonders. Though, if you’re like me, you‘ve read them several thousand times and can recite them word for word like a octogenarian priest at Sunday Mass. Hopefully the sandman has done his work long before you get to communion.
So, that’s your work done (at least until disembarkation.) Get them comfy, get them fed and get them to sleep. If you’re the type with itchy feet who’s not prepared to delay travel until your offspring have been bar mitzvah-ed, I hope you’ll take some comfort from this: Yes, the flight will be its own special kind of hell. Yes, you’ll wonder what on earth you were thinking dozens, perhaps hundreds of times. And yes, when it’s all over, it will have been worth it. Adventures always are.
“Yes, you’ll wonder what on earth you were thinking dozens, perhaps hundreds of times. And yes, when it’s all over, it will have been worth it. Adventures always are.”
Heading somewhere with your toddler? Search your location for our reviews written by parents to see what will work for you and your family. Tips of whether it’s pram friendly, has baby change facilities and lots of other helpful tips and tricks to make your holiday easier. Because only other parents know!