Toddler travels

I know I’m not alone when I say I hate, haaaaaate flying. I mean where do I even begin? It’s a giant steel tube floating a million miles {give or take} in the AIR. Explain physics to me all you want, I just don’t get it. Then there’s turbulence. Throw in some cluster migraines triggered by pressure changes and I’m basically a crying ball of anxiety every night before I fly. Sure in all my holiday posts I look happy and relaxed but let’s be honest; I’m nothing short of a hot mess in the lead up. And all this is just me. Now let’s add kids to the mix….{insert that eye bulging emoji and a gulp here}

I look so excited but I'm faking it haha

I look so excited but I’m faking it haha

So a little background information of you: my husband and I currently live in South Australia but grew up in England and the USA respectively. So long-distance travel, unfortunately for me, will always be on the cards for us. It’s twenty four hours of flying or never seeing our families and the second option is the only thing worse than the first. In the last two years we’ve flown to New York with our 13 month old son Jack then to St Thomas in the Caribbean from there. We’ve also done a quick trip to Sydney with Jack when I was almost nine months pregnant {fuuuuuun} and most recently the UK with Jack {2} and our daughter Emma who was 4 months. So it’ safe to say that while I’m no expert, I’ve picked up a few tricks that have saved our butts. On one flight someone told me they didn’t realise we had a baby on the plane. I don’t say this to brag, it mostly came down to how much my son loves to eat. Which leads me to my first point….

  1. FOOD is your best friend! Now’s not the time to skimp either. I packed all Jack’s favourites and a few treats. We are pretty strict with his sugar intake so candy/chocolates and things like that were definitely off the cards and who am I kidding? Sugar anda pent-up kid? Don’t do it to yourself! Depending on your child’s age I’d pack individually wrapped muesli bars, packets of crackers, low-sugar biscuits, squeeze-y fruit packs and boxes of raisins {sultanas for the Aussies reading}  Anytime Jack got a bit antsy I handed him a new snack. Also handy for when you hit turbulence and you have to strap them in. Save a special treat for then!
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  2. TOYS.  Jack was at such a tricky age when we went to New York. I was thankfully flying with my parents but sans husband {he met us there ten days later}. He didn’t watch TV yet or know how to work an iPad so those options were out. Instead I purchased some cheap toys from Kmart & the Reject Shop and wrapped them up like gifts. Not only did the unwrapping kill time, Jack loved having a new toy or book and also ended up keeping busy ripping up the paper. Other random items I packed included a rubber bottle brush, a plastic spatula {because kids are oddly attracted to everyday items} and some masking tape and stickers. I just ripped off bits of tape for him to stick wherever he wanted and it peels off easily. Also it might seem obvious but check any new toys before you pack them. On our last trip, I packed this cool plastic light up sword that was only a few inches big. Turns out it also played a loud, obnoxious noise that thrilled Jack no end. My bad flight EK15, I’m truly sorry. #momfail
  3. MOVE! I’m one of those flyers that will only get up if absolutely necessary. I’m talking one bathroom break in 11 hours of flying. It’s unhealthy and lazy I know. And when you have kids with you, you don’t have the luxury of just lounging in your chair watching crappy movies. You will be that parent walking their child up and down the aisles, make peace with it now. They need to stretch their legs even if you don’t. Anyone with kids know how much energy they have & you need to be realistic in your expectations. Thankfully for me, I had none so the bar was set low first time around. If you’re lucky enough to be on an A380 Airbus, utilise the snack bar out the back as it’s a bit more roomy. We made friends with a set of twins on our way to London and my husband make them all do jumping jacks and other exercises {it ended up being a jumping contest but whatever}. The point is, the kids stayed in one spot and burned off some energy.

    pre-flight laps around our gate...at 5.30am

    pre-flight laps around our gate…at 5.30am

  4. MAKE FRIENDS with those around you. Many will probably groan when they see a baby or toddler board a flight. It’s rude but honestly, do you blame them? I don’t envy me when I step on board with two kids, backpacks and a pacifier hanging out my own mouth! We planned to get cheap ear plugs for those around us with a chocolate explaining it was my daughter’s first flight and hopefully it wouldn’t be too bad on anyone. In the end we didn’t because well… packing for 3 weeks overseas with two kids. Luckily she’s cute and didn’t scream at all. We always try to make friends with other parents – something about that “we’re all in this together” mentality. Also your flight attendants can be an extra set of arms if you luck out. Most times they got me hot water for bottles, held a baby in a pinch and got us activities, extra blankets and pillows. All I’m saying is it pays to be nice. Real nice!

    Our wonderful flight attendants on Emirates grabbed this Polaroid of Jack in the pilot's hat

    Our wonderful flight attendants on Emirates grabbed this Polaroid of Jack in the pilot’s hat

  5. DRUGS are your other friend. Okay so I’m not talking about anything too crazy, don’t worry! Our doctor told us to simply take panadol/advil with us for our baby and give it to her every 4 hours, whether she needed it or not. We did the first flight but after that we didn’t feel she needed it. We also got our hands on Pain Stop at the insistence of a friend for Jack. You need a prescription and they need to meet the weight limits {I’m laughing to myself because my Italian children of course met the weight limits} We only used it for the long haul flights {12 hours +} when he was due to sleep because it would knock him out. Plus, he was cutting his molars so it was a win-win there. We were also recommended to try liquid Melatonin. It’s herbal, safe to use and most importantly helps overtired and jet-lagged babies. We used it on the flights and during the trip while the kids were settling in to the new timezone. Hubs and I totally hit it too at 4am when we were wide awake.
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  6. PLAN ahead. We stay with family whenever we’re away so we’re fortunate that we never needed to pack high chairs, playpens and things like that. I knew I had a stroller (pram) waiting for me in New York so I managed to carry Jack at 13 months in the Ergo carrier. It was great to be hands free even if Jack hated it!  However when we flew to the UK we decided to pack our City Select double stroller because we knew we’d use it there more and there was no way I was wrangling two kids over there for three weeks without one. I still took the Ergo though because in the airports when you transfer, we either didn’t or couldn’t gate check so we used the airport strollers so Emma was in the Ergo while I pushed Jack. It was tempting to let him walk but in the end we just found a play area so he could stretch his legs. I always look at the airport map of where we arrive in relation to a kids area. Those places are lifesavers! Most airports have one so take advantage and in the layover let your toddler run to their hearts content. I also pack double and a bit more of whatever we need {formula, diapers, spare clothes} It’s annoying but worth it! Also pack a change of clothes for the adults. My husband learned the hard way flying back from St Thomas. Jack had a fresh outfit after his explosive poo incident but James was not as lucky! Extended layovers and lost luggage happen all the time {seemingly always to us} so now I just always have travel insurance and most things I need are already in my carry on. Also, if you can plan your flights or car trips around nap time then DO IT! It’s worth extra money if that’s what it costs. Plus the movement in the car or plane generally knocks the kids out.

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    prepared for anything

  7. KEEP THEIR ROUTINE as normal as you can. Also, now is not the time to make any big changes either. We let Jack keep his dummy {pacifier} longer than we wanted because we knew we had our UK trip booked. It’s just too good being able to plug your kid on a plane! When we returned home, we let him have it for a couple weeks to help ease off jet lag before kicking it to the curb.still napping at normal time wherever we go

And a few cheeky holiday snaps. Jack was ‘an easy baby’ whereas Emma has always been a bit trickier {colic, reflux that sort of stuff} but both of them have travelled so well. The more you do it, the better they become. I honestly believe kids are so adaptable so I guess my biggest ‘tip’ is to stay as relaxed as you can & the kids should – hopefully – suit!  Please feel free to comment below if you have any other travel tricks to share. Our next long-haul trip is to New York & Vermont around Christmas time so I’m always up for any more information too! Travelling with kids is exhausting, no doubt about that but I must say, seeing the world through their eyes is double the fun! Happy trails xo

playing around Dartmoor, UK

playing around Dartmoor, UK

Dartmoor hikes

Dartmoor hikes

St Thomas with this cheeky kid

St Thomas with this cheeky kid

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